Strange Relations

Ralf Webb

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Sceptre
31 May 2024
ISBN: 9781399713214
Hardback
352 pages

From the publisher

In October 1960, James Baldwin and John Cheever spoke on a panel together at San Francisco State College. The troubled state of American society was under discussion, which Baldwin incisively diagnosed as a 'failure of the masculine sensibility'. Strange Relations explores this crisis in mid-century masculinity and the lives and works of four bisexual writers who fought to express and embody alternate possibilities.

Building on Walt Whitman's philosophy of the love between men, Ralf Webb considers the ways in which Tennessee Williams and Carson McCullers, as well as Cheever and Baldwin, resisted in their art, as well as in their relationships, the damaging expectations of contemporary gender and sexuality. With a curious, intelligent and sensitive gaze, Ralf Webb sheds new light on each writer. Together, these artists offer a powerful and moving argument for a transformative new masculinity, grounded in fluidity, love and intimacy.

'Webb's writing is of a quality rarely seen, and his book returns you to the world slightly changed, equipped with another angle of vision on the quiddity of man' Diarmuid Hester, author of Nothing Ever Just Disappears