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Myra Breckinridge

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  3,345 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
Determined to reinvent himself and explore new territory in his work, Gore Vidal published a provocative satirical work destined to be on a collision course with social conventions in 1968. Written as a diary, Myra Breckinridge, someone determined not to be possessed by any man, recounts her day as she lives it out in the Hollywood of the '60s. Feminism, transsexuality, an ...more
Hardcover, 1st Edition, 264 pages
Published 1968 by Little, Brown & Company
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Maurice by E.M. ForsterBrokeback Mountain by Annie ProulxThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGiovanni's Room by James BaldwinThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Best Gay Fiction
93rd out of 1,403 books — 1,746 voters
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Let's Shake It Up A Bit
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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A
Dec 26, 2012 A rated it liked it
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
Zadignose
Nov 24, 2015 Zadignose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century
A short, depraved, outrageous farce that amuses and bemuses. Both funny and unsettling. Comedy and tragedy collide.

Gore Vidal manages to pour scorn on everyone and everything, especially the culture of late 1960's Southern California and everything that went into making it what it was. The central character, Myra, is a seductive anti-heroine whom we may simultaneously root for and despise. The farce is apparent early when we see Myra as alternately a mouthpiece for Vidal and an object for his sc
...more
agatha
Aug 26, 2012 agatha rated it did not like it
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
Vince
Apr 15, 2011 Vince rated it really liked it
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
Brooke
Jul 06, 2010 Brooke rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 21, 2013 Scott rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"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.
Rupert Smith
Nov 05, 2013 Rupert Smith rated it it was amazing
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
Ryan
Jul 09, 2008 Ryan rated it it was ok
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.
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
Jim Dooley
Apr 18, 2016 Jim Dooley rated it really liked it
I recently watched a documentary entitled “Best of Enemies.” It was about the 1968 Republican and Democratic National Conventions during which William F. Buckley, Jr. and Gore Vidal crossed verbal swords in front of a highly entertained America on the ABC television network. One of Buckley’s recurring ripostes during these sessions was that Gore Vidal was the writer of “Myra Breckinridge.” I remember this being regarded as a scandalous book when I was a young boy … pornography, in some quarters ...more
Deirdre
Jan 06, 2013 Deirdre rated it really liked it  ·  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
Andrew Fairweather
Sep 21, 2016 Andrew Fairweather rated it liked it
"But the best is yet to come, for I mean to prove once and for all to Dr. Montag that it is possible to work out in life *all* one's fantasies, and so become entirely whole."

'Myra Breckinridge' makes strange bedfellows of people who may not seem to have much in common other than they don't like Vidal's bizarre piece. While it has probably lost its shock value for most readers over time, I think it has aged much better than Portnoy's Complaint--I'm not sure why MB and PC are mentioned in the same
...more
Anna
Aug 27, 2016 Anna rated it really liked it
Dear God, what a ride. The novel is grotesque and beautifully fascinating, like a car crash that leaves the vehicle ridiculously crunched into nothing while a grieving mother clings to her husband and weeps nearby.

Vidal assaults the reader in a way that normally I would dismiss as Palahniuk-tier shock tactics but I have to admit that in this book he gives one of the few examples of shocking while sacrificing nothing of the literary quality. The idea that you can make something beautiful and fin
...more
Kamron Alexander
Jan 25, 2015 Kamron Alexander rated it it was amazing
Myra Breckenridge is a transgressive piece of fiction that felt like a Palahniuk work before his artistic tendencies even bloomed.
The psychological profile of many of the characters was completely captivating and I'm persuaded that Vidal is alot more edgy than I first thought.. MUCH recommended.
Rodny Valbuena
Nov 07, 2015 Rodny Valbuena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jordan
Jun 12, 2016 Jordan rated it it was amazing
There is so much here to offend you, if you don't know what you're doing.

Myra Breckinridge, Woman Triumphant, is not your LGBTQ Heroine! She is not your poster child for Anti-Feminist Bullshit! She is a psychosis, trapped between these two extremes, ripping men and women to sexual confetti. She is The Silence of the Lambs filmed through a Hollywood vaseline lens. "Myra Breckinridge is a dish, and never forget it, you motherfuckers, as the children say nowadays" (5).

I could go on and on about t
...more
Kevin Cole
Apr 30, 2014 Kevin Cole rated it it was amazing
I knew about this book before I read it. Nevertheless, it was the funniest, craziest thing I ever read. By the fourth page, I realized there was nothing else like it on earth.
Simon Patience
Jun 27, 2016 Simon Patience rated it it was amazing
This book is just a wonderful vibrant attack on the prevailing sexual dichotomy. It kinda beggars belief that so long after its publication, it's still so confronting, anarchic and wild. Activists who think that their agitating on Twitter is a worthy undertaking should read this and then crawl away in shame.

Some readers may find what happens to poor ole Rusty confronting but should bear in mind that he's a fictional character, nothing more.

It's such a pity that the movie has sullied and weakened
...more
Petergiaquinta
Aug 14, 2012 Petergiaquinta rated it did not like it
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
Morgan M. Page
Aug 11, 2016 Morgan M. Page rated it really liked it
What can one say about Myra Breckinridge, as a transsexual in 2016? I loved it, I hated it. There are really three major problems with Myra Breckinridge: 1. the overt racism throughout the text; 2. Myra's obsession with raping straight trade; 3. (spoiler) Myra's forced detransition in the final gasp of the book and her subsequent disavowal of her entire life and personality as Myra.

The book is hilarious from start to finish - and full of memorable, highly quotable lines ("Myra Breckinridge is a
...more
Alvin
Aug 26, 2013 Alvin rated it really liked it
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
Mar 09, 2012 Izzy Rey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: brilliant, omygod
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.
Nicolas Wysocki
Mar 12, 2013 Nicolas Wysocki rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay-literature
What a self indulgently good read! Vidal wrote nothing close to this in his previous works and I was a bit taken back in a fantastic sort of way at how comically lewd Myra Breckinridge is. It was a very daring book for the time, but then again Vidal had never been a stranger to controversy in his lifetime.
Mo
Aug 24, 2013 Mo added it
Shelves: read-years-ago
I remember reading this years ago, when I was a teenager. I "snuck" it out of the library, and read it while huddled under my sheets with a flashlight. SCANDALOUS for the times! My parents would have had a fit if they had known I was reading this.
Vheissu
Oct 21, 2010 Vheissu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
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!
Don Lim
May 18, 2016 Don Lim rated it really liked it
Powerful book that was, as most people mentioned, ahead of its time. Taking a look into sexuality, gender roles, and transsexual politics, Vidal puts forth a book that leaves interpretation open to its readers. The style and prose is unique. The changes to the protagonist, Myra, is dynamic and yields, in my opinion, a satisfactory ending. It is clear however, Vidal blurs the line between morality and sexuality where indiscriminate and selective sex between his characters exemplifies his own pers ...more
Quanjun
Oct 24, 2015 Quanjun rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, crime
If you hover over the five-star mark as you rate a book, the caption says "It was amazing!", and this is what this book justifiably deserves. (edit: had to take one star away due to overwhelming brilliance of another book, Oct 24th, 2015)

This review contains spoilers to various degrees because of how it is presented at first glance, I will be hiding the actual spoilers but not the intro. This book is the notebook of Myra Breckinridge, who is prescribed this particular treatment by her psychologi
...more
Faith
Jun 26, 2010 Faith rated it it was amazing
This will definitely be the beginning of a long love affair with Gore Vidal!

This book is written with such wit, pace, and character--it's, as Myra would say, a doll of a book.
Tony Bravo
Sep 17, 2008 Tony Bravo rated it it was amazing
Brilliant dissection of gender, camp and media in American life. One of my favorite Vidal works of fiction.
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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
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“Let the dust take me when the adventure's done and I shall make the dust glitter for all eternity with my marvelous fury.” 4 likes
“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.” 2 likes
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