Hitched! Wedding Stories From San Francisco City Hall

More a tip of the hat to City Hall than an ode to ardent and equal love

Edited by Cheryl Dumesnil

Thunder's Mouth (October), $14.95

Clogged with peculiarities such as a Mormon wife-cum-lesbian, a bipolar agoraphobic, a couple who met at a Rocky Horror Picture Show performance in Texas, and even an introduction by the batty Rosie O'Donnell, a collection of essays chronicling the 2004 same-sex marriages at San Francisco's City Hall could have made an interesting read. Surprisingly, Hitched! proves that theory wrong. Edited by Cheryl Dumesnil, the book is written by 35 queer people fortunate enough to have had their marriages briefly recognized by the law. Many of the accounts follow the same repetitive format: how the couple met, a description of the couple getting married, how brave said couple felt getting married. And although these stories will be interesting from a historical perspective, they spread themselves too thin to hold anyone's attention. Scattered scraps of information are quickly mentioned and just as quickly dropped. (Really, I could read tomes about a bipolar lesbian agoraphobic.) Granted, the writers are not professionals, though Dumesnil, a local writer herself, should have tightened up what could have been remarkable tales. But the chief reason the anecdotes fail is the book's lack of tenderness and its overriding tone of righteousness. In a misguided effort to stave off sappiness, Dumesnil ends up dulling any romantic edge that might have made the accounts endearing; instead, they come off as sterile. And with a foreword by Carole Migden, a chapter by Mark Leno, and abundant groveling to Mayor Gavin Newsom, Hitched! reads more like a tip of the hat to City Hall than an ode to ardent and equal love.

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