From Publishers Weekly
The bold premise of Smith's anthology is that contemporary lesbian and gay culture did not begin in June 1969 with the Stonewall riots. These 14 essays by "scholars trained as literary critics" do not form a social history, but "employ the methodologies of textual criticism to 'read' the queer iconography" present in much 1960s culture. Smith's contributors cover both obvious subjectsAlesbian pulp novels, the British playwright Joe Orton and Mart Crowley's The Boys in the BandAand surprising ones: Valerie Solanas and the S.C.U.M. Manifesto, Dusty Springfield's career and the homoeroticism of Jim Morrison. Smith's instinct that representations of homosexuality were not only prevalent in 1960s culture but clearly set the stage for the gay liberation movement is persuasive, and her choice of topics expands the parameters of how "queer culture" is conceptualized. At their best, the essays make astonishing, even brilliant associative leaps. In "Give Us a Kiss," Ann Shillinglaw links surrealism and sexual alienation in her dissection of the homoeroticism of the Beatles film A Hard Day's Night. In "Myra Breckenridge and the Pathology of Heterosexuality," Douglas Eisner uses New Left politics and feminism to explicate Gore Vidal's work. Unfortunately, many of the essays are shot through with the jargon of postmodern critical theory ("Solanas's attempt to resignify 'scum' in her manifesto must take into account its previous use by dominant discourses"), which may diminish the readership for this notable collection of essays. (July)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This eye-opening work of cultural history is recommended for larger public libraries and academic collections with gay studies or art specializations.
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Jeffery Ingram, Newport P.L., OR, Library Journal June 15, 1999
Smith's volum examines the iconography of queer sexuality in popular culture during the deacde preceding Stonewall. Fourteen essays arrange in five subsections appraoch this topic through subjects ranging from pulp fiction and pop music to theater and film. Smith (UCLA) provises an introcution, and each of the essays includes substantial notes. -Choice.
Smith collects a broad sampling of literary, film, and music criticism fora reading of the culture of the 1960s through queer-colored glasses. This eye-opening work of cultural history is recommended for larger public libraries and academic collections with gay studies or art specializations.
Library Journal, June 15, 1999