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Place for Us: Essay on the Broadway Musical
by D. A. Miller
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0674003888, Paperback)Everybody "knows" that gay men love show tunes; as D.A. Miller writes in one self-mockingly academic passage of Place for Us, the original cast albums "were used, scholars now believe, in a puberty rite that, though it was conducted by single individuals in secrecy and shame, was nonetheless so widely diffused as to remain, for several generations, as practically normative for gay men and it was almost unknown for straight ones." Miller's elaborate pondering of the intersection of homosexuality and Broadway shifts between critical exegesis of shows like Gypsy and autobiographical reflections written in a curiously distancing (and, at times, generalizing) third-person voice. Although some will be put off by the academic tone, there are treasures to be found sprinkled throughout these pages, such as the black-and-white reproductions of Michael Perelman's Broadway-inspired oil paintings. Or Miller's description of an ironic piano-bar singer, "like a third-rate magician who, thinking to take advantage of his inferior talent for illusionism, devises a novelty act in which he gives away the familiar tricks of his betters ... out to betray the habitual prestidigitation of the whole enormous population of gay composers, lyricists, librettists, choreographers, and others" who coyly cloaked their sexuality in misdirection and innuendo. --Ron Hogan
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:59 -0400)
"In Place for Us, D.A. Miller probes what all the jokes laugh off: the embarrassingly mutual affinity between a "general" cultural form and the despised "minority" that was in fact that form's implicit audience. In a style that is in turn novelistic, memorial, autobiographical, and critical, the author restores to their historical density the main modes of reception that so many gay men developed to answer the musical's call: the early private communion with original cast albums, the later camping of show tunes in piano bars, the still later reformatting of these same songs at the post-Stonewall disco. If the postwar musical may be called a "gay" genre, Miller demonstrates, this is because its regular but unpublicized work has been to indulge men in the spectacular thrills of a femininity become their own."--Jacket.
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