Well, I haven’t read any new lesbrary books since last post (I’m still working through a stack of library books), so I thought I’d introduce a new feature: Lesbrary Lust. Lesbrary Lust posts are about books I desperately want to read, but don’t yet own and can’t get through my library. This Lesbrary Lust post is about two books on a central theme: lesbian pulp fiction.
I’ve had a fascination with lesbian pulp fiction for a while now. I have lesbian pulp fiction magnets and the lesbian pulp address book, though I’ve only read three of the actual books: Another Kind of Love and Love is Where You Find It by Paula Christian, The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, and Spring Fire by Vin Packer. That’s because those were at my public library (yes, I have an awesome library) and honestly, they were pretty forgettable. Regardless, just the covers of these books are enough to fascinate me. Just look at the Strange Sisters collection of lesbian pulp covers (wow, I’m using a lot of links this post). The women are almost always at least partially undressed, and often there’s a shadowy, sinister man in the background. The titles are also something, like the classic Satan was a Lesbian, now going from $300-500, though it first sold for 95 cents, which explains why I haven’t read more of it: lesbian pulp fiction tends to be expense, at least $30 for a small used paperback.
It seems odd that lesbian pulp is such a major part of lesbian history, considering it was primarily written for and by straight men. They were considered pretty scandalous for the time, so to get around obscenity laws, these books had to have a moral. Usually this moral was “homosexuality is wrong”. That meant that the vast majority of lesbian pulp ended terribly for the lesbians involved. One or both of the women either died or went crazy. A popular ending was a terrible car crash. Often the remaining partner was swept off by that shadowy man in the background of the cover, having learned her lesson.
Lesbian pulp wasn’t all bad news, though. Regardless of the content, they were proof of one thing: we’re not alone. Closeted lesbians in the 50s and 60s would squirrel these away under their mattress, or pass them between friends. They also advertised a sort of queer mecca, a wonderful place where you could be out and happy (Greenwich Village). Besides, there were even a minority of lesbian pulp writers who were lesbians themselves, or at least sympathetic to them. The Price of Salt was the first lesbian pulp to have a “happy” ending (as in, not a terrible ending), proving that lesbian pulp helped to pave the way for more lesbian literature.
So, to sum up: lesbian pulp is a) campy and hilarious and b) an important part of our collective history. How could anyone not be fascinated by that? Obviously, I want to read more of it, but I don’t have the money to build a collection (at least not yet). I’d be happy to just read more books about lesbian pulp, though, which brings us to the books I’ve been lusting after.
Lesbian Pulp Fiction by Katherine V. Forrest provides a collection of excerpts from 23 of some of the best lesbian pulp out there, as well as a brief overview of lesbian pulp in general, I think. This has been really highly rated and seems to be the book on lesbian pulp, so I obviously want it quite desperately. Well, hopefully I’ll find the cash for it soon, as well as for my next object of lesbrarian lust: Strange Sisters by Jaye Zimet.
Where Lesbian Pulp Fiction is about the best stories lesbian pulp has to offer, Strange Sisters is an examination of the artwork. Strange Sisters includes about 200 different hilarious and sexual covers. Although my lesbian pulp address book has a bit of this (it has about 26 covers and a brief description of the plot), but it’s only a taste; I would love to be able to look through all of these.
Have you read any lesbian pulp, or Lesbian Pulp Fiction, or Strange Sisters? What did you think of them?
Also, feel free to send me a review! I haven’t had any guest lesbrarian posts yet, and I’d love to put one up! It’s easy: just click on the Guest Lesbrarians link at the top (or click here) for details.