Myra Breckinridge
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Myra Breckinridge

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  2,354 ratings  ·  99 reviews
Myra Breckinridge is a 1968 satirical novel written in the form of a diary. Described by the critic Dennis Altman as "part of a major cultural assault on the assumed norms of gender and sexuality which swept the western world in the late 1960s and early 1970s," the book's major themes are feminism, transsexuality, American expressions of machismo and patriarchy, and devian...more
1st Edition, 264 pages
Published (first published 1968)
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agatha
Transphobic, misogynistic, anti-semitic, smug. The transsexual woman as insane, murderous rapist is a fairly tiresome & offensive storyline - especially when the ending involves Myra "recovering" from her insanity to return to life as Myron. Despite Gore Vidal's obvious pleasure with himself as some kind of subversive, the majority of the characters and storylines are actually fairly shallow & undeveloped. It appears that the success of the book relies on the reader responding with shock...more
Evan
"I have no clear idea as to my ultimate identity once every fantasy has been acted out with living flesh. All that I do know is that I shall be freed of obsession and, in this at least, be like no one else who ever lived."
Thus is the admirable if impossible goal of Vidal's self-titled anti-heroine/hero(?)... It's probably no surprise that the pursuit of it, and the methods employed, lead into directions not anticipated. And as a result, the rewards are unexpected. From cynicism a kind of tender...more
Brooke
Writing does not get better than this, but it's definitely not for everyone. It's sick and twisted, but hilarious and beautifully written. Myra Breckinridge is the most powerful female character in books thanks to the voice given to her by Vidal. I could "listen" to her talk all day.
Scott
"Myra Breckinridge" is a classic, brilliant satire of Hollywood. A man, obsessed with bringing down Hollywood, gets a sex change to turn into a gorgeous actress hellbent on destroying mainstream cinema as we know it! Hilarious, really clever.
A
Dec 26, 2012 A rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: read-2012
I'm a bit baffled by all the people who are offended by the retrograde gender politics of this book. Is it transphobic? Sure, at times. It's also (at times) equally misogynistic as it is man-hating, homophobic as it is radically queer, elitist as it is populist, anti-hippie as it is anti-East Coast elite. The contradictions and topics to take offense at are limitless. This is a true satire, lashing out at all who stand in Myra's path (including Myra herself). Everyone and everything is so comple...more
Alexander Arsov
Gore Vidal

Myra Breckinridge

Bantam, Paperback, 1968.

8vo. 277 pp.

First published, 1968.

==============================================

My familiarity with Gore Vidal's voluminous output is unfortunately very limited. Apart from the book which is to be reviewed shortly, I have read but four other novels. Yet most of them easily rank among my most unforgettable reading experiences. Julian (1964) and Creation (1981) are examples of superb historical fiction, not so much because they are well research...more
Vince
Reading any work by Gore Vidal, I am always amazed at how well it stands the test of time. Many of the references in Myra Breckinridge are dated (and certainly would have been at the time of its publication as well), and yet the themes of the story still ring eerily true today. Sexual politics, gender roles, the nature of celebrity – all of these ideas play out today much as they play out in the novel. In particular, the quest for celebrity in the book calls to mind reality television stars of t...more
Rupert Smith
If I had to choose one book that sums up what you might call ‘the gay sensibility’ it would be this, the story of a power-hungry transsexual rampaging her way through a dismal American college, ravishing hot jocks and referencing 40s films on every page. I was so obsessed by Myra Breckinridge in my 20s that I actually started writing my own diary in her voice. The sequel, Myron, is just as good. I was absolutely horrified when, after Vidal’s death, serious literary commentators suggested that he...more
Deirdre
Jan 06, 2013 Deirdre rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: People who don't use Tumblr
I had watched the film version with Raquel Welch and Mae West and found it absolutely incoherent. When I found the book in the Free Books section of my public library, I decided, "Why not? Maybe I can get a little something extra out of it."

True, it is every bit misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-Semitic, and pro-rape as everyone says it is. There we go, five things I already dislike. Despite all of this, however, I'm ashamed to say that I actually *really* enjoyed this one, though I'm no...more
Jamie
I fully intend to walk around saying, "I am Myra Breckenridge whom no man will ever possess."

Look, its politics are a bit...outmoded. Particularly the pit-pat resolution (I won't spoil this one), which seems to reiterate a normative gender system and narrative structure. The plot is a bit flimsy, or rather, is stretched for quite a long time, when it could easily have been told as a novella. But these things shouldn't keep you from reading it, because it's also ridiculously fun & offensive,...more
Alvin
Just reread this after thirty years and, wow, it's better than I remembered, full of incisive cultural critique and hilarious lines. The transsexual angle is not realistic, but one forgives Vidal his absurd conceits because it's all in the name of mocking the binary gender system. The story does end rather abruptly, but there is a sequel.
Izzy Rey
First of all, hysterical IF you know your classic hollywood stars and trivia. If you're into classic cinema, this is for you. A wonderful social satire. Not the least bit dated: "The brains have been bred out of the current generation." Camp galore. The movie does not do this justice, but Raquel Welch is gorgeous in it.
Ryan
This starts out as a really funny, satirical look at Hollywood in the throes of the sexual revolution, but it just becomes tedious, pointless and mean-spirited, like pretty much all of Vidal's books, which for some reason I keep reading. Maybe that says something about me.
Vheissu
William F. Buckley called it "pornography." Vidal called Buckley a "proto-Nazi." Buckley called Vidal a "queer" and threatened to punch him in the face on a live, nation-wide television broadcast.

That's entertainment!
Tony Bravo
Brilliant dissection of gender, camp and media in American life. One of my favorite Vidal works of fiction.
Lynn
I was torn between 4 and 5 stars, but the statement "it was amazing" definitely applies.
Brad Geagley
bsolutely the funniest book ever written. Period. Except for maybe its sequel, "Myron."
Donna
A pretty funny book; from what I remember (read it about 35 years ago).
Brian Fagan
one of the wildest stories i've read. Really quite something to read.
Jim
I have read many of Gore Vidal's historical fiction novels including Creation, Julian, and most of his Narratives of Empire series. I am aware of his sexual orientation, and while many of his historical fiction novels include sexual, particularly homosexual, themes and undertones, it is usually not an overt focus. I do not find the subject distasteful. In fact, I find that the sexual undertones add an additional layer of complexity to his novels.

However, I have avoided Vidal's books where the to...more
Sabrina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marley
Apr 17, 2012 Marley added it
Myra Breckenridge isn't for everyone. I wasn't even sure it was for me. I remember the uproar it caused when published, and from some of the more recent reviews I've read it here, it still outrages. Well, yeah, I get that. To tell the truth, the infirmary scene was just about too over the top for me. But I stuck with reading, and I advise others to do the same. Good stuff by the end.

This is GV's ultimate twinning. Earlier this week I read Screening Hollywood where he talked about twins and his w...more
Petergiaquinta
I can't remember anymore if I actually read this book in its entirety or just stood there in the library browsing it at length like some old raincoat-clad pervert. But I should be able to remember it better, even if it did happen in the late '70s when I was in junior high, because I clearly remember that 10 years earlier the first Playboy I ever saw had a pictorial in it from the awful movie they made shortly after Myra Breckinridge's publication. I've never seen the movie in its entirety either...more
Blair
Holy moly, I have no idea what just happened. Here are my thoughts on this:

1. Smut. Oh my, this was total smut. Sometimes, when I need an easy read, I pick up a terrible mystery. I always feel bad about myself afterwards, but sometimes you just need it. I felt like that while reading this book - there have to be much more worthwhile things I should be spending my time on.

2. Shock. Seriously, did THAT just happen (if you read it, you know what THAT is)? That couldn't have happened. I read that wi...more
Philip
Decided on this one impulsively, having just finished Vidal's WASHINGTON, D.C.. Although I can recall starting the book at least twice in the past, I really can't recall whether or not I actually got through it, though I've seen the notorious film version ((which director Michael Sarne and star Raquel Welch seem to regard as a mangled, misunderstood masterpiece – he thought Mae West was wonderful, while the rest of us were embarrassed for her and by her). It’s certainly one of the strangest book...more
Benjamin
Unfortunately, I did not really enjoy this book. There were so many themes going on, at least at the beginning, that the result was confusing. America's celebrity worship, the dulling of America, gender roles and power structures, literary idiocy in America, sexual identity, ... the list goes on. Adding to the unsatisfying thematic jumble were serious stylistic problems. The book was written in the first person and Myra left complete sentences unfinished at the end of certain chapters. Also, one...more
Voss
INsolito. Immagino che in quegli anni abbia fatto parecchio scalpore. Oggi può sembrare innocuo.
Comunque è divertente e acuto nel mostrare quello spicchio particolare di società.
Catherine Siemann
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erin
I wanted Richard to read this so that someone else in the house had the book's after-taste in their head, but no dice. He said he read "Live from Golgotha", and until I read that one he won't read this one. Fair enough. This is not to say I'd recommend the book to anyone, only that I need to find someone else that's read it.

I don't know what to do with Gore Vidal. He's a good enough writer that I didn't even think about putting the book down, and yet I can't say I enjoyed it. Why is this the sub...more
Karen
I only gave poor Myra 3 stars. It's not because I don't like it, it's not because I think it's written poorly. It's just the wrong time and place to impress me greatly. Labeled as virtually pornographic when it came out in the late 60's it's no longer the shocker is once was. I read it in college but decided to re-read after the death of the author to remember why I thought is was so important.

My guess is the writing style was shocking and fresh at that time as was the subject matter. A good cho...more
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Eugene Luther Gore Vidal was an American writer known for his essays, novels, screenplays, and Broadway plays. He was also known for his patrician manner, Transatlantic accent, and witty aphorisms. Vidal came from a distinguished political lineage; his grandfather was the senator Thomas Gore, and he later became a relation (through marriage) to Jacqueline Kennedy.

Vidal ran for political office twi...more
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“I believe in justice, I want redress for all wrongs done, I want the good life-if such a thing exists-accessible to all. Yet, emotionally, I would be only too happy to become world dictator, if only to fulfill my mission: the destruction of the last vestigial traces of traditional manhood in the race to realign the sexes, thus reducing population, while increasing human happiness and preparing humanity for its next stage.” 1 likes
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