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Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America (edition 2012)

by Christopher Bram

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1074112,824 (4.41)3
Member:mdplante
Title:Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America
Authors:Christopher Bram
Info:Twelve (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 384 pages
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Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America by Christopher Bram

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I found this book very good. I don't read a lot of non fiction but it gave a great history on public perspective of gay history and authors. ( )
  bibliophile_pgh | Dec 14, 2013 |
This is a crafted and sweeping literary theory, with the thesis that gay authors/playwrights helped set the stage for the gay liberation of the late 20th century.

Although might dispute the central tenets of this thesis, the biographical discussion of these novelists and their work is worthy enough reason to start reading.

This chapter of history starts in 1945 and continues to the present. It starts with Vidal and Capote and Isherwood and Baldwin and moves slowly and inexorably to the present day.

The author, a gay writer himself, offers a fine perspective, and allows personal interviews and archives, as well as literary analysis, to define the story.

It says something about the personal bravery of these authors, to say and think and act on what they did, especially in the 40s and 50s. Even the 1960s, which we like to think of as tolerant, was still filled with angry slurs and dismissive reviews. Of course, the author isn't writing biographies of saints. He details the feuds and botched novels and inner demons of the writers portrayed here, but their best qualities are shown as well. Most often it's bravery.

The big gap is that there aren't any lesbians here - the author confesses as much in the introduction (they have their own grand story to tell, and the volume would easily triple in size), and I'd like to get ahold of a companion volume someday.

A good history of American letters, and of the colorful cast who wrote them. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
Eminent Outlaws (the title is a mash-up of Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians and John Rechy’s The Sexual Outlaw) is a briskly paced and much needed exploration of how gay male literature created that change. Beginning with Gore Vidal, the “godfather of gay literature in spite of himself” who, post-Stonewall, becomes more like a Moses who “pointed us in a new direction, but he could not go there himself,” Bram explores how literature shined a light on the previously unspoken of world of gay men. The work of Vidal, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Christopher Isherwood and James Baldwin were not only guides to that world for courageous heterosexual readers, but also gave gay men their first glimpses of themselves in mainstream print and onstage...Bram continually manages to be personal yet balanced in his assessments of writers of the past and present, as well as deliciously gossipy. Eminent Outlaws is reminiscent of a gay version of the documentary A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, with a practitioner of the art looking back at its history, his influences and his peer. This fleet yet solid literary history was so engrossing that I even read through the footnotes, not wanting stop listening to Bram’s entertaining voice or for the book to end. ( )
  rmharris | Mar 23, 2012 |
Bram does an excellent job of providing an introduction to the gay writers that have left their marks on poetry, novels, and theater over the last century. In addition to providing insight into gay writers, Bram also provides historical context to such as the trial of Howl and the AIDS epidemic. While there is a great deal of materials to cover, Bram brilliantly covers just as enough information to illuminate the life, times, and humor in gay American writing. ( )
1 vote westfargolibrary | Mar 17, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446563137, Hardcover)

In the years following World War II a group of gay writers established themselves as major cultural figures in American life. Truman Capote, the enfant terrible, whose finely wrought fiction and nonfiction captured the nation's imagination. Gore Vidal, the wry, withering chronicler of politics, sex, and history. Tennessee Williams, whose powerful plays rocketed him to the top of the American theater. James Baldwin, the harrowingly perceptive novelist and social critic. Christopher Isherwood, the English novelist who became a thoroughly American novelist. And the exuberant Allen Ginsberg, whose poetry defied censorship and exploded minds. Together, their writing introduced America to gay experience and sensibility, and changed our literary culture.

But the change was only beginning. A new generation of gay writers followed, taking more risks and writing about their sexuality more openly. Edward Albee brought his prickly iconoclasm to the American theater. Edmund White laid bare his own life in stylized, autobiographical works. Armistead Maupin wove a rich tapestry of the counterculture, queer and straight. Mart Crowley brought gay men's lives out of the closet and onto the stage. And Tony Kushner took them beyond the stage, to the center of American ideas.

With authority and humor, Christopher Bram weaves these men's ambitions, affairs, feuds, loves, and appetites into a single sweeping narrative. Chronicling over fifty years of momentous change-from civil rights to Stonewall to AIDS and beyond-EMINENT OUTLAWS is an inspiring, illuminating tale: one that reveals how the lives of these men are crucial to understanding the social and cultural history of the American twentieth century.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:37 -0400)

Describes how the trailblazing, post-war gay literary figures, including Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, and Allen Ginsberg, paved the way for newer generations, including Armistead Maupin, Edmund White, and Edward Albee. In the years following World War II a group of gay writers established themselves as major cultural figures in American life. Truman Capote, the enfant terrible, whose finely wrought fiction and nonfiction captured the nation's imagination. Gore Vidal, the wry, withering chronicler of politics, sex, and history. Tennessee Williams, whose powerful plays rocketed him to the top of the American theater. James Baldwin, the harrowingly perceptive novelist and social critic. Christopher Isherwood, the English novelist who became a thoroughly American novelist. And the exuberant Allen Ginsberg, whose poetry defied censorship and exploded minds. Together, their writing introduced America to gay experience and sensibility, and changed our literary culture. But the change was only beginning. A new generation of gay writers followed, taking more risks and writing about their sexuality more openly. Edward Albee brought his prickly iconoclasm to the American theater. Edmund White laid bare his own life in stylized, autobiographical works. Armistead Maupin wove a rich tapestry of the counterculture, queer and straight. Mart Crowley brought gay men's lives out of the closet and onto the stage. And Tony Kushner took them beyond the stage, to the center of American ideas. In this book the author weaves these men's ambitions, affairs, feuds, loves, and appetites into a single narrative. Chronicling over fifty years of momentous change, from civil rights to Stonewall to AIDS and beyond, this is a tale that reveals how the lives of these men are crucial to understanding the social and cultural history of the American twentieth century.… (more)

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