I’m starting to feel kind of excited about the holidays. By that, of course, I mean all the delicious holiday food that I love (mmm, stuffing). While I’m on the holiday train, though, I thought I’d write up a Christmas wish list, with the hopes that you readers might get some ideas of new queer books that are out there. I haven’t read any of these yet (they’re all relatively new) but I am pretty excited about reading them. Most of them are Canadian, and they’re all queer. You might want to buy these for people on your shopping list or, you might just want to get (or request) them for yourself.
Hild by Nicola Griffith. Okay, everyone’s talking about this book, and I don’t think it’s for no reason. I’ve never read anything by British-born, Seattle-residing Griffith, but she sounds like an amazingly versatile writer who’s written fantasy, science fiction, and essays, and is now adding to the mix this historical novel that takes place in the early Medieval period, a fascinating time of religious and cultural transition in England (i.e., the conversion to Christianity). Hild follows the life of (you guessed it) Hild, who was eventually declared a saint and served as the king’s seer during her lifetime. In Griffith’s imagining of her life (the historical records of her are pretty scant), she’s not only powerful, curious, and a mystic, but also bisexual. I can’t wait!
How to Be Alone by Tanya Davis and Andrea Dorfman. If you haven’t seen the music video for this empowering, sweet song about how to enjoy your own company, go watch it now. PEI-born and now Halifax-based musician and poet Tanya Davis has collaborated again with filmmaker and artist Andrea Dorfman, to make what looks like a beautiful illustrated book version of this poem. It’s being published by Harper (both in traditional and ebook format) so I’m hoping it garners this queer East-coast artist some much deserved attention. Just remember: “If you are at first lonely, be patient.”
Friend. Follow. Text.: #storiesFromLivingOnline, edited by Shawn Syms. This short-fiction anthology, although not specifically queer-themed, includes quite a few names that are well-known in the queer Can lit world: the editor, of course, (who had a really cool poem built from the search terms people used to find his website in the queer issue of Poetry is Dead), Trevor Corkum (who is set to edit the next issue of Plenitude magazine), Alex Leslie (see amazingness here and here), and Zoe Whittall, author of Bottle Rocket Hearts and Holding Still For As Long As Possible, among others. As the title suggests, the theme of this anthology is the intersection between social media and literature. In other less capable hands, I’m not sure what I would make of this topic, but I trust these writers to do some awesome stuff.
Matadora by Elizabeth Ruth. This book by Toronto-based queer author actually isn’t that new (it was published in March this year), but I haven’t got a chance to read it yet and I don’t know why, because it sounds fascinating. Consider this tagline: ““Love is a dark and dangerous animal. / For love, you must be prepared to die.” Matadora follows a Spanish woman in 1930s Spain and Mexico who is following her dream to be a bullfighter. Queer love! Ambition! Feminist Struggle! Class Struggle! I’m not sure what the novel’s take on bullfighting is (which is pretty awful for the animals, from what I know) but I’m curious to see how Ruth explores it in its historical context.
The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson. Have I mentioned lately how much I love Jeanette Winterson? Although this book following a series of witch trials in the 17th century probably couldn’t be more different than her last book, the memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, I’m quite interested in Winterson’s take on this topic. Namely, it’s not another tale of how awful it was what they did to women back then and look how they accused all these innocent women of witchcraft. In The Daylight Gate, some of the witches actually are witches and are doing some pretty gruesome things, driven by poverty, or hate, or I don’t know what else. Now that I’m describing this book, I’m realizing I might be a bit too wimpy to read it. But I’m sure Winterson’s eloquent, sparse prose will make up for the fact that this book sounds pretty scary.
Blood, Marriage, Wine, and Glitter by S. Bear Bergman. I really like American-born now Toronto-based Bergman’s insightful, no-nonsense essays that are never about how to be (trans or queer or polyamorous or anything) but just stories about how his own life is unfolding. I’ve liked his writing since his first book Butch is a Noun, and it’s been really interesting to watch the different directions his life has taken and to have that reflected in his writing. Bergman’s now married and has a son, and this collection of essays tackles that sticky topic of family. I love the idea of reclaiming the word family from the politically right and people who throw around terms like ‘family values,’ as if queer and trans people don’t have close relationships with given and chosen families. Yay family!
Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive by Julia Serano. I was totally blown away when I read Serano’s first book about feminism Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. She’s the first writer who really brought home to me how the derision of femininity is so intimately connected to misogyny and to pinpoint a certain phenomenon I’ve noticed in women’s queer communities where gender and sexual identities that are unconventional (i.e, rebellious and masculine) are privileged because they ‘subvert’ the gender binary that those pesky feminine folks (especially trans women) are apparently reinforcing. Anyway, Serano’s written another book tackling the policing of gender and sexuality in queer and feminist communities and the exclusion, in particular, of the B and the T in LGBT communities. I’m really excited to see what she has to say!