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PULP FRICTION: Uncovering the Golden Age of Gay Male Pulps

Michael Bronski, Author
Michael Bronski, Author . St. Martin's/Griffin $14.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-312-25267-0
Reviewed on: 11/04/2002
Release date: 01/01/2003
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4668-5973-9
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Noting research that included reading "just over 225 novels," cultural critic Bronski (The Pleasure Principle) delightfully chronicles gay pulp novels from their emergence in the late 1940s through the post-Stonewall era in this expansive, exhaustively researched amalgam of fiction and gay history. In the earliest novels, homosexual characters were often drawn as angst-ridden men living hideaway lives. These mild tales gave way to the more outrageous and sexually intrepid plot lines of the 1950s and early '60s as gay male pulps gained momentum—typical is a locker-room fantasy scene from Jay Little's Maybe—Tomorrow. As the 1960s progressed, fiction grew bolder in form and content. Richard Amory's lush The Song of the Loon was a landmark title, its literary aspirations plain, while other titles of the era—racy fictions like Jack Love's Gay Whore, a melodrama set on Fire Island, and the pseudonymous Memoirs of Jeff X—were willing to settle for being "extraordinarily profitable." The gay revolution unleashed by the Stonewall riots is boldly evident in excerpts by Marcus Miller (from Gay Revolution), and a selection from Bruce Benderson's 1975 erotic potboiler, Kyle. Prefacing each section with thoughtful background on the period, Bronski then steps back to let the generous novel excerpts speak for themselves. Bronski has searched thoroughly and thought-provokingly, and this book should pop up on required reading lists for gay studies courses (the extensive appendix is invaluable). This is obviously a labor of love, and an absolute must for gay historians and those interested in stimulating gay fiction from years gone by. (Jan.)

Forecast: Dual marketing to history buffs and fiction readers should double this title's chances.

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