“These stories are true. Mostly.
The really bizarre stuff is true.
Actually it’s all true.
All I had to do was remember. Like I could forget.
None of the names have been changed, because there are no innocents, but occasionally the outfits I describe are nicer than what they were actually wearing.”
Darrin Hagen’s The Edmonton Queen is undeniably a rich piece of Edmonton’s queer history, and I’m very glad for having read it. Yet I can’t help but feel as if I read the wrong book. I don’t believe that the 10th-anniversary edition of The Edmonton Queen is the best way to come to the story.
At times I felt like a very poor reader. The story seemed to hop, skip, and jump from place to place. On one page, Ora Fice–even though she’d already been featured in several of Hagen’s tales–was introduced as if Tallulah had just birthed her, and we were about to gain access to all of the problems she caused. But on the top of the next page (and in a sudden new chapter): “After Ora was cremated…” When did Ora die? How did Ora die? I shuffled back through a few pages to see if I’d missed something–I read ahead hoping something would be clarified. This detail did not feel in line with Hagen’s tell-all style.
It wasn’t until I reached the additional content that I was able to resolve this oddity in my mind. Hagen had edited some of the chapters due to the conflict and drama that had arisen from them. The other queens add their voices in one chapter, and you can tell from their letters that stories from the other book–particularly Sadie’s letter about Ora’s funeral–had upset them and thus Hagen removed them.
I don’t believe that history–even if it’s Hagen’s subjective perspective of it–should be rewritten, especially if nothing’s fully clarified for the reader.
Despite all that, I still loved The Edmonton Queen and look forward to returning to it in its original format. The 10th-anniversary edition still has some worthwhile moments, like Hagen’s tribute to the life of his dragmother Lulu LaRude, and so I would recommend this to any fan of the book.
Books Read: 14