The Violet Quill Reader: The Emergence of Gay Writing After Stonewall

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9780312132026: The Violet Quill Reader: The Emergence of Gay Writing After Stonewall

The Violet Quill Club brought together the finest and most important gay writers to emerge after the Stonewall riots. Edmund White, Andrew Holleran, Robert Ferro, Michael Grumley, Felice Picano, George Whitmore, and Christopher Cox--these are the writers whose novels, plays, short stories, essays, and journalism defined what it was to be gay before that first announcement of AIDS.

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From Publishers Weekly:

In 1980 and 1981, seven prominent gay authors--Edmund White, Andrew Holleran, Christopher Cox, Michael Grumley, Robert Ferro, Felice Picano and George Whitmore--met to discuss and read their writings. Known informally as the Violet Quill Club, they shared a desire to write works that reflected their gay experiences, works aimed specifically at gay readers who would not challenge their point of view. Collectively, the notoriety and writings of the Violet Quill changed the course of gay literature, replacing the longstanding image of the doomed or martyred homosexual with one of active protagonists speaking, as Bergman ( Gaiety Transfigured ) puts it, the "language gay men use among themselves." Much of this anthology consists of reprints organized in loose chronological order, beginning with White's letter to friends about his participation in the Stonewall Riots. Included are several excerpts from novels, many of them written during the heady disco era of the 1970s and depicting gay life in Manhattan and Fire Island. These and subsequent selections reveal not only the uneven talents within the group but also the maturation of some of its writers. Objective biographical portraits of the Violet Quill members are missing, though life histories can be pieced together from Bergman's notes to each selection and from one of the anthology's chief delights, extracts from the unpublished journals of Picano and Grumley, and from correspondence between Ferro and Holleran. Four members of the Violet Quill have been lost to AIDS and a fifth is reported ill; in the later selections, the writers grapple with the disease in fiction and nonfiction, as both plotlines and personal lives become rewritten. The most powerful moment of the anthology occurs, in fact, when, following Ferro's death, Holleran examines his more than 20 years of friendship with that writer. Bergman notes that "the theme of friendship unites all the fiction of the Violet Quill . . . a theme that, more than any other, separates gay fiction from straight fiction"; as Holleran says, "It really was a brotherhood." Photos.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

Yes, another gay anthology, although this one has a historical focus that makes it particularly compelling. The Violet Quill was a group of seven New York writers, including Edmund White, Andrew Holleran, Robert Ferro, and Felice Picano, who met for a year or two in the early 1980s to read one another's work. As different as their writings were, they shared the desire to create a fiction that reflected their gay experience with honesty and without apology. Collectively, they were often up against homophobic publishers, hostile critics, and the prejudice that "gay fiction, because it is gay, cannot be good." Well edited, this volume includes letters, short stories, and diary and novel excerpts. It begins in the late Sixties and continues through both their meetings and the advent of AIDs, which has claimed four members of the group so far. Effective and often moving, it is recommended for gay studies collections and large public libraries.
Brian Kenney, Brooklyn P.L.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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