Review: Kate Brandt’s “Happy Endings: Lesbian Writers Talk about their Lives and Work”

by writereaderly

kate brandt happy endingsWhat a fabulous book: interviews with dyke writers, publishers, mavens, archivists and booksellers, conducted in the early 1990s, to catalogue the lesbian passion for publishing in the USA. Just great. All these women so passionate about words, books and their community, I loved them all – especially the book publishers, of course, since that’s my great wordy love. Among those interviewed were Asian, Black, Chicana and Hispanic women, and women from different classes, cultural backgrounds, political identities and historical eras, quite a few of whom were on my radar already.

The subjects of this delightfully subjective book: Dorothy Allison, Kitty Tsui, Cherríe Moraga, Valerie Taylor, Lee Lynch, Ann Bannon, Katherine V. Forrest, Barbara Grier, Barbara Smith, SDiane Bogus, Jewelle Gomez, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Sarah Schulman, Lisa Ben, Franco, Toni Armstrong Jr., Lisbet, Willyce Kim, Lesléa Newman, Terri de la Peña, Joan Nestle and Carol Seajay.

It made me wish we were still in that 80s-90s heyday of lesbian/feminist/women’s publishing, that there weren’t so few publishers/bookshops still in existence (in Australia and o/s), that the queer/women’s community still gathered around the beauty that is the printed word. Sigh. And sigh again. This review is dedicated to ladies of letters: live and love long!

Where it came from: ACON’s abandoned book box
Time and manner of reading:
One enthusiastic lie-in
Where it went: Keeper Shelf
Best line of the book: “If you only read books by people who look exactly like you, and who have the same identities that you do, then you are participating in intellectual or literary segregation.” (Barbara Smith, p.112)
Reminds me of/that: Shari Benstock’s wonderful Women of the Left Bank
Who I’d recommend it to:
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; Stella Miles Franklin by Jill Roe; Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan