The Supreme Court decision today comes almost exactly 24 years after my brother John died of causes related to AIDS. I’ll lift a glass tonight to John and to all the people who have worked over so many years to make a society in which we are all equal under the law.
Yesterday the New York Times posted a short documentary film titled
Elder: A Love Story
The story took place in Italy in 1974. Tom Clark, a Mormon missionary in Italy only a couple of years after John served there, fell in love with a young Italian man. He shot lots of film of the two of them and as I watched I found myself in the world I had imagined from John’s letters and from this single photo:
It is a story — a set of stories — to be celebrated today.
Directed by Zeliko Djukic, Theatre Y’s US and English-language premiere of Handke’s play opened last night in Chicago.
Click HERE for Theatre Y’s page.
And HERE for a youtube discussion of the play.
Two photos from the production, courtesy of Theatre Y by way of Michael Roloff, who translated the play (with a bit of assistance from me):
The Man: “And time turns into one body and one soul, every A & O pants for eternity.”
The Woman: “That’s what it was, and so it is. — Pants! And snaps!”
For almost 6 months now, our dog Blue has been bringing things home from our daily walks. Here his collections:
The City of Belgrade recently conferred honorary citizenship on Peter Handke. Zarko Radakovic travelled from Cologne to Belgrade to translate for Handke. After the ceremonies they spent two days hiking in the nature preserve Fruska Gora. It was a beautiful time, Zarko reports.
During the ceremony, Handke spoke about Serbian writers:
Of the new Serbian writers, I have read, for example, Dragan Velikic. . . . I am especially fond of Zarko Radakovic, an extremely unusual writer. Everything he sees he immediately transforms into words. . . . Dragan Aleksic, who lives in Ohio and comes from Bela Crkva, is, for me, a great poet.
A photo from Belgrade, Handke in the foreground, Zarko in the blue shirt behind.
So, my book Immortal For Quite Some Time is now in the publisher’s hands. Here is the penultimate paragraph of the book. It points to the next book and at the same time reprises the themes of sexual purity, aggression against homosexuals, religion, family, control, and desire that I explore in Immortal:
Lyn and I have work to do as well. Most pressing is our interdisciplinary book about barbed wire, “Intimate Fences.” In the late nineteenth century, barbed-wire advertisers promised protection from marauding savages, rapacious ex-slaves, and homosexual aesthetes like Oscar Wilde: “Glidden barbed wire is ‘death on dudes.’” And barbed wire quickly became a literary motif. Steinbeck’s Jim Casy, for example, quits preaching because women riled up by his sermons whip themselves with a “three-foot shag of bobwire.” Flannery O’Connor’s Hazel Motes, in contrast, wraps barbed wire around his torso because, he says, “I’m not clean.” We’ll end the book with Annie Proulx’ story in which Ennis drives to Jack’s parents’ ranch to ask for the ashes he wants to spread on Brokeback Mountain. Jack’s father refuses: “’Tell you what, we got a family plot and he’s goin in it. . . .’ Bumping down the washboard road Ennis passed the country cemetery fenced with sagging sheep wire, a tiny fenced square on the welling prairie.”
The final photo of Immortal will be of this watercolor John did in high school:
My brother John would have been 64 today. By a fitting coincidence, today I delivered the final manuscript of “Immortal For Quite Some Time” to editor John Alley at the University of Utah Press. There will be a year’s lead time, he said, before actual publication in Fall of 2016. But for the moment I have done what I could to keep John Abbott’s memory alive and to make good use of his life as I shape my own.
In the process I’ve been looking at some early family pictures, several of which are new to me and all of which made me smile with the pleasure of looking in on my own childhood. In John’s honor, here are a few of them: