Lez Liberty Lit #29: Against Stupidity, Apathy, And Zombification

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 Lez Liberty Lit, our column about literary shit that’s happening that you should probably care about.

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


Lit Links

Sarah Schulman’s After Delores, an acclaimed 1988 novel about an unnamed New York waitress recovering after her girlfriend, Delores, leaves her, is being republished by Arsenal Pulp Press. In the new introduction, Schulman writes,

“Today, literally twenty-five years after the book’s initial publication, it would be impossible for a novel with a lesbian protagonist who is as honest, irreverent, eccentric, and alone as After Delores’s is, to be published by a mainstream press. And yet we must keep writing these novels, because it is only by presenting innovative material that gatekeepers become accustomed to it and eventually let down their guard. I don’t want to live in a world in which the majority of lesbian representations are family-oriented, celebrity-focused or (shudder), cutesy.”

VIDA is trying to be more inclusive of trans* and genderqueer writers, and is asking for help.

Everyone keeps explaining why adults are reading young adult books. Malinda Lo writes about sociology, media reception studies and why YA readers aren’t just in it for the nostalgia.

This year’s National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” are all women – Molly Antopol, NoViolet Bulawayo, Amanda Coplin, Daisy Hildyard and Merritt Tierce.

Roxane Gay is currently blogging at the Nation about new work by writers of color. Though her first post discusses the numbers (which are grim), Gay focuses on critical engagement with the books themselves.

The “Netflix for books” has arrived, presumably because not enough people realize that “libraries,” magical places where you get books for free, exist.

Tumblr has launched the Reblog Book Club.

It’s weird being a researcher for the Oxford English Dictionary.

If you have some time this weekend, why not build a book scanner out of Legos?

You can become a slam poet in five steps.

A book-free public library has opened in Texas. The library has 10,000 ebooks for area residents to access instead.

Gloria Steinem has her own comic book.

Writers’ pet words reflect their world views.

The Emily Books Club at the Toast discussed Cassandra at the Wedding, by Dorothy Baker.

If you lie about reading classic novels like 62% British people, this guide can help you get better at it.

The Paris Review did an ask me anything, and editors answered questions about the slush pile, the problem with creative writing programs, whether or not they started as a CIA front, Nabokov and more.

Elissa Bassist interviewed Michelle Orange, author of the excellent collection of essays This is Running for Your Life, and calls her essays “tools against stupidity, apathy, and zombification.”

At the Rumpus, Catherine Brady reviewed Edwidge Danticat’s Claire of the Sea Light, calling it “intimate and moving.”

We are living in the golden age of internet newsletters.

Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian reviewed Hood, a novel by Emma Donogue.

At the Lesbrary, Erica Gillingham reviewed Annie on my Mind, by Nancy Garden. Jill reviewed the first volume of Strangers in Paradise, a compilation of comics by Terry Moore. Carol reviewed Women Float, by Maureen Foley. Karelia Stetz-Waters reviewed The Stranger You Seek, by Amanda Kyle Williams. Danika reviewed Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy by Judith C. Brown. Tag reviewed On the Edge of Space: Lesbian Erotic Science Fiction Stories, edited by Cecilia Tan and Danielle Bodnar.

At Lambda Literary, Cathy Camper reviewed Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf: A Sex Education Comic Book, by Saiya Miller and Liza Bley. Rita Salner reviewed Taken by the Wind, a mystery by Ellen Hart. Howard G. Williams reviewed A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956-1984, by Glenway Wescott. Ellis Avery shared her Stonewall Fiction Award acceptance speech.

Don’t forget to check out all the awesome book-related things we published recently: Mey wrote about the Batwoman creative team quitting after editors prohibited her planned lesbian marriage. Cara wrote about the implicitly gendered elements of language. Fikri reviewed Laurie Penny’s Cybersexism. Maggie wrote about finding the perfect journal in the inaugural post of Dear Queer Diary.

Events To Watch Out For:

September 16–22, Brooklyn: The Brooklyn Book Festival runs this week, though most events are on the 22nd. See Racialicious’s picks, or visit the entire schedule.

September 18, Toronto: Queer author and performer Rae Spoon will be at the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St W.), 8 p.m.

September 19–22, New York: Filip Noterdaeme presents The Stein Shrine, a celebration of Gertrude Stein and the 80th anniversary of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, in a basement project room in MoMA-PS1 (22–24 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City).

September 22, Toronto: Toronto’s Word on the Street book festival runs all day today (Queen’s Park Circle), 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

September 24, New York: The Women’s/Trans’ Poetry Jam & Open Mic night hosted by Vittoria Repetto returns to Bluestockings, 7 p.m.

October 6, New York: Bluestockings’ feminist book club is reading Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 2:30 p.m.

October 19, Toronto: Toronto is getting its first queer zine fest!

Know of a queer event with literary merit? Send it to us!

What We’ve Been Reading:

Riese: I’m still reading Quiet: The Power Of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking! That’s all. Just chipping away at it. Crystal and I are gonna talk about it in the Introvert Pride activity we’re doing at A-Camp!

Carolyn: Last week I read Battleborn, by Claire Vaye Watkins, which is a short story collection so good I don’t actually feel comfortable talking about it. I also read Penguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935-2005, because I’m rather obsessed with vintage Penguins and also book design, and because I will read almost anything Maria Popova recommends.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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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.


  1. so this ‘netflix for books’ thing sounds like the best thing ever–as much as i love the library my disabilities/lack of energy they cause really get in the way of returning books on time or even just going to the library. my library system doesn’t have a very good selection of ebooks and my apartment is turning a used paperback deathtrap so i end up just reading a lot of webcomics/fanfiction/fanfiction about webcomics, and while it’s waaay easier to find queer stuff there, i still want to read other stuff too. it’s a pity that it’s only for the iphone!

    • I read so many books (usually 150-250 a year) so that the money would be well worth it, but I can’t stand the thought of just reading on my ipod because it’s just too small.

    • It sounds so, so awesome but I’m not sure I can read on my iPhone, that sounds mighty terrible.

      I suppose it’s difficult to be compatible with an e-reader since we’re probably “streaming” the books, so we’d need internet all the time. I am very used to the days/weeks of battery life I get with my kindle and I’m not sure that would be the case sending requests for pages every few minutes.

  2. It’s perfect that Steinem has a comic book considering that she is the Stan Lee of feminism:

    She did a lot of influential work in the sixties and seventies (some of which is extremely problematic in retrospect), hasn’t really done anything noteworthy since, but is the only person in her field average people know by name so we all have to pretend she’s still relevant.

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