Shelves: glbtq Beebo Brinker is described as lesbian pulp fiction. Written in by Ann Bannon, it is a prequel to the immensely popular series featuring this character. The series is one huge stepping stone along the path of gay and lesbian acceptance in the community. Its hard to know how to approach this review. Do I treat it solely as a reading experience, from my present day perspective?

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She took comfort in a vibrant imaginary life during this time and found solace in writing. One became a character in her books: a perennial bachelor named Jack who slung jokes and witticisms at the audiences. She recalls it was an awkward situation, even though the older sorority sister was "unfailingly gracious" to the younger one. She recalled entering the communal restroom and seeing the sister, "both of us in underwear, and experienc ing a sort of electric shock", and trying not to stare at her.

Bannon said, "Both books completely obsessed me for the better part of two years. In the beginning of her marriage she was left alone quite a lot and said, "I was kind of desperate to get some of the things that had been consuming me for a long time down on paper. The retail opportunities of paperback books grew about tenfold with this method. The book depicts a lesbian relationship the author witnessed, ending with one of the women committing suicide.

It sold 4. The books made for cheap, easy reading that could be discarded at the end of a trip at very little cost to the customer. Because of the low quality of production, they earned the name pulp fiction. Vin Packer, whose real name is Marijane Meaker , and Gold Medal Books were overwhelmed with mail from women who identified with the lesbian characters. On writing to Meaker, she said, "To this day I have no idea why she responded to me out of the thousands of letters she was getting at that time.

Thank God she did. I was both thrilled and terrified. It was a story about the women in her sorority whom she admired, with a subplot consisting of two sorority sisters who had fallen in love with each other. Carroll told her to take it back and focus on the two characters who had an affair. Bannon claims she went back and told their story, delivered the draft to Carroll and saw it published without a single word changed.

She said of the women she saw in Greenwich Village, "I wanted to be one of them, to speak to other women, if only in print. And so I made a beginning—and that beginning was the story that became Odd Girl Out. They featured four characters who appeared in at least three of the books in a chronological saga of coming to terms with their homosexuality and navigating their ways through gay and lesbian relationships.

As was custom with pulp fiction novels, neither the cover art nor the title were under the control of the author. Both were approved by the publisher in order to be as suggestive and lurid as possible. Lesbians depicted in literature were relatively rare in the s. One or both usually ended up committing suicide, going insane, or leaving the relationship. Post Office instead of private companies delivering directly to stores, postal inspectors would send the books back to the publisher if homosexuality was depicted positively.

The characters and their stories served as an extension of the fantasy life Bannon developed as a child. They became her "fantasy friends" whose loves and lives she witnessed and through which she lived her own life vicariously, helping her through a difficult marriage, and a longing for a life she did not feel she was free to live.

I know that sounds crazy in the 60s, but I was raised by my mother and grandmother, who really came out of that era, and talk about a rigid role-playing crowd! It was terrifying. Laura has to choose between a straight woman with a wild and curious streak, and a fascinating new character that proved to be her most popular of the series, [25] Beebo Brinker, who came to embody the description of a thoroughly butch lesbian.

Beebo was smart, handsome, chivalrous, and virile. Once again based on what Bannon knew, Beebo was nearly 6 feet 1. The personality however, Bannon says, was drawn out of her sheer need for Beebo to exist. After spending time in Greenwich Village and not finding anyone like her, Bannon instead created her. She was just, quite literally, the butch of my dreams. There were mostly propositions from men, but the letters from women thanked her profusely and begged her for reassurance that they would be all right.

They wrote to me in thousands, asking me to confirm these wonderful things, which I gladly did—even though I felt only marginally better informed than they were.

He was interested enough in the money she made from them, however, but had forbidden her to use her married surname, not wishing to see it on a book cover with art of questionable taste. Beebo really, in a way, had my nervous breakdown for me I think I was overwhelmed with grief and anger that I was not able to express," she recalled later. The book examined interracial relationships , self-loathing in matters of sexuality and race, alcoholism , jealousy, violence, and as Laura marries Jack in an atypical arrangement in the s, also explored the intricate details of what it was like to pass as heterosexual in an attempt to live some semblance of what was considered a normal life at the time.

She tries to find Laura again nine years after college, and escapes a deranged woman who has a fixation on her, a reflection of a relationship Bannon had with a beautiful, but "very bewildered and unstable person. They have a brief relationship, after which Beth finds Laura married to Jack and with a child, then discovers Beebo as well. A fifth book, The Marriage, also published in , again addresses issues of love outside the realm of socially acceptable relationships, although it is not primarily about homosexuality.

In it, Jack and Laura are friends with a young married couple who discover they are brother and sister, and must decide whether they will stay together or conform to societal standards. Beebo gets off the bus from her rural hometown into New York City to find a waiting friend in Jack, and to discover herself. She begins an affair with a famous and fading movie star, and follows her to California, only to return to be more honest about what she wants in her life.

One of them was a chapter that had been cut from the final draft of Women in the Shadows. She stated later, "It began to be very painful. Then, in , Barbara Grier of the lesbian publishing company Naiad Press actively tracked Bannon down and reissued the books in new covers.

Grier discussed the novels, answering the question of who among lesbian paperback authors should be highlighted: "Ann Bannon. Without even a discussion In terms of actual influence, sales, everything, Bannon. Not being tenured, she was unsure how the information would be received. However, word got out: "I was jet-propelled out of the closet.

People stared at me around campus, and the PE majors all waved. My chairman told me to put the books into my promotion file, and one of my colleagues told me my file was the only one that was any fun.

It had seemed to me, up to that point, that not only had the books and the characters died, so had Ann Bannon. The books were selected for the Quality Paperback Book Club in Bannon also provided the foreword for Strange Sisters: The Art of Lesbian Pulp Fiction — in , discussing her reaction to the artwork on her own books and the other lesbian pulp fiction books she bought and read.

Reacting to the renewed interest in the books, Bannon wrote in the introduction to Odd Girl Out that she was shocked to find out that her characters were not only remembered but that they were archetypes among the lesbian community. Bannon often admits to being surprised by this, explaining that she had no such aspirations when she was writing Odd Girl Out: "If I had known, it might well have resulted in a much more polished product, but one that would have been so cautious and self-conscious as to be entirely forgettable.

It would never—my best guess—have had the vibrant life it has now. Lesbian author and historian Joan Nestle called the books "survival literature", [39] explaining: "In whatever towns or cities these books were read, they were spreading the information that meant a new hope for trapped and isolated women".

Bannon depicts strict roles of butch and femme, and gays and lesbians as self-destructive, closeted, paranoid, and alcoholic. When Laura declares her joy in her love for Beth in Odd Girl Out while simultaneously questioning if it is right, Loewenstein states "one hears quite clearly the voice of Ann Bannon, questioning her own right to happiness".

In receiving no clear answers from Bannon herself, women were left to try to figure these questions out for themselves. Hamer writes, "What Bannon did was to provide a range of possible trajectories to lesbianism Bannon, by constructing fictional biographies for her lesbian characters, produced a new knowledge about how one arrives at a lesbian identity.

The duality of their relationship is expressed not only in skin color but through their personalities. Laura, blond and passionate, contrasts with Tris, who is dark but emotionally detached. Beth is followed by Vega, a woman scarred deeply—both emotionally and physically—with whom Beth had an affair.

Vega shoots herself at the end of the story. To them some of it looks negative and some of it looks depressing. I always felt excited when I was writing them. Christopher Nealon adds that the characters are also trying to "understand the relationship between their bodies and their desires"; the continuing appeal of the novels, Nealon states, is due to the characters being "beautifully misembodied". Jack labels Laura "Mother" and continues to refer to this nickname instead of her real name throughout the series, as though Bannon—through Jack—is vaguely mocking Freud and the ideas that have framed the construction of sexuality in the s.

Bannon chooses the first character, an "everyman" named—significantly—Jack Mann, with whom the male audience identifies, only to divulge that he is gay and has maternal instincts. Barale writes that Bannon manipulates male readers to become interested in the story, then turns them into voyeurs and imposes homosexual desires upon them, though eventually places them in a safe position to understand a gay story from a heterosexual point of view.

From the midst of a repressive era, from the pen of a very proper, scholarly, seemingly conforming wife and mother, came this astonishingly open queer figment of fictional being, like molten material from some volcano of the lesbian soul.

Bannon insisted on the continuity of lesbian love, while everything in her culture was speaking of its quick and ugly demise. As described in Beebo Brinker, one had to knock on the door and be recognized before being let in. In reality, women were not allowed to wear pants in some bars in New York City. Police raided bars and arrested everyone within regularly; [60] [61] a raid on a gay bar prompted the seminal Stonewall riots in that started the gay rights movement.

Because of the atmosphere of secrecy and shame, little was recorded at the time about what it was like to be gay then, and Bannon unwittingly recorded history from her own visits to Greenwich Village. Forrest claimed Bannon and her books "are in a class by themselves" and credits Bannon with saving her life, writing in , "Overwhelming need led me to walk a gauntlet of fear up to the cash register.

Fear so intense that I remember nothing more, only that I stumbled out of the store in possession of what I knew I must have, a book as necessary to me as air I found it when I was eighteen years old. It opened the door to my soul and told me who I was. It was successful enough to be moved Off Broadway for another ten-week run in They were tempted to make it more appealing by turning to camp for comedy. However, one of the writers said, "I just felt like, how can you turn these people into a joke?

I mean, these people are real people! Why would I direct a play where I held the characters in some sort of contempt or felt that they were ridiculous? We are allowed to do something else besides camp. Bannon read excerpts of her work and discussed the effects of her writing on her own life and the lives of her readers. Bannon also speaks at gay-themed events around the country and is working on her memoirs.

In a recent editorial written by Bannon in Curve , she discussed how her books survived despite criticisms by censors, Victorian moralists, and purveyors of literary "snobbery" in writing, "To the persistent surprise of many of us, and of the critics who found us such an easy target years ago, the books by, of and for women found a life of their own.


Beebo Brinker

Beebo is clearly welling up with a terrible secret that forced her to move east, and guilt that comes with leaving her father alone. Jack helps Beebo get a job delivering pizzas one of the advantages is that she can wear pants for Pete, who is a little creepy, and his wife who cooks. Jack also allows Beebo to live with him until she gets on her feet, and allows her the time and space to ask the questions he knows she needs to ask. When she admits her frank admiration for a woman she sees, Jack tells her about lesbians , and she reacts with obvious fascination. He escorts her to several gay bars in the Village where she is astonished and touched by what she recognizes in herself. She is roused a couple days later to make a delivery to the apartment of an outrageous movie star, Venus Bogardus, who lives with her lonely teenaged son whom Beebo befriends. Venus, in turn, divulges her past loves with men and women and seduces Beebo.


The Beebo Brinker Chronicles

She took comfort in a vibrant imaginary life during this time and found solace in writing. One became a character in her books: a perennial bachelor named Jack who slung jokes and witticisms at the audiences. She recalls it was an awkward situation, even though the older sorority sister was "unfailingly gracious" to the younger one. She recalled entering the communal restroom and seeing the sister, "both of us in underwear, and experienc ing a sort of electric shock", and trying not to stare at her.

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