Marijane Meaker in The New Yorker

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      Michelle Koh

      We are pleased to see more spotlight on the writing of Marijane Meaker as herself and as Ann Aldrich in relation to the movie Carol and Patricia Highsmith. This reference is in The New Yorker.

      A Critic at Large NOVEMBER 30, 2015 ISSUE

      Forbidden Love
      The passions behind Patricia Highsmith’s “The Price of Salt” 

      By Margaret Talbot

      One evening in 1959, a thirty-two-year-old writer named Marijane Meaker was having a drink at L’s, a lesbian bar in Greenwich Village. Meaker wrote lesbian pulp novels for the Gold Medal imprint; her first was “Spring Fire,” published in 1952, under the pseudonym Vin Packer. She had learned—because her editor had insisted on it—to make sure that these stories didn’t end well for their heroines. At the time, paperbacks were often sent to readers through the mail, making them subject to censorship by the postal authorities. Although the novels could depict “perverse” sexuality, they could not be seen to endorse it: those who indulged had to return to the straight and narrow or be punished. (At the conclusion of “Spring Fire,” about two lovers in a sorority house, one of the young women rediscovers her true heterosexuality and moves into a dorm; the other has a car accident and a nervous breakdown.) Meaker was a woman of multiple pseudonyms. She was also Ann Aldrich, the author of “We Walk Alone.”

      At the bar, Meaker began talking to an attractive dark-haired woman in a trenchcoat who was drinking gin and smoking Gauloises. It was Highsmith, and to Meaker, who was six years younger, she “looked like a combination of Prince Valiant and Rudolf Nureyev.” By then, Highsmith was a celebrated author—she had won the Grand Prix de la Littérature Policière—and Meaker idolized her. She and the other customers at L’s knew that Highsmith had written “The Price of Salt,” and they loved it for one reason in particular. As Meaker notes, “It was for many years the only lesbian novel, in either hard or soft cover, with a happy ending.”

      Read Marijane Meaker’s memoir Highsmith for more.

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