DailyAfirmation (dailyafirmation) wrote,

The Price of Salt...

~Wednesday~ Here are some thoughts on the third book, The Price of Salt, that I've now read from a list of 27 Must Have Queer Summer Reads.

When I was first considering the books on that list, one of my observations (trepidations?) was that there were several "Lesbian books" and a couple of "graphic novels," neither of which I'd normally pick up to read, and I didn't want them to become deterrents to completing this list if I started it. I take making public commitments pretty seriously, which you may remember from my Walking Challenge 2012, for which I committed to walk every day, for at least 30 minutes, for an entire year.

Here are the "publisher's comments" about the book from Powells.com:

"I have long had a theory that Nabokov knew The Price of Salt and modeled the climactic cross-country car chase in Lolita on Therese and Carol's frenzied bid for freedom," writes Terry Castle in The New Republic about this novel, arguably Patricia Highsmith's finest, first published in 1952 under the pseudonym Clare Morgan.

Soon to be a new film, The Price of Salt tells the riveting story of Therese Belivet, a stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, whose salvation arrives one day in the form of Carol Aird, an alluring suburban housewife in the throes of a divorce. They fall in love and set out across the United States, pursued by a private investigator who eventually blackmails Carol into a choice between her daughter and her lover. With this reissue, The Price of Salt may finally be recognized as a major twentieth-century American novel.

My thoughts and observations of the book:

  • I really enjoyed this book, and if it's representative of the other "Lesbian books" on the list, then that shouldn't be the deterrent I once feared it might be in terms of getting through the list. Although, I do get that one good book of a genre doesn't declare the entire genre as such.

  • I liked how a lot—and one might even argue, all—of the sex in this book was in innuendo only, and there was a lot of ambiguity around several of the relationships: Therese's and Carol's (more so in the beginning than later on), Therese's and Richard's, and Carol's and Abby's. I'm sure some of that had to do with society's (dis)comfort level at the time with homosexuality, which is also why Patricia Highsmith originally published this book under a pseudonym.

  • This quote, in the Literary significance and criticism section of the book's Wikipedia entry, speaks to the times of publication as well: "Because of the happy ending (or at least an ending with the possibility of happiness) that defied the lesbian pulp formula and because of the unconventional characters that defied stereotypes about homosexuality, The Price of Salt was popular among lesbians in the 1950s. The book fell out of print but was re-issued by Naiad Press and a number of other feminist and lesbian presses."

  • I didn't realize until after reading the book, that Patricia Highsmith was also the author of The Talented Mr. Ripley—among many other novels and short stories. The thing I most remember about The Talented Mr. Ripley was the movie, and more specifically, Jude Law in it. Yummy.

  • I struggled a little with this book as the beginning, as the protagonist, was one of those people who take forever, if ever, to say what's on their mind. I've mentioned my frustration with this before, to a little extent with the female protagonist in Bus Stop, the movie, and to a huge extent with the protagonist in I Loved You So Long, another movie I've watched recently as part of a The Best Movies You've Never Seen list. No, I'm not a list junkie. Am I?

  • It's almost always interesting to me how authors get their ideas for books, and I particularly like this one:
    [T]he novel was inspired by a mysterious woman who came to shop at a store where she was working. That night she began work on the story. The next day she became sick with chickenpox, but worked through her illness, even claiming the fever helped her to write.

The next selection I'll read from the list is Spoon Fed, which is another one on the list that I've classified as a "Lesbian book," although this one is, presumably, because the author is a Lesbian, not because of the story. Although, I won't really know that until I've read it.

Spoon Fed -- book cover
Tags: 27 queer summer reads, books

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