The Bookshop Darlinghurst and Berkelouw Books’ Paddington branch also reside in this wonderful part of the world. This is a passing reference to the former in the interest of completeness, since I’ll have covered the other 3 main shops on Oxford street and the Berkelouw review is almost done.
The Bookshop‘s front window proudly declares its allegiance to all things homosexual, and the celebration of gay literature, humour and cinema (ahem) continues within. My first visit left me a little shellshocked; at the time they were having a sale and the banners announcing this dominated the window display, so it wasn’t until I was halfway down the first set of stacks that I realized there were an abnormally large number of pictures of delicious men and titles with strong innuendos.
The Booshop sells mainstream fiction and new releases at your generic rate ($19.90), I even bought my copy of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth here, but that is clearly not the focus. There is the expected erotica, but also a whole range of published work written by or dealing with gay/lesbian characters and lifestyle. It suddenly sunk in how incredibly rare it is to find gay protagonists in mainstream fiction, and I was somewhat ashamed this hadn’t dawned on me sooner given I’ve spent the last few weeks looking-up, reading and researching female authors and characters because of what was an obvious absence of strong females, whether role models or otherwise. By coincidence I also stumbled on a blog by author David Llewellyn, very witty by the way, who was a judge at the Iris Prize, an annual competition to find the best LGBT short film from the last year. Through his eyes it clicked that the gay community was also disappointingly underrepresented in mainstream film (And here was I focused on little beyond the Bechdel test).
So just as we should encourage the voice of creative women to help raise a generation of stronger more confident girls, so we should reach out to brilliant gay and lesbian writers so that kids growing up in the 21st century don’t have to discover homosexuality out of the corner of their eye, nor struggle with their sexuality as something that may be abnormal. We should celebrate the whole range of contributions to contemporary literature that The Bookshop embraces.
Even if you are straight, perhaps especially so, you should pop into The Bookshop sometime and have a look at some of the great books and magazines they have that you might not see in many other places…