Pulp- Robin Talley

Harper Collins

Book Review By Gemma E McLaughlin

I was so excited about this book when I was first told about it. Not only is it absolutely beautiful, it also looks at and delves into an old genre with such a fresh modern spin. I think it’s the most interested I’ve ever been in a book I’ve not read before, simply because of what I heard about it prior. Its plot is based around 1950s lesbian pulp fiction and a young girl’s experience discovering and writing about it. I was very much interested in this idea as same-sex couples, though featured in media are often side characters, leading unfortunate, tragic lives and often both. I have never come across anything where every single main character is LGBT+ and so clearly focused on and developed and I love it.

Our story revolves around Abby Zimet, a young girl in 2017 distraught from the slow and steady destruction of her family and a recent breakup with her girlfriend Linh. Along with all of this she is struggling to keep up with work in her final year of high school. I really began to sympathise with her everyday struggle, understanding the different levels of a main character is something that is truly very important to me when reading so I was glad to see her and all the other characters as three dimensional people. It is only a few minutes before a meeting about her big project for English that she hasn’t yet had any ideas for that she comes across 1950s lesbian pulp fiction and begins to read the only book by an author named Marian Love.

We are also allowed to see chapters written from the perspective of ‘Marian Love’ when she was the same age as Abby, however we soon discover that like all authors of that kind of book at the time she used a pseudonym. We learn about her own secret love, life in the 50s and her motivation for writing the very book that Abby reads. What I love about this format is that it throws us into two main stories, that of Janet (Marian Love), and her childhood best friend Marie, and Abby’s life. Though the stories are incredibly different we get to see a lot of parallels and the inspiration that they take, Abby from Janet, and Janet from an author under the pseudonym of Dolores Wood.

I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone. It is touching, clever and absolutely hilarious. I can’t believe that I found something like it and I believe there should be so many more like it. I think my favourite thing about it is that Robin Talley’s name is on that book, her face on the advertising and her beautiful words so easy to find and enjoy without shame. My favourite thing about this book is being able to thank her right now, and without a pseudonym, for writing it.