Hemning Sternberg (moonshadow) wrote,
Hemning Sternberg

I Do, I Don't: Queers On Marriage edited by Greg Wharton and Ian Philips

This is the second book in the queer book group series. Initially, the facilitators wanted it to be the first book, because they thought it would be more accessible and welcoming than Whipping Girl, but some people had a hard time getting it, so it wound up second on the list.

This is an anthology written in 2004, shortly after the furor over some quasi-legal San Francisco gay weddings and gay marriage becoming legal in my own Massachusetts. The pieces are short (mostly under three pages) and there are a lot of them - the book is more than 380 pages long, so you do the math. Some favorite authors are including - Tristan Taormino, S. Bear Bergman, Pat Califia, Marshall Miller and Dorian Solot, and Cecilia Tan. The book is fairly well balanced between pro- and anti-marriage queers, and generally speaking the quality of the writing is high.

I think that this is a good book. I like the short pieces - I think the format makes people get to the point - three pages gives you little room to ramble. With that being said, it also has its limitations. It's very much focused on the American experience - there are only a few essays about gay marriage in other countries, and most of those are about Canada. Also, this is not a book you could give to your mother to convince her that gay marriage is an important issue, unless your mom is a lot cooler than mine - I think it pretty much assumes that the reader is both queer and very familiar with the queer movement. The work is already fairly dated only four years later - it's very specific to the time and place it was written in. And finally, in my opinion, it's just a bit too long. I had read about 150 pages when I felt that I had reconsidered my position on this issue and changed my perspective - but there were still more than 200 pages to go, and I was ready to be done at that point. Overall, I would give the book three stars. I would recommend reading it, especially if you just pick out the essays that you like. It would also be a great resource for anyone doing a history project on this topic who wants to hear queer voices on the subject.

Last time I wrote my book review before the group - in this case, I'm writing it after because I only finished the last essay a few hours before the group started. There are advantages to both ways, but I think in the future I am going to try to write the reviews beforehand, because I think it leads me to having more coherent and cogent things to say at the discussion.
I will admit I didn't expect the books for the book group to be this challenging - it is cutting into my "regular reading" a bit - but I think the challenge is a good one.
Tags: books 2008, nonfiction
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