Mommy Points! On the Ladies’s Writers Retreat
Lost Lesbian Lit is a collection of essays about lesbian literature from earlier than 2010 with fewer than 25 scores on Goodreads — largely discovered at Toronto’s Glad Day Bookshop. This month, Matricide by Carla Tomaso.
In Sarah Schulman’s The Sophie Horowitz Story, a bunch of lesbians knock on the titular protagonist’s door to let her know she’s canceled. Sophie is a lesbian journalist who writes for Feminist Information! and, since Twitter doesn’t exist, IRL is the one means for these queers to let one other queer know they’re displeased.
Be homosexual for lengthy sufficient, and also you’ll see the identical behaviors, the identical issues, happen repeatedly. We’re in a perpetual state of group déjà vu. It’s tempting guilty new people, new applied sciences, new generations — it’s trickier to confront the truth that human beings are literally quite constant.
This is the reason I really like historical past and why artistic endeavors are a few of my favourite historic objects. We will study a lot from the tales of the previous, noting how queer life has shifted, noting the way it’s stayed the identical.
Since I used to be a child, books are the place I’ve most ceaselessly turned to for consistency. After I’m in a brand new place, organising a bookshelf is how I nest — even a brief bookshelf on an evening stand or within the nook of a room. After I’m in a brand new metropolis — for work, for love, to journey, to reside — bookstores are sometimes my first cease.
For the previous 18 months, I’ve been spending about half my time in Toronto. I fell in love with a Canadian and fell right into a bi-national life. The fashionable cliché of lesbian long-distance continues the basic cliché of lesbian longing. However, for me, Toronto shortly felt like house — possibly as a result of I used to be in love or possibly as a result of it’s probably the greatest bookstore cities I’ve ever encountered.
Sometime once I’m wealthy, I’ll fill my house with uncommon artifacts from Acadia Books on Queen St., however as a queer in my 20s, Glad Day Bookshop on Church St. is my present haven. The oldest queer bookstore on the earth, Glad Day is crammed with new work and previous treasures. I first went there for a dance get together and have returned many instances to peruse their well-organized combine of recent releases and previous oddities.
At your common used bookstore, I’ll purchase something I bump into that’s homosexual. Right here, that might imply shopping for out the entire retailer. The lesbian part contains anticipated authors like Sarah Schulman, however it additionally has dozens of names I’ve by no means heard of — and, based mostly on cursory appears at Goodreads and Storygraph, neither have you ever.
On my first journey to this part, my eyes gravitated towards Carla Tomaso’s Matricide. The again cowl begins: “Each lady has thought-about murdering her mom no less than as soon as,” and my curiosity was clenched. I opened the e-book and famous its publication yr — 1994 — and its dedication — For Naomi — earlier than turning to chapter one.
“It was a type of mornings when getting away from bed appeared inconceivable, even harmful,” Tomaso begins. “All I might consider to do as a substitute of mendacity there perpetually was to attempt to discover any person and fall in love.” That settled it. I walked as much as one of many numerous sizzling queer workers who work at Glad Day and bought the e-book.
I continued studying on the TTC again to my girlfriend’s house and was delighted to find that the very first web page included the protagonist having a Fellini-esque (her phrases, not mine) nightmare about killing her mom and referenced Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, and Colette. The very first web page! That is what’s potential when queer bookstores exist, when our tales from three many years previous are casually preserved.
There are lesbian books, after which there’s Matricide. Give me a couple of extra years frequenting Glad Day earlier than I make this declare, however Matricide may be essentially the most lesbian e-book — no less than with regard to a sure kind of lesbian tradition and expertise.
Matricide follows its sardonic highschool English trainer narrator as she embarks on a writers convention together with her buddy/boss Doris and her former pupil/present mentee in lesbianism Tina. On the convention, the narrator meets the poet-in-residence Blair Bennet and begins a poisonous affair. If this wasn’t homosexual sufficient for you, the e-book lives as much as its title with threads of the narrator’s murderous mommy points operating all through — and contains (largely mediocre) poems written by its numerous characters (who themselves acknowledge them as mediocre).
Right here’s an instance of one of many poems written by the narrator:
Ladies Who Love Males
A heterosexual lady I do know
Needs one thing from me.
She needs to suck on my breast.
She needs to place two fingers into
The nice and cozy sea cave between my legs.
She needs to lie towards me in mattress
My gentle abdomen supporting
The small of her again
She doesn’t need me.
Simply my abdomen and breasts and vagina
Like a narcotic or a trip
Or a mom.
And I’m afraid of her.
The e-book is extraordinarily sexual. Tomaso writes lesbian intercourse with an off-the-cuff explicitness that makes clear her solely meant viewers was different dykes. There is no such thing as a respectability politic to discovered — simply messy queers fucking and fucking up.
Whereas the e-book is attractive and humorous, it evolves into one thing far darker. The narrator might joke about desirous to kill her mom — and trying to kill her mom — however the reason for these emotions is finally one thing very painful. The narrator spends many of the e-book masking trauma and abuse with humor, however that doesn’t imply she wasn’t traumatized and abused. The e-book confronts this darkness in a means that some readers might discover unsettling — others, like me, will even discover it fascinating.
One of many blurbs on the again cowl states, “Matricide is lesbian life sharply sliced skinny.” It’s as true as we speak because it was 30 years in the past. The e-book is a doc of lesbianism in 1994 and a testomony to the various methods we haven’t modified. The specifics might shift, however the emotions, the dynamics, the connections, the ache, they continue to be static decade after decade.
And, hell, even the specifics typically don’t change. Generally the one method to get away from bed is to seek out any person and fall in love. Generally that any person is an older dyke poetess. Generally that any person is only a good e-book.