glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
social sciences
special features
about glbtq


   member name
   Forgot Your Password?  
Not a Member Yet?  

  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy






Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

Brinig, Myron (1896-1991)  
page: 1  2  

But Brinig's next two novels, The Sadness in Lexington Avenue (1951) and The Street of Three Friends (1953) sold poorly. Publisher Stanley Rinehart, who in 1946 had split with John Farrar, dropped Brinig from Rinehart's list. It was quite a blow. In 1955, in an effort to save his career, Brinig sold his house in Taos and moved back to Manhattan.

In 1958, he published another novel, The Looking Glass Heart, at a different publishing house. It was the 21st of his 25-year career.

Did Brinig write too much? Perhaps. Yet a lot of it was very good writing, which was generally very well received.

The question is why did the literary critics of the second half of the twentieth century ignore him? This neglect is particularly glaring among the Jewish critics, Irving Howe, Leslie Fiedler, and Alfred Kazin. Singermann is only the third Jewish immigrant novel written in English rather than Yiddish. That fact alone should have earned him notice and critical consideration by students of Jewish-American literature.

Brinig also received the same neglectful treatment from literary historians of the American labor movement. Walter Rideout in his The Radical Novel in the United States: 1900 to 1954 never mentions Wide Open Town, Brinig's novel about a famous Butte strike with a graphic lynching scene of a Wobbly organizer. Under the heading "Strike Novels," Rideout discusses several awful Communist Party propaganda novels but not Wide Open Town.

The decisions to ignore Brinig were conscious. These critics understood that Brinig was a homosexual and that several of his characters, while not designated as such, were homosexuals. Rather than deal with these facts they chose to ignore Brinig and his work, perhaps out of embarrassment or .

Ironically, just as Brinig faded from the scene, young homosexual writers such as Gore Vidal and James Baldwin were beginning to explore homosexuality with a frankness not theretofore seen in mainstream American literature. But these were men of a different generation, much braver and surer of themselves than Brinig.

Brinig died on May 13, 1991 at the age of 94. He had witnessed his own literary disappearance, first from bookstores, then libraries, and then the public's memory.

Yet the last third of his life was a happy time. For 35 years he lived with the man he loved, had many friends for whom he played the piano, and with whom he frequented a First Avenue bar, appropriately called The Closet, where he could be himself.

Today gay and Jewish critics are taking note of Myron Brinig and finding a place for him in the history of the American novel. Wide Open Town was re-issued by a Montana press in 1993, some 62 years after it was first published, and has been in print ever since. Perhaps as interest grows, more of his novels will be re-issued.

But will he ever be considered as he was in this 1931 review of Wide Open Town from The Forum, in which he is compared to Thomas Wolfe and Walt Whitman? The anonymous reviewer wrote: "The book lacks the astonishing skill and variety of characterization which distinguished Singermann: the separate stories in it are less firmly knit together; it sometimes runs wild and becomes a kind of Whitmaneasque chant in praise of America. It is, however, an extraordinary if undisciplined novel. Like Thomas Wolfe Mr. Brinig has great power and great vitality. He is among our best young writers."

Earl Ganz

  <previous page   page: 1  2    

Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about Literature

   Related Entries
literature >> Overview:  American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969

Although largely invisible to the general public, a large body of twentieth-century gay male literature by American authors was published prior to Stonewall, some of it positive but most of it tinged with misery or bleakness as the price of being published and disseminated.

social sciences >> Overview:  The Closet

If the closet has served to institutionalize homosexuality as shameful and inferior vis-à-vis the legitimate heterosexual culture, it has also provided a space of possibility for subversive sexual and political acts.

literature >> Overview:  Historical Fiction

Glbtq historical fictions creatively interweave fiction with facts in ways that have not only won them a large readership but also have offered that readership insightful illuminations of glbtq histories.

literature >> Overview:  Jewish-American Literature

Jewish-American gay and lesbian literature is marked by its rich heritage, diverse subject matter, and thriving vitality.

literature >> Overview:  Novel: Gay Male

Since World War II, the gay male novel has progressively flourished in England and especially in America.

literature >> Baldwin, James Arthur

James Baldwin, a pioneering figure in twentieth-century literature, wrote sustained and articulate challenges to American racism and mandatory heterosexuality.

arts >> Flynn, Errol

Handsome, athletic, graceful, and charismatic, actor Errol Flynn was widely rumored to enjoy sexual relations with men as well as women.

literature >> Lawrence, D. H.

For his time, D. H. Lawrence was a maverick in his open and adventurous discussion of all sexual issues and especially homosexuality, both male and female.

literature >> Vidal, Gore

The multifaceted Gore Vidal is important in the gay literary heritage because of the straightforwardness with which he pursued gay themes and included gay characters in his work.

arts >> Wells, Cady

Famous for his watercolor paintings, Henry Cady Wells was also a patron of the arts and an activist citizen of the Santa Fe and Taos art colonies from the 1930s to the 1950s.

literature >> Whitman, Walt

Celebrating an ideal of manly love in both its spiritual and physical aspects, Walt Whitman has exerted a profound and enduring influence on gay literature.


Anonymous. "Review of Wide Open Town by Myron Brinig." The Forum 85 (April 1931).

Ganz, Earl. "Myron Brinig: Montana Writer." The Speculator: a Journal of Butte and Southwest Montana History 2 (Winter 1985): 3-15.

_____. The Taos Truth Game. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006.

Rochlin, Margy. "Westward Expansion." nextbook: a new read on Jewish culture (January 3, 2007):

Rudnick, Lois Palken. Mabel Dodge Luhan: New Woman, New Worlds. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984.

Slide, Anthony. Lost Gay Novels: A Reference Guide to Fifty Novels from the First Half of the Twentieth Century. New York: Harrington Park Press, 2004.


    Citation Information
    Author: Ganz, Earl  
    Entry Title: Brinig, Myron  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2008  
    Date Last Updated February 5, 2008  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2008 glbtq, Inc.  


This Entry Copyright © 2008 glbtq, Inc. is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.