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~生まれた町で夢見てきた...~
"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown 
30th-Nov-2006 05:00 pm
Rose
A novel that Baby Boomers made famous. I betcha, I betcha...

Brown, Rita Mae. Rubyfruit Jungle. 1973. New York: Bantam, 1977.
          Summary: Adopted daughter of an impoverished, conservative Pennsylvania family that relocates to Florida, Molly Bolt is a independent-minded, intelligent young person who soon discovers that she is attracted to women. Estranged from her family, determined to make her own way, and refusing to be tied down to any one man OR woman, she forges a path for herself through high school, college in Gainsville, and part-time film school/full-time employment--only to discover that a glass ceiling will prevent her from advancing in the film industry.
          Comments: Why is lesbian fiction so preoccupied with headstrong, working-class tomboys? The novel struck me as a kind of Bastard Out of Carolina lite...but then, it's is quite a bit earlier, so maybe Rita Mae Brown's the one who started it all. To be honest, I've never been much of a fan of memoirs or semi-autobiographical novels, and gay/lesbian literature literally overflows with the stuff BECAUSE it helps to both legitimize and homogenize the subculture (or the "homosexual experience," if we must be strictly PC).
          Still, I wish Brown could've kept some of the inevitable excesses of self-representation (read: self-idealization) in check. Molly is the victimized intellectual and only female character in the novel who doesn't sell out in some way or another...and everything thinks she's irresistibly gorgeous to boot! Moreover, she believes monogamy and marriage are inherently retrogressive, which as far as I'm concerned is mere dated, hippie-era bullshit, not progressive, liberal politics. Meanwhile, despite her desire to make her own way to the top, she loses all respect from me for all the borderline date-raping that she indulges in. I thought her simultaneous fling with Polina AND Polina's underaged daughter was especially reprehensible.
          Nonetheless, the novel is an entertaining, easy read with at least a little to recommend for it, even if, like me, you read it somewhat oppositionally. Some of the antics of Molly and her friends are hilarious--I loved the bit about how they brought in onions so that they could cry along with their classics teacher. What a great idea! Wish I'd had the opportunity to try something like that. But, overall, this novel struck me as terribly overrated, a classic not for its literary merit per se but for the way it so stridently reinforces the alleged moral superiority of its out lesbian readership.
          Notes: mass market paperback, 38th printing
          Rating: 5/10 - Though it is rightly required reading for anyone interested in GBLT fiction, don't expect it to be love at first sight unless you already agree with the author's worldview.
Comments 
30th-Nov-2006 10:23 pm (UTC)
Mother and daughter? Kinky....

Good school though ^_^
1st-Dec-2006 12:25 am (UTC)
Good school though

Which one?
1st-Dec-2006 12:42 am (UTC)
University of Florida, probably the one in the book, it kinda dominates the city.. I doubt she'd mean Santa Fe Community College ^_~
1st-Dec-2006 12:48 am (UTC)
She got her scholarship taken away there for sleeping with one of the other students. :P
1st-Dec-2006 12:50 am (UTC)
*snickers*

A very dated book I must say ^_~
1st-Dec-2006 12:51 am (UTC)
I certainly hope so!
30th-Nov-2006 10:38 pm (UTC)
I'd be such a crappy book reviewer. I thought this novel was a riot. But I agree with a lot of the things you mentioned, now that you mention them. I still think that as fiction it's very entertaining.

But it does make me very cautious about eating raisins.
1st-Dec-2006 12:28 am (UTC)
The novel was definitely entertaining, but I had trouble putting my ethical radar on hold when the author obviously had a moral agenda in the writing of the book.

But it does make me very cautious about eating raisins.

Raisins are great for so many different pranks. ^_^ My middle school science teacher put them in Mountain Dew (the carbonation made them move) and tried to pass them off as edible "sewer lice" to her classes.
30th-Nov-2006 10:43 pm (UTC)
Rita Mae Brown has a fun sense of humor.

I am fondest of IN HER DAY, a slim overlooked novel about the clash in outlooks of a forty something lesbian and a twenty something baby dyke who have an affair.

She pushes the envelope a lot, and RUBYFRUIT JUNGLE was very revolutionary in its day.

You might look for HIGH HEARTS or SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT.

And she does some interesting things with her lesbian character in, I think, LOOSE LIPS (although that's book 3 after SIX OF ONE and BINGO, as I recall).
1st-Dec-2006 12:55 am (UTC)
Thanks for the recommendations. I'm definitely interested in seeing how she evolves as a writer.
1st-Dec-2006 01:34 pm (UTC)
The one to avoid is VENUS ENVY.

I haven't read DOLLEY, either, nor have I heard good things about it.

I can stomach even her animal mysteries, mostly because I think she does a great portrait of the horse-world in Virginia, a milleau I find interesting.

HIGH HEARTS has some interesting cross-dressing and gender mix-ups.

SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT deals with class and race issues.

30th-Nov-2006 11:03 pm (UTC)
Read that. Didn't like it. Don't like the author's other works. :/ I can't get into it. I was urged to read it as a lesbian romance and that approach just did not meet with what I expected because it isn't that so much as it is an attempt at mainstream fiction with lesbian characters. ... I think.
1st-Dec-2006 12:33 am (UTC)
Who told you to read it as a romance? ^^;;; One thing it DEFINITELY isn't is a romance novel! I think she was trying for a revolutionary coming-of-age novel but couldn't quite hack it from a purely technical standpoint...and then there's also the fact that it ends rather abruptly.
1st-Dec-2006 12:36 am (UTC)
*whines* lesbian told me that. And I could barely slug through it and then forgot about it.
1st-Dec-2006 12:49 am (UTC)
And you TRUSTED them? LJ communities with really generic names like that tend to become dumping grounds for idiocy. ^^;;;;
1st-Dec-2006 01:51 am (UTC)
Carson McCullers was doing it before Rita Mae Brown, and Willa Cather was doing it before Carson McCullers. Lesbian fiction has probably been preoccupied with headstrong, working-class tomboys for about as long as the concept of lesbians being a category of people has existed.
3rd-Dec-2006 10:39 pm (UTC)
Hmm. Wonder why? ^^;
17th-Dec-2006 01:05 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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