What I’m reading on a rainy day

Since reading Stone Butch Blues, I haven’t been able to read anything substantial.

 Can’t do big or deep.

 I have however been reading Laura Lippman, a mystery writer I like a lot.

 Her character, Tess Monaghan, is colorful and smart ass ( love the smart ass girls of fiction).

I read a few several years ago and got a few out of the library last week.

 Tess is a former reporter turned private eye.

 Her life is a bit of a mess and she lives in Baltimore.

Baltimore a north american city,

 possibly more corrupt than my home town of Montreal

 ( municipal politics wise- recently Maclean’s magazine compared Montreal’s corrupt politics to Palermo, Sicily- beat that Toronto ).

Charm City, the nickname of Baltimore, has us beat on violence and murder.

 A violent, murderous city going through some tough economic times.

The Lippman I’m currently reading is called Charm City ( It’s one of her older ones) and centers around Baltimore’s bid to get an NBA franchise.

 It’s quite good and makes me feel right at home.

 If you like mysteries with strong, flawed female characters, check her out.

Next, I’m going to read the last installment in the Millennium series. I’m looking forward to it.

The response is far from unanimous some people seem to think it’s not so great. Gonna read it anyway and then it’s on to Miss Austen.

Later girls

Have a good one

BB

My love of Kates, a fluff piece.

I love the name Kate and, I love Kates. 

 Going back pretty far, Kates have captured my imagination.

Hepburn, talk about class and feminine strength.

 Think Adam’s Rib,

The African Queen and most of all

The Philadelphia Story, a very old movie which is still funny and witty so many years later.

 The first time I saw it  I was enthralled. I watch it every year and, have for the last twenty.

 Hepburn at her best

 smart,

 tough,

sexy in a Bryn Mawr kind of way

 and yet, oh so vulnerable and flawed.

 Perfection. 

I discovered Kate Hepburn pretty early

(I thank the forces of the universe for being born into a family of movie and book freaks).

When I was about twelve or thirteen ,

I was home from school on a Tuesday or Wednesday

 (cold?snow day? not sure)

and of course I was watching television, soap operas, and I came upon Ryan’s Hope and the luminous,

 Kate Mulgrew.

The voice, the hair, the light freckles,

I believe it was love at first sight.

Years later she became Captain Kathryn Janeway,

the best Star Trek captain. Her crew had by far,

 the strongest and most kick ass female members.

Mulgrew is still very sexy.

Think reading glasses and swept up hair,

 be still my heart.

My current Kate obsession is, Kate Winslet.

A beautiful woman, a fearless artist.

If I met her, I would faint and  loose all my butch creed.

Since I live in the great white north, I believe I am safe.

Two of my favorite fictional detectives are Kates.

Strange, very strange.

Just so you don’t think I’m totally weird I also like Emmas, Julias, Joes and Meryls.

Years ago, I read in Esquire Magazine a description of Emma Thompson as;

The woman we would most like to read Ulysses in bed with.

Yep.

Says it all.

Mature, beautiful women, who read in or out of bed.

Doesn’t get any better than that,

 and if they happen to be named Kate, all the better.

Later girls

 thanks for reading my fluff

BB

 

Stone Butch Blues

I read  Stone Butch Blues.

 It is magnificent.

 Not a false note.

You pick it up, you can’t put it down.

I had high expectations. This book exceeded them.

I intend to buy several copies to give as gifts, it’s that good.

This book should be required reading .

 It deserves to be on the same bookshelf as :

The Diary Of Anne Frank,

 If This Is A Man by Primo Levi,

 and To Kill A Mockingbird.

The same courage,

 indomnitable spirit,

 senseless cruelty and,

 power of the human spirit. 

Jess, the main character, suffers so much and is treated so unfairly by life’s bullies and yet,

 she never loses her humanity.

 She is  treated with hatred and violence or at best, disgust,

 and all she wants is what we all want,

 to be accepted.

The prose is tight, Feinberg is a talented writer.

This book is not depressing nor is it upbeat it is — hard and True.

To quote Leslie Feinberg’s afterword from 2003:

Never underestimate the power of fiction to tell the truth.

It is about a specific time and place and a marginalised segment of society and yet, it is universal.

1950’s Buffalo, New York becomes, anywhere and everywhere.

Great Literature does that.

I’m grateful I read this book.

 I’m grateful I was born, when I was born,

 and that brave women like Leslie Feinberg came before me.

If you have not read Stone Butch Blues.

You Must.

Later girls

BB

The power of fiction to illuminate

Yesterday, I picked up Stone Butch Blues.

 I have only read the first chapter.

 I think I’m going to like it.

From memory, I would say I have never read any work of fiction that deals with transgender topics.

 I wonder why?

Can’t say I have read much about bisexuality either.

Maybe one of the reasons I have sidestepped Stone Butch Blues all these years,

 is because I hate to read about suffering and abuse.

I’m a bit of a wimp that way.

I have always had trouble dealing with novels whose main theme is abuse.

 I  know it exists, I hate that it exists.

Child abuse, incest, all are topics that disgust me.

I realise that most people feel that way, maybe it’s my inner ostrich coming through.

A friend of mine asked me  to read Bastard Out Of Carolina, she told me it was very important to her

 and that she kept coming back to it.

So, I read it.

I hated it and loved it, at the same time.

The voice was so true and it was so painful to read.

When I finished it, I felt physically sick, like I might vomit.

I’m glad I read it and I will never read it again, no need, it is imprinted on my brain.

I would encourage people to read it, it is strong and powerful.

I know, Stone  Butch Blues,  is not about that kind of abuse.

 It is about ignorance and abuse of power.

I also think, based on what I have read about it, that it is about being who you are.

Not an easy task in a world that doesn’t accept you.

I’ll let you all know what I think of it.

Fiction has the power to illuminate.

I’m hoping that Stone Butch Blues, will help me to understand transgender issues. 

Not to accept, I accept, who am I not to accept?

Understanding is something else.

Bisexuality also leaves me a little perplexed.

I get fluidity,

I get being attracted to both sexes,

I get evolution in one’s life and being different people at different times.

Maybe, I get bisexuality and don’t realise it.

I must try and find a novel that deals in a truthful manner with bisexuality.

Any suggestions?

Later girls

BB

 

Gonna get me some classics

Tomorrow I’m going to the bookstore, to shop for some classics.

You would think, I would like to get away from bookstores but, what can I say it’s a disease.

I want to pick up Stone Butch Blues, I don’t understand how come I have never read it, puzzling.

I’m also going to pick up, Ties That Bind, the Sarah Schulman non-fiction. I believe Sarah Schulman is one of the most daring and thought provoking writers I have ever read. I’m really looking forward to it. In the coming weeks I plan on posting some thoughts on her books and Stone Butch Blues. So tomorrow I spend what is left of the gift certificates.

Later girls

BB

Of childhood, and the love of a good woman

The French writer, aviator, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is quoted as saying,

We are of our childhood, as we are of our nation.

I read this recently in a column in a newspaper, it struck me, so true and so simple.

I am a quote junkie, I collect them. I write them in a little black notebook.

For me and now, a little bit, for you.

I believe we really are of our childhood, we learn about love and what it means at a tender age.

Not only the love that we receive but, the example of our parents’ love for one another.

I am lucky in that way,

I come from generations of imperfect people who loved each other imperfectly,

 but, love each other they did.

Quite a legacy.

We learn also to see the world in childhood, in fact many worlds, imagination is also a potent world.

We can be anything, when I was 8 or 9, I wanted to be in movies.

 Later, I wanted to make them,

 later still I wanted to write them.

I haven’t given up on that,  yet

A girl must dream even if she is a middle-aged bookseller   ( All in all a pretty cool job).

The point is I have always believed. I learnt that in my childhood.

I don’t mean to be reductive, we are of many things, childhood is very important but, so are other things.

Friendship, health, education, all of these factors impact our worldview.

The love of a cherished partner is also a major determinant, in our happiness.

I love the phrase, the love of a good woman.

I know it is slightly old-fashioned and perhaps a tad paternalistic, originally.

I don’t see it that way, I long to be some one’s good woman loving and to have it reciprocated.

Just a few random thoughts I wanted to share with you.

Later girls (or guys, I don’t discriminate)

BB

Jane Austen, I love her.

Yes, I know Jane Austen is not a lesbian.

 I suppose also that she is not considered terribly butch.

 I like many authors who could be considered butch in both senses of the word (macho and queer),

 think Hemingway, London and Sarah Schulman.

Deep inside of my romantic heart, I also have a yearning for girl stuff.

I don’t mean Shopaholic and stuff  (although Bridget Jones’s diary is hilarious), I mean classic female Lit.

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is to me , a magical novel that I never tire of reading.

I discovered it when I was way past an  impressionable age and yet I read it, and I am twelve again. 

My favorite early female novelist is, Jane Austen.

A few years ago my mom and I decided that we would read all of Austen’s novels.

It was by no means a gargantuan task, there are only six Austen novels.

Pride and Prejudice,

Sense and Sensibility,

Emma,

Mansfield Park,

Northanger Abbey,

and

Persuasion.

The only one I had read was Pride and Prejudice when I was a teenager. I remember thinking it was O.K.

I flew through Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, I loved them.

I liked Mansfield Park. I had a lot of trouble with Emma, I found the heroine extremely annoying.

The one I liked the most was Persuasion, it seemed to me to be a mature woman’s Pride and Prejudice.

I couldn’t make it through Northanger Abbey.

 I can’t stand gothic.

I’ve tried, it just doesn’t work for me.

I don’t like vampires either.

I’m probably in a minority there, as both heterosexual women, as well as lesbians find vampires really sexy.

( One exception a story by Katherine V Forrest about a lesbian vampire on a space ship, that was really hot.)

Back to Austen. I love her work.

 Her novels seem to be about,    not much.

Women looking to marry, going to parties.

Yet,  Austen is an astute observer of her times and has a real eye for illuminating human nature.  

She wrote these novels in the 18 th century and they  are still fresh and insightfull today.

Austen is a quiet pleasure, sunday afternoon under a tree without a care in the world.

I had to learn about those kinds of pleasures before I could enjoy her.

So, for my recent 45 th birthday, I bought myself a copy of Northanger Abbey.

 This edition also includes: Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sandition. Little known or unpublished in her life time works.

My summer project is to read them. I’ll let  you know what I think.

I figure all those rabid Jane Austen fans can’t be wrong. Jane is no fad, she is a classic.

Later girls

BB

Romance and the single butch

I could have called this post, sex and the single butch,

 or love and the single butch

but, this single butch seeks romance, above else.

Ah, romance, the courting and ultimate seduction of a woman, it’s what makes life worth living.

The problem is  I have not been very successful at it for years.

When I was young I was something of a stud.

It was about swagger and bravado.

Of course, it was all an act, who knows anything at that age.

But, since I got top marks in high school drama class, I was believable.

I managed to convince a few women that I had more experience and was more worldly than I really was.

It was great, I learned so much, and a truly good time was had by all.

I was goal oriented, I wanted to learn how to please a woman.

My studly life was over when I met a special woman, who I loved.

We were happy for many years, and then, unhappy for many years.

I wasn’t a very good partner, but, I was and am her friend.

I am grateful to her, for her patience and friendship.

I lived with guilt and hurt for many years and aside from a few meaningless sexual encounters,

I lived without love in a romantic sense.

I was in a coma.

A few years ago I fell madly in love, I really thought she was the one,

she wasn’t,

 she broke my heart.

I don’t think she meant to, we just weren’t on the same page.

She was wrong for me, she wasn’t even a reader,

 can you imagine?

Anyway, to say I am gun shy and confused would be an understatement.

Does the possibility of romance still exist  for a middle aged bookish butch?

The world is more open to sexual minorities than it ever has been.

People  identify themselves with greater ease  as gay, bisexual, whatever.

Sexual encounters are always possible.

But, true connection body, heart, soul and mind?

Flowers and poetry is it possible still?

Followed by  love, not perfection, love.

I hope and believe  it is,

 and this butch in spite of numerous bruises and strike outs,

remains optimistic.

Tell me girls,

 do you?

Am I crazy and naive?

Thanks for reading this and sharing my thoughts and ramblings.

Later guys, next time

Books, Books, Books.

BB

The two kates of lesbian detective fiction

It is unseasonably hot in Montreal right now.

I am an insomniac under the best of circumstances, but this heat is making me cranky and crazy.

So what to do? 

Read, what else.

I read mysteries, I love them.

Yeah, I read a lot of things but, mysteries are a particular fascination of mine.

Some of my favorites are: Ian Rankin, Peter Robinson, Sara Paretsky and Carol O’Connell.

I really like Mysteries with female detectives and if they happen to be lesbians, all the better.

I already said I enjoy romance because it gives me hope.

 With mysteries it is about smart, tough, women struggling with incredibly difficult jobs in worlds rampant with sexism and homophobia and, making it.

Two of my favorite dyke detectives are Laurie R King’s, Kate Martinelli and Katherine V forrest’s , Kate Delafield.

Both are homicide detectives, Martinelli in San Francisco and Delafield in Los Angeles.

Both are closeted because of the danger of them being out.

 Both struggle to keep relationships afloat.

Both are good and profoundly flawed people

 and I love them,

 they kick ass. 

The women who write these books are mature, thoughtful and accomplished writers.

King, I believe is straight and Forrest is a lesbian icon and it makes no difference one is as credible as the other.

I think there should be more lesbian fiction heroines.

 I’m glad these two are pretty mainstream as far as mysteries are concerned. 

I often suggest them to customers and use them as a litmust test for their tolerance.

These are just preliminary thoughts on lesbian mysteries.

More soon

Later guys

BB

Top ten lesbian romances part 4

Love in the Balance by Marianne K Martin, is a beautiful love story.

 Connie is an accountant (not the sexiest of trades , but, Connie is)  Kasey is a master carpenter. Connie is straight and Kasey is the dream butch, perfection. Kasey hires Connie’s firm to help with marketing etc,

 from the moment they meet they click.  This book is romantic to the extreme, it even includes a weekend at a cabin in the woods. The two heroines are likable and torn. Connie because she has never been with a woman, Kasey because she has been crushed by a bisexual woman who “went back” to men. It’s romantic and really sexy, the love scenes make you feel like a voyeur. This book has as a major theme homophobia and how it destroys lives, literately.

A book that makes you cry and explores the prejudices we all have, gay or straight. A must read for the lesbian romance fan.

Emma Donoghue is a serious literary fiction author, her book Landing  is a love story.

Sile and Jude could not be more different. Sile is Irish-Indian, a flight attendant and lives in the cosmopolitan city of Dublin. Jude is much younger, is the curator of a small Ontario local history museum. The meet and strangely enough fall in love. Can a long distance relationship work?

This book made me feel good, made me laugh, I was charmed all the way through, I love an old fashioned love story. Girl meets girl. Girl sweeps girl off her feet.

Well, I think that wraps posts about my favorite lesbian romance novels. I hope you enjoyed them. Let me know what your favorite are and why.

Later guys

BB