elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Richard Amory (October 18, 1927 – January 1, 1981)

Richard Wallace Love was born on October 18, 1927 in Halfway, Oregon, near the border of Idaho. He was the third of four children in his family. Both his parents were teachers, and both came from families that had lived in Oregon since the frontier days of the 1800s.

In the 1930s, his family packed everything and moved to the Midwest. When his father began graduate school at Ohio State University, he moved the family from Oregon to Columbus, Ohio. Richard grew up in the North Columbus neighborhood of Clinton Park, attending Clinton Elementary School and University High School.

While a teenager, Richard spent a summer away in Arizona. There in the southwest, he developed a passionate interest in Native American culture. This fascination, which nourished much of his literature, would continue throughout his life. After graduating with the University High School Class of 1945, Richard enlisted in the Coast Guard. He fully expected to face military combat in the South Pacific, but while he was still in basic training, the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending World War II.

After the war, Richard returned to Columbus and enrolled at Ohio State University, where he graduated with a degree in sociology, but was forced to return to the military life when drafted by the U.S. Army. Afterwards, when finally free of military obligations, he left the United States for Mexico City, where he studied anthropology.

Upon his return to America, Richard settled in California. In 1956, he began work as a schoolteacher in the Salinas Valley town of Soledad, where he taught at the Main Street School. One year later, at the age of thirty, he married and started a family. The first of his three children was born in 1958.

Cover by Robert Bonfils

In 1959, Richard and his family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area; they lived in Berkeley for a year before buying a home in the East Bay city of Hayward. In the early 1960s, Richard taught school in Oakland and began studies towards a Master's degree in Spanish at San Francisco Statue University. It was as a gradutate student at SF State that he secretly wrote his first novel, Song of the Loon; he had been given an office on campus, and he took advantage of the privacy his office provided by writing what would become his best-known novel.

Although he was not a native Spanish speaker, the influence of Spanish literature is evident in much of his work. Richard completed his Master's degree in 1965, the year before Song of the Loon was published under the pseudonym of Richard Amory. He continued his study of Spanish at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also taught as he pursued a Ph.D. Richard would also continue to write in secret.

1970 was an eventful year for Richard. That year, he separated from his wife and family and moved to San Jose, California, the city where he had recently begun teaching. He also joined the Society for Individual Rights (SIR), a San Francisco-based gay rights organization. In addition, he became a staff writer for Vector magazine, a publication of SIR, to which he contributed literary criticism, book reviews, and poetry.

It was also 1970 in which perhaps his most significant contribution to gay literature took place, even though it was a year in which he did not add a title to his oeuvre. That year, Richard led an effort to bring together gay writers. Many of these authors had, like himself, written their novels in isolation. The group including Dirk Vanden, Peter Tuesday Hughes, Phil Andros, and others, name themselves "the Renaissance Group." One of their intentions was to launch a gay publishing company that would treat gay writers and their work respectfully; members of the group felt that they had been exploited by Greenleaf Classics, the press that published much of their work. Although the goal of owning a publishing company did not materialize, the Renaissance Group succeeded—in discussions, essays, and a public forum—in defining and advancing the emerging genre of gay literature.

In San Jose, Richard Love, who had always been a talented teacher, taught English as a second language to students of Woodrow Wilson Junior High and Herbert Hoover Junior High. He also joined the San Jose Gay Liberation Front. In 1974, Richard published his last book, Willow Song, a novel of magical realism set in San Jose. He died in 1981. (by Cesar Love, the author's son)

Source: http://www.authorrichardamory.com/
I found Song of the Loon by Richard Amory on a list of recommended titles from the history of gay lit. Published in 1966, this book was considered very daring and ahead of its time. It is not great literature, but it is an idyllic, almost innocent, if lusty frontier romance, in which 19th century outdoorsman Ephraim MacIver travels and makes sweet, sweaty man love across the American frontier. It's incredibly romantic. If Walt Whitman had written a novel, it might have been like this. --Lynn Flewelling
Further Readings:

Song of the Loon (Little Sister's Classics) by Richard Amory
Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press (May 1, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1551521806
ISBN-13: 978-1551521800
Amazon: Song of the Loon (Little Sister's Classics)

“More completely than any author before him, Richard Amory explores the tormented world of love for man by man . . . a happy amalgam of James Fenimore Cooper, Jean Genet and Hudson’s Green Mansions.”—from the cover copy of the 1969 edition Published well ahead of its time, in 1966 by Greenleaf Classics, Song of the Loon is a romantic novel that tells the story of Ephraim MacIver and his travels through the wilderness. Along his journey, he meets a number of characters who share with him stories, wisdom and homosexual encounters. The most popular erotic gay book of the 1960s and 1970s, Song of the Loon was the inspiration for two sequels, a 1970 film of the same name, at least one porn movie and a parody novel called Fruit of the Loon. Unique among pulp novels of the time, the gay characters in Song of the Loon are strong and romantically drawn, which has earned the book a place in the canon of gay American literature. With an introduction by Michael Bronski, editor of Pulp Friction and author of The Pleasure Principle. Little Sister’s Classics is a new series of books from Arsenal Pulp Press, reviving lost and out-of-print gay and lesbian classic books, both fiction and nonfiction. The books in the series are produced in conjunction with Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium, the heroic Vancouver bookstore well-known for its anti-censorship efforts.

Pulp Friction: Uncovering the Golden Age of Gay Male Pulps by Michael Bronski
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (January 14, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312252676
ISBN-13: 978-0312252670
Amazon: Pulp Friction: Uncovering the Golden Age of Gay Male Pulps

Long before the rise of the modern gay movement, an unnoticed literary revolution was occurring, mostly between the covers of the cheaply produced pulp paperbacks of the post-World War II era. Cultural critic Michael Bronski collects a sampling of these now little-known gay erotic writings—some by writers long forgotten, some never known and a few now famous. Through them, Bronski challenges many long-held views of American postwar fiction and the rise of gay literature, as well as of the culture at large.

More LGBT History at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Gay Classics

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Tags: author: richard amory, gay classics

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