A Romance about Love and Grief: A Review of the Graphic Novel FORWARD by Lisa Maas

Forward, the first graphic novel by Lisa Maas, is a great reminder of the great work that can be made when authors and artists represent what they know intimately. Set in Victoria, it’s a story about two women both trying to move ahead in their lives in different ways. The first is Rayanne, the kind of woman whose life revolves around her work (and her cat). Although it was years earlier, she’s never been able to open herself up again after the horrible way her last relationship ended. She lives a carefully controlled, regimented life, where her crushes on women only ever go further in her imagination. Ali is also having trouble moving forward (get that reference to the title?), but from very different circumstances: she is still grieving the death of her wife from cancer a year earlier.

Are these two going to meet each other? Well, of course they are. And in that way, this story is very much a romance. But like the best romance narratives, it’s also just as much about the individual journeys of each person as it is about their growing relationship. It’s a second chance love story of two people who didn’t imagine that they would ever get another chance. So while it is definitely a romance, it might be a little sadder and/or have more crying than the last romance you read. (I don’t know, maybe your romance tropetonite is stories about widows and other sad people finding new love and you read romances like this all the time). But while Forward is sad in many parts, it’s also sexy and, ultimately, hopeful. So there’s that.

Lisa Maas | image via arsenalpulp.com

Lisa Maas | image via arsenalpulp.com

Back to the idea that I opened with: the authenticity of reading a book about a sub-culture by someone who clearly knows it so well, in a way of course that no outsider could ever know it. Forward felt soooo authentic to white west coast middle age lesbian culture. I think only an author representing their own culture could do this. Wow. I don’t think I’ve read any other book that hits the good and the bad so on the nose.

I’m almost not even sure what to describe since there were so many details in this book that I didn’t realize were a part of that specific subculture until I saw them here and felt so much recognition. For one, there is a hella lot of lesbian processing in Forward. There’s even some hippie-tinged processing with a psychic! There are cats, Indigo Girls, and more than one of those awkward lesbian dating scenarios where both women obviously like each other but neither of them makes a move. Sigh. Almost all the queer ladies have short hair, except one who has kind of a mullet!? It was really great to see multiple women presenting on the masculine end of the gender spectrum, especially when you literally get to see them drawn in a graphic novel!

The world in Forward was so recognizable to me. Although they’re too fairly dissimilar books, Forward strangely reminded me a lot of Zoe Whittall’s Holding Still for as Long as Possible, in the way that it paints such an insider picture of a particular kind of queer culture that I had never seen depicted in fiction before.

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And yeah, there isn’t really a focus on them, but some not-so-great aspects of this lesbian subculture are in the book too. The two ones that stand out the most to me are that almost everyone is white and all the characters use the word lesbian to describe any woman who might be or is attracted to women, as if bisexual women don’t exist. For the record, both of those things are true to my experiences in communities like this, so I’m not even sure if those are criticisms (but it sure would be nice to have some more inclusion!).

To be honest, it’s a bit hard for me to separate my experience of this book from my personal history in communities like the one represented in Forward: it made me both sad that I’m not a part of that lesbian culture anymore and also kind of mad at the norms of biphobia and racism of that culture (biphobia being one of the things that drove me away). It’s weird that the book is bringing up these things, because Forward is not about those issues at all. It’s a story about love and grief set in this context so naturally and elegantly. I know there will be many readers who will seem themselves and their communities in Forward, and for any queer person that is such a rare and beautiful thing. I guess what I’m saying is that for me that feeling of familiarity was a little more complicated. Just know that if you’re a bi woman and/or a woman of colour who’s felt excluded from lesbian communities, this book may stir up some of those feelings like it did for me!

More stirred up feelings: Forward made me really nostalgic for the time when I lived in Victoria. This is such a Victoria book! There were a few scenes where I thought, aha! I know exactly where those characters are taking a walk! And, I know restaurants exactly like the one in downtown Victoria where Rayanne and Ali have their first date. Fiction set in Victoria is pretty rare, let alone queer fiction, so it was really cool to get to see that beautiful place in a graphic novel. I think anyone who has a soft spot for Victoria like I do is going to love that aspect of the book.

Some of you are maybe wondering, but what about the art? Isn’t this a graphic novel? It is, indeed! I didn’t love the art, unfortunately. It reminded me of Maggie Thrash’s Honor Girl, both in the actual style and also that I liked the story a lot and wished I liked the art more. The colour is subdued, with a water-colour kind of feel. (Is it actually watercolour? I don’t know since I don’t know anything about art!). I felt like the people’s faces looked too similar to each other—it’s probably a bad sign if I’m glad so-and-so and so-and-so have different colour hair because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. I did, however, really like a few of the panels where Maas was showing the passage of time. Like this one:

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Has anyone else read Forward? I haven’t heard much buzz around it and I would love to know thoughts and reactions from other readers. Some of my reservations related to personal experience aside, I really enjoyed this book and felt like it was a bit different from everything else I’ve been reading lately.

Posted in Canadian, comics, Graphic, Lesbian, Queer, Romance, Victoria | Leave a comment

“I love them dancing, dancing”: A Review of the Poetry Collection ALL VIOLET by Rani Rivera

As I was just saying to a group of fellow librarians at our little poetry club, I often feel like my feelings for poetry are one of two extremes: 1) this is awful, why am I reading this, I understand why so many people hate poetry and I think I may be joining them, and 2) wow, this poetry is amazing and life-changing and makes me so happy to be alive and why haven’t I been reading more poetry. Luckily, the collection All Violet by Rani Rivera, which the publisher Dagger Editions generously sent me for review, is definitely in the latter category.

It’s a slim collection that completely took me by surprise. WOW. It is an incredible, stunning book. I hadn’t heard of the poet Rani Rivera and reading the back cover with a statement from Lynn Crosbie—which reads: “A star student and sweet friend, Rani’s death hurts in a way only she could describe with beauty and grace: ‘I love them pretty / with their ugliness. / I love them all violet / and blue.”—made me sad to hear that she has already passed away. What an incredible gift this posthumous collection of poems is!

Rani Rivera

Rani Rivera | image via caitlin-press.com

I loved the feel of Rivera’s words. Her poems are the kind that occasionally alluded me as to what exactly they were ‘about,’ but they were also often the kind of poems where I didn’t care whether I understood what was happening because I was so enamored with the language. For example:

“A Dereliction of Line”

All I see now
are tuck shops full of ginsengs,
the preliminary ‘g’ pronounced hard
and false by a friend who thought
me fearless.
Announcing guturally, it’s time
to clear the detritus,
too many hours have passed
tableside over a paltry purchase
she’s spent and the lights are giving way.

One red
two black

starts a lazy, exquisite corpse,
lying unfinished in a haze
of the recognizable smoke and scent
of hard-topped construction cut
with digestives and filler.
Inclined to rush out
with trusted PIN codes and
newly acquired phone numbers.
Quashing old allegiances
and established sponsorships of
rehabilitated behaviour.

Do I grasp the ‘aboutness’ of this poem? No. Do I care? No.

Of course, there were also many themes that touched me as well. Rivera writes about fleeting moments of connection in an anonymous urban environment, bisexual dating and crushes, drug / alcohol use and addiction, music, depression, and the humanity of people dehumanized by society.

I love how Rivera creates this beautiful unique imagery throughout the collection, pulling especially from Toronto and QTPOC culture. “Drag Queens with a Side of Mash” is a wonderful, delightfully queer poem, where Rivera writes

My memories are distilled
in a bottle of fine Russian vodka
smooth to taste at first, then leaving
a dangerous bite in my palate,
whether it’s gulped down heartily in the Caucasus
or seeped in ennui with a tart lemon garnish.

Perhaps the most Torontonian poem is “Night and Day,” which is full of images of the streets and sights and sounds of the city. I’ve only spent a bit of time there, but her images took me back, immediately. They also evoke effortlessly that feeling of naïve confidence of a young queer person walking around a big city feeling like they have arrived, both at their own sense of self and at a world of new urban possibilities. That poem begins:

I’m getting off the 501 streetcar
and stomping my big, black boots into the sidewalk.
Surprisingly, my posture is perfect,
unburdened by a knapsack full of poems
and one vintage men’s Burberry trench coat.

I’m heading home on Queen West West
in an asymmetrically zippered coat
and a Northbound Leather shopping bag in tow.
Carrying war wounds and forgotten accessories.
Feeling confident, cocky even, assured.

The tone, as you can see in the poems I’ve quoted so far, is often sad and raw, but also occasionally very funny. The best example of funny is definitely “How Not to Become a Homicidal Ex-Lover,” where Rivera gives tongue-in-cheek break-up advice to side-splitting results:

Take advantage of that sudden burst of energy and hit the gym.
Not to look good when, by chance, you bump into that infidel on the
streetcar
but to avoid diabetes and hypertension.
Drink shots of wheatgrass daily to detoxify.
This will be a suitable replacement for Stoli and JD.
Remind yourself that vodka makes for bad decisions,
that’s how you got here in the first place.
Don’t switch teams out of vengeance, you’ll only end up
breaking another girl’s heart.
Chassé wine and kickball-change yourself into a pottery class.
Mold and sculpt a phallic ashtray to pound your cigarettes into
in disgust.

Not only is that poem hilarious, I love how wonderfully that poem integrates the intricacies of bisexual dating. “Don’t switch teams out of vengeance!”

Now that I’ve shown you how this poetry collection is going to make you laugh, let me show you how it will also make you cry:

“For an Hour or Always”

I love them
broken and beaten badly,
pock-marked and toothless,
spent and riddled with rue.

I love them lying
with sleep in their eyes,
the sunlight curdling
in sweet bellies
heaving with an unrest of a few
too many.

I love them motherless
and taunted. Violent
and entitled.

I love them on fire. I love them on ice.

I love them hairy and unclean.
Hearts pierced and sagging.

I love them old. I love them new.

I love them mean.
I love them talking and talking.
I love them destructed and
pinned with little needles,
smokestacks of inconstancy.
Nailed to the wall and stuck on
with glue.

I love them dancing, dancing…

You should get this poetry collection, and get it now.

(Content warnings for depression, alcohol and drug use/addiction, suicide ideation, and physical violence).

Posted in Asian, Bisexual, Canadian, Poetry, Toronto | 3 Comments

May Update: Don’t Forget You Can Win Queer Books from Me Each Month!

Yes, did you know that if you’re a patron who gives at the $3 level or more on Patreon you get one entry per month in a draw to win a queer book? It is very fun and exciting to get to send you all these books in the mail. I thought a reminder was maybe needed since the patron who won last month hasn’t answered my email yet! Mandy, did you know you won a free queer book? Check your email for the details.

This month’s winner was Kate. Congrats! Check out which books Kate got to choose from:

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I know I haven’t been posting a lot lately and I’m really sorry! My precarious librarian job is kind of wrecking havoc on my writing schedule, and I’m also still working on backlogged writing work from when I was on vacation in April. Did you see my announcement last month about changing the number of posts per month I’m aiming for? I think it’s going to make keeping this blog going a lot more sustainable and also make sure my posts are high quality!

I have been reading a lot of really great books recently and I’ve got five (yes, five!) books sitting on my Goodreads shelf which is titled” “read-need-to-review.” So look for reviews of Forward by Lisa Maas, Little Fish by Casey Plett, Sodom Road Exit by Amber Dawn, All Violet by Rani Rivera, and What the Mouth Wants by Monica Meneghetti in the near future!

Interview with a Queer Reader is still going strong! Check out April’s interview where Sophia talks about ace representation, Jeanette Winterson, queer YA, and more! If you’re interested in participating in one of these fun and short email interview sessions, send me an email to stepaniukcasey [at] gmail.com.

Have you seen any of the queer content I wrote at Book Riot recently? I wrote an in-depth article on the importance of Annie On My Mind and its history as a frequently challenged book. I also wrote a list of 7 Must-Read Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian YA Novels for if you’re new to the coming of gayge genre.

And as always I want to individually thank all of the people who’ve signed up to be patrons. You lovely humans are: Danika, Leigh, Anna Marie, Jane, Jakelene, Emmet, Madeline, Heather, Carla, Laurita, Jason, Jillian, Shelagh, Priscila, James, Seed, Julie, Katherine, Samuel, Amy, Sarah, Daniel, Sarah, Chantelle, Al, Undertheteacup, Karen, Nicole, Leora, Loretta, Mandy, Kate, Elisabeth, Skye, Jes, Carla, Vigdis, and Gail!

Last but not least, are you following me on the social media of your choice? Find Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian (or the ‘real me’) on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram!

Posted in Patreon | Leave a comment

Interview With A Queer Reader: Sophia Talks Ace Representation, Jeanette Winterson, Queer YA, and more!

April’s queer reader is Sophia, a 21-year-old English Literature undergraduate with “a bit of a major love for YA fiction – contentious in [their] degree programme, frustratingly.” They are looking forward to writing their dissertation about Harry Potter both to annoy and impress the naysayers. Sophia identifies as a genderqueer woman—“meaning I am a woman but also not.” Sophia is also bi and greyace/demisexual. They’re very passionate about ace representation as they’d never heard the term ‘asexual’ until they were 18 even though they considered themselves pretty in the know about queerness. Another important thing to know about Sophia is mental health, which has been central to their life as long as they can remember. Sophia writes a lot about mental heath and also has a podcast centred on mental health called the Hurricane Pod. That podcast’s name is a metaphor for Sophia’s mind: as they put it: “the messy, powerful, potentially destructive, weirdly wonderful thing that is my mind!” You can find Sophia on Twitter, or over on their blog. Sophia also writes for an organisation called Powered By Girl, where you can find a lot of bookish writing.

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Keep reading to hear Sophia talk about Jeanette Winterson, loving YA even though you’re an adult now, looking for ace girl protagonists, shopping at Gay’s the Word bookshop in London, and more!

What was the first LGBTQ2IA+ book(s) you remember reading? How did you end up reading it?

The first I recall reading was Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. I was 15 and a huge John Green fan, so I absolutely had to read everything with his name on it. I don’t remember feeling much then though. When I was 16, I started actively seeking out women-loving-women content – that was when I started to get excited by queer representation. The first one that made me go ‘ugh, YES!’ was Jeanette Winterson’s memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? I actually picked it up because of the title! I devoured everything she’s ever written pretty swiftly after that.

What is/are your favourite LGBTQ2IA+ books, and why?

YA is what I find most comforting, and although I am *technically* an adult now it is what I tend to identify more with! My favourite YA authors are Nina LaCour and David Levithan, so of course the book that they co-wrote – You Know Me Well – was an immediate winner. I love how each of them write, and the characters felt very real to me. I have read it over and over and over – and it only came out mid-2016! Also, there’s a poem read out by a genderqueer character which made me cry the first time I read it…okay, it makes me cry every time.

Which LGBTQ2IA+ book have you read that best reflects your experiences as an LGBTQ2IA+ person?

Honestly, I still feel as though I have yet to find true representation – ace characters are still few and far between. But I think Mira, the main character in Kate Scelsa’s Fans of the Impossible Life is the closest I’ve ever felt to SEEN. She’s bi, depressed, anxious, living and struggling and loving and messing up and having fun and feeling pain. She also has actual queer friends, unlike the typical ‘one queer amongst the cishets’. I appreciate that.

Which LGBTQ2IA+ book do you wish you could read but can’t because it doesn’t exist yet?

More than anything, I want an ace girl as a protagonist. I don’t want her to have all the basic, stereotypical characteristics of ace folk – we’re not a monolith! I want her to navigate love and learn how to be okay in herself. I want her to live her live and have it be messy but ultimately have a nice ending. She deserves a nice ending.

How do you find LGBTQ2IA+ books? How easy or hard is it in your experience finding the ones that you want to read?

I’m lucky that – although I don’t live there – I’m in London quite frequently, and I nearly always pop into the shop Gay’s the Word! I spend hours sitting on the floor in the corner, reading bits of new things to see if I’m into it. I like talking to their staff too, they’re always lovely and helpful!

Do you know other LGBTQ2IA+ readers or participate in any LGBTQ2IA+ reading communities (in person or on the Internet)? What’s it like?

Two of my closest friends – who I know through writing for Powered By Girl – are also huge fans of YA, and are also queer. We share recommendations, and it’s good because they know what I like and vice versa. We’re also aware of each other’s triggers, so we can trust that we will be told if there is something we might struggle with, and that otherwise it is going to be mostly safe! It’s also just really nice to cry over cute girls in love together.

Thanks for sharing with us Sophia! Fans of the Impossible Life is a favourite of mine too. Anyone have recommendations for books with ace girl main characters for Sophia?

Posted in asexual, Bisexual, Fiction, Interview with a Queer Reader, Queer, Young Adult | 2 Comments

March Queer Can Lit Newsflash: Events Featuring Casey Plett, Amber Dawn, &Joshua Whitehead, Queer BC Book Prize Nominees, and More!

There are a lot of exciting things happening in the queer can lit world! Let’s get to them:

Did you know Casey Plett has a new novel called Little Fish coming out? If you’ve been reading my blog, then yes you do! If you don’t know, here’s the blurb. Did you also know Amber Dawn has a new book out, her second novel called Sodom Road Exit? Read about it here. What about Joshua Whitehead’s debut novel Jonny Appleseed? All three books are published by Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press, which publishes so many great queer books, and are either just released or coming very soon!

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Now that you know these three writers have exciting new books being published this spring, you will also want to know that you can see all three of them at two events in April happening in Ottawa and Montreal. In Ottawa on April 29th at the Writer’s Festival, all three of them will be reading on a panel called “This Is Us.” Also with a host of other great LGBTQ writers (Daniel Mendelsohn, Kamal Al-Solaylee, Catherine Herandez, Christopher DiRaddo, and more!), the three Arsenal authors will be participating in The Violet Hour Reading Series on April 27th.

Speaking of Joshua Whitehead, you may have heard that his debut book of poetry full-metal indigiqueer was a finalist in the Lambda Literary Awards in the category of Trans Poetry and that he decided to withdraw. This is my favourite part:

I dream of the day when award cultures, especially settler queer award institutions, etch out space for 2SQ capacities and oratories. So in nehiyawewin fashion, I animate myself: nehiyaw iskwewayi-napew, Cree femme-man, one who works like nîpiy, like water, because I come from the land of straits—I take a lesson from the land, manitowapow, and learn to eddy and etch, learn to break rocks and get them off, learn to carve out space from boulders that may consolidate in the wake. I remind myself that sometimes inclusivity can be spelled as accountability, sometimes literature sounds like “letting go”. I hear Beth Brant when I write this speaking to me, that “we do our work with love,” as much as I hear Chrystos’ cry that we are “not vanishing”.

You can read the beautiful full letter here.

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Joshua Whitehead / Photo by Joshua Whitehead

Other than reading in Ottawa and Montreal, Amber Dawn is also going to be at FOLD (Festival of Literary Diversity) in Brampton, ON on May 3rd and 6th. Check out more details about FOLD here. Other LGBTQ2 writers Joshua Whitehead, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Kai Cheng Thom, Catherine Hernandez, and possibly others I don’t know are going to be there too! Want to know more about Amber Dawn’s new book? Read this interview with her from Guts Magazine where she talks about disrupting the idea that queer lives are urban only, subverting ghost tropes, and what novels she thinks we should all be reading.

The 2018 BC Book Prize Finalists were announced earlier this month, and there are a few familiar queer names on there. Daniel Zomparelli’s debut short story collection Everything is Awful and You’re a Terrible Person and Zoey Leigh Peterson’s Next Year, For Sure are up for the Ethel Wilson Fiction prize. Anne Fleming’s first book for young people, The Goat, is up for the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize (I don’t think the book has queer content, but I could be wrong! I love her queer adult fiction anyway so I’m sure The Goat is great). Winners will be announced May 4th in Vancouver.

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One last event in Montreal that you should go to if you can: McGill is hosting The Arts of Trans, Gender Diverse and Two-Spirit Lives Conference April 5-7th. Creative writers/poets who are going to be there include Trish Salah, Kama La Mackerel, and Lindsay Nixon. Find more info about the presenters here.

Have something you want me to include in the next Queer Can Lit Newsflash? Email me at stepaniukcasey [at] gmail.com.

Posted in Amber Dawn, Canadian, femme, Fiction, Indigenous, Lesbian, News, Poetry, Postcolonial, Queer, Rural, Short Stories, Trans, Trans Feminine, Transgender, Vancouver | 2 Comments

Some Personal Favourites and Canadian Finalists for the 2018 Lambda Literary Awards

Can you believe I’m only writing about the announcement of Lambda Literary Award finalists now? It happened like 2 weeks ago! Well, better later than never. Here are some highlights, of personal favourites and also Canadian finalists:

Fiction Finalists

In Lesbian Fiction, I’m particularly excited about three of the nominees, Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu, Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Machado, and Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country by Chavisa Woods. I had the pleasure of reading an early copy of Marriage of a Thousand Lies and of getting to talk to the author for a piece for Autostraddle, where she talked about queer South Asian identity and literature, new adult coming out stories, and more. This was my favourite quotation from the book:

“Let me tell you something about being brown like me: your story is already written for you. Your free will, your love, your failure, all of it scratched into the cosmos before you’re even born. My mother calls it fate, the story written on your head by the stars, by the gods, never by you.”

I’ve also written something related to Her Body and Other Parties for Autostraddle: a list of 8 similar books for the many people who loved Machado’s short story collection that embodies this uncanny kind of creepy, “bodies as horror,” fabulist, dark fairy tale feel. This was one of the most unique books I’ve ever read and I’m thrilled to see it as a finalist! (Although, also kind of perturbed to see it in the lesbian category, since the author identifies as bi and most of the women in the stories are bi behaving. Queer/bi writer Roxane Gay’s book Difficult Women is also nominated in Lesbian Fiction…)

Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country by Chavisa Woods was one of my favourite reads last year, and I described it in detail in this list The Best (Mostly Queer) Books I Read in 2017. This stunning collection of short stories was mind-blowing: beautifully written with honesty, generosity, insight, inventiveness, and a strong sense of voice. . Here’s a taste of what these stories are about: Baptists over 60 talking sex. Tweens make friends with a homeless woman living in a cemetery mausoleum. A queer writer returning to her Midwest home to crime and strange floating green orbs. A lesbian takes ecstasy with her schizophrenic girlfriend at a Mensa gathering of people with super high IQs.

Another book I featured in The Best (Mostly Queer) Books I Read in 2017 is also nominated, in the Bisexual Fiction category, and it’s a Canadian author: Next Year, For Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson. I LOVED that book; you can read my full review here. If you like character-driven novels, Next Year For Sure is perfect: full of authentic, nuanced, flawed characters, richly drawn with compassion and generosity. The novel is a really luminous, complex look into an intimate, romantic relationship of a long-term guy-girl couple and how their journey leads them to exploring polyamory and other kinds of relationships to deal with their shared loneliness. I also read the guy Chris as exploring being on the asexual spectrum, which is another layer to the journey. I have no idea what is bisexual about this book, though! Maybe the author is bi? Oh lammies, the categorization hardly ever makes any sense.

In the LGBTQ Anthology category, the epic book Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers edited by Casey Plett and Cat Fitzpatrick is a finalist. I think it’s an absolutely phenomenal book, and would be super bummed if it did not win, although I know a few of the other nominees are supposed to be really great. From tear-inducing sci fi stories about an epidemic and a wonder drug that brings people back from the dead to futuristic BDSM erotica to zombie revenge stories, there is a little bit of something for everyone who likes speculative fiction in this book. Other stories include: an alien spawns from an egg and is an exact replica of the non-binary person who found it; body switching takes on new significance for a queer trans woman and her disabled cis partner; a salty trans woman is the first recipient of a uterus transplant and finds herself mysteriously pregnant. You can read my full review here.

Non Fiction Finalists

What the Mouth Wants by Monica Menghetti, a Canadian bisexual writer, is up for Bisexual Nonfiction. I have read this book and … it was okay? It wasn’t really my thing. Stay tuned for a review soon! In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from the blurb:

“This mouthwatering, intimate, and sensual memoir traces Monica Meneghetti’s unique life journey through her relationship with food, family and love. As the youngest child of a traditional Italian-Catholic immigrant family, Monica learns the intimacy of the dinner table and the ritual of meals, along with the requirements of conformity both at the table and in life. Monica is thirteen when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoes a mastectomy. When her mother dies three years later, Monica considers the existence of her own breasts and her emerging sexuality in the context of grief and the disintegration of her sense of family.”

Abandon Me: Memoirs by Melissa Febos is another non-fiction nominee, in Lesbian Memoir/Biography, that I’m excited about. I was lucky to get a review copy of it, and I wrote a Book Riot post 20 Beautiful, Insightful Quotations about Love and Stories from Abandon Me by Melissa Febos. Here are a few of the quotations I chose:

“Every story begins with an unraveling. This story starts with a kiss. Her mouth the soft nail on which my life snagged, and tore open.”

“I already knew…that every love is a sea monster in whose belly we learn to pray.”

“Maybe that’s all bravery is: when your hunger is greater than your fear.”

“I have fallen in momentary love with strangers. Maybe it is a simple curiosity. Maybe it is a symptom of disappointment or fear of disappointment. A hope that somewhere else might be the truer life or love you have hoped for.”

It really is an endlessly beautiful and insightful book. Ha, and guess what? Another bisexual woman author in a lesbian category! Gee, I wonder why that keeps happening??

I must have really picked good books to do full pieces for Autostraddle last year, because the only other book I did in addition to Marriage of a Thousand Lies, Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home, is also a Lambda finalist, in the category of LGBT Graphic Novels. (It’s actually a memoir, but whatever, lammies!). It’s quite a unique queer coming of age memoir, in that it tells the story through Georges’s relationship with her “bad” dog Beija. I really love how it disrupts the “I-always-knew” gay narrative too. To quote myself from my Autostraddle article on Fetch:

Fetch is a beautiful love letter to a pet, a coming of age story, and an exploration of all the complexities of what it really means to take care of another living being.”

Poetry Finalists

Canadian poet Sina Queyras’s colllection My Ariel is a finalist for Lesbian Poetry. I have never read any of her work and I don’t know why! Sometimes people ask how I can possibly focus on something so narrow as LGBTQ2IA Canadian books for my blog and I tell them there’s no way in my life I will ever read all the books that could potentially qualify for inclusion on my site. Anyway, Sina Queyras has been on my radar for a while but alas I am totally unfamiliar thus far with her poetry. The Globe and Mail review said this about My Ariel, which is riffing off Sylvia Plath’s 1965 collection Ariel:

“Few poets are better equipped than Queyras to plunge into the examination of the figure of Plath as a prototype for female genius. With honesty, humour and passionate attention, she lays bare the gendered conventions that circumscribed Plath’s life and how they are still, in new guises, determining her own life as well as that of her female students… Queyras’s masterful collection does not stay in the shadow of Plath’s work. Its mix of scholarship, dramatic monologue, persona-adopting and elegy could give rise to a multipronged new genre: the auto-poetic-bio-epic.”

OF COURSE Canadian Kai Cheng Thom’s debut poetry book a place called No Homeland is a nominee for transgender poetry. I am in love with this collection. I will be super pissed if it does not win! I will probably still be talking about how awesome this book is in 50 years. It is just a fucking phenomenal collection of poetry. Poems with strong roots in oral traditions and spoken word thats you can really hear in your mind and heart. They’re tough and tender meditations on family, race, being trans, femininity, trauma, relationships, community, sex, books, and love. Some favourite parts:

“All i want is to turn my lungs into a glass instrument and let them sing glory to my sisters”

“there is a poem
scratched onto the walls of my throat
no one has heard it
but it is there”

“dear white gay men:
you are neither the face
of my oppression
nor the hands
of my salvation”

Which Lammy nominations are you excited about? And when do you think the Lambda folks and publishers/authors will work together to ensure books by bisexual authors and/or with bisexual characters are actually in bisexual categories?

Posted in Bisexual, Canadian, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic, latina, Lesbian, list, memoir, News, Non-Canadian, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Queer, Science Fiction, Short Stories, South Asian, Toronto, Trans, Trans Feminine, Trans Masculine, Transgender | 6 Comments

March Patreon Update: Important News about the Number of Posts Per Month I’ll Be Doing

Happy March (even though it’s almost over)!

You may have noticed the dismal amount of posts the last month or so (or maybe you haven’t, I don’t know how much people are actually paying attention!). I’ve been working as a librarian pretty much full time, which is awesome, but that on top of my four writing jobs—including this blog—plus volunteer running an LGBTQ2IA+ Library has meant that I just don’t have enough time in the day for everything that I’m committed to. I’ve got to do something differently, because what I am doing right now is totally unsustainable and bad for my mental health.

When I started my Patreon, my goal was 8 posts a month. While I was in school and underemployed, that was totally doable! Unfortunately, it just isn’t anymore. The worst thing to me would be putting out 8 low quality posts just to be hitting a number rather than focusing on creating really great content. So I’ve decided to be realistic about how many high quality posts I can do a month: four, plus this update post that isn’t really a real article. One post will be the Interview With A Queer Reader, one will be the Queer Can Lit Newsflash, and the two others will be book lists, reviews, essays, and/or news/events posts. It’s not I won’t ever do more posts, but I think four plus the update is the most that I should promise.

My Patreon rewards will remain unchanged; it’s just the number of posts on the blog will be a bit fewer and far between. Of course, if any of you are patrons and want to change your amount or put it elsewhere because of the lower amount of posts, I totally understand! If you have any comments or questions, you can comment on this post, or send me an email to stepaniukcasey [at] gmail.com. Thanks in advance for all of your understanding!

Something really nice happened this month with the draw for a free queer book. Chantelle won the first time I “pulled a name from a hat” in the app I use, and very kindly said since they had already won a book this year, that I should pull another person’s name. Thanks for being so generous to your fellow patrons Chantelle! So the winner this month was Katie. Congrats Katie! Here were the books available this month:

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And as always I want to individually thank all of the people who’ve signed up to be patrons. You lovely humans are: Danika, Leigh, Anna Marie, Jane, Jakelene, Emmet, Madeline, Heather, Carla, Laurita, Jason, Jillian, Shelagh, Priscila, James, Seed, Julie, Katherine, Rachel, Samuel, Amy, Sarah, Daniel, Sarah, Chantelle, Al, Undertheteacup, Karen, Nicole, Leora, Loretta, Mandy, Kate, Elisabeth, Skye, Jes, and Carla!

Last but not least, are you following me on the social media of your choice? Find Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian (or the ‘real me’) on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram!

 

Posted in Patreon | 1 Comment