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Friday, March 23, 2012


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"Each to her own taste, as the old lady said when she kissed the cow." In accordance with my intent that you may meet up with the offbeat or the unexpected here, Marion Zimmer Bradley offers you a checklist of obviously thoroughly researched homosexual literature. The fact that it emerged as early as 1960 gives it a 'timeslice' historical quality.

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by Marion Zimmer Bradley (1960)

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We are unalterably opposed to most censorship – but after wading through almost a hundred books whose only excuse for existence is to provide phony “thrills” for people too inhibited, too ignorant or too fearful to provide their own, well – we think wistfully of some self-imposed standards of taste.

We also realize, flatly and realistically, that too much license in this stuff is going to bring on a wave of public reaction which may impose a sure-enough censorship – making the standards of the 1940s and 1950s look liberal.

Now obviously the field of homosexual literature is going to place a certain emphasis on the sexual problems of humanity which will be quantitatively greater than that of – say – the Western novel, or the detective story. Sex alone has not been made an excuse for consigning any novel to the trashbin. If the treatment is honest, the characters even remotely believable and the purpose of the book seems reasonably genuine, then the quantity of sex is purely a matter for the author’s discretion; and be it much, as in the works of March Hastings, Artemis Smith or Henry Miller, or little, as in Iris Murdoch’s delicate and subtle THE BELL, or Shirley Jackson’s THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, – we give the book judgment only on its merits as a book.

However, in self-defense, we have had to find a way to dispose of the more repetitive rubbish. Allowing for differences in taste, and granting that many people like their books well-spiced, if there is a reasonably well-written story along with the sex we have called it “Evening waster” – on the grounds that it may very well provide pleasant entertainment for anyone not a hopeless prude. But if the story is just a peg on which to hang up a lot of poorly written, gamy erotic episodes, with no literary value, and just evasive enough to keep the printer out of jail, then we have given it short shrift with the abbreviation “scv” – which cryptic letters are editorial shorthand for “Short Course in Voyeurism” – and have been the basis of a lot of jokes in the tedious business of passing reviews around the editorial staff (The junior and senior editors live a thousand miles apart and have never met; the others who occasionally contribute reviews are scattered from Alabama to Oregon.). So we have to have some fun in the endless correspondence – and “scv” books are fair game.

Regrettably, we are well aware that some people are going to use this designation in precisely the opposite fashion than we intended – go through the list picking out the sexy books and carefully avoiding the others. Well – we shan’t spoil your fun. Each to her own taste, as the old lady said when she kissed the cow.

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