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I admit that I knew Patricia Nell Warren for being the author of The Front Runner (and two other sequel in that series) and I knew she was often paired with Mary Renault in the “Olympus” of those women who are able, and so can write gay-themed novels who are loved and appreciated by gay men, but I’m true, I “didn’t” know Patricia Nell Warren. I didn’t know, for example, that she was lesbian and that she came out in 1974, more or less around the time The Front Runner was first released. I didn’t know that she wrote other gay-themed novel, like The Fancy Dancer, that, for theme and development, I would probably found more my cup of tea than The Front Runner (yes, I know it’s a wonderful novel, but I tend to avoid reading, or re-reading, novels that can have a so strong impact on my emotional balance, I tend to care too much for fictional characters).

Anyway, My West allows you to know better Patricia Nell Warren as a woman AND an author, and it’s true, maybe it’s not mainly a LGBT work of non fiction, but nevertheless, it’s ABOUT a lesbian woman and her venture in life. It’s divide in chapters (Agriculture, Animals, Arts, Cities, Cooking, Gender, History, Politics, Sexuality, Spirituality, Women, Zest) and you can well understand from the titles that it’s about everything and everyone, but mostly it’s about Patricia Nell Warren’s roots in the Montana country, roots that are deeps and far, far away. Patricia comes from a family that, more or less, was there when the state was forming, and her native home, Grant-Kohrs ranch at Deer Lodge, is now a National Historic Park, preserving the history of Montana and Deer Lodge in particular, a preserving to which Patricia is contributing, with joy and great love.

It was nice to read about a young girl who was “different”, and not in a gender way: a girl who wanted to be a writer wherelse her same age friends wanted to be housewife or nurses or hostesses. A different girl who was encouraged by her family in a way that let me think that, maybe, they would have accepted her if she came out to them when she was still a teenager. But Patricia went on, and married, and maybe tried to be a little more “conservative” even if she was an editor, and later a writer, how she dreamt when she was a child. The she came out, exactly as they came out her novels, in a world where being gay, or lesbian, was still synonymous of being a stranger, someone public society thought it was right to judge and condemn. But Patricia was not condemned by her family, on the contrary those same parents who allowed her the dream to be a writer, were first in line reading her novels (very nice blog where Patricia remembers the time her mother read The Fancy Dancer, a novel who was set in a fictional Montana town that was really the picture of her own hometown).

In time Patricia arrived to rethink her imagine of Deer Lodge and of the Montana people, thanks to her parents, but also to many many friends she found in “her West” (again, wonderful blog about Jan, a gay cigar-smoking Buddhist living in Deer Lodge).


Amazon: My West: Personal Writings on the American West -- Past, Present and Future
Paperback: 422 pages
Publisher: Wildcat Press; 1st edition (June 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1889135089
ISBN-13: 978-1889135083

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 29th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
Now I'm intrigued:)

You know I am a great fan of "The Front Runner" (the whole trilogy).

"The Fancy Dancer" was very good too and even if the setting was closer to us Europeans I still insist that "The Front Runner" series was way better - the psychology of the characters was a masterpiece.

I can't recommend it highly enough:)

Caroline aka aileenfan
Dec. 29th, 2011 09:17 pm (UTC)
Yes, I know you are a GREAT fan ;-) maybe sooner or later I will follow your advice.
Ryan Field
Dec. 31st, 2011 01:20 am (UTC)
The Front Runner was the very first gay novel I ever read. I had to sneak into a bookstore in Philadelphia in high school to guy it. Up until then, I had no access to any gay fiction at all. The only way I can describe it is that it opened my world, to see that there was, indeed, something called gay/lesbian fiction. I had no idea people were actually writing about it.
Dec. 31st, 2011 01:26 am (UTC)
I think it was the first for many, many readers. Mine was Maurice ;-)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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