mllelaurel: (Default)
[personal profile] mllelaurel posting in [community profile] fffriday
Ellen Klages' Passing Strange is a love story, a romance between Emily, a runaway daughter of a blue-blood New England family, and Haskel, a brilliant artist who makes her living drawing lurid covers for the pulps. But it is also a love song to the city of San Francisco in the 1940s, vibrant in its descriptions of lesbian bars, Chinatown cocktail lounges, and the World Fair.

Klages' writing is superb. She pulls a few tricks I normally dislike, such as mid-scene point of views switches, but the style is so well-done it does not impact my enjoyment or the three-dimensionality of the characters. The romance goes quickly (this is a novella,) but it's both affecting and believable.

There are elements of magic, well-foreshadowed, but out of focus enough I'd label this book more magical realism than fantasy, and the final use of the magical elements leads to a satisfying ending just as I was bracing myself for something a lot more depressing.

Highly recommended.

Date: 2018-06-01 06:09 pm (UTC)
rachelmanija: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rachelmanija
I have this and have been looking forward to reading it.

Date: 2018-06-01 07:39 pm (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
From: [personal profile] sholio
Ooh, this not only looks up my alley, but I've been researching early-1900s San Francisco for something else I'm writing, so it sounds super useful for that too. Bought!

Date: 2018-06-01 11:04 pm (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
From: [personal profile] sholio
Not really, unfortunately, because this is actually one of the things I'm struggling with - finding good information on the 1920s and 1930s in San Francisco (the period I'm researching) is really freakin' hard! Fiction or nonfiction, either one. If I wanted Chicago or New York, I'd be set, and there's plenty of modern-day detective fiction set in SF with a strong sense of place, but very little period stuff. At least that I've managed to locate so far.

Date: 2018-06-02 03:10 am (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
From: [personal profile] sholio
Oh thanks, I'll check that out! :) I already bought the book, too.

san francisco research

Date: 2018-06-02 06:41 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ellenklages
If you’re in or near The City, then the LGBT archives and the San Francisco History Room of the SF public library are the best places to start. If you’re elsewhere, I think the SFPL has online photo resources. I also used eBay for old magazines, view master reels (surprising how much info you can get from seeing a street in 3-D), postcards, etc. Also, depending on what years your setting is, there are old guidebooks available that will give you info on the city-that-was. (Also old phone books, great for the ads and the “flavor.”)

Re: san francisco research

Date: 2018-06-03 05:18 am (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
From: [personal profile] sholio
Oh, this is fantastically useful; thank you so much!

I was there briefly in April, but wasn't sure where was best to go, so I spent a lot of time poking around the local sections of bookstores and looking at the physical locations I was writing about (also very useful!). I'll check out these places if I'm able to get down there again. (I live in Alaska, so it's a ways.)

Date: 2018-06-02 06:46 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ellenklages
Thanks!

There are two more linked stories: Hey, Presto! (Polly) and Caligo Lane (Franny). The latter is available online, and both are in my collection, Wicked Wonders (Tachyon).

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