THIS FINER SHADOW – It’s an unusual title, often included in the cannon of gay lesbian novels as a definitive pulp classic, by texts such as Truly Pulp and Queer Pulp. Refer to my Goodreads bookshelf for further information on these non-fiction texts. The forward explicitly states that McIntosh was not a homosexual. Although that is debatable, he was frustrated by multiple rejections from agents/ publishers, suffering years of revisions when he committed suicide, in the midst of a full-blow mental breakdown. After he met his death, by plunging from the top of his apartment building, his wife posthumously published the novel. Similarly to another book that I’m reading right now (The Third Sex by Artemis Smith), This Finer Shadow by Harlan Cozad McIntosh draws upon the Freudian/ psychoanalytic theory of homosexuality as ‘inversion’, which was conventional wisdom in the 30’s. The novels (Finer Shadow and Third Sex) draw striking parallels in terms of setting (Manhattan near Washington Square), gender roles, labels: butch/ queen/ femme/ macho/ nelly and explores turmoil these characters faced. In many ways, both books describe a common experience, which feels familiar. In Finer Shadow, the protagonist is a sailor who finds himself in a big city full of confusing possibilities. While it is not a book I would normally read, I appreciate the experience. I will always wonder … what it must have been like ‘in the life’ before Stonewall?
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