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Alma Mater - Rita Mae Brown

Oct 19, 2012
Posted by: gaycity

I don’t remember how I came across Rita Mae Brown as a young Lesbian teenager in the 90’s, but even in my small Texas town I somehow discovered Rubyfruit Jungle. Brown wrote the book in 1973, and it quickly became a lesbian classic during a time when portraying Lesbian characters was still very much taboo. So I was excited to finally make time to read another book from Brown’s endless opus, especially one that that did not fall into the mystery genre that she tends to favor.

Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. Brown’s writing is simplistic and clumsy, and her characters felt like walking stereotypes. I was game to shoulder through the story anyway, chalking it up as a quick fun read instead of the epic cultural statement I was expecting. By the time I got to chapter ten, however, I could go no further. The shallow and infuriatingly ignorant views of Chris, one of the main characters, on homosexuality were just too much for me to swallow.

I might have enjoyed the book if I had gone in with different expectations, but I wanted more from Brown as a writer. I suspect my own simplistic teenage mind created a much more impressive memory of Rubyfruit Jungle than the reality – I’m tempted to go back and read it to find out. But if it’s anything like Alma Mater, why bother?

by Susan Rees

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