February 14, 2008

tipping the bad gay book

So I just finished reading a book that some of you may have heard of- It's called Tipping the Velvet, and it is a historical lesbo-novel written by Sarah Waters. There aren't too many gay books available (relative to not-gay books), and because, being a Sarah Lawrence graduate, I'm into that kind of thing, I've been excited about reading this one for a while. And I finally did. And it should never have been published. It gives gay books (all 5 of them) a bad name.
It irritates me enormously that the New York Times Book Review apparently wrote of Tipping the velvet: "erotic and absorbing...written with startling power", and my hometown newspaper of record, The Boston Globe, praised it as "glorious...an exceptional debut".
I can only assume that by "erotic" they are referring to the horrible plethora of words such as "quim" and "spendings", or maybe referring to a certain fisting in a trundle-bed (excerpt: "do you care for it- inside?")next to the hearth the grate of which the protagonist has recently "blackleaded", whatever the hell that means.
And by "written with startling power", perhaps they are referring to the clever and oh so subtle choice of the protagonist's early vocation slicing the beards from raw oysters in her father's oyster house until her hands come to smell like fish for the rest of her life. Or if not that, maybe the unexpected plot twists of her early return from a trip to whitstable to find her first GF shagging a dude, or her shocking turn as a drag-boy backalley BJ ho, which makes no sense to me, I'm sure,because the complexity of the plot structure and the deep fissures of the character's inner conflict are quite beyond my meager intellect.
the last option for the "startling power" is inarguably the use of three adjectival modifiers on practically every page of the 472 page book: "rather", "quite", and "hardly". If it were not for these three words, dear readers, we may lose that sense of almost hallucinatory immersion in the lesbian milieu of the late 19th century in England. God forbid.

I don't care that I probably just ruined this book for you, because you shouldn't read it anyway.
What SHOULD happen, is we should all take it upon ourselves to write more gay books that don't suck. Consider that a challenge.

1 comment:

sarah said...

whats the fun of a gay book that doesnt suck?