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Monday, 27 February 2012

"Eminent Outlaws: The GayWriters Who Changed America"

Book Review, at the Star Tribune:

Once World War II was over, there was no stopping gay writers from stepping out of the shadows.
It is remarkable to recall, as Christopher Bram does in "Eminent Outlaws," that 1948 saw publication of two overtly gay novels -- Gore Vidal's "The City and the Pillar" and Truman Capote's "Other Voices, Other Rooms." Capote's novel was "dazzling," said the Chicago Tribune, but Time magazine said his "theme is calculated to make the flesh crawl." Both books were bestsellers.
Bram, best known as a novelist ("Gods and Monsters"), gives an endlessly fascinating, first-of-its-kind account of about a dozen gay novelists, poets and playwrights, from Vidal and Tennessee Williams to Tony Kushner and Edmund White, each of whom had far-reaching impact over five postwar decades.
Even for those familiar with these writers, Bram's book serves an invaluable, connect-the-dots function. It's also an amiable, opinionated and occasionally gossipy guide to famous feuds, love affairs and literary treasures worth rediscovering.
-full review at 

In an interview with the Strib, Christopher Bram named his personal favourites by some of the authors discussed in Eminent Outlaws: 
  • Edward Albee: "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"Hands down.
  • James Baldwin: "Another Country." In a way this is a post-gay novel. It has gay and straight characters and a sex scene between a gay man and a straight man. It's the mid-'60s and he's already writing a post-gay novel.
  • Christopher Isherwood: "Down There on A Visit." I love "A Single Man," but "Down There on a Visit" is even better. I love its scope.
  • Edmund White: "A Farewell Symphony." It has a wimpy last quarter, but it has great stuff before then.
  • Tennessee Williams: "A Streetcar Named Desire." The great American play, with a major gay episode in it.
  • Armistead Maupin: "The Night Listener"
  • Andrew Holleran: "Dancer from the Dance." It really holds up. It's now become a great historical novel of New York in the '70s.

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