Table of Contents
Also on this website:
Toby Johnson's books:
GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness
GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe
FOURTH QUILL, a
novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil
CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story
Books on Gay Spirituality:
Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The
Dimensional Structure of
Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"
The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the "Statement of Spirituality"
You're Not A Wave
Joseph Campbell Talks about Aging
What is Enlightenment?
What is reincarnation?
How many lifetimes in an ego?
Emptiness & Religious Ideas
Experiencing experiencing experiencing
Going into the Light
Meditations for a Funeral
The way to get to heaven
Buddha's father was right
Cutting edge realization
What Anatman means
The Myth of the Wanderer
Change: Source of Suffering & of Bliss
The World Navel
What the Vows Really Mean
Manifesting from the Subtle Realms
Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal
The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika
Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva
John Boswell was Immanuel Kant
The Two Loves
Be Done on Earth by Howard E. Cook
Pay Me What I'm Worth by Souldancer
The Way Out by Christopher L Nutter
The Gay Disciple by John Henson
Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry
Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth A. Burr
Extinguishing the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois
Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson
Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low
Janet Planet by Eleanor Lerman
The Kairos by Paul E. Hartman
Wrestling with Jesus by D.K.Maylor
Kali Rising by Rudolph Ballentine
The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada
The Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook
The Scar Letters: A Novel by Richard Alther
The Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel
Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak
Gay Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez
Cut Hand: A Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr
Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman
Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano
The Key to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo
The Door of the Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar
Occam’s Razor by David Duncan
Grace and Demion by Mel White
Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L. Rigoglioso
The Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery
The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass
Love Together: Longtime Male Couples on Healthy Intimacy and Communication by Tim Clausen
War Between Materialism and Spiritual by Jean-Michel Bitar
The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal
Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion
by Jeffrey J. Kripal
The Invitation to Love by Darren Pierre
Brain, Consciousness, and God: A Lonerganian Integration by Daniel A Helminiak
A Walk with Four Spiritual Guides by Andrew Harvey
Can Christians Be Saved? by Stephenson & Rhodes
The Lost Secrets of the Ancient Mystery Schools by Stephenson & Rhodes
Keys to Spiritual Being by Adrian Ravarour
In Walt We Trust by John Marsh
Solomon's Tantric Song by Rollan McCleary
A Special Illumination by Rollan McCleary
Aelred's Sin by Lawrence Scott
Fruit Basket by Payam Ghassemlou
Internal Landscapes by John Ollom
Princes & Pumpkins by David Hatfield Sparks
Blood of the Goddess by William Schindler
Sanctity & Male Desire by Donald Boisvert
Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom by Jeffrey Kripal
Evolving Dharma by Jay Michaelson
Jesus in Salome's Lot by Brett W. Gillette
The Man Who Loved Birds by Fenton Johnson
The Vatican Murders by Lucien Gregoire
"Sex Camp" by Brian McNaught
Out & About with Brewer & Berg
Episode One: Searching for a New Mythology
The Soul Beneath the Skin by David Nimmons
Out on Holy Ground by Donald Boisvert
The Revolutionary Psychology of Gay-Centeredness by Mitch Walker
Out There by Perry Brass
The Crucifixion of Hyacinth by Geoff Puterbaugh
The Silence of Sodom by Mark D Jordan
It's Never About What It's About by Krandall Kraus and Paul Borja
ReCREATIONS, edited by Catherine Lake
Gospel: A Novel by WIlton Barnhard
Keeping Faith: A Skeptic’s Journey by Fenton Johnson
Dating the Greek Gods by Brad Gooch
Telling Truths in Church by Mark D. Jordan
The Substance of God by Perry Brass
The Tomcat Chronicles by Jack Nichols
10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives by Joe Kort
Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same Sex Love by Will Roscoe
The Third Appearance by Walter Starcke
The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann
Surviving and Thriving After a Life-Threatening Diagnosis by Bev Hall
Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods by Ronald Long
Interview with Ron Long
Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions by Randy Conner & David Sparks
An Interview with Randy Conner
Pain, Sex and Time by Gerald Heard
Sex and the Sacred by Daniel Helminiak
Blessing Same-Sex Unions by Mark Jordan
Rising Up by Joe Perez
That Undeniable Longing by Mark Tedesco
Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman
Wisdom for the Soul by Larry Chang
Soulfully Gay by Joe Perez
MM4M a DVD by Bruce Grether
Double Cross by David Ranan
The Transcended Christian by Daniel Helminiak
Jesus in Love by Kittredge Cherry
In the Eye of the Storm by Gene Robinson
The Starry Dynamo by Sven Davisson
Life in Paradox by Fr Paul Murray
Spirituality for our Global Community by Daniel Helminiak
Gay and Healthy in a Sick-Society by Robert A. Minor
Queering Christ by Robert Goss
Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage
The Flesh of the Word by Richard A Rosato
Catland by David Garrett Izzo
Tantra for Gay Men by Bruce Anderson
Yoga & the Path of the Urban Mystic by Darren Main
Simple Grace by Malcolm Boyd
Seventy Times Seven by Salvatore Sapienza
What Does "Queer" Mean Anyway? by Chris Bartlett
Critique of Patriarchal Reasoning by Arthur Evans
Gift of the Soul by Dale Colclasure & David Jensen
Legend of the Raibow Warriors by Steven McFadden
The Liar's Prayer by Gregory Flood
Lovely are the Messengers by Daniel Plasman
The Human Core of Spirituality by Daniel Helminiak
3001: The FInal Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
Religion and the Human Sciences by Daniel Helminiak
Only the Good Parts by Daniel Curzon
Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson
Only the Good Parts
by Daniel Curzon
Xlibris Press, 436 pages
Available used from Amazon.com
This review originally appeared in White Crane Journal #38, Fall 1998
This review contains an interesting and prescient analysis of the effects of Print-on-Demand publishing.
In 2016, when I am posting this for posterity from the White Crane archives, some 15 years later, it seems like my predictions have come true.
This novel by veteran gay writer Daniel Curzon is noteworthy for White Crane Journal for several reasons. Only one of them has to do with the content and message of the novel; the others have to do with its style and its medium of publication.
Only the Good Parts is written following the rather old-fashioned technique of presenting letters between the characters. What modernizes this rather formal, dispassionate and emotionally distancing gimmick is that Curzon’s characters are sending each other faxes and emails and notes slipped under doors. There is an immediacy to the communications which make them surprisingly compelling. This gimmick does force some contrivance in the plot. The quarreling gay couple who form the core of the novel are forced into long distance situations so that there can be written communications between them. And the reader can’t help but wonder if their quarrels might not be resolvable by just giving each other a big hug—something the stylistic convention doesn’t allow.
What’s amazing is how much information can be conveyed through these little snippets passing between the characters. Eliminated are all the usual tools of the novelist: gone the adjectives and descriptive passages; gone the writer’sl yric prose; gone composition of place and character. Everything is down to the bare bones of communication about the business of the story. It makes for fast, page-turning reading.
What the book’s about is gay parenting by artificial insemination. The main character, Marc Brandt, connects with a lesbian midwife because he’s realized that his being gay does not necessarily exclude the possibility of having a child (and adding his genes back to the collective pool). His lover, Gordon, something of a spoiled narcissitic bitch, derides Marc’s desires and thereby unwittingly initiates the unravelling of their relationship and of Marc’s experience of parenting. For the first half of the book, the author seems to champion gay men having children in cooperative arrangement with lesbian couples. By the second half, when one of the lesbian mothers has gotten so paranoid of Marc and so possessive of the child that she’s driven her lover into a mental hospital and is threatening to charge Marc with sexual abuse, the argument FOR having offspring this way is certainly challenged.
All the Good Parts discusses the pros and cons of what is certainly one of the themes of modern gay life and Curzon explains the issues well. It’s not entirely clear which side of the argument he comes down on, but from a wheelchair at the end of the novel Marc Brandt seems much the worse for his attempt at parenthood.
Curzon’s been an important and eccentric character in gay publishing for years. Most of his books have been self-published; he’s stood as a sort of defiant maverick against the trends and fads, ups and down of the publishing business. Only the Good Parts champions a potentially revolutionary new way of publishing that truly threatens that entire industry.
Modern technology now makes it possible to market books electronically, to send them as data files through the phone lines to appear on a computer screen with no “book” every being manufactured, and to manufacture books—for those who want something to hold in the hand, not just see on the screen— one at a time to order.
Only the Good Parts is “published” by Xlibris.com. At the “publisher’s” website, one can find a description of the book and an excerpt. Then with a few mouse clicks, if one is interested, one can “buy” the electronic downloadable version (for $8) or a very nice hardbound version ($24.95) which will be produced and sent by mail within a few weeks.
A major problem in the pubishing industry is that traditionally books are manufactured in quantity before anybody every indicates they want to read them. At the top the industry is focused on hot shot editors trying to outguess the public and upcoming cultural trends by at least a year. Publishing houses invest huge sums of money on those guesses. Of course, a whole spin-off industry exists to sell the remainders, i.e., the books that got produced but never bought, at a tremendous discount.
Authors— who, after all, make up the real core of the business — suffer at least two indignities because of this. First, of course, it’s hard to get a book published unless the publisher can be sure it can get its money back. That means the industry caters to the so-called lowest common denominator reader. And too many biographies of TV and movie stars get published and too many interesting but idiosyncratic manuscripts get rejected. Second, publishers get taxed on the inventory they accumulate, so they can’t afford to maintain slow sellers in their warehouses. Books quickly go out of print, are remaindered, or are just shredded in order to control inventory costs.
Manufacturing a book to order sidesteps both problems.
And, in certain ways, these are especially problems in the gay genre. Big publishers require big sales figures. In fact, of course, gay people are stastistically more likely to read books, but we’re still a marginal market.What confuses matters even more is that every so often the New York publishers jump on the gay bandwagon, proclaiming a newly discovered market. This results in expansion of gay-themed books in mainstream bookstores—which threatens the small network of independent gay bookstores (that in many ways make up the backbone of the national gay community).
We all think it’s nice that our literature is widely available in mainstream stores; it seems to demonstrate social acceptance. But the fact is it pulls business from gay stores, hurts gay small presses that can’t get into the mainstream stores—and it allows homosexuals access to the books without having to make the coming-out step of going into a gay bookstore and therefore discovering what the community really consists of. And, worse, when the New York publishers decide to move on to a yet newer market, the plethora of gay books disappears (into the shredders) and, in the long run, there are fewer titles available and fewer bookstores and small presses.
Xlibris cuts through many of these issues. From the author’s point of view, it’s a godsend. For about $500 you can bring your own book out and market it precisely to the people who’ll be interested in it. (And $500 is easily what it costs to xerox multiple copies of a manuscript and send them to potential publishers—who are generally too busy looking for blockbusters to pay any attention to the deluge of submissions they receive.)
On the other hand, this new technological trend threatens the bookstores directly by simply leaving them out of the equation completely.The gay community one could stumble upon by coming into a gay bookstore is reduced to the electronic presence on the Internet.
Perhaps Daniel Curzon’s book is important more for the way it exists than for what it’s about.
It’s a good book. Interesting. Provocative. For all sorts of reasons. http://www.xlibris.com
Reviewed by Toby Johnson, author of Gay Spirituality: Gay Identity and the Transformation of Human Consciousness, The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell and other novels and books
Toby Johnson, PhD is author of eight books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, three gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality. In addition to the novels featured elsewhere in this web site, Johnson is author of IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD and THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET (Revised edition): AN APPRECIATION OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL.
Johnson's Lammy Award winning book
SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of
Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated
PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature
of God and the Universe was published by Alyson in 2003. Both books are
available now from Lethe
back to top