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The Painted Ladies 

Wednesday, Mar 31 2010
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William T. Vollmann is, of course, the man who brought us an exhaustive, seven-volume examination of violence, Rising Up and Rising Down, based on more than 20 years of research. Mr. Big Issue (let’s not forget 2007’s also-large Poor People) now tackles the topics of femininity and gender performance in his new book, Kissing the Mask: Beauty, Understatement, and Femininity in Japanese Noh Theater. Starting with the female impersonators of this traditional Japanese performance, Vollmann goes down the well-trod and ever-fruitful road of asking, “What is femininity?” He explores all manner of woman, from the paper dolls in American fashion magazines to painter Andrew Wyeth’s white ladies in repose. And a transsexual enclave in Los Angeles! Tonight’s reading likely asks and answers questions far beyond the Mars and Venus gender snore.
Tue., April 13, 6 p.m., 2010

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Tara Jepsen

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