Wolf Girls at Vassar: Lesbian and Gay Experiences, 1930-1990

Anne MacKay, Editor, Anne McKay, Editor, Lillian Faderman, Introduction by
Anne MacKay, Editor, Anne McKay, Editor, Lillian Faderman, Introduction by St. Martin's Press $9.95 (168p) ISBN 978-0-312-08923-8
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This volume too often reads like what it started as: a mailbag from someone else's alumni magazine. In Vassar's alumni quarterly, MacKay called for reminiscences of lesbian and gay students (the all-women's school went coed in the '70s), and the responses of 41 alums are compiled here. But the book will leave most readers feeling like strangers at a reunion, not knowing the buildings, the faculty, the gossip or the jokes. As might be expected from such a well-schooled group, the book is not devoid of insights. Indeed, there are many poignant moments, such as Beva Eastman's recollection of a teacher's failure to understand a paper she wrote drawing on her experiences as the child of an alcoholic. Too much of the book, however, is a repetitive litany of coming-out stories, tales of persecution by the university administration during the '50s and '60s, and recounting of first loves. As a sketchy oral history of the period, the book has some merit, but MacKay makes no effort to contextualize the offerings here. As a result, this book does a real disservice to a topic that is worthy of serious treatment. Freelance editor MacKay is a Vassar alumna. (June)
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