Wednesday, February 15, 2017

They just keep multiplying. Like bunnies.

A new biography of the children's author Margaret Wise Brown- who didn't much care for children, actually- is out, and is fertilizing a reappraisal of her work.

It will not, however, be happy news to LGBT extirpationists, for whom life is an endless series of revelations that real-seeming, apparently wholesome Americans- the embodiment of our best, like Aaron Copland, Liberace, Ellen DeGeneres or Brown, were poseurs, sexual Quislings, leading to ever more book bannings and studio boycotts:
I don’t recall which detail from Hillel Schwartz’s work on Brown and noise made me ask him about her romantic life. I only remember a feeling of a life lived differently and athwart, and a desire to draw closer to her, whatever the answer might be. I wasn’t looking to find myself in her, but learning that she’d spent most of her life in a relationship with a woman poet who called herself Michael Strange and who had been the ex-wife of John Barrymore filled me with a perverse delight. Picture this: when Michael was in the mood, she called Margaret “Bun;” when Margaret was in the mood, she called Michael “Rabbit” (those really were their pet names for one another). I loved how the idea of a “childless” lesbian having devised one of the most classic books for children gave the lie to maternity as the only or most natural route to knowing how to be with children. I wondered if hospitals that sent copies of the book home with newborns would discontinue the practice if they knew the book’s author had been queer. Would all those folks who lulled their children to sleep with Goodnight Moon rest easy if they knew the little prayer was birthed by a lesbian consciousness? Might they worry that Goodnight Moon could unconsciously shape a mood realm deep inside the child that might make him grow up gay?

Henry Bemis Books' birthday profile of Brown is here.

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