Gay historian Drewey Wayne Gunn has compiled a series of essays that chronicle the history of gay themed fiction from as early as the 1940s, to Stonewall, to the beginning of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. These twenty-two essays are written by nineteen authors, scholars, collectors, and publishers, many of whom, like writer Victor J. Banis, were writing or involved in publishing during the time they write about. These works will inform and amuse you while they lead you down the literary corridors of gay history. Over 200 illustrations, mostly original cover art, enhance these essays to provide a visual record of why this period in gay literary history was so important in building the foundations of everything that came after.
These nineteen writers delve into not only the paragons of gay literature (of which there were several) but also the paperback novels – the pulps – that were cheaply printed, broadly distributed in dime stores, and widely read. These pulps have been ignored by “scholarly” gay literature, that is, until this wonderful book shines a bright light on them.
The book is divided into four parts. Part I (O Brave New World) reviews the early “mainstream” novels, most of which have sunk into obscurity. Part II (I Know It When I See It) focuses on the explosion of paperback originals in the 1960s. Part III (Frightening the Horses) examines four different writers generally ignored by academicians. Part IV (Secrecy and Adventure) examines five popular genres: science fiction, crime writing, horror, westerns, and military fiction.
Read another great blog about the history of gay pulp fiction here.