Reprinting old gay books

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Huffington Post | 14089

Walter Baxter’s novel of the British campaign in Burma, “Look Down in Mercy”, has been republished in the US. It is one of a series of gay British titles that have been unavailable but are now reprinted. Joint publisher James Jenkins of Valancourt Books comments to the Huff:

WWII-themed novels were still very popular in 1951 when it was first published, and it was a bestseller in both the U.S. and UK, perhaps a little surprisingly, since a significant portion of the book has to do with the love between an officer and an enlisted man. An intriguing thing about the book is that in the UK edition, the officer is consumed by guilt and self-hatred and throws himself out of a window at the end, but in the U.S. edition, the author rewrote the last chapter to give a happy ending and a possible future for the two men.

…Many of the gay classics we’ve been reissuing are ones that were last published in the 1980s by the UK’s Gay Men’s Press in their Gay Modern Classics series. We’ve reprinted most of that series now — great titles like Kenneth Martin’s Aubade, about a teenager’s first love (written when Martin was only 16!) Gillian Freeman’s The Leather Boys, the first novel to focus on love between young working-class men, (everything before that time had featured gay men who were wealthy aristocrats, emperors, etc.), and Michael Nelson’s A Room in Chelsea Square, a wonderfully camp classic about bitchy queens in 1950s London that elicits some really strong reactions from today’s readers — people either think the novel is hilarious fun, or else they view the main character, Patrick, as a reprehensible predator. I think it’s great that a gay novel from 1958 can still inspire such interest and passionate responses.

James Jenkins and Ryan Cagle founded Valancourt Books in 2005 to bring back the many great gay, gothic and horror titles that remain out-of-print and inaccessible.

Huffington Post | 14090

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