Autumn Equinox

 

Image shows a round black casserole containing a red stew covered with dumplings on top

We celebrated with a spicy chickpea and squash stew by Ruby Tandoh.

I’ve heard that Mabon is basically Pagan Thanksgiving, but I’m not feeling particularly thankful. This year has been very difficult emotionally and that makes me feel angry and resentful – “I’ve finally got some stability in my life and I feel miserable! Not fair!!!”

So, I decided I’m just going to be thankful that the universe didn’t throw anything extra at us over the last twelve months.  Nobody got sick or died. Nobody lost their job. We didn’t have to wrangle with a terrifying bureaucracy or move house again.

At least I got to be sad in relative peace.

Happy Autumn Equinox!

Lesbian/Queer Women Link Love #3

The Rumpus, The Inadvertent Postmodernist: An Interview with Sarah Schulman 

Julie R. Enszer at Lamba Literary, Lying With Women: Meditations on Barrie Jean Borich’s Writing, Lesbians, and Liberation

Sandra M. Gilbert, The Treasures that Prevail: On the Prose of Adrienne Rich

Jana Funke, The World and Other Unpublished Works of Radclyffe Hall

The Consolation of Genre

I have found that almost all of the romance novels I have read achieve something that sounds mundane, but remains quite radical: they model a form of female happiness and fulfillment still lacking in most canonical works of literature. Imagining stories for women (too often, but not always, heterosexual, cis-gendered, and monogamous) that end optimistically, these novels not only depict relationships that involve negotiation and growth, but also allow female protagonists to experience a kind of personal, sexual, and professional fulfillment that does not feel like an unattainable fantasy.

– Cailey Hall, The Consolation of Genre: On Reading Romance Novels

Soundtrack to last week

Image shows the cover of Lauryn Hill's album The Miseducation of Lauryn hill. The cover features a sepia headshot of the artist

Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)

I hadn’t listened to this for years. The production is amazing and it still sounds incredibly fresh and vibrant, but you can also hear the influence its had on a lot of artists since it was released. A classic album. Top track, Ex-Factor

Image shows the cover of the Bonnie Prince Billy album, Ease Down the Road. It is a photograph of an empty green field on a cloudy day

Bonnie Prince Billy, Ease Down the Road (2001)

This isn’t one of my favourite BPB albums, but I like it. It’s mostly about sex and is fairly upbeat for Will Oldham. Top track, At Break of Day

Image shows the cover of Pulp's album Different Class. It is a photograph of a wedding party with a black border

Pulp, Different Class (1995)

Woah! This was a nostalgia trip and a half. Some of the lyrics seem a bit dated and immature now, but these are still great songs. I saw Pulp live twice, once when they played the entirety of their grim This is Hardcore album, and a second time when they were a lot more friendly! There was nothing like a storming ‘Common People’ encore. Tops track, Something Changed (because I am a sap).

Image shows the cover of Morcheeba's album Big Clam. It is a photograph of a blond white woman relaxed in a chair listening to a record player in a red room.

Morcheeba, Big Calm (1998)

I’d forgotten how much I like this album. It’s warm and comforting and lovely. I saw Morcheeba live once too and they were brilliant. Top track, Part of the Process 

Image shows the cover of Mary Gauthier's album Drag Queens in Limousines. It shows a blurry, sepia toned photograph of the artist reflected in a mirror

Mary Gauthier, Drag Queens in Limousines (1999)

I first saw Mary Gauthier live back in 2003 in a tiny coffee shop. It was incredible, everyone was crying and I was so drunk. I’ve seen her three times since and she’s always fantastic. This is a great album, sad but full of life and compassion. I love every song, so it’s very hard to pick a fave, but I’ll go with Our Lady of the Shooting Stars

Image shows the cover a greatest hits collection. The cover features three black and white photographs of Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin, Respect: The Very Best of

I had to listen to some Aretha #RIP

Sarah Dreher, Stoner McTavish (1985)

Image shows the cover the novel Stoner McTavish. This edition features a painting of the Grand Teton mountains with a Stoner sitting on a black horse in the foreground.

I read the first book in Sarah Dreher’s much-loved mystery series last year. Stoner McTavish is an insecure butch lesbian, travel-agent and reluctant detective.  In this first outing, a friend of her eccentric aunt Hermione persuades her to investigate the man who’s married her granddaughter, Gwen. This results in Stoner following the couple on honeymoon to the Grand Teton National Park where she soon finds herself and Gwen in peril.

I really enjoyed the book, even though I thought it had quite a few flaws. I’ll get the criticism out of the way first. It felt a bit long for the amount of plot and the villain was very two-dimensional. This might be a personal thing, but I also found the tone a bit off because the cosiness of the mystery seemed to jar with the nastiness of the homophobic and misogynist abuse experienced by Stoner. Honestly, I found the love interest, Gwen, pretty bland too – she’s just kind of the “perfect woman”. Maybe she’ll get more interesting in the later books.

But the charm and humour outweighed the novel’s weaknesses. Stoner is delightful. Her insecurities can be little much at times, but we’ve all known (or been) someone like that.  Dreher is very good at writing quirky characters, witty dialogue and at creating a rich sense of place. I wanted to go and stay at the hotel in the park and sit by the fire drinking coffee.

Overall, a fun read and I’ll be trying the next book, Something Shady in which Stoner must go undercover in a rest home.

Lesbian/Queer Women link love #2

Some things I’ve found interesting recently.

Julie R. Enszer at Lamda Literary, Lying with women: Meditations on Barrie Jean Borich’s writing, lesbians and liberation 

Crime Reads, The Night Gertrude Stein met Dashiell Hammett (apparently she even had a go at writing a detective novel)

The Advocate, A 75-year-old lesbian discovery