I can’t help but feel like a skeptic when I hear that there’s a major lesbian character in a new novel written by a man. There are men that handle queer women with care (Stieg Larsson, for instance) but there are still those that show how little they know about us by utilizing stereotype after stereotype to create a character.
Case in point: Philip Roth‘s The Humbling.
The New York Times Book Review had Kathryn Harrison give the book a write-up in this week’s edition, and here are the basic plot points: Protagonist 65-year-old Simon Axler is a washed-up actor who keeps having failed plays. He becomes depressed and signs himself into a psychiatric hospital for a month. When he gets out, he meets a young lesbian named Pegeen Mike Stapleford. (Yes, that’s really her name.) And yes — they enter into a sexual relationship &mdash: “The first time she had sex with a man since college.”
Kathryn Harrison gave me exactly what I wanted to know about the major lesbian character in the book, and really makes me cringe:
Wow, sounds like some great visibility! Unfortunately, that’s not all. Harrison writes:
I haven’t even read The Humbling and I have an idea of where this idea came from: Philip Roth’s dream world.
Thank you, Kathryn Harrison for reading his 30th novel and giving me many, many reasons to not read it for myself — and hope others ignore it as well.