‘Dorothy Richardson: A Close Reading’ Is Free Through Monday

A Close Reading 2My short literary study of modernist writer Dorothy Richardson came out as an ebook in May, and I’m happy to announce that it is free (regularly $2.99) on Amazon Kindle through Monday, August 11, just in time for grad students and professors (or anyone interested in modernist women writers or literary criticism) to snap it up…

Dorothy Richardson: A Close Reading now has a stylish new cover by the talented Jes Richardson (no relation, I assume!) of Coverbistro design. I think it nicely evokes the period.

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Dublin Writer’s Museum.

This gallery contains 16 photos.

Originally posted on SurreyKitchen:
I am not one for clichéd tourist destinations, always having preferred to browse the shelves of Shakespeare and Co in Paris rather than visit the Eiffel Tower.  I am proud to say I have never been…

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Smashwords Summer/Winter sale

Time of Grace1Smashwords‘ Summer/Winter sale (July 1-31) has been underway for awhile now. I wanted to mention that three of my ebooks are enrolled in the promotion. Two (Time of Grace and Connecting the Dots) are discounted and one (Night Train to Florence) is free! Just use the coupon code that Smashwords supplies on the book page at checkout.

The nice thing, too, is that Smashwords has made it very easy to search for books on sale in the category you prefer. For lesbian fiction, for example, use this link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1127/newest/1

As always, there are bargains to be had and new authors to discover.

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365 of Me: 185/181

Originally posted on The Lone Writer: Shannon Yarbrough:






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365 of Me: 176/190

This gallery contains 25 photos.

Originally posted on The Lone Writer: Shannon Yarbrough:
We added two new lilies to the garden on Sunday. I counted at least 10 other lilies in bloom, with only two left that haven’t bloomed yet. Here are two photos of…

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Review: A Tragic Honesty by Blake Bailey

Richard Yates (1926-1992), the author of Revolutionary Road and other novels, was a damaged man who produced beautiful, bleak books while he indulged his addictions and was in and out of mental hospitals due to frequent mental breakdowns (Yates was bipolar). As described by Blake Bailey in the absorbing literary biography A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates, he may have had one of the worst lives of any of the great writers.

Despite influential friendships, supportive publishers, and winning grants and awards, he lived in horrible, squalid apartments all his life. Every writer will feel a surge of recognition at his artistic dilemmas and his struggle to balance art and making a living. He gave up on the relationship front pretty early, though he fathered three daughters and was a better father than he was a husband.

As the son of a divorced, spendthrift, alcoholic mother who thought she was a great sculptor but never achieved much recognition and remained emotionally dependent on her increasingly distant son, Yates was haunted by his past and was particularly ambivalent about writing autobiographical fiction. Later in life he came to terms with it. From the biography: “There were other times, fortunately, when he knew better. ‘All I write about is family,’ Elizabeth Cox told him. ‘That’s all there is to write about,’ Yates replied.”

Yates had to endure humiliating experiences as he aged and his books went out of print in the ’70s and ’80s:

“That winter he was invited to give a reading at the University of Massachusetts (Boston), but not a single person showed up. He sat in the silent lecture hall while his two sponsors gazed at their watches; finally Yates suggested they adjourn to a bar. He didn’t seem particularly surprised.” 

Bailey’s sense of tragic irony is note-perfect throughout. I laughed often and made copious notes. My sympathy stayed with Yates through the entire long book, which is a marvel, given his lifelong homophobia and sexism. But Bailey is that good at capturing the essential sweetness of the man while never ignoring his flaws.

Since I haven’t read any Yates at all, I have a treat in front of me.

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Five Fascinating Facts about Thomas Hardy

Gabriella West:

As we usher in June, I decided to reblog this from the site Interesting Literature in honor of Thomas Hardy’s birthday today. He was an odd, elusive man, so perhaps it’s no surprise that he was a Gemini! As a teenager I read all his books, but particularly liked the less tragic ones, like “Under the Greenwood Tree” and “The Trumpet-Major.”

Originally posted on Interesting Literature:

Thomas Hardy was born on this day, 2 June, in 1840. (Seventeen years later to the day, composer Edward Elgar would be born.) Let’s raise a glass of something (cider?) to one of the great poets and novelists of English literature.

1. Much of the common perception of Thomas Hardy is incorrect, or, at the very least, inaccurate. Many people, if asked to describe Hardy’s background, would probably paint us a picture of a rustic, poor, and self-educated man who worked his way up the social ladder to become a celebrated author. Whilst his upbringing was certainly rural rather than metropolitan, he wasn’t exactly poor: his father was a successful builder who had six men working for him. They were hardly on the breadline. Whilst it’s true that Hardy’s family lacked the funds to send him to university – instead, he left school at sixteen to train as an architect –…

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Dorothy Richardson, overlooked modernist writer

Richardson was a pioneering modernist writer.

Richardson was a pioneering modernist writer.

Dorothy Richardson: A Close Reading is available only on Amazon.

Dorothy Richardson: A Close Reading is available only on Amazon.

When I was an ardent young intellectual in the early ’90s, I took a class on Modernist Women Writers with the poet Kathleen Fraser at SFSU. One of our assignments was to do “a close reading” of our writer of choice. I chose to write about English writer Dorothy Richardson.

Richardson (1873-1957) was an unusual writer with an unusual career. She published her first book, Pointed Roofs, in in 1917, when she was over 40. It was called the first “imagist novel” and her work was taken seriously by critics. Soon Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf joined the modernist “canon” and during the 1920s Richardson continued putting out volume after volume (there were eventually 13 seperate books in all) of her great novel sequence, Pilgrimage. But after her 12th book came out in the late 1930s, times had changed, and her last book was left unfinished at her death.

Richardson’s shy, studious heroine, Miriam Henderson, was closely modeled on herself. Miriam is quite the internal rebel, and part of the fascination with the books is Richardson’s way of capturing Miriam’s internal thought process. She is a deep thinker yet sensuous too, an unconventional person trying to make her way in a world where she is expected to be pretty and dutiful. But due to her difficult family circumstances (her father went bankrupt, her mother committed suicide), Richardson supported herself from her late teens onward, first as a teacher in Germany, then a governess. She later worked in London and became a socialist, but her affair with H.G. Wells ended badly and she retreated to the countryside. The solitude and exploration of her early years, of having to be prematurely responsible at a young age, is all beautifully expressed in Pilgrimage.

I went back to reread my academic paper on Richardson recently (Fraser had given it an A+ and called it “an excellent paper full of careful, insightful analysis”) and decided to publish it as an ebook. Dorothy Richardson: A Close Reading delves deeply into Richardson’s obsessions with gender. Richardson was remarkably candid.

From the essay:

Richardson herself said later in her life: “Difficult to know whether one wants men to become more womanly or women more manly. Personally, I have shared, with few exceptions, the masculine dislike and suspicion of women, have avoided and evaded them, and, as it happened, lived almost entirely among males.” (Letter to Rose Odle, 1949)

 This terrible ambivalence is never fully resolved. Miriam always feels marginalized, never fully a woman when among women. When among men she poses as a champion for women, but ironically women don’t interest her as much because, she claims, they don’t think. Richardson’s father believed that women were naturally unintelligent and referred to her as his “son.” Rejecting her father, Miriam says, “If anything, I am my mother’s son.”

Richardson lived long into the 1950s. I think we should celebrate this robust Taurean (her birthday was May 17) for her longevity and her great vision.

You can pick up a copy of Dorothy Richardson: A Close Reading at Amazon during its free promo on Sunday, May 25.

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Queerly Beloved: a review


Queerly Beloved is an unusually candid memoir.

I’ve always been fascinated by gender diversity. A memoir has just been published that explores what happens when one partner in a long-term lesbian relationship transitions to being a man. What surprised me about Queerly Beloved (Bold Strokes Books, May 2014, $9.99 ebook) is that the authors are extremely candid about the emotional challenges such transitioning can involve.

Here’s my review:

In a nutshell: Years ago, a driven young woman called Diane met another young woman called Suzy. They instantly bonded. After 15 years of what seemed to be a happy long-term relationship, including several wedding ceremonies, Suzy began to see herself as a transgender male—and transitioned to becoming a man called Jacob. While Diane was ostensibly supportive, she was also crushed. The two are still together, legally married, and Diane still works in the queer community; she’s executive editor of The Advocate. However, since her husband is now a man, she has to put up with the baggage of being viewed as a straight woman.

My take: First of all, I was consistently fascinated by this book. The book is narrated in two voices, Diane and Suzy (Jacob) sections, making it a very intimate read. I found myself liking Jacob’s voice more and identifying with his personality more, which was strange for me. I don’t identify as a butch woman, but I have always felt androgynous. Jacob’s voice seemed gentler to me; he seemed a kinder, more balanced person.

What complicated the book for me is that I felt like I was sitting in on a marriage counseling session. By the end of the book I was beginning to feel that Diane, admittedly a control freak, was deeply unhappy, even though her commitment to keeping the *relationship* going was absolute. A hair-raising story of Diane’s one night stand with a man in New Orleans when she was trying to get pregnant, while bravely told, made me wonder about the ongoing stability of the relationship. I believe the book would have been better entitled “A Marriage Across Genders,” because what we have here is a beautiful, sometimes overwrought story of an embattled marriage.

I found it poignant that Diane most misses the companionship of her sympathetic lesbian partner, who has effectively disappeared. Jacob admits that testosterone has had a big effect on his personality. In his case, he finds it positive. Men treat him like a buddy (something he didn’t expect). He “passes” well. Both gay men and women flirt with him.

It couldn’t escape my attention that Jacob, because of his male role, is now given more power in the world, while glamorous Diane has been relegated to the role of wife, a wife desperate to keep her husband’s attention, it seems. And I think those changing dynamics within the couple are reflected in the bittersweet tone of the book. It’s a fascinating read, and it is clear that these people still have a deep bond, but I am not sure that their story is a simple “love story” any longer.

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So You Want To Make A Living Writing? 13 Harsh Truths.

Gabriella West:

Disclaimer: I haven’t read Bob Mayer’s books, but I always like his trenchant advice. Nos. 8 and 9 on this list particularly spoke to me.

Originally posted on Write on the River:

It’s a great life. I’m my own boss. I wear shorts and t-shirts to work, which is in my house. I sit at my desk with a great view of the TN River with a blank stare, drool running down the side of my mouth, and I’m working. Well, not really. Because no one’s paying me for my great thoughts. They’re paying for my writing.

I’ve been doing it for over a quarter of a century and here are some harsh truths I’ve learned about making a living as a writer.

1. No one owes you a reading. You have to earn it.

2.  The minute you think you have it made, your career is over.

3.  You have to be ahead of innovation, not following it. I get rather bored lately reading blog posts and tweets and comments from BEA, LBF, PubSmart, Digital Bookworld, etc. regarding all the gurus…

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