Most Helpful First | Newest First
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pulp masterpiece,
This review is from: I Am a Woman (Lesbian Pulp Fiction) (Paperback)I started reading this book and only reluctantly put it down -to go to work, etc- picked it up again, racing towards the ending and when I got there I logged on to the Internet and ordered the rest of Bannon's available novels. Apart from the quality of the writing (evocative, to an extent naive, almost transparent), the story (a young lesbian fleeing to the big city from both heartbreak and an abusive father and falling in love with a straight woman), the characters (flawed, involving, tragic), there was something more, much more.
This is a book which works effectively and simultaneously on more than one level. Written in the late 50's it was aimed at (largely) closeted lesbians. So, why does it strike such a chord in a straight middle-aged man? That's me in case you were wondering.
For a start it's an interesting counterpoint to the tv series The L Word (of which, surprise surprise, I'm a big fan) in the sense that it's almost an historical document which reflects certain changes in Western society. It depicts a time of repression when gays of both sexes hid in the shadows whereas today,(ideally and at least in liberal circles) to admit to being a lesbian (or gay) has little more impact than stating that one is left-handed -yeah, so? And perhaps that might be a more idealistic statement than an accurate one. No matter, it is a fascinating, albeit depressing, portrayal of an earlier repressive period.
But what particularly spoke to me about it was to be able to interpret it as a metaphor for the Outsider figure. Now almost certainly this is not what Bannon was intending; she was writing (she hoped) to reach lesbians hidden in the shadows of 1950's American society. What it did was to remind of myself about the same age as Laura in the novel but over a decade later. Reading Colin Wilson's treatise 'The Outsider' in my late teens helped me understand alienation and realise why I didn't quite fit in (indeed only recently a friend called me 'the cat who walks by himself'). It was only discovering science fiction fandom at a convention in 1970 (long before Star Wars made SF reasonably hip) when I felt like I'd come home, meeting people who shared similar idiosyncratic attitudes to myself. Reading this novel reminded me of those days.
By the end of the novel, Laura hasn't quite reached that stage (of finding a subculture she can embrace) but she is getting there. What I feel is that Bannon has created an extended metaphor where people who, for whatever reasons, are alienated from conventional society (though I suspect this is less these days than when she was writing), can identify with. Whatever her intentions she reaches beyond her target audience to speak to anyone who ever felt themselves different from the norm and this is the mark of a powerful writer.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beebo Makes Her Appearance,
This review is from: I Am a Woman (Lesbian Pulp Fiction) (Paperback)This is the second of what are now known as 'The Beebo Brinker Chronicles', and the first book that Beebo actually makes an appearance. Following on from Odd Girl Out (Lesbian Pulp Fiction) we are reunited once again with Laura. You should be warned though that there is a glaring mistake here. In the first novel we learnt that Laura's parents were divorced; in this book though we are told that Laura's mum and brother were drowned when she was young. Although this is a bit distracting, because there is a lot here about Laura and her relationship with her father I find it just better to go with the flow and forget about this anomaly.
Laura winds up in the Big Apple and finds herself a job and a flatshare. Still keeping her lesbian proclivites under wraps she thinks that she can seem like a straight girl. Laura has a problem though, she has fallen for her flatmate, Marcie. Marcie is a bit unstable though, she is always arguing or having sex with her ex-husband, Burr. With Burr's friend Jack she finds that Jack is secretly gay, and that he has picked out Laura immediately as a lesbian.
With the entrance of Beebo Brinker Laura finds herself being thrown into hot torrid sex with her, but she still wants Marcie. The question is will Marcie want her, and what will happen if Laura shows her feelings. The sex scenes in this book are extremely tame by todays standards, but you must remember that this book was considered as pornographic and sleazy at the time. To us nowadays it is an interesting look at the whole gay subculture in pre-Stonewall times, and indeed is used in lesbian and gay studies in colleges throughout America. Lets face it though, like the other books in this cult series you don't have to be gay or interested in what is a slice of social history because the story is so gripping. And lets not forget this also spawned fledgling dykes to travel to Greenwich Village looking for their own Beebos, or wanting to become like Beebo.
Also included here is an introduction by the author, which is well worth reading, as well as the actual story.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Am A Woman,
This review is from: I Am a Woman (Lesbian Pulp Fiction) (Paperback)The books I have had to read so far for my Gender and Sexuality class have all been so different but up to this point, this one has been my favourite. I never know what to expect with a new book for this class so I have to go into each one with no expectations.
What I found about this one in comparison to the others we have read so far is how easy it was to read. Some, like Orlando and The Well of Loneliness, were written in the 1920s, were pretty dire for the most part. I found the language hard to get into and the story of both stiff and boring at times. None of this was the case with I Am A Woman. Being written in the 1950s and aimed at closet lesbians, Ann Bannon uses a fresh and exciting writing style, mixing humour into an important topic.
I warmed to the main character Laura immediately. The beginning of the book shows her life with her father in Chicago and how miserable she is, which is why I liked her. I wanted her to do well, I wanted her to get a better life and to finally be happy with herself. I really enjoyed following Laura's journey as she got herself settled in New York, found friends, a job and somewhere to live. New York is so different for Laura compared to Chicago and she has never been alone in a new city before so it was all a bit of an adventure. As a character, Laura is shy and quiet, due to her past experiences and doesn't really know what to think of herself at times.
Secondary characters were what made this book so special though. Laura's flatmate Marcie and her ex-husband are an integral part of the story but they also bring in some humour and excitement. Jack is Laura's best friend pretty much in New York and he really helps her come to terms with who she is and gets her to really think about what she wants. Beebo Brinker was a fantastic character which is why I guess the series is named after her. She is the most interesting and exciting character in the whole book and we never really get to know too much about her, but I wanted to. She had a lot of mystery around her but at the same time, she was also obviously really comfortable with who she is.
I Am A Woman asks important questions about homosexuality. There are sex scenes but they aren't too explicit which was something I was thankful for. Laura's journey of self-discovery and acknowledgement was one that I really enjoyed and found the writing style refreshing and unlike anything I had read before. I hope the rest of the books for this class are just as enjoyable.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Ann Bannons books,
This review is from: I Am a Woman (Lesbian Pulp Fiction) (Paperback)This was a book that I saw and had to buy. The start of a whole new lesbian discovery for me, but in the 21st century. Laura'
s story in 1950s New York has the old language the old stronger predudices and the ridiculous preasure of homophobes.
She survivees and so does Beebo they are amazing characters whose souls were made so powerful through Bannons writing.
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book,
This review is from: I Am a Woman (Kindle Edition)Enjoyable series. Well written book with interesting characters. Makes you want to turn the next page. Interesting depiction of life in the 1950s.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
I Am a Woman (Lesbian Pulp Fiction) by Ann Bannon (Paperback - 1 May 2002)