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My Queer War

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  173 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews

In My Queer War, James Lord tells the story of a young man's exposure to the terrors, dislocations, and horrors of armed conflict.

In 1942, a timid, inexperienced twenty-one-year-old Lord reports to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to enlist in the U.S. Army. His career in the arme
ebook, 352 pages
Published April 27th 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2010)
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Jim Coughenour
Jun 27, 2011 Jim Coughenour rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
With a garish pink triangle stretched across Twin Peaks, it seemed like the right weekend for a queer memoir. Unfortunately this one nearly implodes under its own prose. The clotted syntax almost stopped me before I'd started, but Lord is good storyteller once he gets going. The thwarted, repressed romance of the first few chapters, unfolding in the deserts of Nevada, had me on edge – gay novels of the 40s and 50s usually ended in death and disaster (The City and the Pillar; Quatrefoil). Lord su ...more
Jul 13, 2010 Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This a beautifully written and fascinating coming-of-age memoir of a young gay man in World War II. He's an aesthete and an aristocrat, and he vividly describes both the atrocities of the war and the gay underworld that existed at the time, probably not found in many history books. He meets both Picasso and Gertrude Stein (and Alice B. Toklas) in wartime Paris.
Aleksandr Voinov
Aug 26, 2013 Aleksandr Voinov is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research, own, wwii
So far, I'm hating the self-conscious, bloated prose. Faulkner he ain't.
Steve Woods
This is the story of a young gay man who joins the US Army in a half hearted gesture that sees him thorugh a series of odd circumstances deriving from his homosexuality into the Military Intelligence Servivce and sent to Europe in the rear guar of the invading armies. The whole affair has a decidedly Catch 22 flavour as the absurdities of the circumstances of his military servce unfold. The cast of characters are very reminiscent of Joseph Heller's insane tribe.

The pith of the book is held in th
Nov 18, 2011 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lord may have purposely written this book as if he were the well-read, pretentious 20-something that he was during the period it covers -- if so, it's an interesting device. (I suspect what happened is that he culled from his journals from the time and the editor didn't really do his part.) But it doesn't make the writing any less insufferable. Lord uses alliterative phrases and archaisms to the point that he's a parody of himself. "Anent" in a regular sentence? Seriously?

I stuck with the book t
Entertaining, he's got an amusing viscerality, sort of Genet-light. Very light. Laden with alliteration. I enjoyed reading it probably because I enjoy reading about gay men describing their lusts. Very marginal on actual war/Air Force info but the parts where he is in Boston are very engaging and may drive me to read more about the underground scenes of New England.
Dec 06, 2011 Sketchbook rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Absolute twaddle. Lord's closest friends say this
'memoir' is a haughty toss-off of his rejected '50s
novel. He died before the pub party. Good move.
Patrick Santana
A bit florid and name-droppy. Interesting in parts, but not as interesting as I'd hoped.
I'd never heard of James Lord when I picked up this book (and I still know little about him), but it was on sale in a Border's that was closing down, so I added it to the stack of discounted books I was purchasing. With a gift for both word craft and sarcasm, Lord discusses his tenure in the U.S. Army during World War II, a chapter of his life that coincided with his discovery of and conflict with his homosexuality. In fact, he implies in the book that his impulse to quit university and join the ...more
Apr 04, 2013 Marcus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't your average run-of-the-mill fluff LGBT novel that you will encounter. It has a bit more how I like to say, elegance to it. The synopsis is of a gay man who joins the Air Force and ends up in the MIS due to his above average intelligence. Before departing for Europe, he finds himself in the gay-subculture of the US and with that experiences his first sexual encounter with a man. Arguably, many people say Lord comes to terms with his sexuality throughout the novel, but it's quite appar ...more
Michael Kerr
Oct 20, 2012 Michael Kerr rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, gay, memoir
Interesting and compelling, this is the story of a young man, confused about his sexual identity, who joins the air force in the Second World War and ends up in Intelligence. After much writerly angst, he comes to accept his sexuality before being shipped to Europe where he earns a bronze star for reasons unclear even to himself. There is a Catch 22 quality to the military world he depicts, complete with black marketeers and plenty of blatantly self-serving superiors. Lord has a talent for antag ...more
Nick Mat
Jul 26, 2014 Nick Mat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoy reading about gay men in history, you will enjoy James Lord’s memoirs spanning his WWII experiences in the US, Great Britain, Normandy, France, and Germany. The first chapters reveal a 20 year old boy’s aimlessness, and search for meaning and purpose in life, as an ugly, cruel war rears its ugly head ready to swallow a naive American boy. The slightly pretentious, but ambitious use of language of the first few chapters is forgivable, obviously written by a very talented young man in ...more
Feb 22, 2014 Ken rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you can overlook the preening, annoying prose style, he has an interesting story to tell. Not only about gay life in WW2 in Boston and Europe, but also about his acquaintance with Picasso and his eyewitness account of an American atrocity. Interesting, though flawed.
Michael Spires
Somewhat of a stream-of-consciousness narrative, this is a book that wants reading more than once. The story itself is riveting, and replete with famous characters--almost implausibly so.

Ultimately, however, I wanted more out of this book. I know little more about its author after reading it than I did before--and for a book of this sort, the consequences of how it came to be written and published are almost as important as its contents. I'd be particularly interested to know whether this manusc
Michael Schwarz
Lord is an excellent writer and his memoir of World War II is unusually interesting. The descriptions of Picasso and Stein in Paris are fascinating, but Lord's account of the gay scene in Boston during the war is truly mindblowing. Add to that Lord's experience in a displaced persons camp in Germany, an unrequited love affair with a German-American GI and an assignment to a branch of the US intelligence services, and you get a story that twists and turns in the most unlikely of ways. The story L ...more
Derrel Schnurr
Jan 05, 2014 Derrel Schnurr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like almost all the reviews already state, Lord's over use of $10 words is a little annoying, but once you get used to it, it's a fascinating story. Endearing moments of infatuation, candid lessons of self discovery, and awe inspiring war time stories kept me intrigued from beginning to end. I highly recommend this book!
Nov 24, 2010 Terry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in gay in the military. While the book setting is many years ago, i found it very relevant to today. While the book is written in a way that if flowed smoothly i did have trouble in some parts staying focused. However over all i am so glad i read it. Great Book.
Jun 10, 2010 Joseph rated it really liked it
This is an interesting account of Lord's WWII experiences. The word "queer" used less to identify Lord's sexuality (although I was surprised by the openess enjoyed by gay enlisted men 70 years ago) than to describe an alternate point of view on war time heroics. An enjoyable read.
Jun 03, 2010 Kjes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
quite moving. the title refers to two things: his being gay in the armed forces during WWII and the crazy weirdness of the decisions made during the war. Most moving were his descriptions of the war, the stuff he witnessed that shouldn't have happened.
It's interesting, but Christ, enough already with the ten-dollar words. They're not really needed every other paragraph. Drowning in anents, hoplites and monticules ovah heah! I only got halfway through, but may try again someday.
this gay man had much more trouble dealing with the horrors of war and what US troops did to the POWs and DPs than with any danger due to his sexual orientation. Why can't we walk the talk??
Oct 05, 2010 Diana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read. A lot of background info about the WWII scene particularly on the European front as well as the fact that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was an unwritten law even then.
Jason Brehm
Jan 06, 2011 Jason Brehm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A different perspective of WWII. It was interesting to learn about what soldiers did in their free time or to learn that a soldier could have free time.
Stephen Serwin
Aug 18, 2010 Stephen Serwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I consider this a revisionist history of WWII, from a perspective I can appreciate. No Tom Hanks/Steven Speilberg uber-macho rhetoric here...
Jonathan Wyler
Great story of a gay man's WWII service. Down to earth and honest. Not one of these autobiographers who tries only to make himself look good.
Three and a half stars actually.
Stacey marked it as to-read
Oct 22, 2016
Scott marked it as to-read
Oct 18, 2016
Gabrielle Gillespie
Gabrielle Gillespie marked it as to-read
Oct 18, 2016
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James Lord was an American writer. He was the author of several books, including critically acclaimed biographies of the artists Alberto Giacometti and Pablo Picasso (with whom he became acquainted in Paris during his Army service in the Second World War).
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