The Grave Tattoo ~ Val McDermid
The premise really excited me: a literary mystery, a historical unsolved murder, an intrepid poetry scholar and plenty of dubious characters determined to find the lucrative truth first. Did Wordsworth secretly write a lost epic based on Fletcher Christian’s famous mutiny? Unfortunately the slap-dash prose and clunky structure (exposition, foreshadowing, another piece of the puzzle, end with a cliff-hanger and an excerpt from Wordsworth’s correspondence—repeat ad nauseum) bored me by the time I got halfway through. I skipped to the end, and I gotta say I’m not impressed by whodunnit. Feels forced and unlikely to me. I kept wishing this was a tv movie, it would have made an entertaining Thursday evening, but I couldn’t be bothered to read it all.
Out the Other Side: Contemporary Lesbian Writing ~ Edited by Christian McEwen and Sue O’Sullivan
I picked this up in a second-hand book store; it was published in 1988, so while it isn’t all that contemporary anymore, it’s still got much that’s relevant. It’s a very uneven collection, due to the very hands-off approach of the editors, and mostly focuses on the issues confronting lesbian-feminism at that time, especially sexual politics and pornography. Honestly, I skipped most of those essays (I have a minor in Women’s Studies, I’ve already read all that stuff!). There’s a couple stand-out awful ones: Chrystos writes a screed about how evil her ex-lover is, and I found myself siding with the ex-lover. I was particularly disturbed by an essay about being a single mother, where the author admits, “Good Mothers are always patient no matter how demanding their toddlers are. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shrieked at, slapped and shaken mine”. The problems she encounters are very real examples of structural inequalities and systemic oppression, but I felt there was a very problematic correlation being drawn between the treatment the author recieved from the larger society, and her treatment of her daughter. Like she wouldn’t shake and rage at her daughter if there was more acceptance of lesbian motherhood. She reminded me a lot of my own mother, and that’s not a compliment.
Thankfully those were balanced out by some excellent writing from Gloria Anzaldua, Audre Lorde, Elana Dykewomon, Amber Hollibaugh, Donna Allegra, and others. I especially liked Irena Klepfisz’ discussion of class and work and how it impacts women’s creativity. Charlotte Bunch’s “Making Common Cause: Diversity and Coalitions” was still very insightful about how priviledge functions in coaltion spaces, and how to become aware and compensate for your priviledge.