Lez Liberty Lit #13: Silence And A Dark Room

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. 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


Lit Links

Julie Marie Wade reviewed Stacey Waite’s Butch Geography, a book of poems, reflections and epistles about, on and to gender.

At the Rumpus, Mojie Crigler interviewed poet Jill McDonough about Where You Live, her new collection of poetry discussing her work in prisons, the political, the personal and her own queer family:

“When you’re a little girl, you’re like, “And then I go to college, and then I meet my husband, and then we get married, and then I have kids, and I don’t want to work and have kids.” When you’re a child and you have a picture of adulthood, it is not partying until 4 am when you’re forty-years-old with your bartender wife, and then getting on your bikes and then going home to your apartment in North Beach and thinking about your overdraft charges. It’s a model of adulthood that has no expression in the hinterlands. Josey’s from Topeka; I’m from Alexander, North Carolina. If we saw single women at all, we certainly didn’t see lesbians. There were no women who lived together. There also weren’t adult single women. It was all “family.” Families with children. So for us to be a family? Like, today we were raking together. It was so sweet. Josey’s wearing her orange satin jacket that we got from the thrift store and these big hand mitts we got from Target, that you pick the leaves up with—that was not an available pattern and that’s what our adulthood looks like. It’s awesome.”

Author Lisa Cohen sat down with NPR to discuss All We Know, her biography of three lesbians who lived in Paris in the 1920s.

via poetrysince1912.tumblr.com

via poetrysince1912.tumblr.com

The Rainbow Project released its 2013 list of LGBT books for young adult readers.

The Lambda Literary Foundation and St. Cloud State University collection management librarian Rachel Wexelbaum are conducting a study on the reading preferences of modern queer people. You can participate.

“Chick lit” may cause self-esteem and body image issues in female readers, according to a new study from Virginia Tech.

The Lesbian Romance Drinking Game will get you smashed by page 10 of almost any Radclyffe book.

Barnes & Noble plans to close more than a third of its outlets in the next ten years. At the New Republic, Mark Athitakis argues that big box bookstores brought literary culture to areas that otherwise lacked it, and what the closures will mean for reading outside of urban centres.

Queer Book Club has a list of books that feature queer people of color published in 2012.

Brains are better at remembering blog posts than… you know, those blocks of paper with ink in them.

Sometimes reading books on public transit makes you cry.

At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Dale Smith writes about Diane di Prima’s quest to have a voice in a male-dominated poet subculture.

Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique turns 50 this month. In an interview with the Atlantic, Gail Collins talks about the 1950s and the future of feminism.

Maria Popova writes about Joan Didion and keeping a notebook, and Virginia Woolf and keeping a diary.

The most-underrated lesbian books include Djuana Barnes’ Nightwood, Sarah Waters’ Affinity and Tove Jansson’s Fair Play.

via prettybooks.tumblr.com

via prettybooks.tumblr.com

Turning books into movies doesn’t ruin books, it ruins art.

A new program in the UK will allow doctors to prescribe reading to their patients to accompany medical treatments, particularly those that relate to anxiety, depression and panic attacks.

Sometimes you love a book that your friend really hates and you want to talk about it anyway.

Bookish, a service that combines book tracking with book buying, launched Tuesday. The service uses a recommendation engine and a seven-person editorial team to make suggestions based on books themselves, rather than based on what people have purchased in the past. Though Bookish currently features about 1.2 million books, only about 250,000 have recommendations attached so far.

via prettybooks.tumblr.com

via prettybooks.tumblr.com

Roxane Gay has advice for people looking for creative inspiration:

“While, like most writers, I gain all kinds of inspiration from reading and movies and art and music, what often inspires me most is silence and a dark room. I love to sit in a dark room, especially late at night, with nothing to distract me. I wait to see where my imagination might take me. With nothing to distract—no television, no online procrastination—with only my imagination and a still, quiet room, I tend to find the answers to problems I might be having in a given story or essay. I find new ways of thinking about how to tell a story. I learn new things about the characters I’m writing and the places I put them in. We really underestimate how much creative inspiration can be found in ourselves.”

At the Lesbrary, Danika reviewed The Narrows by M. Craig and Before the Rain: A Memoir of Love and Revolution by Luisita Lopez Torregrosa. Kristi reviewed Riot Girl by Louise Davis. Marcia reviewed Stumptown by Greg Rucka, a modern noir-esque graphic novel.

Sistahs on the Shelf reviewed Rose from the Bayou by Teryn Williams, Bi-Curious by Natalie Weber and Stud by Sa’id Salaam.


At Lambda Literary, Anna Furtado reviewed The Dragon Tree Legacy, by Ali Vali. Sara Rauch reviewed Makara, a novel by Kirsten Ringman. Julie R. Enszer reviewed A Simple Revolution, by Judy Grahn. Cathy Camper reviewed Not My Bag, by Sina Grace. Arielle Yarwood reviewed When We Become Weavers: Queer Female Poets on the Midwestern Experience, edited by Kate Lynn Hibbard. Victoria Brownworth wrote a remembrance of lesbian theorist Julia Penelope, who died last month.

Don’t forget to check out all the awesome book-related things we published recently: Heidi Andrea interviewed queer latina punk artist Cristy C. Road. Malaika said happy birthday to Virginia Woolf. Riese wrote about sick lit. Cara wrote about the word “queer.”


Events To Watch Out For:

Today, February 7, New York: PUSSY RIOT! A Punk Prayer for Freedom is launching. Gabrielle wrote about it. Barnes and Noble at Union Square, 7:00 p.m.

Today, February 7, Washington, DC: Julie Enszer will launch her new book Homesteading: Essays on Life, Death, Sex & Liberation at the DC Center (1318 U St NW), 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

February 9, Boulder, Colorado: Poet Andrea Gibson will be at Boulder High School (1604 Arapahoe Ave), 6:30 p.m. Call 303-859-9946 for details. She will be in lots of other places this spring, too.

February 9, Los Angeles: Poetry, Practice, Politics: Reading and Conversation, featuring Andrea Quaid, Amanda Ackerman, Harold Abramowitz, Jeanine Webb, Samuel Solomon and David Lau is on at Pop-Hop Books and Print (5002 York Blvd.), 7:30 p.m.

February 14: Today is International Book Giving Day.

February 14, Saint Paul, Minnesota: Hearts and Sparks: A Reading of Love Poems will feature Ethna McKiernan, Margaret Hasse, Tim Nolan and Michael Dennis Brown at SubText: A Bookstore (165 Western Avenue N.), 7:00 p.m.

February 17, New York: Sassafras Lowrey will read from Kicked Out, a new anthology about queer youth, at BGSQD (27 Orchard St.), 7 p.m.

February 17, Los Angeles: LA Zine Fest is on at the Ukranian Cultural Center (4315 Melrose Ave.), 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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


What We’ve Been Reading:

Riese: First I must admit that I spent an evening reading the entirety of a self-published book written by a woman whose husband was found entombed in the walls of this apartment building WHERE I LIVE after probs being murdered, but I won’t tell you the title because I’m scared of the landlords finding out that I know. It was terrible don’t read it. Anyhow, I read The Fault in Our Starsduh! I read it all in one sitting. It was so good. Honestly I first heard of it because everybody likes to tumble the hell out of that book cover for real.

Carolyn: I read Harriet the Spy, which I somehow completely missed when I was young enough to actually appreciate it (much like the gaping hole that is A Wrinkle In Time and the works of Judy Blume). I also read Ivan E. Coyote’s The Slow Fix, a collection of short stories that read as a loosely fictional memoir of queer identity.

What are you reading right now?

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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. I can’t wait to read all of these! I’m currently re-reading The Bell Jar for the millionth time, and i’m also starting Alice in Wonderland which I adore! It’s so whimsical and witty. I’m trying to read as much classic literature as possible, but I don’t know how i’m going to swallow Charles Dickens. For some reason I can only read long books when i’m travelling or using some form of transportation. otherwise I get distracted and just stop reading halfway through. I blame it on blogs like Autostraddle…

    • w/r/t Dickens, I recommend starting with Little Dorrit if you want to get into his work or Great Expectations if you want to read something that people still make a lot of references to.

  2. Thank you for bringing the lesbian romance novel drinking game to my attention. “Drink for if nipples should ever become erect, but the lovers are clothed and not even touching each other.” Dying.

  3. so i’ve been reading novels by short story authors i love.

    i read amy bloom’s ‘love invents us’, and well… i liked that it started with a short story from ‘come to me’ (slightly adapted version), and the first part read like a series of shorts on the same character. but overall the tone of the book was fairly depressing with no resolution or hope, and the main characters weren’t very likeable which didn’t help. i didn’t hate the book but i didn’t quite love it either.. idk probably my expectations were too high.

    but then i read lorrie moore’s ‘who will run the frog hospital?’ and all was well again. this book, too, is a girl’s coming-of-age story, and it is great – the characters are likeable, it is funny in a bittersweet way, and the prose is so good. i really loved it

    and i just finished ali smith’s ‘there but for the’. she is probably my favourite short story writer and this book is perfect. it starts with paper planes and a man who locks himself in a room during a dinner party, and well, you just have to read it. i like her experimental style

    (a while back i also read a.m. homes’ ‘music for torching’ which is about a couple from one of her shorts in ‘the safety of objects’ – it doesn’t repeat the short but refers to it like an anecdote from the past – i liked that book)

  4. OhMyGoodness Caroline! I read the exact same books as you this week! I kid you not, I work at a public library, and so I re-read “Harriet the Spy” because I’m doing a children’s program about keeping a diary next week, and I reread Madeline L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle In Time” and the other books in that series because they make me feel safe and this was not such a safe week, and I cannot believe it, but to round out the trifecta I really did read “The Slow Fix”, which I had to ILL but eventually I got it.
    That was a run-on sentence. I love LezLibertyLit. That is all.

  5. Very much appreciated the underrated lesbian lit list (10 alliteration points for me!), but it’s missing one – Patricia Highsmith’s “The Price of Salt” – written in the ’50s and published under a pseudonym, but an absolutely sweeping and unexpectedly sweet love story.

  6. Currently reading: The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You by S. Bear Bergman.

    There is another book that I know I need to read but can’t bring myself to do it — What Are You Doing Here: A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal. I know it will add another piece to the puzzle of my adolescence and early twenties. I’m just not ready to deal with that yet.

  7. I am on an Eileen Myles bender. Just read Inferno, Snowflake, Not Me. Anyone have other recs for queer/feminist poetry/innovative prose?

    • Dionne Brand’s “No Language is Neutral” (as well as the rest of her poetry/fiction) is amazing and you should read it if you haven’t. The same goes for Adrienne Rich – I’d start with “Dream of a Common Language” but other people may disagree. And there’s Diane de Prima. And Phyllis Webb, a Canadian poet who wrote really beautiful poems that sound gay (though she hasn’t as far as I know come out) – start with “The Vision Tree.”

  8. Mr Burns, who served as ambassador to Moscow, said he had been observing and dealing with the Russian leader for more than two decades.

  9. The Russian president’s plans were based on “profoundly flawed assumptions and some real illusions especially about Ukraine and the will to resist”, Mr Burns said.

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