Sheltering in Place at the Magdalena Arms: Episode IV

Missed the earlier episodes? You can find them all here.

Love in a Time of Pandemic

As Phyllis stepped onto the third floor landing, she automatically glanced down the hallway and the three shut doors that lined it.

As if on cue, the door to Apartment 401 swung open and Laura stepped out.

Phyllis caught her breath at the sight of her downstairs neighbor. Had there ever been a more attractive Assistant to the Head of Public Housing?

Like Phyllis, Laura followed a regular routine, dressing each morning with her usual care, eating at her regular times, and had confided to Phyllis that it was her strict rule not … Read more

Sheltering in Place at the Magdalena Arms: Episode III

Missed the earlier episodes? You can find them all here.

Irregular Hours, continued

It was almost noon when Phyllis closed her computer.  Getting up from her desk with a sigh, she conscientiously went through a series of stretches designed for the sedentary office worker: she rolled her head from side to side, shrugged her shoulders, clasped her hands behind her arched back, bent forward, backward, sideways. 

From her spot on Phyllis’s bed Maxie watched with interest. When Phyllis stood upright again, breathing hard from her exertion, Maxie asked, “Is that the same workout as yesterday?”

“Yes it is. It’s important to follow a regular routine in these irregular times,” … Read more

Sheltering in Place at the Magdalena Arms: Episode II

Irregular Hours

At 11 a.m. Lois opened the door to the bedroom she and Pamela shared to see if her girlfriend was awake yet. 

Pam was an inanimate lump in the bed, burrowed under the blue bedspread with only a few wisps of red hair showing bright against the white pillow. She’d turned her back to the daylight that filtered through the blinds.

Lois tiptoed up the edge of the bed and peered worriedly down at her girlfriend of almost a decade. From this perspective she could now see an inch or two of pale, freckled skin. “Pam,” she said softly. “Don’t you want to get up? It’s eleven already!”… Read more

Sheltering in Place at the Magdalena Arms, Episode I

On the Fifth Floor…

In Apartment 501, Phyllis was hunched over her laptop, studying a graph as intricate as a spiderweb, tiny intersecting lines representing death rates and confirmed cases from around the world. “There’s hopeful news from Estonia,” reported the steadfast statistician, ever-eager to find a bright spot in the gray clouds of the pandemic.

“That’s nice,” said Maxie, who was sitting the required six feet away on Phyllis’s bed. Her second cup of coffee was on the bedside table, her nimble thumbs were flying busily as she texted her friend Stella. “But what’s the news closer to home?”

Ooo! Send me a picture! Maxie texted. I’m still in Read more

Things I didn’t post on FaceBook and Why

A brief list:

  • Quote from Simone de Beauvoir’s Mémoires d’une Jeune Fille Rangée about her désespoir. On second thought, pretentious. Plus Facebook’s auto-translate would mangle the meaning.
  • Opinion of I, Tonya. On second thought, my private opinion. Why share?
  • Opinion of Darkest Hour. Ditto.
  • Opinion of Moontide. Ditto.
  • Comment on depressing story in news. I think a dozen people have already said the same thing. And if I try for originality I’ll end up making another Ayn Rand reference and leaving the wrong impression.
  • Comment on American political situation. What is there to say, really? Parallels to French under occupation kind of pretentious as well as obscure.
Read more

Activist Pep

There’s a treasured shelf in my collection of mid-century teen fiction and career girl books. It holds those rare voumes in which the burgeoning civil rights movement of the sixties collides with the whitebread high school fantasies of the fifties to form a schizophrenic hybrid of the malt shoppe romance and the problem novel. It’s culture clash, Y-Teen style.

Titles include Julie’s Heritage (a black high school girl grapples with racism and dating), Why Did You Go to College Linda Warren? (good-girl Linda gets embroiled with anti-war activists during her first year of college), Lots of Love, Lucinda (Corry’s white family invites a black student from the south to stay with them and go to school in the North), Continue reading

Three Barbaras

So I recently finished Indomitable: The Life of Barbara Grier by Joanne Passet and at last I understand why those Naiad Press books ol’ Babs put out had that distinctive look. Barbara, it seems, was your classic lesbian cheapskate; she would do anything to maximize the number of books she could get in a box, and that included squishing more Continue reading

Sad Young Men Across the Pond

The Heart in Exile by Rodney Garland, W.H. Allen 1953

Cover line: A disturbingly frank novel of homosexuality in London

I discovered this gay British novel, not precisely a pulp but on the pulpy end of the spectrum, through a citation in my favorite book of 2015, The Spiv and The Architect. “Queer novels of the 1950s frequently exploited the continued currency of the traditional moral economy of furniture and design as a useful device for highlighting the domestic propriety of their respectable ‘homosexual’ protagonists,” wrote author Richard Hornsey, using The Heart in Exile as his example. He ties the novel’s detailed description of a bachelor flat to the way “a specter of malignant queerness haunted modern design,” leading to the perception of modern furniture as “an agent of corruption that would seduce children from the normative rituals of family life.” Who wouldn’t be intrigued?

The Plot: The suicide that ends many pulps starts this one. Tony Page, a queer, currently celibate psychiatrist takes on a new patient, Ann Hewitt. Continue reading