A biography of Medea which will be much like Odysseus: a Life. I have in fact now finished this, although changed it into a more fictionalized account of Medea’s life through the words of her servant and friend Epikleia which will be called Epikleia Tells Her Story.
A biography of Clytemnestra which I envision being published with the Medea piece, since neither is really book length. For the Clytemnestra piece I am writing it more as a story, less as a bio, including extensive dialogue and structuring events in a non-chronological fashion. These modern retellings of ancient lives real or fictive are all the rage, it seems, nowadays.
The material I described in the next three paragraphs has all found its way in truncated form into the memoir “My Husband and My Wives: A Gay Man’s Odyssey” to be published in October. The book has a narrative spin which is more directly autobiographical, and focuses on my adolescent sexual awakening, my marriages and my children.
A memoir of the experience of education from the perspective of a student in a diverse group of schools, experimental grade school, prep school, public high school, state university, Ivy graduate school and from the perspective of a teacher as a graduate student teaching fellow in an Ivy school, an instructor in an all woman’s college, an instructor in an all male Ivy university, an assistant professor in a west coast private coed university, a professor and chair in a second rate university in Boston, a professor in an endowed chair in tax supported institution in New York City, as well as visiting gigs thither and yon. Many have urged me to write this book, and as more and more of the persons who might appear in its pages die, it grows easier to write. The problem is to combine wit, malice, intellectual seriousness, and high idealism into the same pages.
A Decade of Teaching Classics in a Prison This has started out as the text for a speech I am giving in the near future, and I hope will grow into a book as I gather together the anecdotes of ten years, charting the growth of my understanding of what I was doing, the reaction and change of the students who took courses with me over that period, how the program changed over time, and some suggestions about rehabilitation in the prison.
A meditation on gay identity This manuscript derives from my years of lecturing on classical antiquity, from the many discussions I have had with my students. Anyone who studies classical antiquity cannot overlook the importance paid to male homosexuality as a positive experience particularly in the cultures of several fifth century BCE Greek city-states, notably Athens and Sparta for whom we have the most evidence. The phenomenon is certainly not limited to these, however. One can, for example, read in the second millennium stories of Gilgamesh the very explicit erotic nature of the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. All that is missing is the writer’s direct testimony to an actual physical sexual act. Such evidence on the contrary is not at all lacking in the texts and art works of the Greeks. The evidence also does not suggest an exclusive sexual orientation, but rather simply a component of a man’s sexual repertoire. Some theorists reduce the sex act to the demonstration of power relationships, and thus avoid the interesting and complicating mysteries of affective feelings as they are parceled out among sexual partners. The Judaeo-Christian religion radically changed male relationships, not to menton male-female relationships by the stigmatization of male same-sex relations. One result was that the larger community arrogated unto itself the role of determining and categorizing those who continued to practice them. They became in effect an instance of the Other. From the perspective outlined above, I have written a meditation on the phenomenon in the contemporary world, using anecdotal evidence rather than the firmer foundation of statistics. What I write is an account of my own struggle to maintain a sense of self when the world around is trying to impose a definition and category for me. A lifetime which is marked by emotional and physical relationships with males and females could be so easy and instinctual if it were taking place in Athens in the fifth century BCE, one imagines. The interesting narrative is the struggle to follow one’s instinct with minimum interference from the greater culture. That is, of course, only possible in greater and lesser degree, its success probably measured proportionately to the damage done. The manuscript needs rewriting. As it stands, the manuscript has fascinated a number of people, repelled some, been treated with indifference by others. Some say it is too personal, some too pornographic, some say that it would offend gay readers, others that it would not interest general readers.
I have also written three novels. It has been suggested by various friends that to mention them here is a nauseating self indulgence for someone who otherwise has established himself in this website as a professional classicist. More to the point since I have not found a publisher for any of them, or rather have had them rejected upon submission, the less polite and truer form of the idea, they have little claim even on the curious. Sometimes I am tempted to self-publish, but does the world need more novels when it doesn’t seem to be doing a very good job reading the ones already out there?
Kitchen Duty This is a formula novel--boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl--centered on a twosome who meet and fall in love while working in a restaurant kitchen in which food is prepared to be delivered in boxes to people with AIDS who are not ambulatory. The setting reflects my several years experience as a volunteer for Gods Love We Deliver, just the sort of facility described in the novel. I deliberately wrote this as a romantic story, with enough serious, angry lovers’ quarrels, and enough tears--a major ancillary character falls sick and dies--to keep it from being treacle. Or so I thought. But as one of the agents to whom I showed it and who passed on it said “It seems more like Young Adult Fiction.” That seemed like a slap in the face, but in trying to maintain my dignity, I decided that the story seems saccharine because nobody is a heroine addict, no one is physically abused, in sum, the story is happening to people who seem to come from real life. Maybe I will self publish.
Give or Take Another unpublished gem which in fact I have only shown to one agent who passed on it with the words “unremarkable.” Since it is based on an experience in my own life, I was just a little miffed, not being able to imagine events in my life that were unremarkable. It is a gay coming of age story, an Iowa teenager copes with hostile, uncomprehending, or indifferent elements in his town. Upon re-reading this piece, I continue to think it is a wonderful statement about growing up gay sixty years ago.
Provide. This was written so long ago (1980) that it would have to be redone. It is about a group of people summering on the island of Ibiza, Italians and Spanish mostly, and one middle aged American gay professor (naturally!). An Italian friend of mine who makes an appearance somewhat fictionalized in these pages has exclaimed that no one has ever penetrated to the fundamentals of her psyche as well as I. Either there is some truth to this or she was simply trying to make a friend feel good.