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literature

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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.

Sponsor Message.

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

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    Bibliography
   

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): http://www.nextbook.org/cultural/feature.html?id=465

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 www.glbtq.com/literature/brinig_m.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2008 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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