Advocate Bookshelf: Gay Baseball, Perverse Painters, and the Religious Right

The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard, edited by Ron Padgett and Paul Auster (Library of America, $35)

Joe Brainard was a gay painter, set designer, writer, and influential Greenwich Village personality during the 1960s and ’70s. Brainard, who died in 1994 of AIDS-related pneumonia, is best remembered as the author of the unusual book I Remember, which was really a litany of things he remembered from his childhood, including “I remember white bread and tearing off the crust and rolling the middle part up into a ball and eating it” and “I remember crossing your fingers behind your back when you tell a lie.”

This must-read 544-page collection of Brainard's writing is a fun and utterly enjoyable pairing of I Remember with  mini-essays, nano stories (“Ten years ago I left home to go to the city and strike it big. But the only thing that was striking was the clock as it quickly ticked away my life”), reimagined comic strips (like Dick Tracy thinking, “Beware of boys in tight pants”), ruminations, favored quotes, overheard phrases (“Things we see from car windows are remembered for many years”), and reflections on art. (  


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