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After Delores Paperback – 5 Dec 2013

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
***Watch Out, New Edition Is Super Problematic! 12 Mar. 2014
By M. Alexander - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Because the amazon company has a poor rating system, where individual editions are not separately reviewed, I am rating the book itself four stars. Knowing, also, how Sarah Schulman's work has been treated in the past, I wouldn't want a bad review to offset the book's "site" rating.

All that said: if I could specifically rate the new 2013, 25th Anniversary Edition, I would rate it two stars. This book deserves a great design and sturdy build, and it has all of that. But it also has at least a dozen errors, rather obvious proofing errors. Schulman's work has gotten such poor treatment from publishers in the past that the problems with this new edition only underscore everything she's ever criticized about gay marketing, contemporary lesbian fiction, and publishing houses. It's just a shame, a serious shame!

If either Schulman (of course, it's not her fault) or Arsenal Pulp Press are keeping track of these reviews, then take some notes. Right from the beginning to the end, literally, there are obvious misspelled words, typographical errors or just pure negligence. In the author's introduction on page 7, you have "how we are viewed in a dominant cultur..." and on the very last page, there's a space making the word "and" look like "a nd." Near the bottom of page 33: "Nothing about it was glamorous of half scary." I think the "of" should be "or." On page 48, at the bottom of the page and at the end of a great theatrical monologue, you find "You know, I thik you're a lesbian." At first, I figured these errors were just scattered, misprinted errors, but they continue -- pg. 69, "I will not compoete for attention with a schoolgirl"; or pg. 123, "Some of them ahd been drinking already..."; or on page 139, I think there's a missing word: "...I think that Charlotte Punkette and I don't know what to do about it." These are not the only kind of errors, either: there are missing quotations marks, and misplaced or randomly placed quotation marks, and there are at least five or six counts of overlapping dialogue, where there are two lines of dialogue put together and it's legitimately confusing. I've read a few other books by Schulman, so I don't think this is a stylistic choice.

All told, I found about sixteen errors in this book. Putting it that way makes it petty, and maybe it is. But Schulman doesn't deserve this, and neither does 'After Delores.' Publishers, if you truly want to put out a handsome commemorative edition, what worse way to reverse that by putting out an edition that's so problematic? With a book by Sarah Schulman, of all people! The author of 'People In Trouble,' the book 'Rent' rips off and a fantastic novel in its own right -- or 'The Child' and 'Rat Bohemia,' both incredible and masterfully written...Again, can't say it enough, just a real shame.

---------- Because 'After Delores' is wonderful. Being familiar with the above books, and a few others (her essayic books 'Gentrification of Mind' and 'Ties That Bind' were timely, crucial reads for me, and I studied 'Shimmer' for a college class), I'd heard of this 1988 classic. I finally picked it up recently because it seemed the right time -- meaning, this is pulp fiction, I love lesbian writing and lesbian heroes even though I'm a homosexual male, and I'd just gone through a breakup. Dumped, for the first time.

The plot is simply described: in Lower East Side, 1980s New York, an unnamed narrator is a waitress working through the unbearable present tense that is life after getting dumped by a lover who, whether you can see it or not, doesn't really deserve you, anyway. She's feeling helpless. And then, by chance, a small source of rebellion and power falls into her lap, and for a few months, she keeps it tucked away while she wanders New York's subculture on the trail of a missing girl and her potential killer. It's part gritty chronicle, part murder mystery, and each part has equally jaded edges. You'll love that or you won't, but I love loosely recorded, coffee-stained Patti Smith, I like New York in the '80s, and I love lesbian characters who are by turns honest and liars as lovers because they know, *really* know, really get it, and make me wish I got it too. 'After Delores' has all that and more.

There's enough plot to keep the pages turning but ultimately it's "about" the interactions the narrator has with other NY lesbians, and in that way it reminded me of 'The Pure and The Impure' by Colette or 'City of Night' by John Rechy. It also made me laugh out loud, sigh deeply, and identify with an emotional violence that was cathartic for me, even if I'm not sure whether it was cathartic for the novel's heroine. It also made me want to read more detective stories about/with lesbians, evidently its own genre (e.g., Anne Holt), and this a pioneer.

But it also made me want to seek out an older edition! I'm not one for getting hung up on random nonsense in my books, author's intent or not. (Without literary pretension, but just to illustrate my point: the last book I bought was 'Finnegans Wake.') So it isn't out of nitpicking. I just know this book deserves better, and I know Sarah Schulman deserves better -- and frankly, I like it a lot, so *I* also deserve better.

BUY this book. Read it, love it, spend a hot afternoon with it, smoke a cigarette when you finish it. But avoid this 25th anniversary edition until the publishers put out a book worthy of that celebration.
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