Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ann Bannon, Queen of Lesbian Pulp

Odd Girl Out
Beebo BrinkerAnn Bannon was known as the "Queen of Lesbian Pulp" and her lesbian romances are both fascinating historical stories, and fun trashy romance. Following the lives of lesbian women in the 1950s and '60s, her books are both positive and occasionally heartbreaking. The gay characters are real people, and Brannon shows how society affects them - the bar cultures, the drinking, the secrecy.
I Am a Woman

The first book, a surprising hit to the author, was Odd Girl Out, which introduced Laura - a delicate young lesbian who has trouble coping when her lover and college roommate Beth chooses to marry a man.

Women in the Shadows (Lesbian Pulp Fiction)In I Am A Woman ("I am A Woman In Love With a Woman Must Society Reject Me."), Laura flees her abusive home. She leaves for the big city (Greenwich Village, New York) and starts to figure out who she is, and give up on emotional involvement. Eventually, she's introduced by the witty and closeted Jack to the iconic Beebo Brinker, and love and alcolism ensues.

Women in the Shadows is a much more depressing read, following the cracks in Laura and Beebo's increasingly violent relationship, with Laura eventually marrying Jack for the sake of social security and happiness.

While fourth in the series, Beebo Brinker could easily be first - it takes a step back and introduces the famous and charismatic butch girl, Beebo Brinker, on her timid arrival in New York city... of course, she doesn't stay timid long.

Journey to a Woman (Lesbian Pulp Fiction)Finally, there is Journey to a Woman, in which Beth - the original first love of Laura - realises she's miserable and still in love, and decides to seek Laura out. Of course it's not that easy, but after a rocky road of relationships, Beth finally meets... Beebo.

If you're looking for high literature and restraint, you won't find it here - this is classic melodramatic pulp fiction. But it's also a very honest, and valuably historic, view back into the past from a 1950s housewife who dared to write a story of women in love - and show it to a publisher.

While her books predated all the GLBTQ book awards, Ann Bannon was given several commemorative author awards later.
  • The 2008 Pioneer Lambda Literary Award from the Lambda Literary Foundation
  • The 2008 Alice B. Reader’s Appreciation Award
  • The first annual Trailblazer Award, from the Golden Crown Literary Society, 2005The Distinguished Service Award for Faculty Excellence by the Alumni Association of Sacramento State University, April 2005.
  • Inducted into the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival Hall of Fame in 2004.
  • “Pressie” for Best Author of the Year 2003, by the Chicago Free Press.
  • Certificate of Honor by the Board of Supervisors City and County of San Francisco, February 2000.
  • Outstanding, Pioneering Contribution to Lesbian and Gay Writing by Outlook National Lesbian and Gay Quarterly, March 1990.

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