Sunday, July 20, 2014

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight was an American writer of fiction for children and young adults, best known for the lesbian novel Annie on My Mind. She received the 2003 Margaret Edwards Award from the American Library Association recognizing her lifetime contribution in writing for teens, citing Annie alone.

Today's Out Spotlight is Nancy Garden.

Antoinette Elisabeth Garden, who always went by Nancy, was born in Boston on May 15, 1938. Her family moved a few times during World War II, while her father worked for the Red Cross. When she was young, her parents read aloud to each other, and Garden wrote on her website that she “started writing for fun” when she was 8.

Her family settled in Providence, Rhode Island, and while at Lincoln School “she was interested in theater and was considered the best actress in her class,” said Sandy Scott, her life partner. The pair met in high school, but did not become a couple until they both were living in New York City in the 1960s. They married in 2004.

Garden graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree, and received a master’s from Columbia’s Teachers College. She worked as a teacher and in various theater pursuits until 1971, when her first two books were published. One of those, “What Happened in Marston,” was made into an ABC Afterschool Special.

She took an editing job in children's literature for a publisher based in Boston and moved in 1972 to Carlisle, Massachusetts, with Scott, who recalled that they encountered no difficulties getting a mortgage and buying a house together. “Both Nancy and I have been accepted in Carlisle,” she said.

Before long, she was able to write full time. Her many other books include “Endgame,” which grew out of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colo. “I decided to write a novel focused on bullying and the tragic consequences it can have on both bullier and bullied,” she wrote on her website. “ ‘Endgame’ is the result.”

In 2007’s “Hear Us Out” she collected her short stories and grouped them into sections for the decades from the 1950s to the 2000s, introducing each decade with an essay.

Garden has written over 35 books, including non-fiction, mystery and fantasy for children and young adults.

But she is best known for Annie on My Mind, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1982. It was critically acclaimed but attracted controversy because of its lesbian characters, Annie and Liza, who fall in love. It was one of the first teen novels to feature lesbian characters in a positive light. "I wrote it to give solace to young gay people, to let them know they were not alone, that they could be happy and well adjusted and also to let heterosexual kids know that we gay people aren't monsters," she told Booklist in a 1996 interview.

In 1993, Annie on My Mind was banned by the Kansas City school system and burnt in demonstrations. It was returned to shelves only after a First Amendment lawsuit by students in 1995. It is #44 on the American Library Association list of 100 books most frequently challenged during the 1990s.

Her reviews of young adult titles have appeared in the Lambda Literary Foundation's Lambda Book Report.

Garden spoke of her career saying, "I feel very lucky to be able to do the things I love: writing books, talking with kids and adults about writing, and sometimes also teaching writing."

She received the Robert B. Downs Award for Intellectual Freedom in 2001 from the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

The American Library Association's Margaret A. Edwards Award recognizes one writer and a particular body of work "for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature." Garden won the annual award in 2003, when the panel cited Annie on My Mind alone and called her "the first author for young adults to create a lesbian love story with a positive ending ... Using a fluid, readable style, Garden opens a window through which readers can find courage to be true to themselves." Five years later Garden recalled that "I was and still am enormously grateful ... for YALSA’s recognition ... of the importance of YA books about LGBT youth."

Annie On My Mind was also awarded the Lee Lynch Classic Award by the Golden Crown Literary Society in 2014, cited as one of the most important classics in lesbian literature.

Garden and Scott divided their time living between their home in Carlisle Massachusetts and a home in Tremont, Maine, along with their golden retriever, Loki, and their cats.

Garden died of a heart attack on June 23, 2014, aged 76.

“She wrote the book all lesbians wanted to have as teenagers,” Victoria Brownworth said in a tribute posted on the Lambda Literary website. “She wrote the books kids of lesbian and gay parents needed to read. She was an icon and a treasure and every other overused cliche about writers who are larger than life — except of course in her case it was all true.”


prairiegirl said...

Paid Troll still trying to sell that '58 Janus of a faux relationship. I'm beyond embarrassed for all the parties involved that this was the best material which could be given to the one who gets paid to try and use that gag reel to convince OMGers that we have been under false assumptions all this time.

Management picks on the ones who threaten them the most. Bring it on. Their hyper focused spewing rants only amuse and strengthen me now.

prairiegirl said...

The '58 Janus was chosen as one of Time Magazine's Top 50 Worst Cars of All Time. I picked a '50's model because that period of time and sexually repressive way of thinking is what WME, Austin, his beard, and the one they all do this for (Jake) stand for to me.

Built in Nuremberg, Germany, by the well-established motorcycle firm during a downturn in the two-wheeler market, this push-me-pull-you was based on a Dornier prototype and powered by a 250-cc, 14-horsepower engine, giving it a top speed of only 50 mph, assuming you had that kind of time. Its unique feature was the rear-facing bench seat, which meant passengers could watch in horror as traffic threatened to rear-end this rolling roadblock of a car. Soon it became clear — "Ach Du Lieber!" — that the Janus was a disaster, coming or going.

The 58 Janus

Austin and FauxChlo!? I christen you '58Janus.

prairiegirl said...

♫♪ Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Special,
Happy Birthday to you!!!!

Happiest & fondest birthday wishes for our Grand Poobah, Special !!!!
I hope you have a wonderful day today and know that you are QUEEN POOBAH today!!

Yea, happy birthday to our Special.

In 1993, Annie on My Mind was banned by the Kansas City school system and burnt in demonstrations.

Whaaa? lol. Dangit! Why is my hometown area always the 58Janus of our 50 states? grrrrrr

Really nice Out Spotlight. I kind of remember these books coming out and how controversial they were. I love looking at children's book covers. How cool that this lady met her partner in high school and they stayed together until Nancy Garden passed away.

destiny said...


destiny said...

Never heard of a Janus. Thanks for that tidbit--and thanks again Special for another great spotlight.

Do we know for a fact Jake wasn't at the wedding? I guess if he was in the middle of shooting it may have been difficult to get down to Mexico.

Gotta say I'm surprised this wedding actually came off.

Florida Tom said...

Happy Birthday SK. Enjoy your day and many many more.

I also have never heard of the Janus. There have been many other classic losers when it comes to cars.

prairiegirl said...

Hey everyone, here is a link to a beautiful video that Tom found. I really enjoyed it, Tom, and I like the song, too.

Stadt Land Fluss

Very, very nice.

Methodical Muser said...

Happy Birthday, Ms. Special. Remember you're not getting older, you're getting hotter. Or, is that because of the number of candles on your birthday cake. ;-)

In any event, have a fantastic day and a spectacular year. You deserve it!

Seaweed said...


Wishing you all the best today and always. Cheering you on with you "special" Special skills, all the composition, gathering, spotlights, great images, and Jake and Austin love!

Many more to come !

the real m said...

Happy birthday, Special. Best wishes for many more to come.

Methodical Muser said...

Hey everyone, here is a link to a beautiful video that Tom found.

Have you seen the movie, Tom? It's worth seeing and has some similarities to Brokeback Mountain:

The M Report

Sunday, July 17, 2011 Movie Review - Harvest (Stadt Land Fluss)
Lukas Steltner (left) & Kai-Michael Muller
in "Harvest (Stadt Land Fluss)"
Stadt Land Fluss is the Award-winning, German film that premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival. TLA Releasing bought the film and played it regionally at Philadelphia Qfest. The English title is Harvest, but literally translated Stadt Land Fluss means "City Country River,' the reverse order of places where this movie takes you.

Lukas Steltner plays Marco, a lanky, short-haired blonde who is shy, has family problems and apparently can't write. He has an apprenticeship at a farm in or near Brandenburg. There, he learns how to write and especially how to be a farmer.

Kai-Michael Muller plays Jakob, a tall, curly-haired brunette who left his training as a banker to also work as an apprentice at the same Brandenburg farm. Jakob seems more sure than Marco about being at the farm or at least about wanting to be at the farm. Even though he's new to it all, Jakob takes to farming easily and quickly with only a few short stumbles along the way.

It takes about an hour of screen time though before the two young boys kiss. After that, their love affair plays out in only fifteen minutes or so with no hint of external homophobia to hinder them. There is some hesitation on Marco's behalf about pursuing this relationship openly, but that just seems more the result of his own shyness.

This is not a Brokeback Mountain situation, though writer-director Benjamin Cantu does employ a very similar shot as to one Ang Lee did. Marco and Jakob go to Lake Lehmkieten to hang out. Jakob is sitting next to the lake's edge when Marco emerges from the water. Jakob's profile is in the foreground while Marco's entire shirtless body can be seen in the background. It's an image that Stadt Land Fluss mirrors from Brokeback.

But, that's where the mirroring ends. Most depictions of men who fall in love with other men normally take place in cities and suburbs. Hardly any are set in rural areas with characters who actually want to stay in the rural areas. Cantu provides a template for potential stories about gay farmers, but more of a template than anything else.

Stadt Land Fluss harkens the early works of David Gordon Greene, Gus Van Sant or Larry Clark where Cantu is less telling a story in traditional narrative ways than he's more trying to show you a portrait of a place and people. Cantu has said in interviews that he's more of a documentarian. Besides Steltner and Muller, everyone and everything else in this movie are real places and people that Cantu merely documents.

The Brandenburg farm in question is a real farm with real apprenticeships that Cantu integrated into his movie rather well. He mostly doesn't invent scenarios but simply shows the reality going on there. One sequence involves Jakob being taken into the cow pasture and having a woman named Holger place an ear tag on a calf. Holger is the woman's real name. She's not an actress. Cantu merely threw Muller into the situation and filmed what naturally occurred.

Stadt Land Fluss is German for city country river and with Cantu's first image, he shows not a river but the naturally occurring refreshment that a river could bring with a simple shot of a water sprinkler. He shows us the naturally occurring farming demands of the country with various shots of the boys at work, and he finally takes his characters to the city where they can explore the equally, naturally occurring love burning between the two of them. It's quiet and it's beautiful.

Three Stars out of Five.
In German with English Subtitles.
Not Rated But Recommend for 13 and Up.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 28 mins.

Florida Tom said...

I loved the film. Saw it at The Philadelphia Film Fest the year it was released. It a typical German type film. Quiet and beautiful. The the young lovers were amazing.

Florida Tom said...

I also saw a film that same year called Strapped which was strange but very interesting. It was about a young hustler who was trapped in a hotel for the evening and could not find his way out. His adventures were very interesting. The ending is sweet. Little graphic but fun :-)
The full movie is on youtube. Jack might really like it.