Review: “Car Maintenance, Explosives and Love, and Other Contemporary Lesbian Writings”, edited by Susan Hawthorne, Cathie Dunsford and Susan Sayer

by writereaderly

susan hawthorne et al car maintenance, explosives and loveI confess: I bought this for the fabulous Tina FiveAsh cover photo. I’d owned this book when I was young and impressionable, passed it on in some travelling bookshelf cull, and was recently reminded how great this photo was. Unfortunately, the internet’s language–image interface is not yet sophisticated enough to let me key in “lesbians car kissing 1950s” and have this shot delivered to me, so I’ll be happy to keep it in book form.

I confess more: having reread more than half of the anthology, I thought I’d *only* be keeping it for the cover. This is a 1997 compilation of Australian and NZ lesbians’ writings, with a healthy representation of Maori and (one) Aboriginal woman. Many of the pieces are stylistically dated, quite a few are downright average, and it is unflattering to the reviewer to find one’s own writing good by comparison to others’ poor offerings (naughty me). However, by the end I had been convinced that there were enough smart, witty, well-written pieces among the drama, poetry and short stories compiled here to justify a couple of inches on my shelf. I think the book is best considered as a contribution to an ongoing dialogue of lesbian writers, a way of dejando constancia (leaving a record) of lesbian life, lives and culture. And as such, it is valuable and necessarily of its time. Recommended on those terms.

Where it came from: Market stall
Time and manner of reading:
Twenty-five hours of every-spare-minute reading, more because it existed than because it was fantabulous
Where it went: Keeper Shelf
Reminds me of/that:
Who I’d recommend it to: Dykes and dyke-curious
Also reading: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon; Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; The Seven Sisters of the Pleiades by Munya Andrews; The Politics of Ecstasy by Timothy Leary