Nothing Ever Just Disappears
‘With originality and subtlety, Diarmuid Hester examines how the gay imagination deals with place and with displacement, allowing for mystery and a kind of magic’ Colm Toibin
‘Hester is a fizzingly brilliant writer’ Robert Macfarlane
‘Haunted and haunting – totally riveting’ Chris Kraus
At the turn of the century, in the shade of Cambridge’s cloisters, a young E. M. Forster conceals his passion for other men, even as he daydreams about the sun-warmed bodies of ancient Greece. Under the dazzling lights of interwar Paris, Josephine Baker dances her way to fame and fortune and discovers sexual freedom backstage at the Folies Bergere. And on Jersey, in the darkest days of Nazi occupation, the transgressive surrealist Claude Cahun mounts an extraordinary resistance to save the island she loves, scattering hundreds of dissident artworks along its streets and shorelines.
Nothing Ever Just Disappears brings to life the stories of seven remarkable figures and illuminates the connections between where they lived, who they loved, and the art they created. It shows that a queer sense of place is central to the history of the twentieth century, and powerfully evokes how much is lost when queer spaces are forgotten. From the lesbian London of the suffragettes to James Baldwin’s home in Provence, to Jack Smith’s New York, Kevin Killian’s San Francisco and the Dungeness cottage of Derek Jarman, this is a thrilling new history and a celebration of freedom, survival and the hidden places of the imagination.
Nothing Ever Just Disappears is about what happens to a house or a room, or a whole town or city, when it is transformed by a powerful sensibility. With originality and subtlety, Diarmuid Hester examines how the gay imagination deals with place and with displacement, allowing for mystery and a kind of magic -- Colm Toibin Diarmuid Hester has written a book I have always wanted to read. An exploration, celebration and reclamation of queer lives within their spaces and landscapes, it roams from the cloisters and locked gates of Cambridge to the hilly streets of San Francisco, the apartments of New York City and the nuclear desert of Dungeness's shingle-shore, where Derek Jarman created a world on the margins and of the margins. Hester is a fizzingly brilliant writer, and with its fusion of personal testimony, reportage, cultural history and literary criticism, this book will surely find a wide readership -- Robert Macfarlane A moving, erudite book. Writing against the tide of erasure, Hester takes us on a journey through time, over land and sea, and casts an empathetic and sharply humorous eye on this pantheon of queer figures. A hymn to the importance of community and place, this is a vital public history of queer life that is both intimate and wondrously radical -- Sean Hewitt, author of All Down Darkness Wide Diarmuid Hester's beautifully written psycho-biography explores obscure corners of places as sites of hidden queer histories. His portraits of writers and activists from E.M. Forster to Josephine Baker, London's queer suffragettes and Kevin Killian are haunted and haunting - totally riveting -- Chris Kraus A charming, playfully challenging companion on a dreamy quest through lost landscapes of defiance, imagination and desire -- Jeremy Atherton Lin Hester's book takes the reader on a beguiling journey from country to country. Full of extraordinary details, it delves deep into queer creative minds from the past, offering up a refreshingly original perspective on the human connection to sense of place -- Luke Edward Hall Hester's book is insightful, delightful, and enlightening: an essential entrant into the queer canon -- Isabel Waidner
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