> Queer Books Please: Four essential questions for the lesbian reader

Monday, August 12, 2013

Four essential questions for the lesbian reader

These make great conversation starters with any literary lesbians you want to chat up!  And if you answer here, via email or on tumblr, they can win you a book off my bookshelf!  That’s right. Answer here in the comment section, send me an email or share these questions on tumblr and I’ll enter you in this week’s drawing to win a book off my bookshelf.  I have lots of great titles of interest to queer readers. Literary fiction, romances, science fiction…

1. Emma Donoghue or Sarah Waters?

Two fantastic authors from the UK who have written fantastic literature that happens to be full of lesbians. Both have great, accessible, fun to read but literary writing styles that give them a broad appeal. Both have had success/recognition with mainstream readers as well as queer readers. I love them both. BUT IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE.... Would you go with TIPPING THE VELVET or STIR FRY? FINGERSMITH or LANDING? THE NIGHT WATCH or KISSING THE WITCH?

2. Speaking of acclaimed literary authors from the UK How do you feel about Jeanette Winterson? 

 Mostly I remember being left by a girlfriend for a girl who LOVED Winterson. So my feelings are complicated! But she is such an acclaimed author, I feel lesbian readers are obligated to have an opinion. 

3. Watch Out For Dykes or Pass the Bechdel Test?

Sometimes the hardest question to answer when I'm picking out my next read. Do I want a book full of identified lesbians? Or is it enough to have a book that passes the Bechdel test, where female characters talk to each other about something other than men? If the Bechdel test is your rule of choice, you're going to have a wider variety of titles available to you. But you may be stuck with subtext when it comes to sapphic content. The subtext of this question is: do you prefer subtext or text?

4. Which literary lesbian would you most like to date?

This is an interesting question, because the most attractive lesbian in a piece of lesbian fiction is often not the main character, but the main character's object of desire. For an extra degree of difficulty, name the most attractive NARRATOR in a lesbian book.

Want to know MY answers to these questions? Listen to this week's Queer Books Please podcast, out Saturday morning!

1 comment:

  1. I'll bite.

    1. Emma Donoghue, mostly because I prefer contemporary fiction and she's more likely to give me that. I suppose I'm disappointed when she writes without lesbian content, but then again, 'Room' was brilliant.

    2. Mixed. I appreciated Oranges, but didn't read anything of hers for about a decade after reading an interview (the dangers of an author telling the truth...it came across as arrogant, condescending, dismissive of the reader...). I enjoyed her latest memoir even though it didn't work for me structurally. Possibly it paralleled Oranges too closely, I would've been interested in the piece of the story she left out, between those early years and the near present.

    3. I'd prefer more lesbian protagonists, but I don't want them so much that I'd pick up a romance novel or a book about werewolves having sex. A well-written book with subtext only is much more rewarding.

    4. This is tough, because I usually think about characters as "who I want to be" rather than "who I want to be with."

    Narrators/protagonists...I suppose I'd date Kellen Stewart from M.C. Scott's "Hen's Teeth" trilogy. Maybe Kate Martinelli from the Laurie R. King books. Jefferson from Lee Lynch's 'Beggar of Love'. I'm pretty fond of Kiran from R.J. Samuels' books. Chip Coppelli from the Celaeno books (only an occasional narrator). Kelly Ridenour from KG MacGregor's 'Sea Legs' (but only if I don't have to put up with her friends).

    Non-narrators...I've always had a soft spot for Pip Martin from 'Sparks Might Fly' and Lane Christianson from 'Curious Wine'. Mara from 'When Women Were Warriors'. I'd date Joanne Ranson from the first two Micky Knight novels.

    Writing this has made me think again about relative age. Some of the names I might've thrown out once seem slightly icky now. It would be like wanting to date someone the same age as my undergrad or grad students.