The Queer Art of Failure
by Judith Halberstam
Duke University Press. 224 pages, $22.95
FOR THOSE who are skeptical of a gay rights movement that aspires only to enable GLBT individuals to join the cultural mainstream, this book will seem as refreshing as water in a desert. Judith Halberstam looks at a variety of media to find “queer” subtexts that undermine a mainstream conception of personal success as based on heterosexual marriage, childbearing, and the accumulation of property.
The author has written and taught widely on gender formation in a cultural context. She’s well aware of the privileges of being, or at least appearing to be, masculine, heterosexual, and affluent, and the general perception that all others have “dropped out” of adult life, or have failed to acquire certain essential skills. Halberstam states her case: “The Queer Art of Failure dismantles the logics of success and failure with which we currently live.