PRINT April 2003


The 1993 appearance of WAYNE KOESTENBAUM’s third book, The Queen's Throat, confirmed the author’s singular presence on the literary landscape—and it signaled a fresh turn in American criticism. Forecasting an appetite for “mythologies” as divergent as Jackie O and Andy W, his ecstatic meditation on opera, homosexuality, and desire revitalized cultural studies just as they threatened to succumb to disciplinary dreariness. For this issue, Koestenbaum revisits his own literary coming of age in the 1980s.

Les Fleuves m’ont laissé descendre où je voulais.

—Arthur Rimbaud

I met Tama Janowitz once in the 1980s. (Was it 1987?) She probably doesn’t remember our encounter. She was a visiting fellow at Princeton, where I was a graduate student in English. At a university gathering, Joyce Carol Oates complimented the ostentatious way that Tama and I were dressed. Seeking system, I replied, “Tama is East

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