Read a variety of books close to and over the weekend. Let’s check it out…
Bleeding Edge ****
This is a 2021 reread and it’s better than I remember. The ending disappoints but it’s still an entertaining, prescient novel. Pynchon warned us about Too Online culture and yet, here we are.
Times Square Red, Times Square Blue ****
I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t this. And I liked it! Mostly.
This is like a tale of two books. It’s two essays really. The first one is the far superior one as Delaney documents the many people he meets on the gay scene while visiting the porn theaters at Times Square in the 70s through their destruction in the 90s. He does a great job of bringing humanity to folks who are often caricatured by cishets and classists who frowned upon the old Times Square as a cesspool of perverts and criminals.
The second essay is more academic in tone, too dry for me in spots. But Delaney does a great job of taking a broad look at the social circumstances around the destruction of Times Square and the innate human need for social contact. It was a lot to think about, perhaps too much for me. I appreciated it more than liked it. But overall, I enjoyed the book and learned a lot.
Queer: A Graphic History ****
A good into into the history and development of queer theory/thought. As a sometimes closeted poststructualist, I had no idea what Foucault’s impact would be on this! I felt like it explained, or at least attempted to explain, a lot of concepts comprehensively, though it definitely brushed past problematic areas and challenging points. Still, as far as intros go, it’s good, although I am by no means an expert on queer theory.
Widespread Panic ***
Ellroy’s just going to keep playing the hits, isn’t he?
-Alliteration, alliteration, ALLITERATION!
-Red-headed reds who also may or may not be feds
-Celebrity name vomit (this time with Joi Lansing, Marlon Brando, and Natalie Wood. Thankful that poor Joan Crawford got a break.)
-LA, drugs, booze, broads.
-JFK, Billy Parker, etc.
I will say that while this reminded me a bit of White Jazz in that it focused on one perspective, it did have a plot and had some satisfying moments. The running gag of Orson Welles doing the Black Dahlia murder made me laugh. But it’s typical Ellroy. And lesser Ellroy.
Quarry’s Cut ****
The last of the original four Quarry novels is probably my favorite. It’s funny: I don’t like locked room mysteries but I like locked room mysteries written by people who don’t normally write them. Also, Collins displays an intricate grasp of the 70s porn era. It’s a little homo/biphobic for my tastes but if that does not stop you, it’s a good book in a good series.