Things I didn’t post on FaceBook and Why

A brief list:

What to say? best say nothing.

  • Quote from Simone de Beauvoir’s Mémoires d’une Jeune Fille Rangée about her désespoir. On second thought, pretentious. Plus Facebook’s auto-translate would mangle the meaning.
  • Opinion of I, Tonya. On second thought, my private opinion. Why share?
  • Opinion of Darkest Hour. Ditto.
  • Opinion of Moontide. Ditto.
  • Comment on depressing story in news. I think a dozen people have already said the same thing. And if I try for originality I’ll end up making another Ayn Rand reference and leaving the wrong impression.
  • Comment on American political situation. What is there to say, really? Parallels to French under occupation kind of pretentious as well as obscure.
  • Comment on politics. Am I actually interested in politics? No. Best not to reveal this.
  • Photo of man fishing in music concourse fountain for change late at night. On second thought, this feels like an invasion of privacy. Plus, parallels to Dickens’s London kind of pretentious. Plus photo blurry.
  • Photo of self on rural walk. Way too private to post pictures of self, especially doing something private, like walking or going about my life.
  • Opinion of Yves Saint Laurent documentary. Excessive Francophilia starting to be embarrassing.
  • Photo of picturesque cityscape taken during my commute. Too busy racing cars and other cyclists to actually take photos.
  • Photo of comic sign on Clement Street. This has probably been done enough. Plus photo blurry and too dark.
  • Plans to go to Gay Games in Paris. See above, re privacy, Francophilia
  • Photo of dish at fancy restaurant. Seems like other people have this covered. Plus see above, privacy, parallels to Dickens.
  • Photo of cute child. Kids I know are now too old to be cute. Plus invasion of privacy on multiple levels.
  • Kitten Photo. Misleading, as I have no kittens.

Activist Pep

There’s a treasured shelf in my collection of mid-century teen fiction and career girl books. It holds those rare voumes in which the burgeoning civil rights movement of the sixties collides with the whitebread high school fantasies of the fifties to form a schizophrenic hybrid of the malt shoppe romance and the problem novel. It’s culture clash, Y-Teen style.

Titles include Julie’s Heritage (a black high school girl grapples with racism and dating), Why Did You Go to College Linda Warren? (good-girl Linda gets embroiled with anti-war activists during her first year of college), Lots of Love, Lucinda (Corry’s white family invites a black student from the south to stay with them and go to school in the North), Continue reading

Sad Young Men Across the Pond

The Heart in Exile by Rodney Garland, W.H. Allen 1953

Cover line: A disturbingly frank novel of homosexuality in London

I discovered this gay British novel, not precisely a pulp but on the pulpy end of the spectrum, through a citation in my favorite book of 2015, The Spiv and The Architect. “Queer novels of the 1950s frequently exploited the continued currency of the traditional moral economy of furniture and design as a useful device for highlighting the domestic propriety of their respectable ‘homosexual’ protagonists,” wrote author Richard Hornsey, using The Heart in Exile as his example. He ties the novel’s detailed description of a bachelor flat to the way “a specter of malignant queerness haunted modern design,” leading to the perception of modern furniture as “an agent of corruption that would seduce children from the normative rituals of family life.” Who wouldn’t be intrigued?

The Plot: The suicide that ends many pulps starts this one. Tony Page, a queer, currently celibate psychiatrist takes on a new patient, Ann Hewitt. Continue reading

Just Plain Pulp

Kate, by Chet Kinsey, Beacon, 1959

Cover Line: “A novel that tells the truth about those homes for unwed mothers…”

Add this book to the category, “I’ve slogged through it so you don’t have to.” This is a perfect example of the mediocre stuff that was churned out solely to keep those drugstore bookracks filled. Did even Barbara Grier read this? I doubt it. Some friend said, Continue reading

The Man Who Would Be Lesbian

69 Barrow Street, by Lawrence Block writing as Sheldon Lord, Tower, 1959

Cover Line: “Their Love was Right! But Their Sex Was Wrong!”

We’ve all known them: the men who long to be lesbians. in the days before they found an outlet for their frustrated desires by dominating the discussions in women studies classes with passionate paeans to Monique Wittig, they wrote lesbian pulp.

Does Lawrence Block belong to this esoteric tribe? One thing is for sure: before becoming Continue reading

Bookstore Chronicles: The Power of Positive Thinking

I had a busy day at the bookstore Tuesday. There was a box from triliteral to unpack (I want all the books in the semiotexte series — so small, so simply designed, with such apocalyptic titles) and I was entering the books in the system while customers kept interrupting me — which is good! No complaints. We like it when people buy books.

A man in town for a convention asked if we had any books on dachshunds. No, I said, after conscientiously doing a keyword check, was he a dachshund fan? he wasn’t, his wife was. But stronger than a fan she was…”obsessed?” I Continue reading

The Queen of Pep

Lenora Mattingly Weber

Once upon a time I was attempting to summarize my books for a friend of my brother’s while my niece and the friend’s two kids ran around my brother’s living room wreaking havoc.

In the midst of my long-winded dissertation on lesbian pulp fiction, its historical context, my attempts to reimagine it, etc, my brother looked up from his iPhone and interrupted. Continue reading

Journey to Ann Bannon

Journey to a Woman, by Ann Bannon, Fawcett Gold Medal, 1960

Classic Line: “All the dormant fires of her younger days had sprung to life and they burned in her still, tempting her, torturing her until she knew she would have to find release somewhere or die of it.”

It took me many years to appreciate Ann Bannon’s contribution to lesbian literature. Bannon wrote five pulps between 1957 and 1962, linked novels that tell the intertwined, melodramatic adventures of Laura, Beth, and Beebo. The books made her Continue reading

Sad Young Men of LA

The Why Not, Victor Banis, A Greenleaf Classic, 1966

Best Line: “The Why Not represented everything he disliked about gay bars–screaming faggots, drag queens, rough trade. It was cheap and tawdry and, probably because of those qualities, successful.”

The above describes the book as well as the bar. I’ve been doing a little research on gay male pulp, in preparation for the upcoming pulp panel, and from what I’ve read The Why Not was the Women’s Barracks of the genre, a ground-breaking novel that led the way for books like Midtown Queen and Hot Pants Homo. Continue reading

Designing Lesbians

The Odd Ones, Edwina Mark, Berkley Books, 1959

“Jean discovered her true sexual nature through the expert teachings of sleek Sherri Lancaster.”

The Plot: Orphaned outcast Jean Grant is so desperate to get out of her hick town and discover her “true nature” she elopes with sensitive Tim, the unhappy son of the lecherous druggist (who is also Jean’s employer). After gritting her teeth through their wedding night, Jean steals Tim’s $1000 nest egg and hightails it to New York. There she checks into a cheap hotel and sets out to explore the city, alternately racked by guilt and overflowing with delirious joy at her newfound freedom. Continue reading