Angela Benedetti's Reviews > Spine Intact, Some Creases

Spine Intact, Some Creases by Victor J. Banis
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's review
Jul 09, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: glbt-nonfic, nf-memoir

Victor Banis is arguably one of the founders of modern gay fiction in the US, and his memoir is a very readable look at the formative period of the gay rights movement, coupled with (and arguably built upon) the fight for writers and publishers of gay fiction to be allowed their first amendment rights. This would be a rewarding read even if it were a struggle to get through, but Mr. Banis's style is light and entertaining. Even when discussing incidents which are anything but pleasant, the book never drags or gets preachy.

As a recent beneficiary of that first amendment fight, I learned a lot from this book. I knew people were harassed and even imprisoned for publishing gay fiction in the sixties and thereabouts, but I'd always assumed there was some sex in those books, or at least some making out. Actually, there wasn't; there was nothing in those books you couldn't show on TV on a broadcast network at 3pm these days. The idea that people were sent to prison -- for twenty-five years in two cases mentioned -- simply for writing or publishing novels where gay characters didn't either repent and convert, or come to a bad end, is horrifying. Happy Gay = Obscene according to far too many people who had much authority but little intelligence in those days. That level of vicious bigotry in those in power is what's obscene, moreso than anything in any book.

Any writer who wants to feel like a slacker should read the chapters on writing, where Mr. Banis casually mentions how quickly he wrote most of his novels. Seriously, I'll just go crawl under a rock now.... O_O The writing advice is commonplace, but useful; it's always good to hear the basics again, particularly since he's one of those who recognizes that there are no absolutes, only suggestions which might be helpful.

And it's good to know that someone tried to tell the producers of Double Jeopardy that their basic concept was badly flawed. Props to you, Victor; at least you made the attempt. :)

There's more, of course, and it's all worth reading. Keep going through the Acknowledgements and beyond; this is the only book I've ever read where the Acknowledgements ran to multiple pages but were actually worth reading.

Great stuff. Anyone who's interested in gay fiction or the gay rights struggle should read this one.
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