November 21, 2015 at 8:48 pm #644
With the rave reviews of Carol, the movie adaptation of Patrica Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, it is wonderful to see a spotlight on the works of Marijane Meaker.
In New York Magazine, November 18, 2015
Frank Rich on Patricia Highsmith’s Carol and the Enduring Invisibility of Lesbian Culture in America references Marijane Meaker’s memoir Highsmith.
It’s hard to appreciate now the impact Highsmith’s book had on gay women when it was first published. “It was for many years the only lesbian novel, in either hard or soft cover, with a happy ending,” wrote Marijane Meaker in a wry 2003 memoir about her romance with Highsmith circa 1960. Under the pseudonym Vin Packer, Meaker herself wrote a lesbian pulp novel, Spring Fire, published the same year as The Price of Salt, in which one woman ends up returning to heterosexuality and another ends up in a mental institution, because an editor instructed her that only an unhappy ending could protect the book from being seized by the postal authorities as “obscene.”
In the same issue. Marijane Meaker’s Springfire and Shockproof Sydney Skate are featured in the article 28 People on the Lesbian-Culture Artifacts That Changed Their Lives.
Spring Fire by Vin Packer (Marijane Meaker), 1952
If you were a lesbian in the 1950s, you were almost certainly bewildered, isolated, and desperate for information. And then, out of the miraculous blue, came the lesbian pulp paperbacks, written by and for women you recognized, women in love with other women, women of energy and passion. Their joy in each other overcame the crises in their lives. In Spring Fire, I read about two beautiful college students. I was too naïve to recognize them as classic models of butch and femme, but no depths of ignorance could mask the delight and relief I felt, reading about their emotional life. —Ann Bannon, novelist, the “Beebo Brinker” series
Shockproof Sydney Skate by Marijane Meaker, 1972
I wish my first glimpse of lesbian culture had come from this hilarious, glamorous, and aspirational novel about a teenager who, unbeknownst to his mother, has unlocked the secrets of the coded language she uses when gossiping with her lesbian circle. Those witty, beautifully attired, hard-drinking New Yorkers sometimes found true love and sometimes got their hearts broken, but they always seemed glad to be gay. (Instead, it was Going Down With Janis, a biography of Janis Joplin that had been passed around school so many times the pages featuring lesbian sex scenes were almost transparent.) —June Thomas, editor, Outward at Slate
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