Kissed by Venus is the only magazine I ever take time to read, from it’s always-arresting front cover through to the back, where Botticelli’s delectable Venus suggestively anticpates the next issue. Front to back, every contribution merits praise, far too much to post in a comment box.
“Flaming June” – A perfectly prescient cover for this late, burning-summer release. Thought until I blew it up it was a Waterhouse I had overlooked (love him – he’s the background of the computer on my website) but now I’ve found a new artist to explore.
“Requiem” – Where did we go? Modern culture is fast losing so many of the ceremonies (bat mitzvahs, quinceañeras) that honor the transition from childhood to womanhood. I had no clear demaraction and live with the benignly lingering ghost of the girl/young woman I used to be.
“Stranger Than Fiction” – In my early lesbianhood I wore my hair in a mullet and tried to be a man-hating butch. That lasted until I realized I would have to spend the rest of my life actively disliking over 50% of the human population. And wasn’t that what I was supposed to be so angry about, that men were such misogynists, each and every one hating each and every woman on earth? I’m embarrassed to say my hypocrisy lasted even two weeks. I let my hair grow out and decided to judge each man, and woman, on individual rather than collective merit. Now, many suns later, with the publication of The River Within I’ve had to confront that ‘what is a lesbian?’ question all over again. Still have no sharp or easily defined answer. That in itself defines diversity.
“The Art of P” - One of my favorite quotes is from James Hillman, attributed to Don DeLillo: “The work…comes out of all the time a writer wastes. We stand around, look out the window, walk down the hall, come back to the page…”. I like to add, “… and repeat.”
“A Fairy Queen” – Deeply in the middle of Wilson’s When Women Were Warriors, Book I, and now know I have all the promise of Book II to look forward to. Ahhh.
“Kissing Bobby Kennedy” - Like reading the diary of ”Joan” on “Mad Men”! What could have been a very sad essay about the Butterfly Effect, was actually very affirming. If one considers that a single kiss may have diverted history’s course, if it was that important, then I like to believe it had to happen, was destined as part of a master plan we have no vision for. I think our choice of a God does indeed “see every sparrow that falls”, and as hard as that may be to watch, there is a reason for each sparrow’s fall. Maybe RFK would have recreated the mythos of his brother’s Camelot (though even paradisaical Camelot was eventually lost). Or maybe he had to fall so things could get worse before they got better. Either way, I’m glad Marguerite met her date with Fate.
“5 Simple Rules” – Well, I at least know I’ll never be living with Jane Hunter.
1. It will be on my list of Lifetime Achievements should the cutlery ever find it’s way from the dishwasher basket into a drawer. Any drawer.
2. Half my socks are stuck invisbly to the dryer and I assume the other half are equally stuck someplace in the washing machine. Either that or the sock monster got them. Given how often I clean, there could well be a sizeable sock monster living happily in the pantry.
3. What’s a laundry basket? Is that something sock monsters eat?
4. Aw, come on. The best sex is shower sex…all those slippery suds….the risk of a broken leg…running out of hot water….
5. Cooking…that’s what restaurants do, right?
“The Dead Place” - Response to Chris, when she cheerfully announces she wants to recon ‘the dead place’ even though it’s four in the afternoon: “Run, you idiot! Run like hell!” Response when she decides to continue despite Sophie’s (her very smart girlfriend’s) protests: “Run, you idiot, run!” To Sophie, who has a very bad (and sensible) feeling about this place: “I hear you, honey. How about you and me go back to camp and start a little fire?” Finally, to Chris, “Listen to your girlfriend next time!”
I love Kate Genet – she’s good, clean, spooky fun. The lesbian Stephen King.
“More Than Zero” - With nurse practioners like C.M. Harris’, we need more articles like this. I hope this gets reprinted in other places.
“And Thereby Hangs A Tale” - MKM is very brave. I’m glad I got the easy, on-line interview. Phew! And maybe because I’m a writer, I get a kick reading how many words a day an author writes and what time she does her best writing. (After working all day, John Grisham wrote when his wife and kids finally went to bed – incredible!!)
Another AbFab edition, Alexandra. Venus and I wistfully look ahead to the next.
I knew there had to be good, independently published, literary fiction somewhere out there in cyberspace. I found it in Thea Atkinson!
The novel opens in Faulknerian style with a dying father, murder of crows, the taking of a sadistic lover, the main character’s return home, and the lover then lying dead on the compost heap – all eerie foreshadowing of the changes facing Olivia Cunningham.
Olivia has grown up in an abusive family. After leaving home it is natural that she finds “the one lesbian in a 50-mile radius that would lay a cruel hand on any woman” and takes her for a lover. Not only natural , but necessary, for having left her abusive home, Olivia must now find someone else to punish her perceived failures. But even as her lover raises a fist to her, Olivia instinctively knows the abuse is wrong. As she responds to her lover’s violence in a seemingly fatal act, Olivia actually makes the first move to reclaiming her life.
Drawing out the violence of Olivia’s story, like her lover and father tenderly draw out their beatings, Atkinson immediately and effortlessly hies the reader into a dark corner where we can sympathize not only with Olivia, but with the characters around her. Worse, we come to understand them, and get squirmy at being so deeply under their skins.
Atkinson snares her character’s frailties, and holds them in her hands like panting, small-boned birds. Much of the novel’s tension comes from waiting to see if she will relinquish her characters or crush them, and though her hold is fierce, Atkinson proves merciful. With sharp plotting, skilled use of metaphor, and touches of humor that offer cracks of light in a very dark read, Atkinson produces a powerful novel of courage and compassion. Through a brutal grace, Olivia and her family discover strength in forgiveness; not only for those who have wronged them, but for the wrongs they have done to themselves.
I wish all the star rating systems, Amazon, Goodreads, etc., included half stars. If they did, Secret Langauge of Crows would get 4 1/2 instead of four. Two things kept it from five; I noticed during Olivia’s hospital stay that my attention kept drifitng to what I was going to read next, and toward the end of the book there were a lot of distracting formatting and copy editing mistakes. All in all, this is highly recommended to those who like their literature dark and deep. Ms. Atkinson proves there is indeed quality literature in the brave new world of independent publishing. http://theaatkinson.wordpress.com/
(P.S. – Love the cover!!)
I don’t mind romance in a novel but I don’t like romance novels. Unless the novel is Tracey Richardson’s No Rules of Engagement.
In a military hospital at Kandahar Air Force Base, we are introduced to the eponymous Major Logan Sharp, a keen, confident doctor, unflappable in the most urgent of situations. Until photojournalist Jillian Knight arrives at KAF on a two-week assignment. The attraction is immediate but unteneable; Logan is unwilling to breach the walls necessary for her to effectively do her job, just for a temporary fling with a civilian, and for reasons of her own, Jillian does not force the attraction. Thus begins a tantalizing, achingly protracted love affair.
Richardsons’ characters explore the love/hate paradox often found among war professionals, both at war and long after coming home. She writes of the current conflict in the Middle East without polemics, graciously allowing readers their own opinions. But above all, No Rules of Engagement is a white-hot romance, worthy of its place alongside the searing Afghan sun.
You’ve all heard the joke about what lesbians do on their second date, right? Buy wedding rings? So help me out. Is this true?
I keep reading lesbian novels in which the protagonist and new love interest fall IMMEDIATELY and MADLY in love. Is that how it works in real life, or is this just a literary device? I read it so often I’m starting to think it is true and that I missed the thunderbolt of true love. Yikes! Mine was the more experiential type – I liked someone, dated her, liked her more, dated her more, fell in love, and then three years later, not three days later, decided to marry her. Help! What’s wrong with me?
Second part of my query, assuming above is true and most lesbians fall into immediate, massive love, does it last? My immediate, massives were usually satisfied after a week or so. Sometimes a night.
As I writer and reader of lesbian fiction I’m curious. Let me know what you think. Share your stories.
(I’ll try and post everyone’s comments but am having trouble getting them to show…)
First novel I’ve read of Bradshaw’s. Her protagonist, Rainey Bell, is an FBI Special Agent on whom Bradshaw clearly did her homework. Having written mysteries/police procedurals I know it’s a fine line between too much professional detail and not enough to sound authentic. Bradshaw gets it just right.
Her writing is sound and well-paced. I read this on my Nook and though the formatting was sloppy enough to be a distraction, I don’t know enough about e-publishing to know if that’s just the way it uploaded on my reader or if that’s something Bradshaw can correct and reload. (Lessons learned – I had to do that with my first e-book – twice. And a third, cleaner version is in the works.) I can overlook formatting issues because the writing is solid, but what dropped this from 4-stars (really liked) to 3 (liked) was plot.
In Rainey’s psychological profile of the perp Bradshaw basically tells us who the bad person is. I kept reading, hoping it was a red herring, and though there was an attempt at one toward the end, it was too little, too late. I’m not an overly smart reader, pretty slow to tell the truth, so if I can figure out the baddy from the get-go I suspect a lot of other readers will too. And if I saw it right away, why didn’t a highly trained FBI Agent?
OKAY – SPOILER’S OVER
All in all, Rainey Days is a solid read. Try it. You might not have the same issue I did. Even if you do, Bradshaw’s basic story and her ability to string the reader along to the end, make it a worthwhile read. I hope she fixes the above flaw in her sequel as I’m looking forward to what Rainey does next.
Fascinating. 73°F at twelve noon. In July. Average temperature for the middle of July, here, is about 107°F. Chickens scratching in the dirt, hammock swinging in the breeze, “Credo’s Hope” waiting on my Nook…what’s a girl to do? Seems a waste of a gorgeous, god-given day to lock myself inside the house and stare at a computer. Sounds unnatural. Don’t writer’s need mental health days, too? (Especially writers!!) Now, if I can just ease around my guilt I can slip into the hammock…
Girl cops, plenty of bad guys, handsome hunks and sexy ladies (including a mysterious female Mafia boss), lots of food, and dogs. What more could you want out of a police procedural? A tight plot, lots of good-natured humor, fast pace, and a satisfying end? “Credo’s Hope” delivers it all. An ex-cop, Holt is a PG-13, female Wambaugh. The first of Holt’s “Credo” novels earns all five stars. Thoroughly entertaining and highly recommended.
I’m getting restless. Got a Frank brewing in my brain. Something spooky…I want to be a writer for a while, not just a self-promoter. Feels like there’s not enough time to do both. And work fulltime. And have a homelife. And a home. And social life. And community obligations. Not to mention reading, playing with the dogs, exercising, cooking…
No wonder I want to write. When I’m in a story all that other stuff melts away. Bye-bye. “Member the old Calgon commercials? Taht’s what I want. “Frank, take me away!”
England. 1690. A woman of the land, a healer, tells her daughter, “Go! North-west. Before the men come!” On a stolen mare the child flees to the Scottish Highlands, a lawless, wild land of rogues and reivers, where maybe Corrag, a “witch” won’t be noticed. For a time she is not. Until the day soldiers come in coats red like blood against the snow. Chained in a cell, near the end of winter, she waits for the spring thaw, where she will meet death by burning. As the dreaded drip-drip of melting snow begins, Corrag tells her tale to an unlikely visitor, an Irish insurrectionist bent on destroying the power of Orange.
Against the tumultuous backdrop of Celtic power and politics, “Corrag” unfolds in a dreamlike foreground of woods, loch, and mountain. Despite her mother’s warning to never love, Corrag is a woman of heart, fiercely in love with snow and sunsets, the wild stag and healing herb, and eventually, the Highland clan that accepts her.
Fletcher spins Corrag’s tale as if casting a spell, binding both Corrag’s listener and the reader with words that rend them helpless to unlisten. In lyric, beguiling prose, Fletcher weaves a tale of courage, transformation, and ultimately, the power of the heart.
Salem West at Rainbow Reader recommended I try “Appalachian Justice.” Thank you, Salem! It was love at first paragraph. My favorite books as a kid were My Side of the Mountain (Puffin Modern Classics) and Island of the Blue Dolphins (Illustrated) so how could I not be immediately drawn to Billy Mae’s Appalachian hermitage? Though the setting grabbed me right away, what kept me was Billy Mae’s voice. Clayton nailed the speech, inflection and expression of small-town Appalachia. Billy Mae is crusty but immediately accessible. (My only complaint and what kept the book from 5 stars is that the rest of the characters seemed a bit cliched, just a wee too stereotypical.) Clayton develops tension from the get-go and is able to sustain it. And thank you, Ms. Clayton for having a realistic relationship between Billy Mae and Corinne, not just a mawkish romance. How refreshing! A poignant page-turner, “Justice” is an outstanding debut from an original voice.