Thursday, April 10, 2014

Late February, I had the opportunity to discuss my book, The Boy in the Yellow Dress, ahead of its publication, at a marvellous conference in California, in the Dept. of Religious Studies at Chapman University, in Orange.

The conference was staged in the Wallace All Faiths Chapel on campus, which is a brilliantly designed setting, studded with marvellous craft and artworks all about that contributed a beautiful aesthetic pleasure to add to the high-level sharing during proceedings:

The title of the conference was: "Religious Genderings: The Socio-Spiritual [Dis-]Empowerment of Women and Men" and I took the opportunity to discuss the multiple possibilities for people seeking meaning that exist outside of the strict confines of the Abrahamic traditions, which tend to be hostile to people who do not fit comfortably within the heteronormative model promulgated there.

My paper, "Who's that, telling my story?" was a discussion of the strategies provided by various forms of life-writing (memoir, autobiography, etc.,) that enable you to take charge of the narrative of your own life, and re-position your identity in a more life-enhancing frame than that provided by toxic, conventional religious stories.

I was also able to incorporate themes raised by my previous book on Christopher Isherwood, Mr Isherwood Changes Trains: Christopher Isherwood and the search for the 'home-self', which came out in 2010.
Isherwood lived more than half his life in Southern California.

His life partner, the brilliant portraitist Don Bachardy, provided this portrait for the cover of the book, and the publisher liked it so much he refused to cover it with any print text.

Unfortunately, people ordering through, which issues the book as a Print on Demand, don't get that 'cleanskin' version, as amazon refused to allow a cover without text!

A rather poor shot of the interior unfortunately, taken on my allegedly 'smart' phone:

Beautiful artworks within the Chapel include these beautiful lacquerware chairs, with imagery inspired by the Hubble Space Telescope!

We're nearing the starting gate...

With the final copy edits nearly done, I've been having a tussle with the publisher over the cover design.

This was my favourite:

And this was his:

Guess who won?