In a time when Sarah Palin's memoir is a best seller, it can be hard to locate books by out women at major bookstores. But even if you have to use the internet or (even better) support your local feminist/queer shop, there are quality books being published that are way more worth your time.
Terry Castle — The Professor
Writings from the Stanford prof on her fascination with World War I, taking her mother on a trip to Santa Fe and her disastrous love affair with a professor while in grad school. It's incredibly well-written, funny, poignant, queer and self-deprecating in a way that makes you nod your head in agreement.
"Rave On" is the Page Turner series that asks feminist writers, artists, musicians, activists, leaders, and scholars to talk about a book that completely rocked their world. Today we feature writer Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore on the memoir Close to the Knives, by David Wojnarowicz.
In the early '90s, everyone was dying—that's how it felt, it felt like everyone was dying. We were the first generation of queers to grow up knowing that desire meant AIDS meant death, and so it made sense that when we got away from the other death—the one that meant marriage, house in the suburbs, a lifetime of brutality, both interior and exterior, and call this success or keep trying, keep trying for more brutality—it made sense that everyone was dying, because we had only known death.
Queer heroes were dykes, or they were dying—some of the dykes were dying too, but not as fast, unless it was suicide or a cancer they hadn't mentioned, cancer like childhood sometimes you can't say it. So when I found David Wojnarowicz, he was already dead; I didn't find him, I found his words.
"Rave On" is the Page Turner series that asks feminist writers, artists, musicians, activists, leaders, and scholars to talk about a book that completely rocked their world. Today we feature journalist and scholar Tiny, aka Lisa Gray-Garcia, on the novel Comfort Woman, by Nora Okja Keller.
I had heard about the brutal rape and enslavement of the "comfort women" from Korea in World War II from an Asian-American scholar. I remembered listening to a few words and my mind crumbling into small particles of despair. As the daughter of a tortured woman, I'm never able to hear about hurt inflicted on women and children, man or animal, without bits of mi Corazon y mi alma breaking apart.
Most of us have that album in our lives, the one that's the instant open doorway to our core. (Mine is Joni Mitchell's Hejira…or is it P.J. Harvey's Dry? Never mind—what's that album for you, Bitch readers?)
Our ardent devotion to that watershed CD is the theme of the new anthology Heavy Rotation: Twenty Writers on the Albums That Changed Their Lives, edited by Peter Terzian. The collection includes fine essays by Sheila Heti (on the Annie soundtrack), Stacey D'Erasmo (on Kate Bush's The Sensual World), Asali Solomon (on Gloria Estefan's Mi Terra), and Colm Tóibín (on Joni Mitchell's Blue).
It also includes Alice Elliott Dark's stunning essay, "The Quiet One," which chronicles her obsession with the Beatles' Meet the Beatles! and George Harrison that intensified at a pivotal, tragic point in her girlhood. Page Turner interviewed Dark about writing "The Quiet One"; truth-telling in fiction versus nonfiction; sexism and the boy bands; Beatle wives; and why she abandoned her belief in pop culture.
Welcome to "YA Lit Bitch," a new Page Turner series about my ever-so-slight (or ever-so-obvious) obsession with young adult literature that's not only good, but represents a wide-open range of teenagers' lives with a feminist heroine (or 2, 3) thrown into the mix. (Can you say Weetzie Bat?) The series will feature interviews with many YA authors about their work as well as feminism, gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and other issues.
We kick off the series with Sara Zarr, who's part of a new generation of YA novelists considered the so-called heirs to grand dame Judy Blume. She is the author of Story of a Girl, (that is, a girl labeled the high school "slut"), which was a 2007 National Book Award finalist; Sweethearts, about the divergent paths taken by two social-outcast friends; and the forthcoming Once Was Lost, which chronicles a pastor's daughter's struggle with faith.
Page Turner talked with Zarr about teen sexuality, feminism, double standards in the YA world, and her own YA lit loves back in the day as a "smart-girl" teen. Read on for more (and please take two seconds to talk about a YA lit love that you want Bitch readers to know about or Page Turner to feature).