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Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain Paperback – 1 Sep 2016
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"I love that this book is written by a range of bisexual authors, so you are getting many different points of view, and therefore you'll always find something in the book that you can relate to or understand, whether you are a bisexual person or someone in your life is bisexual and you want to understand them a bit more." bookfangirling.blogspot.ca"
There are so few books published where the lives of bisexual people are the starting point. But that s not the only reason Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain is important. It s an interesting and enjoyable book, featuring contributions from a wide range of people from across the British bi community. Addressing the needs and concerns of bi people, this is a must-read for anyone who is attracted to people of more than one gender, and for those who know and love us." Sue George, author, Women and Bisexuality, blogger, bisexualityandbeyond.com"
"At last! British bisexuals come out of the closet with Purple Prose answering pressing questions about identity, activism, prejudice, relationships and much more. With bisexuality becoming ever more visible in mainstream culture, this book is essential reading for bi people and would-be allies, within the LGBT community and beyond. You need a copy in your life." Louise Carolin, Deputy editor, DIVA magazine"
"Purple Prose is an important book. Its publication may be a watershed moment for the bisexual community in Britain. It reaches out to [bisexuals] and says that you are important, you are an individual and your sexuality is a legitimate reflection of you as a person." Andy Heath, thebookbag.co.uk"
"Purple Prose is . . . like a series of documentaries, each chapter introducing topics like dating and fictional bisexuality to bisexual black and minority people and lesser-spotted attractions, with interview-style passages from notable blogs and activists in the UK community. Verdict: highly recommended." Louisa Leontiades, louisaleontiades.com"
About the Author
Kate Harrad is a published fiction and non-fiction writer. She has over a decade of experience working in business editorial/writing positions, and has written for the Guardian, The F-Word and the Huffington Post. She is also a longtime bi activist and has co-organized numerous UK bisexuality events.
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Top customer reviews
I was no stranger to a lot of these experiences although some of the words were new to me (thinking metamour and Lesbian Sheep Syndrome amongst others) and I can’t praise this book highly enough. Kate Harrad and her team of authors and bisexual activists have done a superb job in flagging up issues of invisibility, erasure, ignorance and outright hostility from both straight and homosexual (particularly lesbian) communities. One particularly moving section was the contribution from Omar J. Sakr. It was beautifully written and spoke directly to me. Thank you Omar.
I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway, for which I am grateful. I only wish it had been written back in the 1970s.
I am delighted to say I was wrong in thinking there wouldn't be much new (to me) material in "Purple Prose". I found the book to be very informative, but with a few flaws. I will starting by discussing the book's good qualities.
First, the bisexual community overlaps with other minority communities, for example, trans, kink, poly, disability, black-and-minority-ethnic and religious. The book contains chapters/sections on such topics, and they they are written by people within those overlapping communities. If you identify with some of those labels, you are likely to think, "Finally, a bisexual book that includes some other aspects of my life". If, like me, you don't identify with any of those labels, you are likely to become better informed about some of your neighbours within the bisexual community.
Second, when the book covered topics that I was already familiar with, and agreed with, I often found that the topics were discussed in a way I hadn't encountered before. Thus, I often had "I hadn't thought of it that way" moments. That helped to keep the book interesting when I was reading "not new to me" material.
Third, when one of the book's editors or contributors wrote something I disagreed with, often I found myself thinking, "I disagree with what's written, but it is an interesting and well argued viewpoint", so it gave me food for thought.
Fourth, the editor of one chapter makes some interesting criticisms of BiCon (an annual bisexual conference in the UK) and The Bisexuality Report. What I liked about these criticisms was that some BiCon organisers and authors of The Bisexuality Report are co-editors of the book, so it seems the book's co-editors have enough respect for each other to be able to criticise each other's work and still work together. I found that very refreshing.
Now onto what I disliked about the book. Most of the book is of an excellent quality for the reasons stated above, but I did occasionally find myself irritated.
First, page 280 of the book advises readers to not play "oppression Olympics", that is, claim "I am more oppressed than you". I think that is good advice. Unfortunately, the (unwelcome to me) theme of "bisexuals are more oppressed than others" appears several times in the book.
Second, many bisexuals claim we face both homophobia and biphobia. The book discusses biphobia (including internalised biphobia) at length, but homophobia gets much less mention (and internalised homophobia no mention at all). That is an unfortunate oversight (but hardly unique to this book), and it helps to fuel the book's undercurrent that bisexuals are more oppressed than others (in this case, lesbians and gays).
Third, I wrote above that when I disagreed with a viewpoint stated in the book, I often felt the viewpoint was well argued, so it gave me food for thought. However, the book does contain a handful of viewpoints that left me scratching my head and thinking, "Surely that can't be right".
Thinking of coming out as non-monosexual (perhaps the most inclusive definition)? Wondering about non-monogamy (polyamory or similar) as a bisexual? Lots of examples of how it can go, good and bad, and ideas to help. A lot of useful information and shared experiences for almost any question about bisexuality you can imagine thats relevant today, and especially today in the UK. The most up-to-date book on the topic there is, with no comparison to any of the other bi books around which are currently too American-focussed or too old to be as useful - for example in reference to social media online. Great as a book to dip into a random section in a spare few minutes, you'll probably end up reading more than you planned to and learning something every time. Strongly recommended; there's also an ebook version available too I believe (maybe only from other places).
Note: I obtained my copy by supporting (ie. pre-purchase) the crowdfunding campaign, this review is entirely my own opinion and not funded by anyone.
A wonderful book, and a wonderful start to understanding a massively misrepresented section of the LGBT community.