Southernmost Currents: Liminal Narratives of Love in the Florida Straits Open Access

Solomon, Eric (2017)

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Southernmost Currents: Liminal Narratives of Love in the Florida Straits begins with a question of shifting foundations--What if we reimagined the category of "Southern" literature by exploring the vibrant literary ecology of the United States' southernmost spot? --and a playful question of intimate positions--Why have the Florida Straits been so flowery and queer? --in an effort to read the lives and works of four authors (Carson McCullers, Tennessee Williams, Reinaldo Arenas, and John Hersey) who experienced and/or imagined various ideas of love in/from the one-mile wide island of Key West at the tail end of the Florida Keys archipelago. In so doing, this dissertation enters existing conversations in the New Southern Studies in seeking to construct new imagined maps of southern cultural history.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents Introduction 1

I.1: "Most Southern," Southernmost: Out of the Southern Sahara, Into the Straits 2

I.2: "Place on Earth," Currents: Pinpointing a Porous Frame 13

I.3: Liminal, Love: Ideas of a Terraqueous Order 23

I.4: (Liminal) Narratives (of Love): McCullers, Williams, Arenas, and Hersey 28

I.5: Florida Straits: the "Most Homophobic Place on Earth," PULSE 39

Chapter One:

Re-reading the McCullers Mystique: Intercurrence, Homophilia, and the Homophile in Clock Without Hands 41

1.1: The Stroke, the Pestle, and the Clock at "10": On Dying and Livingness 42

1.2: Intercurrent, 1955: A Fraternity of Hate 55

1.3: Intercurrent, 1955: Transience, Travel, and Littoral Livingness 60

1.4: 1955: McCullers At the Edge of the Sea (or Suspended in the Straits) 62

1.5: Intercurrent, 1955: (C)littoral Awakenings, the McCullers Mystique, and Transpoetics 69

1.6: Intercurrent, 1961: The Rejected, the Mattachine, and the Knights of the Clock 88

1.7: 1961: Clock Without Hands: Lambones and the Homophile 91 1.8: Post-Current: 1967 107 Chapter Two:

Tennessee Williams in the Keys: Frank Merlo and the Monster 109

2.1. Introduction: Margin, Rod Ross Reflection, Emotional Currents 110

2.2: Magnani, McCullers, and Morrison: Archipelagic Family, Literary Genealogies, and a Makeshift 1431 116

2.3: Merlo: Cross Currents, The Rose Tattoo and Being Frank 124

2.4: The Monster: Rip Currents 150

2.5: Conclusion: One Huge Tongue, Critical Engulfment, and "Boca Chica" 175

Chapter Three:

The Art of Unselfing: Reinaldo Arenas and the Power of the Charge (+/-) in the Martyrs 182

3.1: Basics, Formulas, and Deviations: On Personal and Electrical Power 183

3.2: This Island Named ______: Image and Arenas as Archipelago 190

3.3: Our Galloping Sun: the Arenasian Charge, Before Night Falls as Electric Composition, and Becoming (+) 214

3.4: Martyr: the Pentagonia, Unselfing (-), and "Flight" 225

3.5: "How Love is Still Unrooting You": Mariel, "End of a Story," and Reversing the Loop (____) 239

3.6: Key to the Gulf 256 Chapter Four:

"A Matter of Friendship": John Hersey's "Deeper Currents," Queer-Philia, and the AIDS Bomb 258

4.1: Shifting Sands, Different Currents: Arenas and Hersey in 1974 259

4.2: The Key of the Gulf--Poetry--Whether Are We Drifting--A Matter of Friendship 260

4.3: A Liminal Lead: The Hersey Family News, "Reporting Fact, Inventing Fiction," and Other "Nonsense" 263

4.4: "Deeper Currents": the Writer's Craft, the Writer's Compound, and the White Man's Coming Out 271

4.5: May Day, mayday: "Get Up" in the Age of AIDS 279

4.6: "Get Up," ACT UP: On Martyrdom and Moralism in AIDS Writing 298

4.7: The A-Bomb Disease: Queer Hibakusha and Hersey's Ground Zero 309

4.8: Hiroshima, Mon Amour and the Road to "Twicetown" 322

"Like Rubble Under the Current": A Twicetown Coda 326

Notes 335 Works Cited 359

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