Pulp

Pulp

In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet Jones keeps the love she shares with her best friend Marie a secret. It’s not easy being gay in Washington, DC, in the age of McCarthyism, but when she discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in Janet. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a newfound ambition to write and pu...

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Title:Pulp
Author:Robin Talley
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Edition Language:English

Pulp Reviews

  • Kristy

    In 2017, Abby Zimet is struggling. Things are tough at home--her parents can barely stand to be in the same room together. Plus, Abby and her girlfriend, Linh, broke up in June. Abby thought it would only be temporary, but now school has started, and here they are: still friends, still broken up. Abby can't seem to concentrate on school or her senior project. That is until she discovers 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. In particular, a book called "Women of the Twilight Realm." Abby becomes obsessed

    In 2017, Abby Zimet is struggling. Things are tough at home--her parents can barely stand to be in the same room together. Plus, Abby and her girlfriend, Linh, broke up in June. Abby thought it would only be temporary, but now school has started, and here they are: still friends, still broken up. Abby can't seem to concentrate on school or her senior project. That is until she discovers 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. In particular, a book called "Women of the Twilight Realm." Abby becomes obsessed with the author, who wrote under the name Marian Love. If Abby can somehow track down Marian, maybe life won't be so bad after all. Cut to 1955, where eighteen-year-old Janet Jones is in love with her best friend, Marie. It's a huge secret: one that could destroy their lives and that of their families. Marie is trying to get her security clearance with the State Department, after all. But when Janet finds a book at the bus station by an author called Dolores Wood, which features women falling in love with women, she starts to realize she isn't alone. And Janet, an aspiring writer, begins to wonder if there's more out there than the life that's always been planned for her.

    . It was

    and just appealed to me on so many levels. I have always been interested in lesbian pulp fiction since doing a project on it for a Queer Studies class in college, so it was so

    within the pages of this novel.

    at times. We have Abby's narrative, Janet's narrative, and then excerpts from the book by Marian Love that Abby grows to love so much, "Women of the Twilight Realm." The

    , as each are discovering lesbian pulp fiction in their own era and using it to grow and learn about themselves.

    Even more,

    . It's horrifying to see what Janet (and the entire gay community) had to endure, and the

    . While I knew bits and pieces about the Lavender Scare, its ties to our actual characters here really brings it home. I have to say,

    . She seems so incredibly real, and I just fell for her and her incredible strength and bravery. I think

    (and all fiction) for all time.

    As for Abby, I really liked her too, although in some of her sections, I was more captivated by her research than her story. Still, she presents a

    , and I appreciated the diverse set of characters with whom she surrounds herself. Abby and her friends stand in stark contrast to Janet in their sexual freedoms, but, in many ways, they aren't so different at heart.

    . It has so much of what I love--lesbians, diverse characters, passionate and realistic storylines, well-done research, literary references and ties.

    and when I had first come out--when the world wasn't yet so forgiving (not that it always is, but things were pretty different even 15+ years ago). I remember how much comfort books provided me, how wonderful it was to realize I wasn't alone in the world. I love how well

    book shows that fact, and

    Overall,

    . It's just a beautiful, well-written story, and, to top it off, it's informative to boot.

    . Highly recommend. 4.5+ stars.

    I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review (thank you!); it is available everywhere as of 11/13/2018.

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  • mahana.

     is a book that will make you cry, clutch your heart, and scream all at once. Talley has once again blown me away with her meta-storytelling and exquisite character development. I can't wait for others to get their hands on this!

    When was the first time you felt seen in a book? How long did it take you to find a main character with the same identity or label as you? Which charact

     is a book that will make you cry, clutch your heart, and scream all at once. Talley has once again blown me away with her meta-storytelling and exquisite character development. I can't wait for others to get their hands on this!

    When was the first time you felt seen in a book? How long did it take you to find a main character with the same identity or label as you? Which character made you realise that there were others out there just like you? That's what Pulp is about. Lesbians feeling seen for the first time through the literature they consume. It acknowledges the hardships that those in the 1950s had to endure while suggesting that we still have a long way to go in regards to inclusivity in 2018.

    I've never felt more acknowledged in a book. Talley truly hits the nail on the head with her social commentary about the experiences of sapphic individuals in two completely different eras. There's one line in the synopsis that I think encompasses this entire book: "A stunning story of bravery, love, how far we’ve come and how much farther we have to go." I'm sure most of us can relate to reading a lesbian romance for the first time and seeing people like us depicted in a relationship. We're fortunate enough in this age to have mainly positive portrayals (though there are still some instances of detrimental tropes like bury your gays or fetishisation), but it's interesting to confront the experiences of those in the 1950s.

    2017: Abby has been reeling from her recent break up with her best friend and slow deterioration of her parent's relationship when she realises that she still hasn't chosen what to write for her senior thesis. One day, she's sitting in the senior lounge with her ex-girlfriend and they discover lesbian pulp fiction from the 50's. Upon acknowledging that Abby has nothing to show for her meeting with her supervisor, she decides to write her version of this pulp fiction. Except, Abby is going to turn the negative tropes (bury your gays, everyone was straight all along etc.) on their heads and research the mysterious identity of "Marian Love", who wrote one novel and subsequently disappeared.

    1955: Janet is visiting a bus stop when she notices a lesbian erotica novel on the shelf. After reading the book and feeling seen for the first time in her life, Janet writes to the author and thanks her for helping her realise that there were other girls who like girls in the world. When the author replies, she offers to help Janet write one of her own novels, who decides to base it off her experience with developing feelings for her best friend, Marie.

    I only have two complaints: the book was too long and there were some racial slurs that I don't think this white author should be using. I know this is a historical fiction novel that attempts to shed light on the experiences of African American lesbians in the 50's, but it's not the place of a white woman to tell (in my opinion). I know Talley has been under fire for doing this in other books, so hopefully, we can have the same commentary from an #ownvoices author in the future.

    Talley's writing isn't a stand out from the rest, but it is easy to follow. Despite being told in the third person, I felt a genuine connection with Abby and Janet, where their emotions and feelings were jumping off the page. Pulp also provides a statement on so many prevalent issues. As someone who is quite ignorant of the experiences of LGBT individuals throughout history, it was interesting to acknowledge the struggle they went through to get us where we are today. Being a lesbian in 1955 for Janet means always hiding. It means not being able to speak with the girl you're in love with because someone will report you to the government. It means finding literature with other lesbians represented in it and only ever reading tragic endings. We're also given a look at what it means to be an African American lesbian in 1955, where you can be a successful doctor saving lives, but the government won't let you sit in the same cafe as a white person. Flash forward to 2017, where our main character can do all of those things, but we still haven't reached inclusivity. Abby and her friends are activists that protest building the wall and the ban on immigration. They have the opportunity to speak out against their marginalisation now, except they still endure struggles for being a part of the LGBT+ community. For example, Abby's friend, Vanessa, explains to her parents that they prefer "they/them" pronouns relentlessly, but they refuse. This isn't a race to see who the most marginalised is, but it's important to acknowledge that we haven't reached the finish line yet.

    I fell in love with Janet and Abby at first sight. I knew this would be a phenomenal book as soon as I heard their voices. They're both distinct and the same at the exact time. I loved Janet and her ability to thrive, even in a time that tried so desperately to silence her. She's the definition of a brave and heroic main character. Abby is just an old soul. I sympathised with her so much. Whenever Abby cried, I cried. I completely understood her obsession with Marian Love and discovering the truth, especially when she got so attached to it and all of her friends were just writing it off as dumb. The respective journeys that these characters had to go through were inspiring to follow, especially with the bravery that each of them exemplified.

    This is a book you want to read slowly. You want to focus on each and every line to make sure you've fully absorbed the information. You pause at the end of each chapter and reflect what just happened to the characters. It's rare for me to tediously read books that I think are amazing because I want to finish it quickly, but I knew I needed to savour this one. Pulp has very long chapters that follow two different storylines so it can be difficult to remember each little detail that happens within each instalment.

    I can't find the words to summarise everything that I just said, but you can obviously tell that I loved this book. It's so rare to have a novel this powerful that invokes so many different emotions in it. I'd definitely recommend this if you're interested in F/F literature and want a unique, historical story that makes a statement.

  • Faith Simon

    Thank you sooooo much Netgalley for providing me an advanced reader edition of this title in exchange for an honest review.

    I'm just as obsessed with this book as Abby is obsessed with Women of the Twilight Realm. Seriously. This was my MOST anticipated 2018 read, and I'm so lucky and grateful to have gotten the opportunity to read it before it's released. This book by far exceeded my expectations, and from the moment I laid my eyes on it's synopsis, the highest expectations had already been set

    Thank you sooooo much Netgalley for providing me an advanced reader edition of this title in exchange for an honest review.

    I'm just as obsessed with this book as Abby is obsessed with Women of the Twilight Realm. Seriously. This was my MOST anticipated 2018 read, and I'm so lucky and grateful to have gotten the opportunity to read it before it's released. This book by far exceeded my expectations, and from the moment I laid my eyes on it's synopsis, the highest expectations had already been set in my mind. But this book turned out to be just as amazing as I imagined it would be.

    This book is about queer women, 1950s Lesbian pulp fiction, and growth and mourning. There is so much more here than the synopsis would have you believe. This book is brimming with character development. I can't even describe just how much I loved this book, but I can certainly make an attempt.

    We've got the main character, Abby, who's mourning the recent loss of her relationship with her "friend" Linh, as well as her unstable family dynamic and the clear tension and lack of presence of both of her parents. She one day discovers lesbian pulp fiction from the 1950s-1960s, and she is absolutely hooked on one book in particular, Women of the Twilight Realm by infamous author, Marian Love. Fuelled by so many other aspects of her life she cannot control, she begins an obsession with the book, and more importantly, with the author, who no amount of googling can dig up anything about. Marian Love has written nothing else since her first and only book, and Abby is determined to find out the real identity of Marian Love.

    Meanwhile, we've got a dual point of view with another character, Janet, who is a queer 18 year old in 1955, a time in which was extremely dangerous to be homosexual. Janet, too, finds solace and comfort in a lesbian pulp fiction novel she'd found at a local bus station, a book that showcases to her that there are other women just like her, she feels less alone knowing there are other women that feel the way she does, women who write stories of characters similar to her for all to read. Under pseudonyms, of course. Which is how Janet determines that she wants to write to the author of her favourite book, to let her know just how much her book his impacted her. After getting a letter back from her, she is encouraged to write a book of her own. And so that's exactly what Janet begins to do, with her father's typewriter, alone in the attic during the late hours of the morning. And so this is how the story intertwines Janet's story, Marian Love, and Abby's, dual points of view written in 1955, and one in 2017.

    The change of atmosphere between the two time periods is extremely present, we as readers get a look at just how drastically different it was living as a queer person in 1955 than it is in 2017. As usual, Robin Talley did her fair share of research for this novel, to bring a queer historical fiction to our eager hands once more. Thank you, Robin Talley, please never change.

    This book is full of culture reference, and I loved the presence of other queer identities, and not just lesbianism. It is increasingly important to be sure other queer voices are heard over the abundance of lesbian and gay voices who have steamrolled over trans, bi identities and the like for years, especially now that the demand for more diversity in novels is increasing. And I can see that this is acknowledged in this book, which I cannot begin to appreciate more than I do.

    The characters are a central part of this story, and every side character has a purpose and a personality, no character is out of place and barely any are not integral to the story overall, I really appreciated this. I liked that we were also treated to the trials of other characters besides Abby and Janet, and not only do the main characters go through changes and development throughout the story, but a lot of other characters do as well. (Except Janet's grandma, I'm not going to say I'm sad about how she ends up).

    There was just… so much to learn in this book. We got so much ample knowledge. It is also obviously unfortunate to read about how it was to be gay in the 1950s, and the necessary steps in order to be able to write lesbian fiction, now I see where the killing off gay characters trope comes from! It used to be the only way to be able to produce media revolving around queer people, tragedy had to strike, and in most cases the characters had to die, as referred to as "necessary resolutions."

    I like the way that love and loss is portrayed in this book. The big question seems to be if love is even real, and if it can survive. The theme explored throughout the book is mourning, and moving on. Change can be good, in some cases even life-saving. I love that most of the character development here revolves around changing life events, both characters have to deal with a life-shattering change of scenery, but both learn to grow and adapt towards it. I love the bigger, underlying message. This book was really enjoyable to read because of the many dynamics and themes explored, this book is so much more than what the synopsis entails.

    This is by far one of the best sapphic books I've ever had the pleasure of reading in my life. I'm so beyond grateful our world has adapted and changed for the better, for the most part. But it is still interesting and enlightening to read about what it was like years ago, even more so in a fictional sense. Think of all those who came before us, the lesbian pulp novels that were only allowed to be published at the promise of tragedy, the various people risking their lives every day just to live as their true selves, and be increasingly grateful that we are now able to read books like these with little consequence.

  • Tatiana

    3.5 stars

    For better or worse, this was a very educational YA novel.

    First, I didn't know anything about the popularity of lesbian pulp fiction in 1950s America. Movie adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's "The Price of Salt” is my only exposure to this genre.

    Second, I knew even less about "lavender scare," a mass campaign in the same 50s to find and fire gay people from government jobs, on the grounds of them being assumed to be morally corrupt communist sympathizers.

    As far as historical context, "P

    3.5 stars

    For better or worse, this was a very educational YA novel.

    First, I didn't know anything about the popularity of lesbian pulp fiction in 1950s America. Movie adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's "The Price of Salt” is my only exposure to this genre.

    Second, I knew even less about "lavender scare," a mass campaign in the same 50s to find and fire gay people from government jobs, on the grounds of them being assumed to be morally corrupt communist sympathizers.

    As far as historical context, "Pulp" has a wealth of information to offer about these two subjects to ignorant people like me.

    As for the plotting, although I quite liked the frame of it - it's about two gay girls, one in present time, one in 1950s conneced through a fictional pulp novel "Women of the Twilight Realm" - I wish the narrative weren’t so didactic and so cold. I can see where negative reviews are coming from - the story keeps you at arms' length. It's not very relatable. (It may be the 3rd person POV, I don't know).

    Regardless, the book sheds light on an notable period in American history and shows how far we've come, but that the fight for lgbtq right isn’t over by any means. Listening to a podcast series UnErased about gay conversion therapy along the way reiterated this point.

    This is the book cover that inspired the author to write this story. The covers of that time were truly cool and deliciously pulpy. Publishers should have pulped up the cover of “Pulp”too.

  • Monica

    Published by Harlequin Teen,

    is outside my typical genre. A pretty constant fan of YA in general, romance is never a top pick for me. Neither are historical pieces.

    I was pleasantly surprised to find myself very interested in these characters, especially Janet, whose story takes place in 1955. The challenges that she faced were shocking. Abby, a gay teen in present DC, has the usual family and relationship issues. But she doesn’t have the same fears that Janet faced on a daily basis. Althou

    Published by Harlequin Teen,

    is outside my typical genre. A pretty constant fan of YA in general, romance is never a top pick for me. Neither are historical pieces.

    I was pleasantly surprised to find myself very interested in these characters, especially Janet, whose story takes place in 1955. The challenges that she faced were shocking. Abby, a gay teen in present DC, has the usual family and relationship issues. But she doesn’t have the same fears that Janet faced on a daily basis. Although Abby does grow and mature, she is spoiled and petulant for most of the story.

    Overall a 3.5 ⭐️ read for me.

  • E L E A N O R (bookishcourtier)

    3.75

    I think this is a really important book and I am so glad that such a diversely packed book is going out into the world. I hope you all read this when it comes out. And it is super cute as well! If you want to read a lighter contemporary still full of amazing representation which I believe is own-voices! There is also so much for any reader to love

    3.75

    I think this is a really important book and I am so glad that such a diversely packed book is going out into the world. I hope you all read this when it comes out. And it is super cute as well! If you want to read a lighter contemporary still full of amazing representation which I believe is own-voices! There is also so much for any reader to love in this book, so even with my criticism, this is still a really great book, and I still highly recommend it. I have read another book by this author - Lies We Tell Ourselves...and I definitely preferred that one. But anyway. This one is still good!

    - I absolutely ADORED the premise for this one. It is basically all to do with Lesbian pulp fiction in the 1950s, which I didn't even know was a thing? There are two threads to this story - one set in the 1950s, and the other in the present day, when Abby is majoring in Creative writing and is writing her own version of these lesbian pulp fiction, and reading the book of the character from the 1950s, while struggling with her own problems. So basically, this book is about girls who love girls, books, writing and authors. What more could you want in life? I found so much of it relatable, and I especially loved the writing element of it.

    - Okay, but I do think that the characters just needed a little more development. I started to see that more towards the end, but before that the two main characters were still a little one dimensional, and I felt that I never really got to know the side characters at all. I did lose interest a little towards the middle just because the characters were not very compelling. I definitely preferred Abby over Janet, mainly because Janet was so naïve and it kind of annoyed me sometimes? Like I understood, but it was still

    . She did improve as the book went on, but, still.

    - I also found the writing a little cheesy in places? Like not cringy, just not that interesting. It was fine, but I really love to have interesting writing that makes something of every sentence. I think this was another of the factors that made my interest wane a little as I got to the middle of the book. For some reason I found it more cheesy in the '50s chapters, but, I mean, it wasn't terrible. It wasn't really a huge negative. Just something I picked up on.

    - The book was super slow in the first 60%. If it had been as good as the last 35-40% all the way through, I think my rating would have been a solid four stars. But nothing was really happening in the first half. The last half was actually really good and I was just starting to get into it when it ended. Janet's chapters became a lot more deep and interesting, and I do think that I could have grown to like her more. I wish we had started at a slightly later point in the book, and continued on in the characters' stories for a little longer.

    Or read any of these authors books, because they all seem to have great diversity. There was other diversity in here aside from girl/girl romance - there was a non-binary character, and characters of different ethnicities. Again, I reiterate that I personally think that this is a really important book and I really hope that it goes places in this world. It deserves it. It has such a cool concept and I did really like it! I would definitely read more by Robin Talley.

  • شيماء ✨

    It is with such a heavy heart that I must announce that I'm feeling sapped of any motivation to read this book so I'm calling it a

    at 65%.

    I just really no longer want to force things. What flows, flows. What crashes, crashes. I only have enough space and energy for things that manage to seize my interest in a tight grip. Sadly, it wasn't all too difficult to squirm out of Pulp's grasp. With that being said, I think this is a

    kind of book, so all I can do is tell you wha

    It is with such a heavy heart that I must announce that I'm feeling sapped of any motivation to read this book so I'm calling it a

    at 65%.

    I just really no longer want to force things. What flows, flows. What crashes, crashes. I only have enough space and energy for things that manage to seize my interest in a tight grip. Sadly, it wasn't all too difficult to squirm out of Pulp's grasp. With that being said, I think this is a

    kind of book, so all I can do is tell you what I felt and why.

    My initial excitment at Pulp's premise (a queer historical fiction that's “a celebration of 1950s lesbian pulp fiction”) quickly dissolved in a haze of total indifference within the few first chapters. I couldn't fully immerse myself in the story due to its slow build, lack of major plot movement and insufficience in characterization, its struggle to carry an onerously large web of interpersonal relationships and long, lonely stretches of thin motivations and unintriguing narrative details.

    The concept of stories within stories usually appeals to me but I found this book uneven in its pacing and structure, and the plot meanders between four different storylines making it hard to keep track of all four, and even more laborious to care. This all sort of bogged down the otherwise marvelous parts of the story: the parrallel lesbian love stories that are 62 years apart, how this book irradiates some important LGBTQ+ history, and how it illuminates the importance of representation and diversity in the media we consume.

    I don't think it's a bad book at all. I just wish I was all-consumingly passionate about it.

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  • Hollis

    It pains me to rate this so low, and infact I wasn't going to rate it at all, particularly because I thought this might be close to a four star read for the first hundred pages. But then there was another three hundred pages to get through..

    The premise around this queer, mirrored storyline, that bounces between the fifties and present day, with two lesbian MCs, dealing with very different but also some very similar situations, sounded brilliant. Throw in some relevant topics, some gritty awful t

    It pains me to rate this so low, and infact I wasn't going to rate it at all, particularly because I thought this might be close to a four star read for the first hundred pages. But then there was another three hundred pages to get through..

    The premise around this queer, mirrored storyline, that bounces between the fifties and present day, with two lesbian MCs, dealing with very different but also some very similar situations, sounded brilliant. Throw in some relevant topics, some gritty awful true-to-life events from our own recent past, and stories within stories about stories.. it should've been an easy thing to love. But the present day protagonist was a bit of a frustration, I got tired of the constant repetition (probably about a hundred pages could've been cut), and the only thing that kept me going was an unexpected plot twist slash mystery that I wanted to see through to the end.

    Talley has a great hook and a great idea, and both are very well written, that I think just loses traction as it tries to include one too many conflicts or situations. The history was fascinating, and horrible, and I learned so much. I'm very thankful for that experience. I just wish I could've been educated

    entertained, too.

    ** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    hey guys I don't know if you know this but I love queer historical fiction

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