Lez Liberty Lit Is Locating Queer Desire


Hi and welcome to this week’s Lez Liberty Lit!

Here’s how to help prisoners get books.

This mobile library is boosting Black women’s stories. Perhaps Barnes & Noble could try something similar, instead of just continuing to champion books by white writers but slapping “diverse” covers on them.

At LitHub, Sarah Heying writes about Carson McCuller and locating queer desire in literature:

“Yes, locating lesbians is about naming people as our kin, but it’s also about collecting a body of literature that speaks to our experiences of desire, identity, and language. We seek literature we can love that also loves us back. Literature that feels lesbian, even when an explicitly lesbian character isn’t present. Just as Bertha Harris claimed Djuna Barnes, so Shapland claims the famously ambiguous southern novelist in My Autobiography of Carson McCullers. Or does she? She might refer to Carson McCullers as a lesbian, but ‘to claim’ implies ownership. This is something else.”

RIP Emily Books.

LitHub gave Oscars to books.

Malinda Lo blogged about the invisible lesbian in young adult fiction, writing about how reading queer women’s romances can “somehow feel too close for comfort”:

“I think I had been conditioned to ignore and deny lesbians. It took me years to decondition this automatic tendency to erase people like me. I had to do it by living my life—having romantic relationships with women, being in communities of queer women, and slowly, by exposing myself to fiction about them.

Sometimes it’s easier to be a lesbian in real life than it is to read a book about them. Real life is full of distractions that can dull the sharpness of what’s going on. If you’re at a party or a bar, there’s alcohol (there’s a reason for the long history of gay bars). There are other people; there are the daily demands of living your life. And we human beings are really good at ignoring stuff that makes us uncomfortable.

Reading, I think, is one of the most intimate forms of communication there is—even more than film or TV. A book’s words are in your head.”

Here’s what’s up with AB5, the new California law that aims to protect gig economy workers but is making it harder to be a freelance writer.

Edwidge Danticat won the Vilcek Prize in Literature.

These two lesbian poets wrote under the persona “Michael Field.” As Sarah Parker notes, “Writing together through this male voice, Bradley and Cooper forged a collaboration that was both romantic and creative. Being Field allowed them to express things that, in Bradley’s words ‘the world will not tolerate from a woman’s lips.’”

Read these books in February. Read these seven books with reality-bending settings. Read these biographies that are secretly memoirs. Read these books when you want to celebrate Black history. Read these 40 feminist books.

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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.