Lez Liberty Lit #32: Turning The Screw

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

Malinda Lo breaks down the last 10 years of queer YA:

“Despite the struggles that go into publishing LGBT YA, I don’t think the prognosis is entirely grim. The number of LGBT YA books has been rising, albeit slowly, and the kind of LGBT YA books being published has been changing. There are more LGBT YA books being published in which the LGBT aspect is not situated as a problem to be overcome; more LGBT YA is simply about a character who is LGBT; and recently there have been more science fiction and fantasy LGBT YA novels. When you look outside the major commercial publishers, there are many more ways to get LGBT YA published today than there were ten years ago. I’m an optimist, so I’m going to interpret all of this as ultimately positive, even if it’s not changing as fast as I’d like.”

Jia Tolentino recommends 12 books that will creep you out, including Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Magic for Beginners, Waiting for the Barbarians, Kafka’s Complete Stories, which perhaps goes without saying, and more.

Or you can read 50 books that will creep you out, a list included here mainly in the hopes that someone will want to talk about The Turn of the Screw in the comments (but also featuring work by Margaret Atwood, Shirley Jackson, Lovecraft, Kafka, Octavia Butler, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison and more).

If you need a last-minute Halloween costume, visit the Toast‘s guide to advanced feminist cosplay.

If someone read Goodnight Moon like “The Tell-Tale Heart,” this is what it would sound like.

Lipstick Lesbian Reviews has some recommended queer Halloween reading.

There’s been a growing focus on Canadian literature since Alice Munro run the Nobel Prize recently. The Millions has a guide to what to read to catch up, including works by Joseph Boyden, Robertson Davies and Esi Edugyan.

New forms of poetry are thriving online. At the New Yorker, Kenneth Goldsmith writes about less poetic poetry and “more extreme forms of modernism than modernism ever dreamed of.”

A new archive lets users browse thousands of Emily Dickinson’s manuscripts.

Scratch Mag is a new journal that aims to help broke writers.

The third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary is 18 years behind schedule.

Natasha Post Rosow reviewed Susan Choi’s My Education, a novel about a student who sleeps with her professor’s wife.

Malinda Lo interviewed Sarah Diemer, author of The Dark Wife and part of Project Unicorn, on self-publishing, why you don’t have to be a lesbian to read books about lesbians, genre books and more.

City of Night, a classic of both gay and American literature by John Rechy, turns 50 this year. At Lambda Literary, Charles Casillo writes about how the classic has withstood time.

Let’s play Where’s Waldo with the Paris Review, because literary magazines are secretly everywhere in pop culture.

If you’re into memoirs, or want to build a memoir to-read list that will break light- to medium-weight tables, Beth Kephart, author of Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir, has some recommendations.

At the Toast, Ardo Omer writes about Fangirl and finding fiction to identify with.

Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian reviewed the second issue of Plentitude, a Canadian queer literary journal. And the third.

At the Lesbrary, TB reviewed Broken Star by Joann Lee. Jill reviewed Carry the One by Carol Anshaw. Rachel reviewed Elena Undone by Nicole Conn.

At Lambda Literary, Anna Furtado reviewed Letters Never Sent by Sandra Moran. Edward Parker reviewed The Suiciders by Travis Jeppesen. Paige Cohen reviewed Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh. John Bavoso reviewed Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City by Choire Sicha. Susan Stinson, author of Spider in a Tree, answered questions about insects, writing, biography and more. Sarah Sarai reviewed Happiness, Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta. Julie Harthill Clayton reviewed Secret City by Julia Watts.

Don’t forget to check out all the awesome book-related things we published recently: Carmen reviewed Blood, Marriage, Wine and Glitter by S. Bear Bergman. Cara wrote about witches and “which”s. Plus, we’re giving away copies of Blue is the Warmest Color!

from ee cummings' Fairy Tales via Brain Pickings

from ee cummings’ Fairy Tales via Brain Pickings

Events To Watch Out For:

November 3, Toronto: Marc Epprecht, author of Sexuality and Social Justice in Africa, will be reading from his books and doing a q&a at Glad Day (598a Yonge St), 1:00 p.m.

November 3, New York: Bluestockings’ feminist book club will discuss Zami: A New Spelling of my Name (172 Allen St.), 2:30 p.m.

November 6, Philadelphia: Reading Queerly will discuss Julia Serano’s Excluded at Giovanni’s Room (345 South 12th St.), 6:45 p.m.

November 10, Toronto: Julia Serano will be reading from Excluded at Glad Day (598a Yonge St.), 7:00 p.m.

November 13, Seattle: Nicola Griffith will be reading, drinking, answering questions and signing copies of Hild at Hugo House (1634 11th Ave.), 7 pm.

November 27, Toronto: S. Bear Bergman will be reading from Blood, Marriage, Wine and Glitter at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander St.), 8:00 p.m.

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

What We’ve Been Reading:

Riese: I’m presently reading Terrible Girls by Rebecca Brown, as recommended by the ladies of Emily Books. I’m always surprised when there’s a lesbian writer I’ve not already heard of! I’m also reading Remote by Jason Fried and David Hansson to make me feel better about the fact that I wish my team was in this room and instead they’re all over the world!

Carolyn: I’ve been reading The Modernization of Sex, which chronicles a few early sex researchers and their findings (or more accurately, “findings”). I’ve also been rereading the Harry Potter series, on and off, because sometimes you want challenging literature and sometimes you want Harry f*cking Potter.

Rachel: I’ve been working on In the Shadow of Magic Mountain for a while now to feed my weird obsession with Erika and Klaus Mann, the bizarre and fascinating queer bohemian kids of novelist Thoman Mann. They EACH SLEPT WITH EACH OTHER’S FIANCES IT’S SO NUTS. It’s overdue from the library, though, so I need to finish this up soon. I’m also in the middle of The End of San Francisco, which I’m super excited to review for the website! When Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize recently, I felt embarrassed that I haven’t read more of her work, so I started looking for places to start. I found “Dimension” in the New Yorker and was pretty into it! Worth reading if you like reading about death, prison, put-upon female narrators, or any really long fiction written by Canadians.

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?

Join AF+!

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. I want to talk about “Turn of the Screw”! Definitely one of the creepiest short stories I’ve ever read, whether or not the ghosts are real.

  2. I just finished writing a paper on The Turn of the Screw. I don’t want to talk about it. And I’ll be in my room.
    Okay, I lied, I kind of want to talk about it, did it give anyone else nightmares? I had to stop reading it at night. Ambiguity is so scary.

  3. I loved Turn of the Screw. I was also reminded of this book by another one by an author called Carlos Fuentes. The short story is named Aura. I’m sure it’s easy to find it en English.

    There’s this very good horror book named “Las visitaciones del diablo” by Emilio Carballido. I can’t find any translation into English but, if you are able to read it in Spanish, it’s very worth the while.

    • Oh man, I’m always looking for books to read in Spanish! Thanks for the recommendation; I’m gonna look it up.
      Do you think the language is very hard?

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