Lez Liberty Lit #43: Basically An Excuse To Talk About Wodehouse

feature image is an illustration by Wales-based visual artist Jessica Sharville via Jessica Sharville

by carolyn & riese


Kickass female protagonists are often skinny, if not fully emaciated, and that’s weird, and also a problem:

“Today’s strong female protagonists are overwhelmingly described as “small,” “skinny,” and “slender.” It seems literature only goes so far in its message of female empowerment, routinely granting its most kickass heroines classically masculine-levels of strength (physical or otherwise) only when cloaked within the trappings of a more delicate—and recognizable—femininity.

Since these characters are nearly always underestimated based on their size, it’s safe to assume readers are meant to see their triumphs as all the more impressive. Having a tiny heroine is an easy way to create a satisfying David and Goliath narrative—the stuff on which young-adult fiction is built. But so many stories about powerful young women employ this trope that it can’t just be written off as lazy characterization. Besides, would their arcs be any less compelling if their thighs touched, or they occasionally had to invest in a sports bra?”

How do you explore experimental fiction?

via the lingerie addict (why? because it's bra week!)

via the lingerie addict (Why? Because it’s bra week!)

P.G. Wodehouse: basically amazing, or absolutely amazing?

Emily Books’s Ruth Curry writes about Amazon’s relationship to publishers.

Lifehacker has a guide to buying and reading ebooks from anywhere.

The internet and social media are now allegedly responsible for sentence fragments.

via ashrussell

We Must We Must We Must Increase Our Busts // via ashrussell

British prisons have banned books that are sent to prisoners as gifts, a move that prison staff think is profoundly dumb.

Read these books.

This interactive literary map of San Francisco from the SF Chronicle charts booksellers, authors, landmarks and more.

Literary classics remained as children’s books: just as excellent as you’d imagine.

via favim

via favim

Are emoji replacing punctuation?

Dirtbag Anne of Green Gables is, if you are a very specific type of person, the most important thing you’ll read this week.

Harvard has discovered some books bound in human skin.

Are female artists more likely to change form and style? At the New Yorker, Stacey D’Erasmo argues: “Radical breaks in style are technically gender neutral, and there are certainly men who have roamed among forms, styles, and even media. When Virginia Woolf wrote, in her diary, ‘The sign of a masterly writer is his power to break his mould callously,’ she was speaking of Henry James’s risky sentences, not of her own. I am speaking of a tendency, one that seems to be more noticeable in women working in the twentieth century and beyond, perhaps owing to the fact that more work by women has found its way into the world since 1900. It may also be that the modernists unleashed form-breaking as an artistic technique, and that women are more likely to continue in that vein of the modernist tradition.

Gilmore Girls references 339 books and here they are.

via etsy

via etsy

Robert Dawson’s photographic essay of the American public library highlights the place of public libraries in their communities.

At the Lesbrary, Sarani reviewed On Her Lead by Hayley Cooke. Kalyanni reviewed Cha-Ching! by Ali Liebegott. Danika reviewed The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi. Abigail reviewed two books by Amy Dawson Robertson. Danika reviewed Loving Her by Allen Shockley.

Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian reviewed The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson.

via SMH

via SMH

At Lambda Literary, Sara Rauch reviewed Frog Music, a literary crime novel by Emma Donoghue. Daphne Sidor reviewed Nochita by Dia Felix. July Westhale interviewed author Ariel Gore. Courtney Gillette reviewed Haiti Glass, a poetry collection by Lenelle Moise. Anna Furtado reviewed Finding the Grain, a lesbian romance novel by Wynn Malone. July Westhale reviewed Falling into Place: An Intimate Geography of Home by Catherine Reid.

Recently, on Autostraddle: Sarah Fonseca discussed Southern Sin. Mey talked to Erika Greco. Maggie wrote about doodling in your diary. Mey wrote about Busty Girl Comics.


Events To Watch Out For:

Now to 25 May, New York: The 2014 Whitney Biennial will feature a ton of books and archival material, including some from Semiotext(e), and features work that challenges disciplines and genders and binaries (945 Madison Ave. at 7th St.).

5 April, San Francisco: Books Inc. presents a “Queer Latino Poetry and Spoken Word Festival: Donde Esta Mi Gente?” (2275 Market St.), 7:30 p.m.

6 April, Coral Gables, Florida: Emma Donoghue will be talking about and signing Frog Music at Books & Books (265 Arlington Ave.), 4 p.m.

25 April, New York: Girls Write Now’s 2014 CHAPTERS reading series continues with guest author Farai Chideya at Scholastic (557 Broadway), 6 p.m.

30 May, New York: Girls Write Now’s 2014 CHAPTERS reading series continues with guest author Ana Castillo at Scholastic (557 Broadway), 6 p.m.

20 June, New York: Girls Write Now’s 2014 CHAPTERS reading series concludes with guest author Christina Baker Kline at Scholastic (557 Broadway), 6 p.m.

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


What We’ve Been Reading:

Carolyn: I have been reading a ton of comics lately, some of which are Spera, which is super queer, and Gunnerkrigg Court, which has robots and dragons together, which is rad. I’m also reading The Feminist Porn Book because it is extremely relevant to my interests, and My 1980s and Other Essays.

Rachel: I’m still reading Nevada, by Imogen Binnie. My thesis is due at the end of this week, so I haven’t had a lot of time for pleasure reading :(

Riese: I am reading Assaults on Convention: Essays on Lesbian Transgressors, which I used to make a listling about lesbians on the internet in 1994 earlier this week. So far the essays have been a little hit or miss, but pretty interesting overall! I have a special thing for queer essay anthologies, I simply cannot get enough of them. I’m also reading Lorrie Moore’s new short story book, Bark, but I’m pacing myself because I’ve been waiting for her to write a new book for so long that I want reading it to take as long as possible.

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. Caveat reader: PG Wodehouse loves to hate on fat people. Mostly fat dudes, but it comes up often enough in his books that I’ve started to wonder if it’s a deeper thing for him than your regular ol’ omgz skinny ppl 4ever mindset. I love his books, but I would hate to see someone blindsided by this, which is a bit less predictable than the period-typical racism and misogyny that crops up from time to time.

  2. One of my cats is called Bertie. That’s how much we’re a Wodehouse loving household over here.

    • I do believe you mean Bertram Wooster, aka Bertie. Allowing us to greet her with “What ho, Bertie!”

      Like her namesake, she is a very lovable doof who gets into frequent mishaps. Ali and I share the role of Jeeves.

  3. omg the dirtbag Anne of Green Gables. Led me to Dirtbag Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth which were DEFINITELY the most important things I’ve read this week.

  4. How have I only just discovered this regular column? And it’s #43… Down the rabbit hole I go.

  5. So much good stuff this column!

    And yeah, as a YA enthusiast, I would very much like a chubby/fat protagonist where that is NOT the main thrust of the narrative (may have had a meltdown when Fat Angie came out….)

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