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

DIY Cheesecake

How I Photograph Myself, by Bunny Yeager, 1964

I pulled this gem from the SFPL’s 3rd floor page desk, which turned out to be quite a production. Apparently the book could only be looked at in a certain spot, a particular table next to the Art and Music reference desk, under the eagle eye of the reference librarian. I speculated it might be because Bunny Yeager’s photographs Continue reading

Single Girl Geneaology

The recent death of Helen Gurley Brown has had me dusting off my copy of Sex and the Single Girl for yet another pleasurable reread. It’s always a happy experience to leaf through my disintegrating paperback, contemplating the advice to drink my “serenity cocktail” on one page (among the many other things HGB anticipated was the jamba juice craze) and wear man-pleasing “slinky black” the next. As good friend and fellow-writer Lynn Peril puts it, “She was so right — and she was so wrong!” Continue reading

Distracted Lesbians with Cameras

One of my pet peeves about lesbian pulp fiction is how little attention the lesbians pay to career advancement. They have no work ethic — they’re always coming in late to the office in the morning or taking a sick day to nurse their hangovers. I think Beebo Brinker delivers less than a dozen pizzas in the course of Continue reading

Shutterbugs: Katie and Her Camera and Sharon James, Freelance Photographer

Katie And Her Camera (1955, Lois Hobart)

The Story: Dad has died and Katie has to get a job in order to finish college (a weak or absent patriarch is always a good excuse for a career). Inexperienced Katie applies for a part-time job as assistant to photographer Rolfe Esperson, who not only hires her but proceeds to teach her everything he knows, loans her his equipment, and pays her to boot. At one point he says she looks worn out and gives her a hundred dollars with instructions to go on Continue reading

The Wonderful World of Work

Maureen Corrigan, in her review of recent novels about the unemployed, started by saying that historically “the workaday world…has been considered too mundane to be of much interest.”  Poor Maureen–another otherwise well-read person completely unaware of the world of Career Girl books. I’m talking about books like Betty Loring, Illustrator (1948), Patti Lewis, Home Economist (1956), and A Flair for People (1955–the heroine is a personnel director). Despite growing up with the Beany Malone books (which she analyzes in her memoir Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading, Maureen somehow missed out on books like Date With A Career (1958), and Phoebe’s First Campaign (1963). Continue reading

Career Girls, 1942 Style

First edition of Laura, Eyre & Spottiswood, cover by Bip Pares

There was a double feature playing a few nights ago, Laura and Bedelia, both based on books by Vera Caspary. I was so exhausted from the grueling Noir City Film Festival pace (four movies on Saturday) that I thought I’d skip the movie version of Laura (which I’ve seen more times than I can remember) and read the book instead. Continue reading