Home > fiction > Outside The Lavender Closet: Martha A Taylor

Outside The Lavender Closet: Martha A Taylor

October 22, 2009

Fiction

What is it that makes us straight or gay?
Is it environment or genetics?
Choice, chance or maybe even persuasion?

The answer to this age-old question is one that fledgling writer Margaret Allen sets out to discover as she endeavors to complete her first book. Taking on a subject she believes she knows well, she begins a very human odyssey, examining the lives of gay women, all of whom come from diverse backgrounds and mindsets.

Among those whom we meet are —

the florist, whose parents try to “cure” her of her homosexuality;
the twins who, separated at birth, live their lives at opposite ends of the economic spectrum;
the radiant redhead and her three failed marriages;
the poet who spent most of her young adult years as a nun;
the Kentucky woman who, as a new bride, makes a rather shocking discovery;
and the non-verbal, wheelchair-bound woman, who is a political activist with an extraordinary ability to communicate.

As we share in their deeply personal narratives, Margaret’s book ultimately raises the question: “Are relationships between two women really all that different than heterosexual ones?”

Outside the Lavender Closet brings to life a collection of contemporary stories inspired by actual women and true events.

Martha A Taylor’s Outside the Lavender Closet: Inspired by True Stories is affectionately-written and has an easy charm to it: I genuinely liked the narrator and her group of friends and I wanted the book to do well, but in the end it was let down by a series of careless errors which include all the usual suspects: punctuation, spelling, grammar, homophone substitution, cliché, and some rather odd logic.

That list of errors sounds much more damning than it should. There were lots of errors, and the text is often clumsy: in order to bring this book up to a publishable standard it needs to be completely rewritten, to sort out all the confusion and unbelievable dialogue; it needs a very strong edit to make it coherent and tight; and it needs a full copy-edit to clear away all those irritating errors. That’s a lot of work, none of which would be worth doing on a text which was completely substandard: but I think it’s worth doing here because despite all of its problems this one has a warmth and a character to it which most of the books I’ve reviewed here lack. It might well turn out to be a bit of a treasure if it were properly worked up. As it is, it’s just not good enough, I’m afraid, and I read just three of its one hundred and forty-nine pages.

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  1. DOT
    October 24, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Good to read of positive comments about someone's efforts, which is not to say you are usually negative. What interests me is how Ms Taylor advances her book. I know nothing of her background, circumstances, so she may be well placed to take on board your constructive comments and move on herself. The question is what if she is not and needs a mentor? Mentoring services are expensive. Do you have any suggestions? (Personally, I don't think writing groups are the answer; one-to-one from a sensitive coach and receptive wannabe with talent delivers results faster, don't you agree?)

  2. December 10, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Dot, it all depends on the writer. Some people thrive in a combative writing group; others prefer a more measured, singular approach. It's up to each of us to find our own writing homes: I loved the MA I took, which taught me so much in a very safe, but professional and stringent environment; others like websites, or more amateur groups.

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