Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Femme Fatales

If ever you needed proof that a specifically feminist publisher could also be a hell of a lot of fun, the City University of New York's Feminist Press should do the trick. In their Femme Fatales/Women Write Pulp imprint they have resurrected a number of mid-century crime and melodrama gems, including Gypsy Rose Lee's first thriller (written when she, Carson McCullers, W. H. Auden, Benjamin Britten, Jane Bowles and Paul Bowles were sharing a house--see Sherill Tippins' fascinating February House).

I love these covers: they're just right for pulp reprints, some using the original paperback art, and some using tinted film stills.

They also include a couple of Dorothy B. Hughes novels: Hughes, if you haven't read her, shares Patricia Highsmith's clear-eyed view of human nature and literary talent.

The Feminist Press is also reprinting some of Ann Aldrich's lesbian non-fiction "classics", with introductions from Aldrich's real-name alter ego, Marijane Meaker--who was also one of Patricia Highsmith's lovers (see how neatly I tie this all together?). Meaker has written about Highsmith in Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950s--a memoir that is not, unfortunately, very well written. Of that time, Meaker has said, "I knew Pat when she was young and not yet so jaded and bigoted. The internet is filled with stories of her meanness, and prejudice, and also of her introversion, of her being a loner. I met that Pat many years after we broke up." Anyway, despite Meaker' shortcomings as a writer, these covers are also great in a melodramatic, retro way.


Anonymous said...

Totally OT, but couldn't find a way to get directly in touch with you. You gotta do a post on these editions of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights done by Fritz Eichenberg. A bookseller at Publishers Weekly has just written about how appealing they are—and they blew me away.

JRSM said...

Wow--thanks for that link, Sara: that's a beautiful set of images. I'll see what other Eichenberg's I can find and do a post. Thanks again!