Leaving the Queer Desert: A Review of Genevieve Hudson’s A LITTLE IN LOVE WITH EVERYONE
Can one be in love with a book?
Like, have an ongoing relationship with it in which you spend time with it, learn new things from it, appreciate and value it, grow from it?
And I’m not talking about being in love with a book like some of those women are in love with, like, bridges or the Eiffel Tower. (You know you watched that show too, don’t lie.)
I feel as bibliophiles, we are touched by books, especially those handful of favorites. Our understanding of them, ourselves, and others evolves each time we read them – and we read them many, many times over.
I think I had my first romance of this type with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I mean, I had many favorite childhood books such as A Wrinkle in Time, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and (like every other young, eager-to-be-grown-up white girl?) all the Judy Blume books, but this one was different. Perhaps it was because it was the first time I really understood Shakespeare. Or maybe it was spritish Puck. I don’t know but for some reason, I just loved it.
But my longest and most in-depth book relationship is probably with On the Road. There is something about the way Jack Kerouac turned a phrase that perfectly captures my own desire for freedom and getting lost and finding my own way in the midst of an anxious and overactive mind. I can’t imagine how many times I’ve read it and will read it again.
I’ve never met another person whose heart melts for The Grapes of Wrath as mine does. Damn, I love those Joads. Jane Eyre and The Color Purple and The Awakening and Native Son…I have ongoing relationships with these stories and each time I revisit them, I pick up something new. I see a glimmer of some layer that I had previously missed. Perhaps it’s some small detail or the way a previously ordinary passage stands out to me when I read it again years later.
But books certainly don’t have to be canonical “classics” to steal your heart. And just because one pulls at my heartstrings doesn’t mean it automatically will for you. In my adulthood, I sat down with Life is So Good by George Dawson and fell head over heels. I am full of gratitude every time I read it.
This is what I love about reading. I can get lost in almost any book with a rise and fall, a couple of complicated characters, and a setting I can envision. Simple, right?
But with really good books, I mean books that I really fall in love with, I don’t only want an escape. I want it to have meaning in my real life. I want to be there with it, with all it offers. I will stick with it through good and bad. I will visit and revisit it. I will read specific passages over and over and ruminate on them from different perspectives. I keep it for years…on my writing table for inspiration, next to the bed to annotate the margins when the feeling strikes, or even on the highest shelf of my wall of books because I know I will never part with it.
That’s the power of a really great fucking book. It endures. I give and it gives back. Over and over again.
I think this is the type of relationship that Genevieve Hudson has with Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. And likewise, it’s the relationship I am growing with Hudson’s A Little in Love with Everyone.
Simply put: I adore this book. It is a slim, adorable volume of only 142 pages which includes a kick-ass bibliography but by goddess, it packs a punch. It has all the facets I look for in a lasting book relationship and then some; I’ve already read it three times. And yes, it keeps on giving.
The book is genre-defying in that it is part history lesson, part memoir, part biography, part book review, part manifesta, and all homage to Bechdel. How Hudson included such variety in this one little book is a testament to her writing skills and is just, well, interesting as hell. Her examination of Bechdel and Fun Home is imbued with a curiosity and understanding that is enlightening and refreshing. While I have read Fun Home and really enjoyed it, it’s been a little while and sometime I’d like to read it again and then re-read A Little in Love with Everyone ; just to see Fun Home through Hudson’s eyes.
As a memoirist, Bechdel’s job is to tell the truth about herself, and her father’s suicide and sexuality are intrinsically bound up in her own story. To read Fun Home is to see Bechdel wrestle with the question of truth – how well her father hid his, and what it means for her to tell her own (pp. 17-18).
As I mentioned above, Hudson is just a good writer. Her instincts are magical. She gives you glimpses into her life growing up questioning and exploring her sexuality and then eventually, her coming out as a lesbian. While using Fun Home and Bechdel’s life as a backdrop, Hudson examines not only her own life experiences but also topics such as embodiment, gender, truth, visibility, self-acceptance, and more. Her vulnerability spoke to me and I appreciated her risk-taking throughout the book.
I wanted to make out with S by accident. I wanted us to end up kissing without anyone having to consciously make the decision to kiss or be held accountable for it. I wanted the kissing to just start happening (p. 3).
Clearly, any book that waxes poetic on the power of reading and storysharing to change lives automatically scores points with me. But Hudson does this really well, just sort of dropping bell hooks and Dorothy Allison and Maggie Nelson throughout. She also points to bookish details in Bechdel’s cartoons, such as specific book covers being drawn in panels where Bechdel is having sex or hearing life-changing news. The influence of amazing literature by womxn on Bechdel and on Hudson and their writing is gratifying and exhilarating.
In the corner of one panel, Bechdel has drawn the book Sappho Was a Right-On Woman, filling in the small queer details that had begun to infuse her life (p. 21).
Of course, the reader will understand her admiration of Fun Home and Bechdel more generally, but Hudson also explains her appreciation for reading lists provided by other authors. What I love is that in doing so, Hudson herself leaves us with her own illuminating reading list (the titles of which I quickly added to my own TBR list).
As bibliophiles (and the author clearly is), we get the importance of reading but Hudson teeters on the edge of full-fledged librarianhood when she discusses the importance of telling, sharing, and archiving our own stories. BIPOC, queer people, disabled people, women, and people of other underrepresented populations must tell their own stories.
Representation matters. Voice matters. And having heroes in whom you can see yourself is imperative.
There was no one to talk to about what I was going through. The only thing that seemed to know anything was books. In books, everything seemed to have happened to everybody already. There was peace in that, a kind of solidarity. Literature holds power (p. 125).
I love this about Hudson’s book. Clearly in Bechdel’s work, Hudson found stories in which she could see herself, in which she received validation and clarification, and in which she witnessed hope and celebration.
Are we, as queers, necessarily educators? Are we called to tell our truth by virtue of our identities? Are our bodies radical, our identities political, our work archive-able? Are we heroes just by existing?
I think the answer is yes (p. 105).
Hudson has paid it forward with A Little in Love with Everyone and she will undoubtedly inspire and comfort others as Bechdel did for her.
Find Genevieve Hudson online at https://genevievehudsonwriter.com/ and on Twitter @genhudson. Her new book, Pretend We Live Here (Stories), will be published by Future Tense Books and released in July.
Title: A Little in Love with Everyone
Author: Genevieve Hudson
Publisher: Fiction Advocate
Publication Date: February 20, 2018
My Rating: Essential
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Genevieve Hudson and Fiction Advocate!
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31 thoughts on “Leaving the Queer Desert: A Review of Genevieve Hudson’s A LITTLE IN LOVE WITH EVERYONE”
WOW! This post is incredible… I can see why you call your blog a time-suck! You are so super qualified! I hope you get your message out there. ❤️
Thanks, Dani. I appreciate you reading and giving feedback. I definitely felt strongly enough about this book to take some time to write a reflective essay which I hoped would be worthy of it. Though I do still write shorter and quicker reviews as well! I hope my sites/reviews are unique and that readers really get something out of them! Thanks again!
What an incredible review! I loved your in-depth thoughts on this.
Thank you! I was worried about doing the book justice, I loved it so much!
I love Fun Home and Life is So Good! I’ll have to look into this book as well. Thank you!
I hope you do! Especially if you like Fun Home. Let me know what you think if you read it.
Great post. I grew up on Judy Blume books 🙂
Thank you. No one will ever take the place of Judy Blume for me in my childhood! So thankful for her books.
It’s always wonderful to find a book that speaks to us so. Shakespeare has always been an author who does that to me. Great review and mini essay!
Thanks. Many of my reviews are this length, especially when I love the book this much! I love Shakespeare as well; what is your favorite?
Oh goodness. How do I choose? I’m very partial to Hamlet and Twelfth Night but I also love Much Ado. Although I’ve been favoring King Lear lately too.
I don’t think I’ve ever read Twelfth Night! I do enjoy Hamlet. 🙂
Loved this post and covet your mad skills!
Aw, thanks! Thanks for reading!
I do love it when I find a book that keeps me coming back to it. I read a lot of fantasy books but have a knack for choosing ones where the female leads are as equally strong as any male characters.
That’s great! I am not very familiar with fantasy as a genre but it does seem as though strong women characters are plentiful. If I wanted to dip my toe into the pool of current fantasy, where would you suggest I begin?
You are absolutely right- bibliophiles definitely have “relationships” with books. For me, it’s anything written by Tolkien. While it may not always get a 5 star review from me, it’s the prose that draws me in all the time.
Yes, I love Tolkien! It’s definitely something about the style of writing that gets me. Will you be reading The Fall of Gondolin?
I will be! I can’t wait for it to come out!
I wish I could find the time! I will be looking for your review… 😉
I recently came into a lot of time on my hands, so I am making the most of it. I hope you find some time just to read soon!
Thanks for coming by!
Loving everything about this post.
Thank you so much, Cia! I appreciate you reading it.
The way you used that build up to intro this book was downright exceptional! I was sold before I even knew what it was about.
Thank you! Hope you get a chance to pick it up!
My goodness! Dropping the stars to become ‘essential?’ Time for me to go get this one. What an incredible review.
Haha actually I never used a star rating system – I use: essential, highly recommended, recommended, optional, and not recommended! And yes, to me, it was that good. Thanks for reading!
Sounds like a really great book, and I still need to read Fun Home. This reminded me of that. hah I do think there are books in my life that I’ve fallen in love – you go back and discover new things. It’s lovely.
Fun Home was great! As I mentioned in the review, I would like to read it again but alas, my TBR is enormous! Hope you get to pick it up soon! What books are you in love with?
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