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

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

One of the first Jewish-American writers of his generation to write in English rather than Yiddish, Myron Brinig was also one of the first to create homosexual characters. Between 1929 and 1958 he published 21 novels. A homosexual himself, he remained publicly closeted all of his life, a stance he thought necessary, not only for his writing career, but also for his place in American society.

Born in Minneapolis on December 22, 1896, Brinig moved with his family to the rough and tumble mining town of Butte, Montana when he was three. Like many Jewish immigrants to the far west, his father opened a dry-goods store that catered to the needs of copper miners.

Brinig grew up working in the store, and sold candy in brothels and newspapers in bars. He saw first-hand Butte's horrific labor problems, particularly its long strikes and the mayhem the Anaconda Copper Company committed in breaking those strikes.

In 1914 at age 17 Brinig left Butte to study at New York University, where he took writing courses with the poet Joyce Kilmer.

In 1917 Brinig's education was interrupted by military service. When he returned to New York City in 1919, instead of going back to school, he found a job at the Zanuck film studios in Fort Lee, New Jersey reading novels and stories in search of script material. Except for rare visits to his family he never returned to Montana, perhaps because he knew that he could never live even secretly as a homosexual in Butte.

Brinig published his first novel with Doubleday, Doran & Company. Madonna Without Child (1929) is a character study of a woman obsessed by someone else's child.

When his editor, John Farrar, joined Stanley Rinehart to form a new publishing house, Brinig went with them. That same year Farrar & Rinehart published Singermann (1929), the story of Moses Singermann, his wife Rebecca, and their six children. It is a story of what the new Amercian freedom does to the family's traditional Jewish values. It is here we first meet Harry and Michael, the two gay Singermann brothers.

Margy Rochlin observes that Harry, the overtly gay sibling, is "the least interestingly written character" in a novel that is clearly autobiographical. She speculates that perhaps "Harry's vague rendering is indicative of Brinig wanting to document the true landscape of his life as richly as possible without outing himself in the process."

For the next six years Farrar & Rinehart would bring out one Brinig novel a year: Anthony in the Nude (1930), the story of a successful love affair between narcissists; Wide Open Town (1931), Brinig's best labor novel; This Man Is My Brother (1932), the sequel to Singermann in which Brinig continues the story of the two gay brothers, a novel recently described by Anthony Slide as "compelling in its emotional strength"; The Flutter of an Eyelid (1933), a satire of Los Angeles arts culture; Out of Life (1934), a character study of a man about to become a father; and The Sun Sets in the West (1935), another Butte labor novel.

In 1933, on a visit to Taos, New Mexico, Brinig met Mabel Dodge Luhan, the famous patron of D. H. Lawrence. She immediately took a liking to him and invited him to stay with her.

Brinig spent that summer in one of Luhan's guest houses with the modernist painter, Cady Wells, the scion of a wealthy eastern family. He and Wells would live together as lovers for the rest of that year and most of the next.

In 1935 Brinig moved to San Francisco without Wells and for the first time since 1929 did not publish a novel. But he resumed writing in 1936 and created his best-seller, The Sisters (1937), which begins in Butte and climaxes with the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

Warner Brothers bought the film rights to The Sisters. Directed by Anatole Litvak and starring Bette Davis and Errol Flynn, the movie was released in 1938. It was a box office success, and with the money he made from the movie, Brinig returned to Taos and bought a house where he lived for the next 16 years.

He would go on publishing a novel almost every year. The best of these later novels are You and I (1945), a Hansel and Gretel story with a dark forest as wide as America and with Hansel marrying Gretel at the end, and Footsteps on the Stairs (1950), his last Butte novel. The latter book contains one of his best characters, Jimmy Joyce, scion of a wealthy Butte Irish family who goes to San Francisco, where in a beautifully rendered scene of drunken desire has a one night stand with a man he meets in a bar.

    page: 1  2   next page>  
zoom in
Myron Brinig in a photograph created by Cady Wells in 1935.
Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about Literature
Popular Topics:


Williams, Tennessee
Williams, Tennessee

Literary Theory: Gay, Lesbian, and Queer

The Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance

Romantic Friendship: Female
Romantic Friendship: Female

Feminist Literary Theory

American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969
American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969

Erotica and Pornography
Erotica and Pornography

Mishima, Yukio
Mishima, Yukio

Sadomasochistic Literature

Beat Generation
Beat Generation




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.