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Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg

Stone Butch Blues (1993)

by Leslie Feinberg

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Perhaps the most influential book I've read, this one turned my world upside-down in the most wonderful of ways. A semi-autobiographical novel that follows a butch from early teens through adulthood, this book is accessible to anyone regardless of their connection, or lack thereof, to the butch or butch-femme world. ( )
  kgriffith | Apr 9, 2014 |
You know, I delayed for years on reading this one, and I'm not quite sure why. Maybe it was the title that scared me off -- too intimidated to be comfortable in myself reading about stone butches until recently. But this book, for all it is unpolished as a novel, fully deserves its accolades. This is an excellent history of change and of bygone eras.

One friend said it spoke to her about what it means to have a butch identity. Another friend appreciated how it illustrated the difference between pre-Stonewall and post-Stonewall culture. For me, the book shone for the details of its (my) hidden history. It is what I might have known if I had been born a generation earlier (if indeed I hadn't been content to pass, always wondering if there was something more, but realizing or having the courage/unavoidable need to enter the bar scene): trusting people just because they are family, exploring a butch or femme identity (only), accepting trick turning as part of life, seeking out union jobs for protection and a modicum of acceptance, despicable abuse by the police. I consider myself pretty well educated in the stuff of academic gayness, but this was history I didn't know illustrated palpably, and it is history we shouldn't forget.

The changes, too, are fascinating, especially inasmuch as they happened over the course of only 30 or so years. Gay culture in the late '50s and the late '80s is shockingly different. Of course, so was mainstream culture, really, with the rise of the women's movement, the civil rights movement, the downfall of unions and manufacturing and rise of international conglomerates, the development of computers. Still, it's amazing that all these changes happened in my parents' lifetime. It astounds me to think on it.

There's no doubt that as a novel, this book is imperfect (misspelling names, themes picked up and later ignored, assuming knowledge the reader wasn't given, sometimes insistently quotable), but it is pitch perfect as history/ies all too easily forgotten. ( )
2 vote pammab | Dec 29, 2013 |
Honest, groundbreaking, touching, sweet, and sadly not very good. 3 stars because Leslie Feinberg changed hearts and minds even before Stonewall, but she truly cannot write. Every character is a cliché. One of the main characters is a (junkie)hooker with a heart of gold. I am not shitting you. Terms like "bulldagger" and "stone butch" are used often and casually. Every single police officer on the force wants to rape the stone butches and femmes (her terms.) I love that this book exists, but I could have lived without reading it ( )
  Narshkite | Nov 19, 2013 |
I reread this a few years ago and was amazed by how powerful the writing still is. Even though it's nominally fiction, it still has the force of memoir. ( )
  anderlawlor | Apr 9, 2013 |
I remember being really resistant to this book in my youth because of feeling really critical about butch/femme replicating patriarchy, but now I think I was being a jerk. Also, I did not know you could melt the stone! Amazing. ( )
2 vote LizaHa | Apr 1, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Feinberg attempts to present Goldberg's life as the personal side of political history, but the narrative seems unattached to time despite the insertion of landmark events like the Stonewall riot and the mention of Reagan and the Moral Majority.
added by DorsVenabili | editPublishers Weekly (Feb 1, 1993)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 156341029X, Paperback)

Published in 1993, this brave, original novel is considered to be the finest account ever written of the complexities of a transgendered existence. Woman or man? Thats the question that rages like a storm around Jess Goldberg, clouding her life and her identity. Growing up differently gendered in a blue--collar town in the 1950s, coming out as a butch in the bars and factories of the prefeminist 60s, deciding to pass as a man in order to survive when she is left without work or a community in the early 70s. This powerful, provocative and deeply moving novel sees Jess coming full circle, she learns to accept the complexities of being a transgendered person in a world demanding simple explanations: a he-she emerging whole, weathering the turbulence.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:40 -0400)

Jess Goldberg decides to come out as a butch in the bars and factories of the prefeminist '60s and then to pass as a man in order to survive when she is left without work or a community in the early '70s.

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