Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 39a - On the Shelf for October 2019 - Transcript
(Originally aired 2019/10/05 - listen here)
Welcome to On the Shelf for October 2019.
When you have a weekly podcast, the idea of taking a vacation becomes tricky. My schedule for the next couple months is jam packed, in part because of an extended vacation in October and in part because of my book release in November. Hey, did you know I have a new book coming out in November? Expect me to talk about Floodtide a whole bunch in November. But for now, I need a bit of a breather, so in place of the usual author interview and essay, I’m going to do a thematic group of reprised episodes on poetry for the rest of October. I’ll be re-sharing my shows on medieval love poetry between women, poetry from the 16th and 17th centuries, and a special Halloween show about Christina Rosetti’s “The Goblin Market.”
Once I’ve had a chance to catch my breath, I’ll be back to the regular format. I have a number of show ideas that are specifically aimed at creating characters and descriptions for lesbian-relevant historical fiction. I also hope to do some really fun shows centered around Anne Lister and the tv series Gentleman Jack.
And, as always, think about the 2020 fiction series. Submissions will be opening sooner than you know, and you don’t want to start writing at the last minute!
Publications on the Blog
In September, the blog finished up the collection of articles from The Single Woman in Medieval and Early Modern England: Her Life and Representation. Then we moved on to start a series of foundational theoretical texts on gender and sexuality, starting with Thomas Laqueur’s Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud. These works are dense enough that I’m going to need to back off on doing an entire book each week so Joan Cadden’s Meanings of Sex Difference in the Middle Ages is going to get spread out over a few weeks and then I’ll move on to Adrienne Rich’s “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.” That should probably cover most of October and I haven’t planned the specific reading schedule past those.
Book shopping recently has been entirely oriented around picking up the books for the theory series that I didn’t already have. So I’m sitting here looking at a stack of books that need to get logged in to my card catalog that include Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble and Bodies that Matter, Lochrie et al’s Constructing Medieval Sexuality, Halberstam’s Female Masculinity, Castle’s The Apparitional Lesbian, Garber’s Vested Interests, and Dinshaw’s Getting Medieval. Woah. That’s going to keep me busy.
Recent Lesbian Historical Fiction
This month’s new and forthcoming book listings are pretty slim. Either we’re hitting an f/f historical slump or people are getting better than usual at hiding queer relevance in their cover copy.
In fact the first title is one that I almost left off, because even though it turns up in my Amazon keyword search, there’s no indication of anything other than cross-dressing in the cover copy. If this does turn out to have f/f content, let me know so I can add a note in my database.
Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand from Mulholland Books
In the sweltering summer of 1915, Pin, the fourteen-year-old daughter of a carnival fortune-teller, disguises herself as a boy and joins a teenage gang that roams the famous Riverview amusement park, looking for trouble. Unbeknownst to the well-heeled city-dwellers and visitors who come to enjoy the attractions, the park is also host to a ruthless killer who uses the shadows of the dark carnival attractions to conduct his crimes. When Pin sees a man enter the Hell Gate ride with a young girl, and emerge alone, she knows that something horrific has occurred. The crime will lead her to the iconic outsider artist Henry Darger, a brilliant but seemingly mad man. Together, the two navigate the seedy underbelly of a changing city to uncover a murderer few even know to look for.
We’re on more solid ground with the other two books. House of Bliss self-published by T.T. Thomas looks like it might be riffing off of Jack the Ripper motifs.
London, 1905 When ladies of the night begin showing up dead in the dark and bawdy alleys of Covent Garden, the victims are wearing House of Bliss corsets made by Sabrina Blissdon. Now the police want to know how and why Blissdon, the bohemian but successful upmarket corsetière, appears to be dressing the dead. Sabrina does know a few working women, from a time when she found comfort and solace with a couple of the occupants of a so-called tolerated house of London—boarding houses by day, brothels by night. But she is not eager to recall her youthful lusty pursuits—and dredge up memories of falling in love with Annabel North, a working woman who mysteriously disappeared three years earlier. All Sabrina wants is to focus on her work and enjoy her current romance—substantial respites from old heartaches…but the dead women wearing House of Bliss corsets and the ghost of love forsaken torment Sabrina’s restless soul. Old questions surface and new ones challenge. Did Annabelle disappear on purpose? Is she dead or alive? Is someone intentionally trying to ruin Sabrina’s reputation, or worse, accuse her of murder? Sabrina Blissdon is soon tempted into pursuing answers that could clear her name and save lives. What she discovers she may not be ready to accept when the evidence reveals the line between obsession and true love is often invisible to the blind spot in one’s heart.
And we finish up this month’s very short list with Flying Aces by Shiralyn Lee from Wicked Publishing.
A 1920s Drama set in Northern England and Germany. Within the valleys, rivers, and hills of the Yorkshire Dales, Tilly Foster has led an exceptional life alongside her father, a pilot who performs acrobatic tricks in his biplane. But as Tilly enters womanhood, a tragedy changes what she once knew as a simplistic lifestyle. Over the next few years her love of planes and showmanship provide her with everything she needs, and even the fairer-sex are drawn to her in ways only two women alone could identify. After a thwarted kidnap attempt on Violet Rose Burton, daughter of wealthy socialites, her parents arrange for her to marry a prosperous German and live in his homeland. Violet is naturally horrified at such a request, and her protests go unheard by those who are supposed to love her. But Violet’s fate had been sealed, and unbeknownst to the Burton family, her future is set to take a turn they weren’t expecting—she’s gone missing, or so they fear. This is where Tilly and Violet shall be thrown together in a quest, one that will have more than a rescue mission at hand.
I know I must be missing some new releases. It’s fairly common for me to run across a title that I learned about too late for the window to count it as a “new” book. If you have or know of an upcoming book that would fit in the nebulous category of lesbian-relevant historical fiction, make sure I know about it so I can include it in these listings.
What Am I Reading?
What have I been reading lately that might be of interest to the podcast listeners? I finished up Claire O’Dell’s The Hound of Justice, a near-future thriller inspired by Sherlock Holmes but re-envisioning Holmes and Watson as queer black women. I haven’t started a new book with queer relevance. I’m desperately trying to get caught up on my backlogged book reviews so in my gym reading time I’m reading some fun non-fiction that’s not at all related to the Lesbian Historic Motif Project, especially Gretchen McCullough’s Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language.
The next couple months on the podcast and blog are going to be a bit chaotic, but hang on tight and enjoy the ride!