Women In Libraries 1997, vo. 26, no. 4

Tags: Canada, community, Feminist Press, tn, Patchwork Quilt, Ramphele, Feminist Authors, Saum, Finland Lander, shades of grey, Toronto, Canada, Kerry Hart Casey, Jacquelyn Marte, M. Thomas Carey, Harriet Hubbley, Second Stoiy Press, Barb Fenton, Barbara Guest, University of Wisconsin Press, books for young adults, Arsenal Pulp Press, Jud1th Olmstead, emotional lives, Sarah Dreher, lesbian studies, science explorations, Nebraska Press, Chimate Chumbalo, Strong Women, Stoner, University of Illinois Press, lesbian couple, book Jacket, personal autobiography, Femlntst Spiritual Community, British Columbia, black neighborhood, Spiritual Community, Jody Armour, Internal monologue, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Margarita Donnelly, Gujarati, Beryl Markham, Marte-Claire Blais, worth reading, Talonbooks, Lucie Aubrac, Steven Biko, Jewelle Gomez, Clels Press, Redfern Remembering China Howe, Mary Ware Dennett, Hardy Boys, Mamphela Ramphele, violence against women, Nancy Clue, Nancy Drew, Nancy Clue Maney, National Public Radio
Content: Fall 1997
Feminist Authors' Breakfast:
Enthusiastic audience gathers to hearfour authors
Glnu Kamanl, Jewelle Gomez, Margarita Donnelly, and Shirley Geok-lin Lim spoke at FIF's annual Femlntst Authors' Breakfast Sunday, durlng ALJo:s conference In San Francisco. Kaman1 and Gomez read excerpts from their works, and Donnelly and Lim spoke on the lssu.e of women's expression In literature, In keeping with the breakfast theme, "The Patchwork Quilt of Femlnlsm.· Intracultural clash Kaman! kept a rapt audience laughing as she read from "Ciphers,· a short story Included In her anthology, Junglee Girl, excerpted here: The woman claiming the berth across from mine in the train compartment must have been my age, but she looked older. more self-Important. She had the red mark of the auspicious married woman in her hair parting and three young children to prove her fertility. She stopped her children from sitting on the long hard seat, motioning them to wait. "It's dirty,· she scolded them tn Gujarati, potntlng to the dull green vinyl which had worn away tn parts to reveal the coarse paddtng underneath. She reached tnto her oversized plastic shopptng bag. pulling out a printed cotton bedspread that she snapped open with a quick flick of her wrist. She covered the seat and tucked the edges tn. The woman nodded tn satisfaction. patted her hatr tnto place, then sat down and lifted the three children up beside her so they sat propped up against the seat back. The four of them sat squashed agatnst each other tn the middle of the seat. with ample room on either side. The train whistle. blew, and the tea and snack vendors who droned their wares by the windows sudden1y switched tnto high gear. running from on wtndow to the next. shouting out Hot teal Hot tea...! Fresh purl-bhajl...l Hot samosasl Thtn porters tn bright red shirts raced by with tottering mounds of baggage balanced on their heads. I
was sitting on an lmllan train for the first time tn a decade, but !he soene was Just as I remembered it from childhood. The big difference was that, this time, I was iravellng alone. Toe train slowly pulled out of !he station. The woman across from me looked at me then for the first time. In her qutck look, she took tn my short hatr, my knee-length dress and rlngless third finger. Her evaluation made, she avoided my eyes. She looked over my head, through my feet, at the door and Windows, but not into my eyes. Though her children were staring at me, through a series of subtle cues from their mother, they had understood that I was to be given the silent treatment. I remembered betng that young age, and staring at strangers tn that same fasctnated way, knowing that they were humans like us. but knowing that they were not from our family. If. by some chance, it was determined that these strangers were friends of friends, or hailed from our parents' natal villages, or were otherwise establlshed as people of good family, then the ice would break quickly, and food would be offered from both sides. followed by the sharlng of board games or card games or amusing pastimes like guesstng the names of Htndl film songs. But until then. the adults sat stone-faced and the children stuck to their own. The young mother across from me _spoke to her children in a shrill Gujarati punctuated by such endearments as greedy, idiot, blackie and pig. The children were obviously used to these mocktng asides and did not respond. But it had been years stnce I was immediately flooded with memories of shouting matches when our group ofyoung coustns would exhaust the usual Engllsh tnsults: You stupid! You Idiot! Fooll Crackpot!, all of which had a pecullar weightiness that would quickly tire up out. But then we would switch to our reservo:lr of delicious Gujarati tnsults: Plgsl Monkey! Cockroaehl Elephant!, and somehow these abuses from our mother tongue were so much more ra.urous and full of abandon that they elevated us back Into good humor and collaborative play. Giggles rose up in me like bubbles as the woman chided her children. I stifled the first few, but I couldn't F.:tcerpt continued, page 2
In this issue:
Feminist Authors' Breakfast: Excerpt from one author's work
"Patchwork Quilt" book review section, beginning on page 3
&t:n-pt, amtinuedfrom page 1
"My family Is from Saurashtra.· I said gentfy'. We are
help but smile when the woman called her son a goat. and Jatns.·
I finally had to guffaw and cough when she called her
Her face turned pale and her brow knitted furlously.
daughter a donkey. The woman looked up at me sharply
"These days anybody can say they come from any-
and I pressed my twitching Ups shut.
where... she muttered In exasperation. ·rm not so stupid
She opened her mouth to speak, but then turned and that I will believe everythtngl"
frowned at the window, unsure of whether to engage with
She pushed her children out of the way and stretched
me. After all. I was a stranger. and it was probably best
out on the seat. She crossed her arms tightly over her
not to get tnvolved. But then as I anorted and cleared my chest and pressed her lips shuL She stared potntedly at
throat again. she took a deep breath and sat forward.
the mtnlature ceiling fan. The three youngsters re-seated
"You are Christian?" she snapped. 1 shook my head
themselves timidly by the window. looking at each other
apologetically. She looked pointedly at my dress. or frock, neivously. Their mother was now tn a bad mood, and any
as she would have referred to IL
dtsturbance was likely to result tn a hard slap across the
. .o_,J tlNl)..a. :IMh · m~. . .
head. Even though I was Gujarati, I was obviously a trohu~,1:<;~r If 1 had caused their mother to
reac u~ state.
"You are Muslim from Deihl?" She was still cross.
Toe Gujarati woman rematns unmoved by my secrets.
"No," I replied politely.
She leans forward and slides shut the compartment door.
""You are Madrast· she sneered.
Then she reaches behind her and quickly undoes the
..No. I've never been to Madras.·
tightly coiled bun at the nape of her neck. She shakes free
-rh.en you must be Punjabi,'" she taunted.
her long hair and runs her fingers slowly down the length
I smiled faintly, She was bent on pinni:ng me down.
of it, head bowed to one side.
"'Where you are fromr she rasped. "From right here In Bombay." I said sweetly. She
&cerpt continued, page 15
nodded and waved her hand. "Now I knew. You are Malayali." She looked away. sig:n.allng that the discussion was over. But from the comer of her eye she saw me shake my head. "Maharashtrlan," she continued emphatically. She straightened the pleats of her sar1; I stared at her. I was suddenly aware of feeling hurt. If she weren't so prejudiced by my short hair and wesrern dress, and the quickJy made assumption that I was unmarried and childless. she would surely have seen right away that I was Gujarati. l opened my book and began reading to signal that the conversation really was over. "I know a girl from Goa who looks just like you.· I turned the page and crossed my legs. setiling tnto my stance. "But naturally you are Bengali.· She turned to her children and nodded sagely. Suddenly I tired of her game and decided to burst her bubble. I reached tnto my purse and pulled out a package of Gluco biscuits. I tore the wrapped slowly. to make sure
"FEMINIST TASK.FORCE
Wonzen in Libraries http://darkwtng.uoregon.edu/·holman/FTF/
Women in Ubrarles. the Newsletter of the American
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that I had the attention of all three children. They looked
at me hungrily.
To subscribe to the Femtntst UsL send this e-mail
"Biscuit aapu?" I asked tn Gujarati and held out the
message to: [email protected]:
pack to the older boy. The woman gasped in horror and slapped down her son's outstretched hand. ..You're Gujarati?.. she howled in rage. She was so offended by this realization that she instinctively reached back and covered her head with her sari for protection. ..Yes, auntie,N I said in a wide-eyed sing-song...I am a pukka Gujarati.·
oubacrlbe femlnlot flntname lutname Send articles, comments. or materials for review, but not subscription questions, to: Madeleine Tainton, Media Setvices Ubrarlan, West Texas A&M University, wrAMU Box 736, Canyon, TX 79016-0736. Phone: 806-656-2407; Fax 806656-2213: e-mail: [email protected]
You can't be one of us! All three children. were staring at me slack-Jawed. Their mother slapped each on quick)y across the mouth. She shouted at them... How many times have I told you not to take thtngs from strangers, huh? Have you no shame? Sit up straight and keep your hands to your- selvesr- I put down my book and looked at the woman fumbling for her handkerchief with shaktng hands. ·Are you also Gujarati?" 1 asked with a smile. She pursed her lips and looked out of the window. Her fingers twtsted the handkercWef tnto a tense rope. "We are the real Gujarati. from Gujarati!" she spaL
Contributors: Pamela Crossland, West Texas A&M University; Laurel Duda, University of Rhode Island; Kristin H. Gerhard, Iowa State University; Laura I. Greene, Georgia Institute ofTechnology; Cathy Hartman. University of North Texas; Beth Jedlicka. University of Georgia; Cher Krause Knight, wrAMU: Rosemruy McAndrew, New York University; Jacquelyn Marie, University of California, Santa Cruz; Pamela Matthews, University of Maryland; Necta Parker-Gibson, University of Arkansas; Bernice Redfern, San Jose State University; Madeletne Tatnton, wrAMU; Wendy Thomas. Radcliffe College: Konny Thompson. Gonzaga University; Deborah Turner, UCSC; Ne! Ward. Newport. Oregon; Priscilla White, Booton public library.
2
Women in Libraries
Book Revie,v Sectio11
Passion in a Palestinian landscape
Zahran, Yasmine. A Beggar at Damascus
Gate. Sausalito, CA: The Post-Apollo Press,
1995. Paper, ISBN 0-942996-24-0, $12.95.
"Love Is a constantly changing landscape.· This
statement provides the focus for the narrator of this
richly complex novel set In an ancient Palestinian
village where a traveling archaeologist finds the
threads of a narrative that will direct his life for the
coming decade. A visitor to the bleak, almost de-
serted rocky plateau In Januruy 1980, Foster
discovers a collection of rotting notebooks that
reveal, In both Arabic script and English, the tale of
two unfortunate lovers, a displaced Palestinian
woman and her English lover, who stayed In the
same room three years before.
Leisurely, In a velvet tapestry of colorful lan-
guage, the stoiy unravels not only through these
writings but also from the tales of those who saw the
couple when thy toured the area. A fascinating blend
of both physical and emotional landscapes allows
the reader to experience, through her Journals,
Rayya's zeal as a martyr and, In his writings, Alex's
worship for the poet. Skillfully woven Into their
growing Intimacy and the Intensifying parallel views
of their relationship from their meeting In 1969 are
discussions of love, both IndMdual and nationalis-
tic. It Is through Rayya, however, that we see a view
of Arab culture-Its politics, mysticism, and poelly.
This tale of treachety, duplicity, and passion
leads to a startliog climax In a dark view showing
the paln of Palestine. For Rayya Is the epitome of
Palestine, never permitted peace until she-and her
country-are free.
Beggar Is Zaharan's third book, her first written
In English, following Echoes ofHtslDly, a hlstoiy of
ancient Palestine, and 'The First Melody, a novel,
both written In Arabic.
-N. Ward
cunningly conveys the impact a woman "misbehav-
ing" might have had upon those around her.
Tante Sara lit a tiny brown cigar right there In the carriage and began to pull away. I had never
seen a woman smoke before, never mind a Jewish
woman In spite of my terror I found this absolutely thrilling: I couldn't take my eyes olf her.
I felt a sudden desire for her to eat me alive.
Page after suspense-filled page reveals how
religion, Identify', and class entrap each desolate,
underworld character-gangsters, prostitutes. and
Johns alike. At times, we wonder who needs magic
the most. Perhaps, It's the zaftlg Madam Perle
Goldenberg, entrepreneur whose business deals
conflict with her growing devotion to Judaism, or her
violent, hoodlum brother Tutslk who's financially,
and quite unw1ll!ngly, locked Into the family busi-
ness. Then again, magic might best benefit Tante
(aunt) Sara. The tricks she plays make her slowly
sink Into a depression not unlike a disappearing act.
Katz generously smatters a great deal of magic-act
metaphor throughout the entire work. Sofia's father,
for Instance, "out of nowhere, with an empty pocket,
...[provides) for [his) family each Shabbes.· Sofia's
mother advises her daughter, "play your cards right
and he11 make us all happy.· At times, the descrip-
tions and the adventures get too outrageous, too
unbelievable. It's almost as If Katz balances the
horrible reality on which Artist Is based with ridicu-
lous twists of humor, hope, and tmaglnatlon. The
result: we read curious, transfixed like deer In
headlights, asking ourselves and our friends, do you
know anything about Jews In Argentina? Those
prone to queasiness may want to skip this sleight of
hand. But you'd miss one admirable result of
rigorous historical research and an Intriguingly fun
tale of love. Artist reminds us that truth Is still
stranger than fiction and to escape unscathed-
whether from a closet or a dark past-ts indeed an
art.
-D. Turner
Escaping the Argentine whorehouse Colors of life
Katz, Judith. The Escape Artist. Ithaca. NY: Firebrand, 1997. Paper, ISBN I-56341-084-2, $12.95; cloth, ISBN 1-56341-0855-0, $26.95. Almost every one of us has been hooked. engaged In some Incredible stoiy In part because of Its disturbing nature. That's how I experienced 'The Escape Artist. a lesbian adventure novel by Judith Katz. Set In a "kosher" whorehouse, we might have expected this love story from Dorothy Alltson, had she been stolen from Eastern Europe and forced to live In early 19th-cent.my Jewish Buenos Aires. Sofia Teltlebaum, a 16-year-old "bride" tricked Into prostitution, falls In love with the charming, bona fide escape artist, Hankus (formerly Hannah) Lubarsky. As the unlikely romance tumbles forward, Katz weaves fiction, fantasy, and histoty to make this work a haunting delight. In one Instance, she FaU 1997
Wilson, Barbara. ifYouHadaFwnily. Seattle, WA: Seal Press. 1996. Trade, ISBN 1878067-83-4, $23.95; paper, ISBN 1-878067- 82-6, $12.00. Color came Orst. before things. before words. and more than any other color: yellow. Yellow was pale and bright, butter and fire. So begins this novel of the colors of a woman's life. In this novel are Interwoven the shades of family relationships, a family formed of an orphaned father, a mother whose family could not teach love, and of the daughter who must learn to form her own family and Integrate herself within It. Coty ts a little girl with a loving, happy family. Her mother loves life and exuberant flowers, her little brother adores her. and her father Is the Image of security. When her maternal grandmother comes to visit, the vibrant 3
Bool~ Revie'lv Sectio11
shades begin to be sucked from Cory's existence.
Devastating events gradually palnt her life a dull
brown, and shades of grey. As she grows older we
find her rediscovering the shades of her life and
coming to terms with the childhood she fost and the
new palette she learns to use.
Wilson has dealt with a series of sensitive Issues
In this work, without becoming sentimental or
strtdenL LPss, abuse, lesblanlsm, anger, and loneli-
ness are all dealt with matter-of-factly, but with
compassion. Family relationships, or their lack,
Intertwine with the way the main character repre-
sents her world In colors and palnt and clay. The
result Is a tightly woven mat of words, with dlstlncL
Interlocking designs. The book often reads as If the
chapters were written for separate publication, but
that Is not usually a distraction. It would be an
excellent purchase for any public library collection,
or for academic collections of contemporary women's
writing or women's studies.
-K. Thompson
Witch hunt in Finland Lander, Leena. Cast a long Shadow. Toronto, Canada: Second Stoiy Press, 1995. Paper, ISBN 0-929005-66-X. $15.95 Canadian, $12.95 us. Originally In Finnish, Lankeaa pitkd OOJjo, translated by Seija Paddon. In 1666, Northern Europe, like America, was t?lagued by witches, or rather, by witch hunts. In the Aland Islands of Finland, Judge Nils Pllsander tries and condemns to death seven women accused of witchcraft. Lander's fictionalized account Is a weaving together of the personal story of a modern woman, a writer and homemaker, who Is haunted by the ghost of the Judge. The unnamed writer obseives: The man isn't sitting in the rain under a drtpplng porch light any longer: he Is In my study. He wanted to tell a stoiy and I needed one, but the collaboration Isn't working the way I had Jmaglned It would ... Perhaps my theocy about novels Is too constricting: I don't accept in a work of fiction the kind of Insanity which In the course of ordlnacy living I swallow every day. A limited amount of suffering, surprtses, happy or unhappy events are appropriate in a novel: life, on the other hand, can waste them all at will She Is looking for a novel to write; he needs someone to listen to his story. The Judge and the novelist take turns, as she reports his words and gives us her viewpoint and a contrasting account of her twentieth-century life. Landers also presents the Journal of one of the condemned women, a view of what It Is like to watt to die, condemned for no reason. Lander's book, a delicately Interwoven storywithin a story, Is based on transcripts of the actual trials. It Is also a story of passion and obsession, as the Judge Is obsessed with his victims, blaming 4
them, troubled by his feelings ofentrapment In
events, and rationalizing his role, while the writer
describes him and her reactions as she Is told the
story.
Beautifully translated, the book Is a moving and
provocative look at human passion, and Its tragic
and troubling effects.
-M. Talnton
Love and murder on a Maine island
Saum, Karen. I Never Read 1lwreau. Nor- wich, vr: New Victoria Publishers, 1996.
Paperback, ISBN 0-934678-76-6, $10.95.
The setting for Saum's novel Is a rough Island off
the coast of Maine; she captures the beaufy of the
area In a matter of fact manner rather than the
syrupy portrayal of tourtst brochures. In addition, her sketches of native speaking and mannerisms are
excellenL Rather than the typical Maine Yankee
stereotype so often portrayed In the press, Saum
uses colloqulallsms lightly and effectively. The
story's pace Is slow and measured and reveals her
great knowledge and love for the people of that area.
Saum also uses an Interesting device to attempt to
draw the reader Into a story told In retrospective; the
narrator, Alex Adler Is alone on the Island with a
storm raging outside and a dead body Inside the
cabin where she tskes shelter. Having no writing
material except artist crayons and paper, she writes
each chapter In a different color. The device of color
would be effective If It moved the story along; unfor-
tunately It slows the deliberate pace even more.
The story of the women of the island and how
their lives lntermesh Is a difficult web of past and
present lovers, nuns In and outside of the church,
and refugees hiding on their way to Canada. Most of
all, this Is the story of Alex's long relationship with
Santa Clara, a former nun who manages to seduce
In some form almost every woman who comes to the
Island. Saum attempts to make Santa Clara mysteri-
ous by keeping her silent; Instead the character
appears shallow, with nothing to say. She has so few
redeeming characteristics It Is cllftlcult to under-
stand why any of the women fall under her spell.
The story of the dead body ts Incidental, not
central to the book, as Is the struggle of the refugees
making the difficult Journey to Canada. While
Saum's characterization of Maine life and lls natives
Is excellent, the real mystery Is why her story of
misguided love, with all of Its knots and twists, has
to suffer being crowded by her attempt at a murder
mystery.
-P. Crossland
Women in Libraries
Book Revie'lv Sectio11
Cross-country search for home
Intrigue in Key West
Hart, Keny. Not so much the fall. Chicago:
Third Side Press, 1996. Paper, ISBN 1-879427-
24-9, $12.95.
"It's not so much lhe fall-It's lhe sudden stop.·
A phrase recalled by a troubled woman during her
Jong Journey home Is lhe central Iheme of 1hls
complex, unsettling novel by Kerry Hart
Casey, a 33-year-old lesbian who has been llv!ng
In Portland, Oregon for 9 years, Is drlvlng back to
her home town of Memphts where she will rejoin her
estranged Jover, Krts. Casey's "fall" actually begins
many years earlier wllh her mother's dealh, a
woman whose unconditional Jove set no proper
Umits as she continuaJJy picked up lhe pieces of
Casey's misbehavior. Casey tended to her mother's
many ailments and compiled with lhe one unspoken
rule-lhat she never stray far from home. When her
molher dies of cancer shortly after her college
graduation, Casey believes that her desire to ·grow
up" and attend graduate school out of state fatally
broke her mother's heart To flee from her guilt,
Casey leaves Memphis and chooses Portland, Oregon
as a suitably distant place to resettle.
Once In Portland, Casey spends nine years
experiencing life through a haze of migraines and
prescription drugs, working as a lheraplst and
struggllng through a series of difficult relationshtps
with women-most notably wllh Kris, who unwit-
tingly becomes Casey's surrogate molher durtng
lhelr dysfunctional, six-year relationship. Casey's
betrayals test Krts's loyalty until lhey both yearn for
a change of scenery. Krts leaves first wllh lhelr
beloved dogs and heads back to Memphis, while
Casey packs up their house and numbly follows
several weeks later. It Is on 1hls Journey lhat we find
her, heading toward Krts, Memphis. and her ·sud-
den stop."
The aulhor does not present lhese events
chronologically, for Casey's tale unfolds via her
random memories and reflections as her mind
wanders during her drive back to Memphis. As we
experience lhe people, places, and events that have
been pivotal In Casey's life, we cannot help but
wonder what kind of life she will bu1ld for herself
when she reaches her destination. However, readers
who prefer stories wllh clear solutions and happy
endings may be disappointed, for, like life, lhts novel
holds out no guarantees. What It does do Is sklllfuJly
explore lhe moral ambtgulty that can cloud our
adult relationships when we replay our childhood
dramas, creating new wounds even as we seek to
heal old ones. And It does offer hope that one
woman's soul searching can help her to bring
greater honesty, accountability, and genUlne feeling
Into her relatlonshtps.
-P. White
Manthorne, Jackie. Last Resort: A Harriet Hubbley Mystery. Charlottetown, P.E.I., Canada: Gynergy Books, 1995. Paper, ISBN 0- 921881-34-7, $10.95 A lesbian guest house In Key West, Florida Is lhe setting for this Harriet (better known to close friends as Harry) Hubbley story. The guest house Is owned by Barb Fenton, Harry's former Jover and still close friend and the novel takes off after an attack on Barb. The attack leaves her In a coma, and a controversial will puts Harry In a Jeadershtp position at lhe elegant guest house-the plot thickens! Suddenly Harry herself has motive. The subplots delve Into the dynamics of relationships, with previous Unks between lhe characters unfolding, along with motives and opportunities for the attack. Attractions abound and contemporary definitions of ftdellty are challenged. The multicultural atmosphere of Key West Is a necessary backdrop for the novel: ·...Its untamed, rowdy nature. Soulhem good old boys and gals, straight tourists, expatriate Cubans, gay men In leather and lesbians In denim, or vice versa... · The Island's compactness serves to enhance tolerance. Harriet Hubbley enters 1hls exhilarating mecca looking for a respite from the Canadian Winter and a resolution to her twelve year relatlonshtp wllh Judy, who recently Insisted that their relationshtp be open. An attempted murder and much more awaits her. -R. McAndrew
Dreamlike surprises
Guest, Barbara. Quill, Solitary Al'PAR1110N.
Sausalito, CA: Post-Apollo Press, 1996. Paper,
ISBN 0-942996-26-7, $12.95.
Keep a dictionary close by-this beautiful book
will have you lhumblng for unfamiliar words.
Barbara Guest, recognized as one of lhe distin-
guished New York School of poets, has produced a
lovely volume of dreamlike, yet passionately real,
surprises. Here Is my tribute:
Uke moving pictures of the silent era Or darkened glimpses underwater.
Images uncertaln, penned ln evocative tones. Her words swoop and disturb. Imprinting.
Reminiscent: connotations unknown. Seven free-form, sparsely spaced poems appear
In 1hls slender volume. I favor "FlnaiJy, To The
Italian Girl,· with Its simple, dellcate rendering of Its
subject In musical notation. "Cold and Its
Demeanour" captures the essence of the chilling of a
young woman's romantic desires.
Unusual punctuation Is used to full effect
Barbara Guest's book does not yield up Its treasures
easily, yet the portrayals linger with the dedicated
reader, and surface with their htdden suggestions
over time.
-L. L. Greene
&view section continued, page 7 5
Call for Award Nominations
Af-1.:s Awards Program Committee Is seeking nominees for the Elizabeth Futas Catalyst for Change Award. The Futas Catalyst For Change Award recog- nizes and honors a librarian who Invests time and talent to make positive changes In the profession of librartanshtp by taking rtsks to further the cause, helping new llbrartans grow and achteve, working for
change within ALA or other library organizations, lnsptrtng colleagues to excel or make the Impossible possible. AWARD: Citation and $1,000 from Elizabeth Futas Memorial Fund. To nominate someone, complete the fonn below and send It, along with supporting documents, to Elizabeth Cuny at the address below.
Elizabeth Futas Catalyst For Change Award 1998 APPLICATION FORM ALA Awards Program NAME (of person nominated): _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
ADDRESS (Institution):_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
1 STREET:_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ CflY,STATE,ZIP:._ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
AI.A - MEMBER#~· - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1
TELEPHONE:~----------------------1 I
FAX=----------------------------1 ...,.I
NOMINATED BY:
1;;1 .;; I
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Name:
Phone:_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ $ij I t:5 1
SIGNATURE:._ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ II
Send SIX copies of the application form and six copies of supporting documentation to: Elizabeth Cuny $EFLIN 100 South Andrews Ave. Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 Fax:954-357-6998 E-mail: [email protected]
I I I I I I I I I I I I Womm in Li/Jraria
BЈJol~ Revie'lv Sectio11
Artist and poet make elegant art Hunt, Erica. Woodcuts by Alison Saar. Arcade. Berkeley: Kelsey St. Press, 1996. Paper, ISBN 0-932716-39-3, $15; special edition, signed, with original woodcut, ISBN 0-93271640-7, $125. In their collaborative statement, Erica Hunt and Allson Saar note, -We have this In common: art and llfe, children..·· All of this-and much more-ls explored with unblinking candor and Insight In Arcade, a collection of Hunt's poetry and Saar's woodcuts. The poems are finely tuned ruminations, addressing Issues ranging from personal reverie to social satire. Their elegant cadence Is counterbalanced by the graphic starkness of Saar"s prints. Saar, better known as a sculptor, contributes woodcuts so dellberately crude and essentialist, yet masterfully rendered, that one cannot help but be reminded of the early German Expressionists working at the beginning of thts centwy. Harsh contrasts of black and white, or the saturated warmth of red against brown, as well as the emphasized wood grain, recall the work of Die Brficke (particularly Emil Nolde), and even the Symbollst Edvard Munch. Hunt's words and Saar's Images are well matched In their evocative potency. The prose, which tends towards empowered declarations as much as somber-tinged Introspection, reveals the process of coming to terms wtth one·s own womanhood. And Hunt Is capable ofgreat humor, as evidenced In "Magrttte's Black Flag,· a chronicle of mass translt"s perils that Is an apt metaphor for society; and "Madame Narcissist," which lampoons the selfabsorption of her contemporartes and colleagues: I believe my silence speaks volumes. I have as many layers as any serlal killer. But whether she Is confronting racism, gender, the publlc-at-large, or her own self-doubts, Hunt dispenses witty wisdom, as In "Biographical Suite: 3. City of Heaven·: "In the long run, there Is no such thing as balance. You are all the way In or you are out of bounds.· After reading thts collection I have three hopes: that Saar will continue to make books (this Is her first); that Hunt will continue to wrtte her probing poetry; and that readers will be able to get their hands on a copy of Arcade, which has been publlshed In a 11mlted edition of two thousand. -C. K. Knight Artist's prose poem Adnan, Etel. There : In the Light and the Darkness of the Se!fand of the Other. Sausalito, CA: Post-Apollo Press, 1997. Paper, ISBN 0942996-28-3, $13.00. Tiiere Is a poem of questions, wrttten by a fascinating artisL Adnan Is well-known for her Fall 1997
paintings as well as her wrtting. As the subtitle suggests, there are many Juxtapositions In the poem: love and hate, desire and war. Perhaps these seemingly opposed Juxtapositions represent different points on the spectrum between two extremes. This poem Is multi-dimensional. Adnan creates different levels of meaning and then weaves them together, or she layers them one on top of another, as one does with colors on a canvas. Adnan questions some of the fundamentals of human nature: who we are as women and men, or as people of different backgrounds and natlonalltles. What Is the nature of relationships between and among people? She asks these extremely difficult questions of herself on a personal level, and of humankind. She also brings up the question of war. The violence of war Is a common theme In the work of Adnan, and It can be seen also In this poem. She says, -War Is raw.· Clearly so. It lntenslftes desire, the ultimate one, the one meant to annihilate what Is and make happen what was not to be, turn the metaphysical enterprtse of love tnto hate. This Is a complex poem. It Is a beautiful and, at times, frightening reflection on the human sptrtt. At one point, Adnan asks, "Do questions ever cease?" Perhaps amidst these questions lie some answers. -B.Jedllcka
Humor: amateur sleuth Nancy Clue
Maney, Mabel. Nancy Clue and the Hardly
Boys in A Gfwst in the Closet. Pittsburgh: Clels
Press, 1995. Trade, ISBN 1-57344-013-2,
$24.95; paper, ISBN 1-57344-012-4, $10.95.
This Is a hilarious spoof on the Nancy Drew and
Hardy Boys detective sertes that many of us read as
children. Now we have Nancy Clue and the Hardly
Boys solving mysteries together, and of course all
three are gay. This Is gay and lesbian llfe In the
ftftles when clothes were the thing and butch-femme
roles were much In evidence. The most fun with this
book, and the other Nancy Clue spoofs, The Case of
the Good:{or-Nothlng Girt.friend and The Case ofthe
Not-so-Nk:e Nurse, (both also from Clels), Is to read
them aloud to your partner, lover, or friend. As
Nancy says after she sees her girlfriend Cherry (the
nurse) sitting practically to the lap of Jackie (the
police officer), to her chum Frank, "I need your help.
I've got trouble-girl trouble-of the most terrtble
kind!" There Is also a wonderful local librartan, Miss
Penelope Parsnips, whom everyone calls Miss Pansy.
As she says, "While you could say books are my
business, poodles are my passion!" Clothes are very
Important when you are out Investigating so Nancy
had her "crisp sblrtwalst cinched with a slender belt
In the prettiest blue," and her date, Cherry, had a
·smart shirtwaist of the palest yellow and she was
carrying a white patent-leather clutch purse.· A
great read, and we look forward to more In this
ongoing serial.
-Jacquelyn Marte
7
Book Revie'lv Sectio11-
From apartheid to freedom Ramphele, Mamphela. Across BoWldaries: the Journal ofa Souih African Woman Leader. New York: The Feminist Press, 1997. Cloth, ISBN 1-55861-165-7, $19.95. Have you longed to hear the voices ofSouth African women reflect on the historical changes taking place there? Have you tried to Imagine what has been left unsaid on the news and even on National Public Radio? If so, read Across boundaries. Th1s timely, frank memotr chronicles the life Journey Mamphela Ramphele, described on the book Jacket as "a leadtng political acttvlst, medical doctor, anthropologist, teacher, advisor to the Mandela government, university president, and mother.· An undercurrent of racist and sexist oppression pulls readers under her wave.-like depictions of the challenges and triumphs of her life. Ramphele's Insights Into these events act as a window on the radical unrest of her country. The work begins with Ramphele's btrth In the strenuous summer heat ofTransvaal. Detalled descriptions focus on those In ·her family and extended family who welcome her Into the world. From there, she leads us to school In Transvaal, there earning a medical degree against numerous odds. The Influential people she meets help Initiate her relatively-easy segue Into a life of actlvtsm. "Natal Medical School ... offered me an environment for the transformation of my life from an innocent rural girl to a person who became alive to the vast possibilities which life has to offer.· Her acttvlst approach to work lasted for years after she became a physician. Such work Included founding successful health care facilities under some decidedly grim ctrcumstances. Because of the political climate, she reluctantly changes her leadership role. Ramphele carries readers through a very personal struggle during which "!...noticed that the method of Anthropologyparticipant observation-was not very different from what I had used as an activist in community development work...But I was still not ready to become an anthropologist." Besides sharing precious stories of her political involvement and career choices, Ramphele reveals deeply moving accounts of marriage, motherhood, and relationships. ·...[L]lke so many women who are my contemporaries, I did not negotiate our respective roles as man and wlfe with my husband before our marriage.· She also discusses her relationship with the former South African leader Steven Biko In her usual open manner. It seems Innocent at first, then unfolds Into a tragtc love affatr-the.stuff of a Shakespeare play. Yet, even In the midst oflove lost comes a taste of Ramphele's consistently brilliant observations. Her passionate, probing commentary of the media-btrthed title used repeatedly to describe her Is typical of her Incisiveness throughout this 8
courageous work: .....the eagerness to label a women who was linked to. but not marrted to. a deceased political personality signals society's anxiety to re-establish !Is own equilibrium by symbolically removing her from the llmtnal unknown to the llmlnal known where social tools exist to deal with her." Although Ramphele has a remarkable ability to make practical use of feminist ideologies, Across boundaries gives us a sense of real contradictions she learns reckon with. In one puzzling Instance, she uses Biko, In Ws role as a famous leader of the people, to explain the paradoxes of being a famous leader. One might ask, but Is not Ramphele a wellknown leader In her own right? Her explanation of the paradoxes between public demands and prtvate life has the same clever understandtng found throughout the memotr. But. for a brief Instance, It almost reads like a young woman making excuses for "her man.· Through such contradictions, we see the depths and peaks of her life. Ramphele reveals again and again how she maintains her faith that change would come and to speak her truths whether she Is betrayed by the country she cherishes or by those she knows and loves. She Imparts confidence, lnsptration, and wisdom to all those around her. Perhaps this mentoring helps counter her belief that "the most devastating Impact of apartheid on poor black South Africans has been the destruction of people's faith In themselves as agents of history.· A few aspects of the memoir are somewhat Jarring. It's encouraging that the germantc descriptions of the naming process In chapter one are lnconsls1;ent with the remainder of the work. Next, there are a few surprising and unfortunate editorial errors. And llnally, the discussion of her work at UCT has a somewhat moralistic tone. To these observations, one might find a response within Across boundaries: "Survival," she writes, "is a stronger force that the fear of offending others." To read this lnsptrlng and powerful memotr In Its entirety Is to gain an understanding of that force as Ramphele does indeed survive and flourish. -D. Turner French resistance memoir Aubrac, Lucie. Outwitting the Gestapo. Lincoln, NE: University of · · - - Nebraska Press, 1994. Paper, ISBN 08-03259-23-9, $12.00. Lucie Aubrac's memotrs tell the story of nine Intense months In her life. The nine months begin In May 1943. In Lyon, France, as Aubrac begins her second pregnancy. She and her husband, Raymond, activists In the French Resistance, face extreme danger daily, along with all members of the Resls· tance. In her memotr Aubrac gives us a clear picture of this danger as well as the essential role played by women. Women in Li/n-arie,
Bool~ Revie1v Sectio11
During the German occupation, being captured by the German Gestapo meant torture and almost certain death. Raymond Is arrested, and Aubrac spends months making contacts, gathering Information, and planning his rescue. Dally, she lives with the fear that Raymond will be executed before she effects his rescue, or that her parents or Raymond's parents will be endangered by her activities. She protects her son by hiding him In a country school where he cannot be traced to her or her husband. Working with other members of the Resistance, she plans and leads the· raid to free her husband. After several weeks In hiding. Aubrac, her husband, and their son manage an escape to England In February 1944, just In time for the birth of her daughter. Aubrac's attention to detail In her portrayal of the dally hardships and the terror of living In occupied France creates a moving story. Clearly written from a woman's point ofvtew, the book presents to the reader a perspective seldom seen In mainstream hlstoiy publications. -C. Hartman
A history of sex education
Chen, Constance M. 111e Sex Side ofLife:
Mary Ware Dennett's PiDneerlng Battle for Birth
Control and Sex Education. New York: The New
Press, 1996. Cloth, ISBN 1-56584-132-8,
$25.00; paper, ISBN 1-56584-133-6, $15.00.
Mary Ware Dennett: suffragist, leader of the
American Arts and Crafts movement, peace activist,
and crusader for the right to obtain and distribute
birth control Information. Chen presents this
Information In an Interesting and well-researched
biography. Though not as well known as fellow
reformer Margaret Sanger, Dennett made a slgnlft-
cant contribution to the crusade to legalize the
distribution of sex education and Family planning
Information. The title refers to a pamphlet Dennett
lnltially wrote for her sons. Years after It was first
Written and distributed, Dennett was prosecuted for
Its distribution under the provisions of the
Comstock Act, which banned any material deemed
to be obscene. Ironically, In the years prior to her
trial. Dennett actively lobbied Congress to repeal the
very law under which she was later indicted.
The Sex side Is a well-written book and makes
for fascinating reading, though It could have ben-
efited from closer editing. In two places the author
Incorrectly refers to to the president of Bryn Mawr
College as M. Thomas Carey Instead ofM. Carey
Thomas. In discussing Dennett's early years, Chen
clearly means to refer to the end of the nineteenth
centuiy, but "the last decades of the eighteenth
centuiy· appears In the text. Nonetheless, this Is an
Important book which rescues a little-known woman
from obscurity. Htghly recommended for women's
studies collections.
-B. Redfern
Remembering China Howe, Florence, ed. Women's Studies Quarterly: BeiJing and Beyond: Toward the 1\JJenty-First CenhJry of Women. Vol. 24, nos. I and 2. New York: Feminist Press, 1996. Paper, ISBN 1-55861-142-8, $22.00. This ·extra large, double Issue· of Women's studles Quarterly comprises two parts: an extended report on theUnlted Nations Fourth International Conference and a set of national reports·on women's studies. The U.N. Conference and Its assoctated NGO Forum, ultimately held In Beijing and Hualrou, were the largest United Nations-sponsored gatherings of women In hlstoiy. This volume includes a chronology of the events leading up to the conferences, text of Global FaxNet Bulletins documenting actions and reactions as the Chinese government changed the site of the NGO Forum from Beijing to Hualrou over International protest, photographs from the meetings, and excerpts from remarks made at the meetings. Worth the price of the Issue alone Is the complete text of the Platform for Action adopted by the conference. This should be basic required reading for all persons working for the equality of women. The topics It covers range from women's education, women and poverty, the gtrl child, and the environment to Institutional and financial arrangements necessary to realize the actions outlined In the platform. Mariam K. Chamberlain's review of the resource volumes prepared as background for the conference provides additional context for the conference. The second section of the volume looks to the future of the women's movement and women's studies In the next century. These reports document the national hlstoiy and status of women's studies In twelve countries. There Is a wide representation of cultures and geographic regions In these reports. They are arranged by the period when women's studies originated In each country and cover the range from well-established programs begun In the 1970's (e.g., Germany, Korea), those begun In the 1980's (e.g., China, Peru), and new voices (e.g., Hungary, Uganda). As Florence Howe notes, ·if one follows the national histories and current status of women's studies In a variety of countries around the world, one will find the essential elements for knowledge about the contents of the Platform for Action and, just as Important, strategies for moving It forward." Alongside the Autumn 1996 Issue of Signs, which Includes five eyewitness responses to the conference, this Is a primacy sourcebook that should be In all women's studies collections that serve women, with added value from Chamberlain's review, personal accounts, and country reports. -K. Gerhard
Fall 1997
9
Review Sectio11 Book
*,___,., Trailblazer in the air 6
0 'J
they constantly test the llm1ts of companionship and friendship within their relationships, by
Wagstaff, Patty, with Ann L. Cooper. Fire and Air: a Life on the Edge. Chi-
Intemperate habits, by secrecy and sometimes by outright Infidelity or abuse. One keeps a shopglrl as
cago, IL: Chicago Review Press, 1997. Cloth,
a mistress, underllnlng the fact that liberal Ideals do
ISBN 1-55652-310-6, $24.95.
not keep the motives of the Individual pure, and that
In 1991. Palty Wagstaff became the first woman a rise to a bourgeois standard ofllving may also
to Win the U.S. National Aerobatic Championship. Ftre and air Is the story of her llfe.
bring other bourgeois habits. The needs of the group, which have risen above the solely economic,
Her story Is told honestly and even-handedly,
and the affiliations of the friends/lovers who share
Including both good and bad memories. She had
the house allow examination of these and other
many difficulties growing up, not the least of which emotional and social Issues, Including the tendency
were her parents' falling marriage and alcoholism.
of the socially disenfranchised to self-destruction. It
Yet she also tells of the beauty of the places they
Is not a cautionary tale so much as the acute
lived, and good times with her family. From an early observations of a caring Internal witness.
age Patcy possessed a fierce Independence, which her parents spent much time and energy t,y1ng to quash; her free spirit survived and became stronger as she grew older.
American notebooks recounts the author's llfe In the U.S. beginning In the early 1960s. Like the novel, It Is episodic and pivots on some of the same issues, examining the writer's relationships. Her
As a young adult, Patcy wandered quite a bit,
central, most basic tension Is between the solitude
making many friends. Eventually she ended up In that she needs In order to write and the temptations
Alaska. There she met Bob Wagstaff, who taught her of soclecy, for whom drinking and talking In com-
to fly, and who became the other love of her llfe.
pany often supplant real work. To paraphrase Elena,
F1ying becomes so Important to Patty that the
one of her friends, ·one who Is lonely enough may
book Is almost as much about flying as It Is about embrace a chair," and the artist or writer must
her llfe. The reader accompanies Palty on many
balance discipline with the need for companionship
flights, vicariously feeling the elation and occasionally a quick bolt of fear brought on by a mishap. It Is fascinating to learn about aerobatics and the rules of aerobatic competitions. Wagstaff does a good job
In order to be productive. She clearly profiles the result of seduction by excess, and the fact that even for the "best and brightest; ideals and behavior often don't coincide.
of explaining what It feels llke to compete. She talks Also, as Is clear from the Internal monologue, she
about the highs and lows of competition, about what eventually carries her own community In her head,
It's like to have an all-consuming love for a danger- llke the old painter mentioned In the book, for whom
ous sport which has taken several close friends from the memory of her dead dogs, Idealized and de-
her.
tached, replaces having llve ones. The author shows
In reading this book, J couldn't help making the her response to feminism In her Internal conversa-
compartson to Beryl Markham's West wtth the Night. tion as she restrains herself from disputing a man's
The two women are both trailblazers In the field of pontlftcatlons about Virginia Woolf.
aviation. In terms of prose, this book cannot com-
Racism, which she witnesses while living In a
pare with Markham's, but It remains worth reading. poor, mostly black neighborhood, Is compared to the
Patly Wagstafl's story Is one of courage and drive,
factories of Quebec and the appalling llving condl-
told In a straightforward and honest manner. Truly tions of factory workers, and she waits for her
she Is an Inspiration to anyone who has a dream. -B. Jedlicka
neighbors to sirtke. Somewhat Ironically, she escapes this grinding exposure to the effects of racism and povercy by visits to successful authors In
Canadian writer's journey
Martha's Vineyard, where she Is confronted by the Issue again In the form of a black author who loves
Blais, Marte-Claire. The Angel ofSolitude. Translated by Laura Hodes. Victoria. British Columbia: Talonbooks, 1994. Paper, ISBN 0889223-37-8, $11.95. -. American Notebooks: a Writer's Journey. Victoria. British Columbia: Talonbooks, 1996.
white women. Did his wife and biracial son die from racism or Isolation? Was the Isolation caused by racism, or by depression? Is the angel of solitude also an angel of death? Clearly for Blais, the llfe of the mind cannot replace llfe with others, especially for the young or the Immature. The focus, regardless of genre, Is the need for communicy In some form,
Paper, ISBN 08-89223-58-0, $13.95. These two works, the latter autobiographical, Invite the reader to draw some parallels between them. Marte-Claire Blais, In Ange~ focuses on the tension between the needs of the lndMdual and the communicy or society. The characters are revealed piecemeal, by vignettes and Internal monologues;
and the need for gallantry, whether physical or psychological: the survival of art and the Individual despite soclecy, sorrow, illness and death. Readers will understand more about the author and her works after reading American notebooks, although It Is less a personal autobiography than a political one. -N. Parker-Gibson
JO
Women in Libraries
Boo/~ Revie1v Sectio11
Spirituality and intimacy
Elker, Diane, and Sapphire, eds. Keep
Simple Cererrwnies. Portland, ME: Astarte Shell
Press, 1995. Paper, ISBN 1-885349-02-5,
$14.95.
This book come out of the twelve-year hlstoty of
the Femlntst Spiritual Community of Portland,
Maine. It Is handwrttt.en In the manner of ancient
scribes and reveals rituals that celebrate this
community and bind It together through various
phases of Its existence. The introduction emphasizes
that the perspective of this group Is primarily that of
white European-American women: each ritual often
has the dtmenslon of the political as well as the
personal.
The contents include "Llfe Cycle Rituals," such
as menarche, baby blessings, and cronlng; "Seasons
of the Earth," honoring Beltane, Iammas, Sambaln
as well as other ancient Celtic celebrations; "Per-
sonal Milestones," commemorating personal jour-
neys of an individual as well as the group; and
rituals strengthening the community of women as a
whole.
The Femlnlst Spiritual Community believes that
the Journey through life Is one of spirit experiencing
a physical body rather than physical bodies seeking
spiritual enlightenment. In the introduction to the
cronlng ritual the community affirms: -We are here
to celebrate the attainment of the age of wisdom In a
woman's life. Our patriarchal society does not
recognize crones as the Wise, powerful older women
that they are.· Methods are guidelines, not rules,
and the editors emphasize that each community or
individual should customize ceremonies as needed.
Spiritual groups seeking a format from which to
launch their Journey will find much of Interest In
this volume. Therapists and survivors of the multi-
tude of Violence Against Women may find several
rituals very helpful. Especially useful In this contest
are the two unbinding rituals and the ceremony for
letting go. Humor ts celebrated In the Aprtl Foola
ritual, nor are the Joys of life overlooked; there are
processes for baby blessing, home blessing, and
honoring female friendship.
-P. Crossland
Primer for lesbian parents Arnup, Katherine, ed. Lesbian Parenting: Living with Pride and Prejwlice. Charlottetown, PEI, Canada: Gynergy Books, 1995. Paper, ISBN 0-921881-33-9, $19.95 Canada, $16.95 U.S. In this book on lesbian parenting, Arnup has brought together an astontshlng set of essays. As editor, she managed to bring together 39 dtsparate essays that showcase the breadth and depth of the lesbian parenting experience.
The essays are amazingly diverse; among the
groups represented are lesbian birth parents,
lesbian step-parents, lesbians who were artificially
Inseminated by known donors, lesbians who were
artlllclally Inseminated by anonymous donors,
lesbians who adopted from their own country,
lesbians who went abroad to adopt, lesbians who
always dreamed of being mothers, and lesbians who
never wanted to be-and still are not sure about
being-mothers.
Thoughts, feelings, and dreams are unleashed In
these pieces. The details of one couple's ftnaI deci-
sion to not have a chtld are outlined a few pages ·
down from a dialogue between a woman who sees
herself as mother first and lover second and her
lover, who Wishes that she would reverse the Impor-
tance ofthese roles. A mother's embarrassment at
dtscusslng masturbation with her daughter Is a
chapter away from a mother's pride In her son's
abillty to see beyond traditional gender roles.
Themes do emerge, however. Several essays
detatl the trickiness of coming out, especially when
the disclosure was not voluntary on part of the
author. The Writers explain how they came out to
themselves, to their ex-lovers, to their ex-husbands,
to their current lovers, to their parents, to their
children, to their children's friends, to
their children's friends' parents,
to their children's teachers. Not
surprisingly, facing homophobia
as a person and as a family Is a
recurrent theme. as ts the
inability of government and business organizations to recognize and validate the


relationships of same-sex couples
and their familles.
Arnup makes sure that the book does not
consist solely of personal remlnscences, however. A
few academic articles are also included. Suggestions
for further research In the ftekl are given, and there
are analyses of the "family status· of gays and
lesbians and of homophobia In the school system.
It's undoubtedly a testament to Arnup's editing
that the book reads as easily as It does, given the
differences In voices and In the purposes of the
essays. She wisely grouped the essays Into five maJn
themes: "Choosing Parenthood,· "Deftnlng Family,"
"Raising Children," "Parents and Children," and
"Lesbian Parenting and the Law.· These groupings
help the essays hang together better than they
otherwtse might.
This book ts recommended for several reasons,
maln!y for Its aforementioned depth. Besides includ-
ing stories and research from diverse people, It also
includes pieces from various countries including the
United States, Canada, and South Africa. It Is also
recommended because It Is timely, touching and
truthful
-P. Matthews
FaU 1997
11
Book Revie'lv Sectio11-
The high cost of being black
Creative new writers
Armour, Jody David. NegrophDbia and Reasonable Racism: The Hidden Costs ofBeing Blnck in America. New York: New York University Press, 1997. Cloth, ISBN 0-8147-0640-1, $24.95. Jody Armour's recent book Is a cogent discussion of the Irrational, so-called ·reasonable" racism practiced by many In the United States, especially In the context of law. He gives examples of what he terms "Reasonable Racists· ("as racist as soclet;y In general"), "Intelligent Bayestans" (racist based on crime statistics and media exposure), and "Involuntary Negrophobes" (racist because of clrcwilstances, such as previous crimes against them by AfricanAmericans). In an article In the StanJOl'd Law Review (1994), he explored the use of racial tmagery In criminal defense cases, and how racial bias can affect judgment-the ·reasonable racism" further explored In the book. which points out the use and misuse of statistics, over-stmpllfted Images of race, and other sources that lawyers and others, especially In the media, play on, using common fears and stereot;ypes to keep blacks and other people of color In the position of ·one-down" rather than equal In court and In the rest of the world. One example: a woman getting money from an automated teller machine In an enclosed booth shot a black man who, upon entering the booth, reached under his coat (for his wallet, as It turned out). Her lawyers tried to say that It was a reasonable action, given crime statistics and the expectations of soclet;y regarding black males. Armour demolishes that argument quickly and sk1llfully. The book Is well written, but the language Is more clearly for legal studies than for the general population. Armour Is an associate professor of law at the Un!verslt;y of Pittsburgh, and It shows. I read the book In tandem with two books by Ellis Cose, Color-BUnd: Seeing Beyond Race !n a Race-Obsessed World (HarperColllns, 1997), and The Rll!Jpersonal experience and In more common language. Armour, however, makes unique points In relation to racial stereot;ypes and societal expectations. -N. Parker-Gibson Correction: The age group for Aruna's Journey, reviewed last Issue, was mlsldentllled. The book, by Jyotsna Sreenlvasan and published by Smooth Stone, ls Intended for ages 8-12, grades 3-7.
Remnan, Micki, et al, eds. Present Tense: Writing and.Art by Young Women. Corvallis, OR: Calyx Books, 1996. Cloth, ISBN 0-934971-544, $26.95; paper, ISBN 0-934971-53-6, $14.95. The Calyx Young Women's Editorial Collective offers a remarkable volume of the work of young women often referred to In the media as "generation x.· Their poetry, art work, and essays demonstrate that they are a force to be acknowledged and not discarded under a generic label. These young women remember where they came from, whether they Immigrated with their families or were born on American soil. Kahlll Sucgang Apuzen learns her PhUltplno history well, knowing as early as the first grade "pl.nays join the mtlltary to master the art ofconuptlon. torture ts cheaply done with a cigarette, a knife, ajlst, a dick.· Kristin Herber describes her own conception and birth, the details a legacy from her mother. "She's an emotion ocean, alone In Milwaukee, full of sardines and the bulging secret of me. She eats cheap, lays low, catches what rolls In: I.e. labor, the bus to the hospital, her ride back afterwards.· Breaking their collective and Individual Isolation, these young women share views of old worlds and new, their ties to faml)y and communlt;y. Nor Is the personal experience of their own sexuality overlooked. In "My Breasts: Two Views; Emily Lloyd recalls, "You got small, stubborn breasts, a man once told me...He was right: as far apart from each other as possible... my breasts are like the chins of sisters who aren't speaking, but are forced to sit together on the same couch.· Later In her life another lover offers a totally different view of her body. The art work Is Just as compelling. Prltl Darooka expresses a nostalgia for India that does not omit the reality ofwhat her life would be If she returned. Dorothy Eileen Goode and Cara Judea Alhadeff depict the pain of disease, with Its tmpact on the artist and on the vlcttm herself. These young women symbolize their lives and experience and sense of self through their work. As Stacey Dressen-McQueen puts It, "I paint small prayers to myself.· Ann E. Green dreams about life on the farm: not the wholesome, sentimental vision of children running freely through the fields, but the reallt;y of her family's dairy farm, and all the work and pain Inherent tn living ethically off the land. She writes of the pressures that force her family to sell their farm, of the underlying sexism that, while possibly protecting her and her sisters In some ways, excludes them from the total range of experience necessruy to the work. The theme of the outcast, of being foreign whether Is It by skin color, Ideology, or sexual orientation, continues In the prose section of this book. It Is very easy to forget the ages of the young
12
Women in Lihraries
· Boo/<: Revie7v Sectio11
women and focus only on the expertences they
relate, though there are occasional reminders of the
contemporary nature of these expertences. Emily
Regan Wills wt1tes, 'That picture Is forever painted
on the screen saver of my mind.· Another adds,
·Actually you and I had fought that night. Remem-
ber? I don't know about what. Maybe the chick With
the shaved head you had fllrted with at the party the
weekend before.·
The works of these young women are exciting to
read, filled with their passion, awareness, and need
to be visible In a society compelled to label peaches
and people equally genertc.
-P. Crossland
Mystery in a country theater Dreher, Sarah. Bad company. Norwich, VT: New Victoria, 1995. Cloth, ISBN 0-934678-677, $19.95; paper, ISBN 0-934678-66-9, $10.95. If you enjoy reading mystertes with colorful female characters, but would like a change from the standard who-dunnit murder plot, then tzy reading Sarah Dreher·s latest novei. Bad oompany. In this sixth novel of her Stoner McTavlsh series, Dreher combines mystery, humor, lesbian romance, and psychological Insight to create a highly satisfying reading experience. Stoner McTavtsh, Dreher's unassuming and likable lesbian sleuth, Is also co-owner of a travel agency with her longtime, straight friend, the lively Marylou Kesselbaum. Stoner, Marylou, and Stoner's romantic partner Gwen OWens (whom Stoner met In an earlier novel when she killed Gwen's husband In self-defense) are preparing to relocate from cambrtdge to western Massachusetts when Stoner receives an Interesting letter. Sheny Dodder, owner of the Cottage Inn In Maine, has been referred to Stoner and would like her to Investigate a sertes of events that have been plaguing her collective women's theater company In residence there. lntrtgued, Stoner somewhat guiltily leaves the packing of the travel agency to Marylou, and she and Gwen set off for an eventful stay at the stiffly formal Cottage. There they meet Sheny Dodder, expertly portrayed as an enigmatic, complex personality deeply disturbed by the Incidents endangering her "sisters.· As they pose as onllnary Inn guests, Stoner and Gwen Witness plenty of mischief: ladders that suddenly give way, altered scrtpts, tea Inexplicably laced with martjuana, stage blocking marks moved to cause physical mishap, and threatening notes, one targeted to Stoner herself. Whlle the mystery plot Is certainly tntrtgutng, It Is the author's fascinating characters that make this novel such a pleasure to read. Even the minor characters are vividly portrayed In the Agatha Chrtstie tradition, and the author also takes frequent opportunity to poke affectionate fun at some common lesbian stereotypes. Along with Stoner,
Gwen, Marylou, and Sheny, the "wlmmln· of the
theater company, named Demeter Ascending, are
equally unique and engaging. Stoner also befriends
an older, lesbian couple staying at the Cottage, and
they charm Stoner with their magnetism as they
also share with Stoner their powers of observation
and their own sleuthing skills. While the characters
create much hilarity, the author also leads us deeply
Into their emotional lives, but most potgnantly Into
the relationship between Stoner and Gwen. The love
between these two women cannot fall to move us,
even as they themselves fall victim to the mischie-
vous forces afoot at the Cottage, and the bond
between them Is tested.
Ultimate!y, this novel makes the transition from
being a "who-dunntt" and becomes a deeper study of
"why do It,· as Stoner attempts to fathom the
psychological twists and turns of a disturbed
woman's mind. The author gives Stoner, and the
reader, a chilling Insight: that evil can manifest Itself
for shockingly simple reasons. But pathology cannot
thwart the forces of heroism, compassion, and true
sisterhood that unify Sarah Dreher's strong and
diverse group of women.
You need not have read the earlier Stoner
McTavlsh books to apprectate Bad company, but
after reading this novel you may be very eager to
enjoy the rest of the sertes.
-P. White
Review section continued, next page
Books to empowergirls 1n order to make available a substantial collection of books containing positive role models for girls, one author has compiled a 11st of books from independent publishers. Jyotsna Sreenlvasan, author of two such books, Aruna's Joumeys and 11te Moon Over Crete (reviewed here In prior Issues), evaluated a range of books and assembled an annotated recommended 11st. From picture books for toddlers to books for young adults, the books are available online at http:// members.aol.com/brvgirls, or wt1te to Brave Girls and Strong Women at P.O. Box 15481, Washington, DC 20003-0481.
Fall 1997
13
· Book Revie'lv Sectiott
Women as scientists
Gates, Barbara T., and Ann B. Shteir. Natural Eloquence: Women Reinscribe Science. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1997. Cloth, ISBN 0-299-15480-7, $45.00; paper, ISBN 0-299-15484-X. $17.95. Some of my best memories Include the glow of fascination In my children's eyes as they squeamishly dared to touch the soft shell of the eastern ring-necked snake egg cupped gently In the palm of my hand. Unearthed while digging In our mulch pile. finding the eggs was Just one of the engaging home- spun science explorations we shared.
l ~
no~~1::'!:;.'j:nce scribe the lives of women who were captured by the
fascination of science and chose to dedicate a
significant part of their lives to exploring and WI1tlng
about tt. From Catherine Parr Tra11l's studies of the
backwoods of Canada to Rachael Carson's enchant-
ment wtth the sea, thirteen essays and one lntetvlew
reveal the dlfficulttes women from the 1800s to the
present have had to overcome to pursue sclenttftc
Investigation and be considered viable contributors
to a male-dominated field. Although a limited
number of women are represented, their stories
demonstrate the hurdles Jumped to claim their place
In the world ofexplorattve science.
They also give the reader a sense of the areas of
science women were first drawn to, such as botany,
biology, entomology and other natural sciences, as
opposed to the physical sciences of mathematics,
physics, chemistry and others. This raises the
quest.ton of whether women chose natural sciences
due to the Influence of our patriarchal society's
belief that females were capable ofobsemng and
collecting but not capable of cognitive research, or If
women simply assoctated more closely wtth the
areas of science that explored their place wtthln the
natural world. Whatever the answer, the essays
capture their Journeys from budding Interest to
recognition in their field. Furthermore, one undeni-
able contribution Is women·s translation of sclentlftc
theories into the vernacular, maldng the mystertes of
science popular among the general public and the
young. Gates and Shtelr have compiled a significant
contribution to the areas ofwomen's studies and the
Wstory of sclenttftc research.
-L. E. Duda
Fearless woman of Ethiopia Ohnstead, Judith. Woman between Two Worlds: Portrait of an Ethiopian Rural Leader. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. 1997. Cloth, ISBN 0-252-02283-1, $39.95; paper, ISBN 0-252-06587-5, $19.95.
Brave, bold, and clever, Chimate Chumbalo acted as a leader and mediator, or balabat. In her rural EtWoplan commllnity. Rarely has a woman held tWs powerful political posltlon. In Worlds, author and anthropologist Jud1th Olmstead beautifully chronicles Chumbalo's unique life. Olmstead uses each chapter to focus on spectflc events or time periods. We "hear" Chumbalo's proud, yet humorous, "take-charge· voice because Olmstead quotes extensively. Chumbalo Ingeniously saves her household In her husband's absence as the Italian army Invades the country: I hid my husband's guns and ammunition by strapping them to my body. I did not want the soldiers to take them. Th.en I put on my finest cotton buluko and prepared a feast. Very polltely I offered them food. Such passages give us a means to escape Inside Worlds. At times, I felt as If I had been transported to the fire-lit, split bamboo house where Chumbalo and Olmstead lived together during the early 1970s. Olmstead sets a well-dressed stage for Chumbalo's storytelling by framing It wtth descrtpttons of the local environment, Ethoplan htstory, political climate, and governmental relations (both local and regional). In the quote above, It's Olmstead who carefully explains how, even while feeding her enemy, Chumbalo adheres to local customs that call for women to rtse above men's foolish engagement In wartime activities. Although her commentary ls useful and informative, Olmstead occasionally Interrupts well-paced, enthralling narratives wtth background, contextual information. In the mtdst of Chumbalo's capttvattng description of her husband's death, Olmstead reflects on her changing relationship wtth the leader: I heard Chlmate recount the incidents leading up to her husband's death before, but never has she mentioned the Amhara women. She's changing the emphasis. She knows now that I have a special concern with women. She's bringing out details she knows will capture my attention and hopes will direct my sympathies toward (her husband). It takes a moment to reconnect wtth the story after such awkward Interrupt.tons. Fortunately, these insights do help convey Chumbalo's complex persona as well as Olmstead's knowledge of and respect for her. Though a legitimate biography, Worlds also reads like an oral history: It explores scarce evidence of day-to-day life In EtWopla's Gamo Highlands, from running a household to med1atlng disputes-an art form taught to all from very young ages. For the Gamo people, few of whom are literate, sumval necessitates wttnesslng and remembering slgnlflcantevents-births,deaths,crtmes,etc. Olmstead's wntten record of Chumbalo's life thoughtfully carries out that trad1tlon for a wtder audience. To read Worlds Is to wttness the dynamic life of this charismatic woman. -D. A Turner
14
Women in LWraries
·
I
Bc1ol~ RevieUJ Sectio11
Smorgasbord of stories Johnstone, James C., and Karen X Tulchinsky, eds. Queer View Mirror 2: Lesbian and Gay Short Fiction. Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1997. Paper, ISBN 1-55152-039-7, $17.95. With l Ol works of short fiction by lesbian and gay writers In eight countries, Queer View Mirror 2 offers quite a smorgasbord of stories. The editors are to be commended for brtngtng the writings of gay men and lesbians together In one volume; by arranging the short stories alphabetically by author, they provide a nice, random approach for the reader and avoid pat categories like gender, geography, or topic. And more than a few of the authors have names that are gender-ambiguous, so It Is possible to read some of these stories and wonder... Although I read the book cover to cover, I remembered very little. T. J. Bryan's "Good Gyal Gets Hers· Is a standout, as Is Edward Power's bittersweet "Love, Frankie.· But the rest of the works qutcldy blurred together. Perhaps the reason for this Is the genre: "short shorts,· that Is, works of fiction that are one thousand words or less. I was left with the Impression of "too much of too little": the format became numbing, after a whlle. A collection oflonger short stories, Interspersed with the short shorts, would have provided much needed variety. -Wendy Thomas
will be of general Interest to lesbians In academe, students as well as teachers. Some of the hlghllghts Include Toni A. H. McNaron's "That was Then, This Is Now," which describes her closeted experiences as a professor at the University of Minnesota In the early l960s-and her participation on a campus diversity panel thirty years later. Also particularly useful are Carolyn Woodward's "Lesbianism In Introductory Women's Studies Textbooks" and Kathleen Hickok's "Lesbian Images In Selected Women's Literature Anthologies, 1980-1994· as well as Informative essays on older lesbians, homophobia In women's college athletics, cyberdykes, and lesbian studies and postmodern queer theory. The editors have gathered articles that provide a bit of geographic and ethnic diversity: lesbians In Chinese history, East Asian-American lesbians, Native lesbians, black lesbians In academia, and lesbian studies In Sweden, the UK, and Aotearoa/ New Zealand. Lastly, the Introduction, by McNaron and Zimmerman, stands on Its own as an excellent overview of what has happened to lesbian studies over the last decade, discussing the explosion of Information, books, and courses on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual subjects; the backlash against women's and lesbian/gay studies; and the Impact ofqueer theory. -Wendy Thomas
Ideas for a lesbian studies curriculum Zimmerman, Bonnie, and Toni A. H. McNaron, eds. Tire New Lesbian Studies: In1D the TWenty:first Century. New York: Feminist Press, 1996. Trade, ISBN 1-55861-135-5, $35.00; paper, ISBN 1-55861-136-3, $17.95. 'The new lesbian studies Is an Immensely rich, thought-provoking collection of essays and articles. Although It stands on Its own as a mtist-read volume for those Interested In lesbian studies, studies has a history. The original work, Lesbian studies: Present and Jiuture (Feminist Press, 1982), was edited by Margaret Cruikshank and published Just a few years after the creation of the first Lesbian Caucus of the National Women's Studies Association. It featured almost thirty essays grouped Into three categories: "Lesbians In the Academic World: The Personal/Polltlcal Experience;" "In the Classroom;· and "New Research/New Perspectives;" as well as sample gyllabl and blbl!ographles of books and articles. studies reprints several of the original essays but features more than thirty new works. Some of the articles will be of particular Interest to those In specific fields, for example, feminist lesbian Disability Studies and feminist pgychology. Many, however,
Junglee Girl excerpt, continuedfrom page Z
I am shocked, as I always am to how sensuall1y
abruptly desrends on the sternest of Indian women when
they loosen their thick dark balr. With her balr down, this
smug judgmental mother of three is suddenly so breath-
takingly beautiful that I want to cry. She looks at me slyly.
conspiratorially, savoring tire feel of her long tresses
between her fingers.
"Why don't you grow your balr,· she murmurs. "Long
balr looks so good on us, don't you think?"
She pushes up her window as hlgh as It will go. nu,
wind lifts her balr around her like a long hawk suspended
on a bank of air. Her hair spreads out, shading her, like
the flat top of a solitary baobab tree. lf only I could climb
into those silken branches...
·
An old familiar longing rushes into my throat, ham-
mering at my vocal chords, dcying me out with desire. I
know this woman. I know her well. She Is part of my
recurring dream of coming home to India to be greeted by
thousands of women running down a hill with their long
balr swooping behind them like black garlands of welcome.
like black birds released from captivi1y to honor my return.
You will have to read the rest on your own. Kamanl's book, Junglee Girl, Is published In San Francisco by aunt lute books, 1995. Trade, ISBN 187996-041-9, $19.95; paper, ISBN 1-87996-040-0, $11.95. Editor's Note: In India, the term "junglee girl" describes "a wild and uncontrollable woman.· I, for one, wish to be one.
Fall 1997
15
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· Breakfast pJaoolog begins Jo · Book review theme: Sex!
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