Containing Multitudes Since 2004
Lesbian Pulps have some of the most awesome covers ever. Subversive as hell, and glad to do it. Even tho the progression was still to grind down and punish the "inverts", and the mass marketing was half-aimed at men with inquiring minds and loose flys, the whole aspect of their existence in the post-war right-turn hysteria was a slap in the face to convenionality. Who'd'a thunk it - from "The Well Of Loneliness" to "Strange Sisters" to today's breadth and depth of the lesbian oeuvre which are often entirely readable from a conventional standpoint, show a clear progression from darkness to daylight. Now if we could only get that hard-won lesson clearly understood by the enabler lesbic-kapos like Cheney's daughter and her ilk, maybe we can get some real progress in a harmonious society done around here. BCNU
In the interests of full disclosure, I've read exactly one Lesbian pulp (The Price of Salt; 1952); and only because it was written by Patricia Highsmith under a pseudonym. But, it seems to me that one of the regrettable consequences of our present enlightenment (well . . . more or less) on matters of same-sex frolicking was the gradual winnowing away of this subversive quality. In other words, with progress comes a kind of embrace of conventionality; a mediocritizing absorption into the mainstream that can't help but lessen its ability to revitalize a culture constantly in need of revitalizing.To put it another (perhaps more crude) way, there's more subversive value in something like Montgomery Clift and John Ireland comparing their guns in one scene of Hawks' Red River than there is in the whole of Brokeback Mountain
Caveat myself - I was only able to read the ones I did because they were being tossed - I got to em prolly 10-20 years after they came out, and were really dated, which made them kinda fun to read. I'll let the Highsmith one go as pulp, but only barely - it's really only a big name slumming in the cheap aisles and more of a soap than a pulp - but it also got a kind of critical interest the ephemeral high-acid-paperbacks could only dream of. Those lurid little paperbacks that made up the bulk of bulk publishing weren't great art at all, certainly not of Highsmith's class, and were pretty much spoken about in low tones all around. This may have made the attraction as magnetic as possible, but I'm kind of glad the overall enlightenment has made more stuff available even tho we've lost the double-entendre aspect. ;-) I do miss the salacious implications of the pulp cover art, which of course, never really was matched in the stories I read like they are now, in pretty x-rated fashion. Some of the pulpier lesbian crime fiction nowadays is verrrry interesting. :0And there's even a little macho pistol-sizing-one-ups - jhow weirdly macho izzat?
If you can find it, the National Film Board documentary Forbidden Love goes into the history of the lesbian pulps, interviewing author Ann Bannon (Odd Girl Out).
Thanks, Stephen, I'll have to look it up! I recommend "Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit", with the late, great Charlott Coleman - a nifty lesbian coming-of-age film that has an undercurrent of disturbed, almost horrific, fundamentalist religious repression. Coleman is very, very, good, and it actually has a positive ending. BCNU
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