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Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America Hardcover – February 2, 2012
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"Bram does a terrific job in cataloguing the lives of these important figures, from Vidal to James Baldwin to Michael Cunningham. He reveals their often tortured interior lives. His examinations of the works themselves are original and thoughtful. Eminent Outlaws is entertaining and informative, packed with interesting gossip and opinions."―Columbia Journalism Review
"As Bram's high-sounding subtitle promises-and these lives from Vidal through Baldwin and O'Hara to White and Kushner deliver-gay lib began as a literary movement; the aesthetic was always political, too....EMINENT OUTLAWS is the next (last?) step in reporting on literary lives that traces back to the gay dinner parties of yore. Few would have it any other way."―Newsweek
"Argumentative and often resonant, and lit from below by a gossipy wit. But its power is less sentence by sentence than cumulative. You don't realize how much the details of these writers' books and difficult lives have touched you until the book's final chapters.... With 'Eminent Outlaws' he has filled a gap in our critical literature."―The New York Times
"Bram's portraits of an often-reluctant gay literary vanguard is fascinating enough, but alongside a 50-year narrative of unexplored gay aesthetic, he also provides a parallel history of the gay-rights movement....Bram's bio-history is fun to read and will be the standard text of the defining era of gay literati glitterati."―Philadelphia Inquirer
"Bram uses a series of complex portraits of America's most influential gay literary lions to argue for their position in the pantheon of American culture.... Eminent Outlaws offers a crucial and fascinating overview of decades of American literary history."―Salon.com
"With keen insight into the essential relationship between storytelling and gay identity-as well as careful research into the journals, letters and books of America's great gay writers-Outlaws traces the cultural influence of gay literature throughout the second half of the 20th century.... Perhaps we have Bram's early sense of service as a boy scout to thank for the work he's done to preserve history in Outlaws. That Bram pulls it off with such style seems appropriate: it's a gay history, after all."―Next Magazine
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Top Customer Reviews
As he says in his Intro, "My models were literary histories that mix criticism with biography, social history, good gossip and a strong point of view" (p.xi) and I would say he succeeds admirably although sometimes he presses the pedal a bit hard on the gossip. He is free with his opinions and the social history accumulates a roll call of villains (Philip Roth, William F Buckley Jr, Wilfred Sheed, Elizabeth Hardwick, Stanley Kauffman among many others). The critic Joseph Epstein is quoted as writing of his four sons "Nothing they could ever do would make me sadder than if one of them were to become homosexual" (p.152). And surprises abound: Norman Mailer comes off looking relatively good!
But the focus is on literature and that is the reason to read this book. Judgements are plentiful. Of Christopher Isherwood: "A novel is such a small thing, but "A Single Man" has endured, like a mammal surrounded by dinosaurs" (p.116). Of Gore Vidal and Edmund White: "Yet while Vidal writes best about power, politics and history, White's strengths are sex, art, and - sometime - love. Each tends to stumble when he enters the other's domain" (p.175).
Like all good books of criticism, this one makes one eager to read the many works one may have missed or re-read others.Read more ›
I found myself completely enthralled despite the fact that I am intimately familiar with much of the history and anecdotes collected here. Indeed, this is a great book for anyone who wants to increase their knowledge of these great gay writers but isn't necessarily interested in reading any of the many exhaustive biographies available. The writers covered in the first two thirds truly changed America; their works have become an indelible part of our history and culture. [I do wish Bram would have included a few ladies; certainly a chapter could have been dedicated to Gertrude Stein, Lorraine Hansberry, Patricia Highsmith, Carson McCullers, Alice Walker, Rita Mae Brown, et al.]
Armistead Maupin and "Tales of the City" are discussed at length, and Mart Crowley's play "Boys in the Band," deservedly gets a thorough going over. These works are beloved to gay men of a certain age. Novels by Peter Cameron, Stephen McCauley and Michael Cunningham are mentioned to varying degrees. The author writes compellingly about the AIDS epidemic and the poetry and prose written in response to the disease. Long passages are dedicated to the brilliant dramas "Angels in America " and "The Normal Heart," though he ignores the musicals "Falsettos" or "Rent," which also dealt with the plague.
As interesting as these topics are, there is no denying that the last third is not nearly as interesting or focused as the first two.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Eminent Outlaws is a seamless account of the history of prominent gay male writers. The author does a superb job of weaving their lives together with a historical background that... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jack M. Walter
This is a fascinating book that recounts the lives and writings of American gay writers since World War II. Read morePublished 4 months ago by John Morn
Wonderful book! I'm really glad that I found this volume. It is a fantastic history, as well as a bit of a gossip-monger.Published 14 months ago by R.J.
I just finished this book. Very good read!!! So god, in fact, that I then bought his other book, "Gods & Monsters".Published 15 months ago by Jude Barnes
beautifully written, did a good job of weaving together the lives of these writers.Published 17 months ago by rhubarb jones