Cracks in the Iron Closet: Travels in Gay and Lesbian Russia

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9780226815688: Cracks in the Iron Closet: Travels in Gay and Lesbian Russia
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David Tuller provides the first look into the emotional and sexual lives of Russian lesbians and gays and the pervasive influence of the state on gay life. Part travelogue, part social history, and part journalistic inquiry, the book challenges our assumptions about what it means to be gay. The book also explores key issues in Russia and Soviet life, including concepts of friendship, community, gender, love, fate, and the relationship between the public and private spheres.

"Tuller's observant reporting and personal experiences make for absorbing reading: the human comedy rendered in unexpected ways."—New Yorker

"Anyone who thinks San Francisco is the world capital of sexual polymorphism should read this book."—Adam Goodheart, Washington Post

"[This book is] is profoundly moving."—Jim Van Buskirk, San Francisco Chronicle

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Review:

David Tuller traveled to the former Soviet Union expecting to find a still grimly repressive and closeted gay world; he found something quite different: a gay scene certainly unlike its western counterpart in many respects, and yet by no means the iron closet of the Stalinist era. There is plenty going on. Tuller's book serves as a travel guide to gay Russia, full of exotic stories that challenge American notions of sexuality. Find out, for example, the difference between heterosexual women and lesbians who sleep with gay men.

From Library Journal:

Few documents of the treatment of homosexuals under Communist regimes exist, and there is no journalistic survey of gays in Russia in the late 20th century. Tuller, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, addresses the gap with a flawed mixture of travelog, social history, and personal journal. His work is most engaging when describing and directly quoting the myriad individuals Tuller met over the course of several trips to Moscow, St. Petersburg, and places farther afield in the early 1990s. Their perspectives hint at how myopic a North American, identity politics-based understanding of homosexuality may be. At other times, unfortunately, Tuller himself falls victim to that very myopia, and his analysis can be condescending. Moreover, the interjection of personal elements?including a budding ardor for a lesbian guide and disturbing descriptions of dreams?are more likely to make readers question the narrator's competence than draw them into the story. Patrons of larger gay studies and Slavic studies collections will make use of the more objective portions of the book; general collections would be better served by Reinaldo Arenas's poetic Cuban memoir Before Night Falls (LJ 9/15/93).?Douglas McClemont, New York
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Publisher: Faber & Faber, 1996
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