Jesse's Reviews > Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America

Eminent Outlaws by Christopher Bram
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Entertaining, informative, and endlessly readable, which compensates for a perhaps inevitable thinness. As a survey/overview it likely won't yield a whole lot--aside from the choice bits of tasteful gossip--to a reader already somewhat aware of the terrain it covers, which is perhaps is why I had more or less the opposite reaction of many here who thought it ran out of steam as it went along; I happen to be interested in and know more about the authors covered early in the book (Baldwin, Vidal, Capote), but not as much about more recent authors, so for me the latter half was more compelling. The highlight, I think, is Bram's astute analysis and defense of Christopher Isherwood's oeuvre, who still remains rather underrated despite a recent reignition of interest in his work (I for one was startled to find out how many of his novels I had never even heard of).

Bram's style is very approachable and lucid, and it's like listening to a literate and culturally knowledgeable friend hold forth on books, art, and history. I personally was hoping for something more along the lines of Sheri Benstock's magisterial Women of the Left Bank, a more dense undertaking that combines literary analysis with historical scholarship, but I don't hold my expectations against Bram. Because this is clearly intended to be accessible cultural scholarship, and on that level it overall succeeds admirably. And if it gets people, myself included, to pick up the work of more of these authors, well then, all the better.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
June 1, 2012 – Finished Reading
August 14, 2012 – Shelved
August 14, 2012 – Shelved as: biographical
August 14, 2012 – Shelved as: history
August 14, 2012 – Shelved as: lit-crit
August 14, 2012 – Shelved as: literary-modernism
August 14, 2012 – Shelved as: queer-lit
August 14, 2012 – Shelved as: queer-history
August 14, 2012 – Shelved as: queer-modernity
August 14, 2012 – Shelved as: read-in-2012
August 14, 2012 – Shelved as: queer-research

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