Alison's Reviews > Stuck Rubber Baby

Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse
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Sep 19, 11

bookshelves: adult, graphic-novels, memoir, political, queercore, historical-fiction
Read in September, 2011

I tend to be wary of memoirs about the White Middle Class American Male Experience (gay or otherwise), especially those set against the backdrop of a powerful political moment (in this case, the Civil Rights Movement). The magnitude of these events (and the people who made them happen) is diminished, to say the least, with the emphasis instead placed on how All This Has Changed Our Precious Boy. Now, while Stuck Rubber Baby isn't without its problems, I appreciate that Howard Cruse makes his white boy protagonist criticize his selfishness (in retrospect, at least---the narrator is his older self), and reflect honestly on his position during the Civil Rights Movement: that is, sympathetic to the politics of his activist friends, but weaker; too milquetoast to take radical role, instead standing in awe of those who do. I found this refreshingly honest---he could've written Toland in as the hero, but didn't. Furthermore, the other characters aren't there to tell his story, and they make up some of the best parts of the book. Like I said, not without its problems (that's another conversation, but let's just say that making one of your white characters the victim of a lynching is not exactly revisionist history---sure, gays and white activists were sometimes targeted---but it IS a poor choice given that lynching was a brutal reality for so many blacks, and so few whites.), but ultimately it's still a beautiful and affecting book.
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