Difficult to Categorize | 4 | Is it Old-Fangled?

If this were a choice among on-line catalogue tags—Fiction: Old-Fangled—I’d surely choose it.

I was formed in a “less open” time when LGBT people sought arousal in reading because words were what was there—and that not consistently. Indeed, good arousing books with gayness or lesbianism or gender dysphoria (I enjoyed them all) were rare. I pored over Mary Renault and James Kirkwood’s books along with Lisa Alther’s Kinflicks--and of course I loved Rubyfruit Jungle which I remember approaching the cash register to buy at Paperback Booksmith in the Hanover Mall, c. 1975. 
The Mall (close approximation)
It probably cost $1.25 (if that) and had a nice bright white cover with big mod graphics embossed in metallic berry colors. Pretty quickly my younger sister lifted Rubyfruit Jungle from my bedroom and then passed it around among all her junior high school friends; it came back ragged, brutalized. I always liked the first part of the book better than the mother-daughter chapters in New York; as for Rita Mae Brown (who writes cat mysteries and books about fox-hunting with human and animal characters now--which is fine) I always preferred Six of One.

And I always preferred Kinflicks—which I first read when my mother had it out from the library on the strength of its reviews, liking books by women generally. I’m not sure how well she liked Kinflicks, with its women in and out of wheat jeans having sex together. She renewed it at least once that I recall, a sign that she found it tough going; it was a big thick hardback book that sat in a stack on her bedside table, where I found it. Up by their pillows, when my parents weren’t in their bedroom, I sat and read this best-selling, well-reviewed, mainstream novel about a lesbian, basically, cover to cover, back and forth, inside and out, c. 1976-77.

Our old street (photo date unknown)
I re-read Kinflicks just as closely when I acquired my own paperback copies; I’ve owned at least two. It’s the kind of book to buy at stoop sales and loan out on impulse. Ginny Babcock, the heroine’s name returns to me from years ago. I thought new books would always be this way. It was another time.

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