Friday, January 21, 2011

What is Whitney Strub reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Whitney Strub, Perversion for Profit: The Politics of Pornography and the Rise of the New Right.

His entry begins:
Life on the academic calendar, at least in my experience, means lots of reading but fairly little pleasure reading except during breaks and holidays. So I’m trying to make the most of this semester break with some things that’ll be tough to squeeze in once the grind resumes. Next up for me is Charles Willeford’s I Was Looking for a Street, a recently reissued autobiography from my nominee for America’s greatest-ever pulp novelist. I am a sucker for crime fiction in general, and few literary niches satisfy me more than the seedy, lurid 1950s hardboiled fiction that operated as both dimestore spectacle and unblinking critique of Ike’s America. Jim Thompson gets the most attention, but Willeford’s novels are even bleaker, taking perverse delight in exposing the much-vaunted “normalcy” of the decade as a fundamentally psychotic enterprise. His staggeringly grim—but hilarious—Pick Up might be...[read on]
Among the early praise for Perversion for Profit:
"This study of the politics of pornography in postwar America is marvelous. Paying close attention to both visual and textual sources, Whitney Strub brings them alive for the reader. His genealogy of outrage from comic books to pornography is utterly original. The documentation of the double standard between homosexual and heterosexual pornography is also an exceptionally useful contribution to ongoing gay and lesbian history projects. The book is convincingly and responsibly opinionated and full of life. The chapter on feminism and pornography is a masterpiece. It is a landmark chapter, one of the few historical essays that might achieve that rare accomplishment of actually ending a sterile debate."
—Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America and Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus

"This is a very impressive book. It is extraordinarily comprehensive, offering excellent discussions of both national political debates and outcomes and local manifestations. Ranging from Los Angeles and Memphis to La Crosse, Wisconsin, and numerous small towns, Whitney Strub has done an admirable job of situating his analysis in the local arenas where obscenity and pornography battles frequently take place. It fills an important gap in the literature and will make an original and significant contribution to the histories of pornography, obscenity, sexuality, postwar politics, and postwar culture."
—Andrea Friedman, Washington University in St. Louis, author of Prurient Interests: Gender, Democracy, and Obscenity in New York City, 1909-1945
Read more about Perversion for Profit at the publisher's website.

Writers Read: Whitney Strub.

--Marshal Zeringue