The world of books evens the playing field-- delivering truth, connectedness, and beauty across miles and generations. These are a few of my favorite reads that have inspired, shaped, and motivated me.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"THE VELVET RAGE" by Alan Downs, PhD

THE VELVET RAGE is about the difficulty of overcoming 
the duality inherent in gay men raised in America.
It traces how we are not afforded the normal childhoods
we deserve because of stymieing an important aspect of
ourselves, and how that 'shut-down' manifests itself throughout life. 

There is some truly wonderful work here, dealing with the self-hate
and denial that most every gay man has dealt with. As
mentioned in the intro, it is exclusively targeted at gay men and
their unique journey, although the story certainly has merit
and applications for lesbians and even straight men, as it deals
with the search for identity and authenticity.

There are Three Stages to coming to terms with self, and they
are brilliantly labeled and discussed by Downs (who has
been dealing with gay men as patients in therapy for
some time, as well as being gay himself.)

One of the best insights has to do with the issues of
shame and invalidation, which are beautifully explored.
Much of why homophobia and down-low activities
exist is covered in these insights (if not explicitly

I hate to mention it, but I fear I must. This book is
chock-full of typos and grammar problems. If, like
me, that really grinds you, please don't let it dissuade
you from trudging on. After several frustrations and
nearly putting the book down, I kept at it because the
material is so wonderful, and I was very glad I did.
It's worth it.

(As an aside; if the publishers need an editor for the
next edition, I would give my services at a reduced rate!)


Saturday, January 14, 2012

THE GOD DELUSION by Richard Dawkins

Dawkins covers a lot of good points in this book.
The science was dry reading for me, although necesaary for
setting up his points, and ultimately very informative.
However, the sociological aspects of religion
and belief are where my true interests lie.

There could have been given more sufficient time to
those issues (such as the touched on topics of the
indoctrination of children, the reasons why people
feel they need religion, and addressing the argument
that all morality is linked to religion.)

The one issue I had with the book was
that Dawkins (who is known for his abrasiveness) promotes
that being sexually abused as a child is not quite as traumatic
as being forced religion.

First, Dawkins admits he himself was 'fooled around with' as a kid.
I think he's obviously in denial about the effects of such abuse,
or merely downplaying it for himself, perhaps in an attempt to make
light of the incident. If not, he's truly the coolest damned cucumber
I've ever met.

That notwithstanding, the book's an excellent overview of
the fallacies involving creationism, belief, the Bible and
much more. A great assist for those struggling with
such questions already or looking for a more scientific
basis for already knowing truth.

Friday, January 6, 2012

"The Hotel New Hampshire" by John Irving

Remarkably enough, my mother got me interested in this
book! Some time in the early/mid 1980s,
when she and I were driven by Pops to school and work every day,
she reached over the back seat to hand me a
Reader's Digest condensed book.
"You might find this interesting! It's so crazy, all the cussing!"

In it was a reduced form of Irving's Hotel New Hampshire,
which I immediately fell in love with.
(I went out and got my own copy of the original that weekend!)
I still choose to think Mom's sly pitch was her own
awkward attempt to address my homosexuality,
which obviously she was aware of on some
hyper-suppressed level.

Not all that much later (a year or two?) I was at a friend's
house in Iowa, and they had glorious premium cable!
Late one night, alone in the basement, I happened upon
the movie version of HNH and was mesmerized!
(I still maintain it one of the most faithful adaptations
of any book, ever!)
All of the cleverness, comedy, tragedy, and earnestness
of the book somehow made whole on the screen!

Possibly one of Irving's quirkiest, it has all the dark matter that he
excels at and which I relate to. It will likely always be my favorite.
No matter how juvenile and insane anyone else imagines it!