Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Out in Africa reviews March 2012

Many of the stories in the latest batch of Out in Africa films both affirm the power of gay sex and identity, and show a way beyond ghettoes and life on the margins. It may take a certain courage to be true to yourself, but the results are dynamic, and the film-makers of these tales seem to take pleasure in that. And yet gay difficulties remain, and these stories remain faithful to the challenges that present themselves, too.

The Swedish film Kyss Mig, directed by Alexandra-Therese Keining (translated as Kiss Me in English, but also known by its English name of With Every Heartbeat) is one such film that brings that message to light.

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Communion with self: diary excerpts from Volume 40

I’ve kept diaries since the age of eleven – I can’t explain what compulsion made me begin. A friend of my mother’s gave me a beautiful red corduroy book to write my poems in, which I did, but the itch was there. After a few pages of poems I started – it was January 31 1983, and my large childish handwriting set out the details of my life: only child of a divorced single mother living in Orange Grove with three Maltese poodles, attending Standard Four at HA Jack Primary. And then onward, to a bosom friend, Leora, to a trip to California to visit family, through the teen years, university, first years working as a crime and entertainment journalist. First relationships, going to live in London briefly, and then back home to Johannesburg...Read more here

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review of Willesden Herald New Short Stories 5, edited by Stephen Moran

This volume collects together the 12 finalists for the annual Willesden Herald short story competition. As with any anthology some will resonate and stand out more than others. Surprisingly for an anthology of stories selected from a wide variety of entrants, there does appear to be a unifying theme of interiority, meditation, threads of isolation and ways of dealing with grief running through the majority of these stories. What's remarkable too, is that many of these stories deal with tight, closed worlds, each world perfectly explored and described, and yet also, equally insular. While this feature is true of many short stories – the genre is one of brevity and a tight collection of characters – this seems especially pronounced in this selection. Perhaps the fact that many of the characters are locked up within worlds of grief and sadness lends weight to my overall impression. However this is by no means a negative comment: many of the stories were gripping, interesting, worthy pieces which linger on long after the initial reading, surely the mark of a story that rises above the rest...Read more here