Across the Page (March 2007)

 
 

Sapphic love affair. Malicious. Vulgar speculation. Sexual proclivity. Does Barbara know who she is? It’s uncertain. Is she denying a very obvious aspect to her attachment to women? Most likely. Either way, the book allows for a far more complex character to emerge and deepen the story. Here Barbara is not the only predator, and Sheba is not the only victim. 

After the incident with Bangs, Barbara returns to her apartment with her ailing cat and collapses: "I cried from guilt and remorse that I had not been a better, kinder pet owner … I cried because I had been desperate enough to consider a liaison with a ludicrous man who collected baseball jackets and even he had rejected me.." 

But the film fails to bring out Barbara’s humanity, as well as her biting and often spot-on sense of humor. When she describes Sheba’s unconscious classism she writes: "Like so many members of London ‘s haute bourgeoisie, Sheba is deeply attached to a mythology of herself as street smart."

Zoë Heller’s treatment of friendship, obsession and loneliness is as sharp as her prose. Even if you were put off by the film, check out the novel for a genuinely convincing and intricate psychological thriller.

Baby Remember My Name: An anthology of New Queer Girl Writing, edited by Michelle Tea (Caroll & Graf)

Edited by Michelle Tea (Rose of No Man’s Land), this anthology includes 23 diverse, edgy selections of fiction, memoir and comics.

Page McBee’s affecting "Keep Your Goals Abstract" follows a young man on a road trip in rapid-fire snapshots. As the narrator makes his way to the West Coast and to his lover, he uses photographs to reveal something about his past ("Tomorrow my dad will kill himself. I have ring around the collar and my tie is too short"), present ("I told her about our trajectory, the growing mythology of my cross-country odyssey, and she got full in her throat") and future ("Something tastes salty. Maybe it’s the air. It can’t be that much farther from here").

Chelsea Starr’s "T-Ten" is an accomplished story about a young girl who receives 20 dollars from her grandmother for her birthday and needs to spend it before her mother borrows it and never pays her back. The narrator — who suffers from both a stutter and a head full of lice — visits a Fred Meyer’s store and reflects on everything from her twin sister’s morality ("me sister’s selfless virtues") to her teacher’s cruelty ("she already hates me enough"). Starr’s writing is magnificent, and she captures the perspective of a child with pitch-perfect tone and voice.

Katie Fricas’ comic "Nobody Will Find Me Here" is a smart reflection on reality television, both its seduction and its absurdity. Meliza Bañales’ "Coming-Out versus Sex versus Making Love" dissects the difficulty and joy of all three for a young lesbian growing up in South Central Los Angeles "where there was no PFLAG to save" her. Beth Steidle’s lyrical short piece "Stay" reads like poem, beginning with a meditation on the meaning of desire.

The anthology as a whole introduces several new and fine writers — ones we hope and expect to hear more from in the future.

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