The Penguin Book of Lesbian Short Stories
Viking, 1994 - Fiction - 429 pages
And more than that - sometimes women love women. Like Queen Victoria, the world has preferred to believe that sex between women is impossible, resulting in a long silence between the writings of Sappho and the flowering of talent produced by feminism and the sexual revolution. Lesbian writing has come a long way since Virginia Woolf's famous essay of 1928. Since then women have challenged traditional forms of expression and subject matter in an extraordinarily rich and varied discourse to give voice to the lesbian imagination. In this wide-ranging anthology, Margaret Reynolds has brought together the work of thirty-two women from Britain, continental Europe, and the Americas - including three specially commissioned pieces - that covers nearly a century of lesbian writing, from Sarah Orne Jewett (1897) to Jeanette Winterson (1993). The collection ranges from Frances Gapper's pastiche of a Romantic melodrama, through the wry humor of Merril Mushroom's description of butch and femme courting rituals, to the wit of Alison Bechdel's cartoon strip. The anxiety of unresolved desire is present in many stories - Radclyffe Hall's Miss Ogilvy is unable truly to find herself in this world, Djuna and Lillian hold back from each other in Anais Nin's "Cities of the Interior, " and the energy and commitment that should go into a loving relationship are stifled by convention in Jane Rule's story of passion outside marriage. But here are brave spirits, too - Renee Vivien's Sarolta and her Prince(ss) live forever in a vision of ideal tenderness, Colette's heroines preserve the sanctity of their little white bed, and Jewelle Gomez's bulldagger society survives far from the haunts of men. There arecoming-out stories, stories about cross-dressing, vampire tales, science fiction, parody, and romance. Each story is quite different from the others, yet each acknowledges a particular facet of lesbian history and makes it real.
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After Letty ' s mother died there ' d been no reason to go back to Burkeville . Letty
took her newspaper from the locker behind the kitchen and filled a large glass
with the tart grape juice punch for which the cook , Mabel , was famous .
Letty sucked her teeth loudly , the exaggeration a part of the game they played
over the years . ' Man , I ' m too old for that mess ! " You ain ' t too old for me . ' ' Ain
' t nobody too old for you ! Or too young neither , looks like . ' Where you and that
Letty was stunned , but the song sounded different here , among these women .
Billie sang just to them , here . The isolation and sadness seemed less inevitable
with these women listening . Letty watched Maryalice sitting with her long legs ...
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In the last half-dozen years, collections of lesbian plays, coming-out stories, mysteries, and poetry have been published, mostly by small presses. Now, The Penguin Book of Lesbian Short Stories ... Read full review
ISAK DINESEN The Blank Page 1957 117
SARAH ORNE JEWETT Marthas Lady 1897 I
The Wise Sappho c 191618
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