Lez Liberty Lit #2: This Week You’re Here, Queer, Reading

by carolyn & riese

Books! They are really great. You just won’t believe how great they are. You may think that the Internet’s great, but that’s just peanuts compared to books. Welcome to the second edition of Lez Liberty Lit, our new column about literary shit that’s happening that you should probably care about. We’re aiming to put one of these together twice a month.

The name “Liberty Lit” was inspired by the short-lived literary journal produced by Angela Chase at Liberty High School in 1994.

Header by Rory Midhani


Literary Internet Place of the Week

I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read? was created by Lee Wind and features reader reviews of queer YA, as well as poems, quotes, and gay history. It recently talked about navigating gender and sexuality diversity in pre-k-12 schools and Phyllis Lyon, and reviewed Tamora Pierce’s Legend of Beka Cooper series and Leah Bobet’s Above. You should read it for: finding great new and old things to read and feeling good about the future.

Eileen Myles Tote Bag via O/R Books

Lez Liberty Lit Links

Ali Liebegott, the lesbian author of former AS book club selection The IHOP Papers, is documenting her “epic train trip across America” on The Believer. Her ultimate destination is the Emily Dickinson House in Amherst, but along the way she’ll be stopping to chat with female writers “about art and writing and life.” Rumor has it Eileen Myles will be a part of this at some point.

Wanna listen to JD Samson and Eileen Myles talk about art, relationships and New York City? Of course you do! If you don’t want to listen or can’t listen, you can also read the transcript at RECAPS Magazine (“reclaim culture art politics sexuality”). Here’s Eileen on her love for the city: “I keep feeling like it’s my favorite place in the world. I am always falling in love with other places, but there is something entrenched about New York. That its so full of people and both beautiful and sort of hopeless.”

Gregory Peck reads with Mary Badham, 1962

Emily Books‘ pick this month is Mercuryby Ariana Reines, and Maggie Lange has a really cool Mercury-inspired essay called Not All Of Them Are Great on the Emily Books tumblr you should check out: “I wrote a lot of poetry between the ages of 16 and 21. At some point, I started noticing that writing as well as T.S. Eliot, Yeats, Plath and some of my peers was actually quite difficult and I stopped trying. Maybe my lack of persistence was a symptom of my generation’s alleged laziness, or maybe it was a wise decision.”

At Fempop, Kickpuncher writes about Guardians of the Galaxy and the problem of lesbian representation in comic books, including drawing the line between being exploitative and hiding female sexuality, the depiction of a gay relationship, and how weird lesbian plot turns are currently written: “So, I was willing to cut a little slack. I mean, after all, they are canonically lesbian characters, presented in a positive light and shown in a loving, healthy relationship. That’s an incredible step forward for comics from even ten years ago. And hey, it’s not like, say, one of them gets turned into a dragon and there are several panels dedicated to how they physically cannot have sex.”

via theviewfromsantacruz.tumblr.com

Our favorite male human, Ira Glass, was interviewed at The Sunday Book Review about his reading habits, and another man we like, Junot Díaz, was interviewed at  New York Magazine about his new short story collectionThis Is How You Lose Her.

Lambda Literary reviewed Lady Business: A Celebration of Lesbian Poetry, edited by Bryan Borland, and The Obituary, an experimental novel that explores identity politics set in Montreal by Gail Scott.

The results of this year’s Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest are in. The contest, a tribute to the line “It was a dark and stormy night,” looks for a single sentence that is absolutely, painfully bad. This year’s winner: “As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting.”

At the Awl, Jane Hu talks about Writer Food from A to Z (A is for apples, J is for java, O is for oysters, and Y is for yolks).

“Michael Cunningham generously allowed us to shoot in his New York apartment, which I noted had a beautiful library set into his bathroom walls.”

This week in “it’s hard out here for a writer” we have Alexandra Kimball’s How to succeed in journalism when you can’t afford an internshipa super-real, potent missive on the problem with an industry that increasingly is only accessible to those who can afford to not make money, which is to say: rich people.

If you happen to  have a subscription to The New Yorker‘s digital archives, they’ve recently published a short story by Justin Taylor which is entitled, hilariously enough, “After Ellen,” and is about a man leaving his girlfriend (named Ellen).

At Slate, Farhad Manjoo predicts that the Kindle wants to be free (with a Prime membership) because when it is, everyone will get Kindle books across their devices. In the meantime, people who own e-readers tend to read more. At the Millions, Allison K. Gibson discusses the place of technology in fiction. And at last week’s 2012 Edinburgh World Writers’ conference, China Miéville spoke about the future of the novel: “In fact what’s becoming obvious – an intriguing counterpoint to the growth in experiment – is the tenacity of relatively traditional narrative-arc-shaped fiction. But you don’t radically restructure how the novel’s distributed and not have an impact on its form. Not only do we approach an era when absolutely no one who really doesn’t want to pay for a book will have to, but one in which the digital availability of the text alters the relationship between reader, writer, and book. The text won’t be closed.”

Some cool tumblrs to check out: The Underground New York Public Library tumblr spies on people reading on subways in New York, which goes pretty far to fill the void not being on the subway myself has left in me. Famous meals from literature is another one and also it’s fairly self-explanatory.

via undergroundnewyorkpubliclibrary.com

LeVar Burton, host of Reading Rainbow, the best show in the history of the universe, talked to Mediabistro about the importance of teaching children to love reading: “Look, we have spent so much money on the machinery of war in the last 10, 12 years, we are having to make really ridiculous choices. And we’re sacrificing our kids, literally sacrificing our kids.”

Canadian queer author Mariko Tamaki‘s new short story, “The Convicted,” is about queer students and their literary magazine. It’s free to read at Joyland.

To celebrate the paperback release of Miranda July‘s It Chooses You, an “off-kilter, surprisingly moving story of procrastination and inspiration, isolation and connection,” McSweeney’s has published a free excerpt from the book.

NPR has published an excerpt of Zadie Smith’s NW, which looks at race and class issues in working-class north London.

Lastly, Galleycat’s got a thing on Pussy Riot’s favorite authors.

lesbian speed-dating at the strand hosted by autostraddle’s gabby & katrina, photo by vanessa friedman


Books (and Events) to Watch Out For

Girls Who Score, an anthology of lesbian sports erotica, launches at Miami’s Eleazar Delgado Studios (2703 NW Second Ave.) today at 8 p.m. RSVP by emailing [email protected].

If you’re in San Francisco on September 1st or 2nd, check out the San Francisco Zine Fest at the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park. The event is free and will feature tons of panels and workshops on things like animation, marketing for artists, book construction, and graphic journalism. As well as lots and lots of zines.

The 35th International 3-Day Novel Contest is September 1 to 3. If you can write a book in three days, you could even get it published.

Holy crap, Sister Spit: Writing, Rants and Reminiscence from the Road’ Hits Bookstores this September.

Queer Memoir, “NYC’s community based LGBT storytelling event: documenting queer stories, celebrating queer lives” is hosting a salon in New York City on September 8th, with readers including Sarah Schulman, M.Tauret Davis, Jade Foster, Alison Grillo and host Kelli Dunham.

If you’re in Portland, you should pick up tickets ASAP for Carrie Brownstein and David Byrne‘s October 19th “evening of conversation about music and Byrne’s new book, How Music Works,” put on by Powell Books.

On September 27th in Chicago, Open Bookstore is hosting Growing Up With Harry Potter to celebrate the release of J.K. Rowling‘s The Casual Vacancy. If you wanna enjoy refreshments, wizard readings, Harry Potter trivia and 20% off all used book purchases then you should RSVP before it fills up!+

via fuckyeahbookarts.tumblr.com

What We’re Reading:

Riese: I kept hearing Sarah Schulman‘s name a lot, I think because of the ACT UP documentary that just came out, because she was featured in That’s Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation (which I read in June) and because of my summertime obsession with LGBT history. So I got her novel, Girls, Visions and Everything, which’s about a young dyke living in New York City in the East Village in 1986 who wants to be like the female version of Jack Kerouac. I always like reading things that give me glimpses into what lesbian life was like before now. I’m also one chapter away from finishing Gay L. A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, And Lipstick Lesbians, by Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons and will have more to say about that next time! After I finish this I’m gonna read emily m. danforth‘s The Miseducation of Cameron Post, a YA novel we recommended last month.

Carolyn: I am currently reading what I would describe as delightful trash: Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs, which is about a young shape-shifting mechanic’s adventures. Along with werewolves and vampires and clothing removal, it has a surprisingly nuanced treatment of the after effects of surviving rape. I’m reading it until my brain gets enough sleep to finish John Steinbeg’s Midlands, which is an investigation into post-apartheid racial conflict in rural South Africa. I also recently finished Malinda Lo’s Adaptation, which is adorable and captivating and which I can’t wait for the rest of the world to see.

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Ryan Yates

Ryan Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Ryan has written 1142 articles for us.



    I saw some of these links in the past while and was really excited and now we can all be excited togetherrr about Eileen Myles’ voice and other associated joy.

    I can’t wait to read NW. Zadie Smith is just great. Also, Junot Diaz did another interview with NYTbooks and recommended so many things to read that now I’m obvs going to have to read because after I went to a reading of his a few weeks back I decided that I have to be more like him. (Was anyone else here at the Edinburgh bookfest? I lived in Charlotte Sq for a month and went to everything until I ran out of money it was my favourite place and time ever).

    The How To Succeed in Journalism article breaks my little heart.

    PS Hi Emily Gould, keep featuring awesome/gay people like Ariana. Thanks I love you.

    • The story by Justin Taylor called “After Ellen” is NOT about a lesbian. There are no gay characters in it at all. And of course there wouldn’t be since he’s a guy and he’s dating her. So if there was ever any worry about that for a story and thinking “why is a homosexual with the opposite sex?!” Don’t worry, it’s not. I don’t know where in the world Carolyn got the idea there were queer people in the story.

  2. Just as awesome as last time! I can’t believe I didn’t know Miranda July had another book out. Also, Mariko Tamaki is awesome and she has a young adult novel called (you) set me on fire coming out in the fall that I’m really looking forward to!

  3. What We’re Reading = my favorite thing! Girls, Visions, and Everything sounds great. I always think I’ve heard of all the classic lesbian novels, and then it turns out there’s even more. Where are all these books hiding?

  4. OMG, this is so amazing that Idk what to do with myself, plus my interest in literally every link on this post made my browser crash and shit. Also, woot for the Junot Diaz mention. He’s real badass =p

    • The story by Justin Taylor called “After Ellen” is NOT about a lesbian. There are no gay characters in it at all. And of course there wouldn’t be since he’s a guy and he’s dating her. So if there was ever any worry about that for a story and thinking “why is a homosexual with the opposite sex?!” Don’t worry, it’s not. I don’t know where in the world Carolyn got the idea there were queer people in the story.

  5. Whoooa, I just want to drop huge chunks of that How to Succeed in Journalism article in here but I guess I’ll stop with this:

    ” I was following the money, playing a kind of vocational Whac-A-Mole that is as much a working-class phenomenon as scratch-off lottery tickets; as much a signifier of my class as taking a “gap year” is for others.

    My parents went through the same thing. My father worked as a miner, a taxi cab driver, and a contractor, respectively; my mother was, at various times, a waitress, a maid, and a secretary. Poverty doesn’t allow you to develop a linear career trajectory or a coherent professional identity, because when cash is hard to come by, you do whatever job will bring you more of it. But when you apply this short-term logic to a creative field, especially one that requires as much patience and investment and dues-paying as journalism, you come away with nothing.

    To be a writer in this market requires not only money, but a concept of “work” that is most easily gained from privilege. It requires a sense of entitlement, the ability to network and self-promote without seeing yourself as an arrogant, schmoozing blowhard.”

    Journalism isn’t my chosen corner of the literary landscape but I have absolutely felt these things as someone with creative aspirations who has also grown up working-class and graduated school with a hefty amount of student loan debt.

  6. Sarah Schulman is really great and accordingly has a really great memoir called “Gentrification of the Mind” that delves into the art scene and cultural dynamics of NYC neighborhoods and how they were affected by the AIDS epidemic. It made me cry a bit.

    • The story by Justin Taylor called “After Ellen” is NOT about a lesbian. There are no gay characters in it at all. And of course there wouldn’t be since he’s a guy and he’s dating her. So if there was ever any worry about that for a story and thinking “why is a homosexual with the opposite sex?!” Don’t worry, it’s not. I don’t know where in the world Carolyn got the idea there were queer people in the story.

  7. I relate so hard to the journalism article. Except, you know, without the sudden influx of money part.

  8. Um, The New Yorker story “After Ellen” has no indication whatsoever that anyone in the story is gay. And why would she be if she had a boyfriend? And apparently had others as well? And appeared to be jealous of him being with other women. If there was any indication that she were queer (which again there is no proof of that) then she would be bisexual.

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