authors

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.

On the Road by Jack KerouacBut 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.

Life is So Good by George DawsonBut 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.

Little in Love with Everyone by Genevieve Hudson

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.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

 

 

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.

Genevieve Hudson

Genevieve Hudson

 

 

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. 

Summary:

Little in Love with Everyone by Genevieve Hudson

 

Title: A Little in Love with Everyone
Author: Genevieve Hudson
Publisher: Fiction Advocate
Pages: 156
Publication Date: February 20, 2018
My Rating: Essential

 

 

 

 

A Little in Love with Everyone: Alison Bechdel's Fun Home



Disclosures:
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Genevieve Hudson and Fiction Advocate!
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Literary Websites

Literary Websites

Looking for a few good books by womxn, international authors, trans/gender nonconforming writers, or other historically underrpresented populations? Take a look through some of my favorite websites for the latest in literary news, author info, and reviews.

African American Literature Book Club https://aalbc.com/

AALBC is the largest and most popular website dedicated to African American and Black Literature from around the world. We celebrate Black culture, through books, for readers of all backgrounds to enjoy.

Arab Lit https://arablit.org/

A site dedicated to Arabic literature and translation.

BookRiot https://bookriot.com/

Book Riot is dedicated to the idea that writing about books and reading should be just as diverse as books and readers are.

Electric Lit https://electricliterature.com/

Electric Literature is a nonprofit dedicated to making literature more exciting, relevant, and accessible. They are committed to publishing work that is intelligent and unpretentious, to elevating new voices, and to examining how literature and storytelling can help illuminate social justice issues.

Emily Books https://www.emilybooks.com/

Emily Books is a project that publishes, publicizes, and celebrates the best work of transgressive writers of the past, present and future.

The Free Black Women’s Library https://thefreeblackwomanslibrary.tumblr.com/

The virtual site for The Free Black Women’s Library, a mobile trading library and interactive biblio installation that features a collection of 900 books written by Black women. The library creatively uses books to build community and explore the intersections of race, class, culture and gender while creating space to center and celebrate the voices of Black women in art, film literature. This mobile library pops up monthly and mainly in unique and radical spaces throughout Brooklyn, NYC.

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/

Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Launched in January 2007, the Goodreads mission is to help people find and share books they love.

Haymarket Books https://www.haymarketbooks.org/

Haymarket Books is a radical, independent, nonprofit book publisher based in Chicago, a project of the Center for Economic Research and Social Change.

IndieBound https://www.indiebound.org/

In Tori Lex: Judging Books Beyond the Cover http://www.intorilex.com/

Among other genres, Tori offers insightful reviews of YA, sci-fi, dystopian, and thrillers on her blog.

Johannesburg Review of Books (JRB) https://johannesburgreviewofbooks.com/

The Johannesburg Review of Books publishes reviews, essays, poetry, photographs and short fiction from South Africa, Africa and beyond.

Lambda Literary https://www.lambdaliterary.org/

The nation’s leading LGBTQ+ literary organization.

Lit CelebrAsian https://litcelebrasian.wordpress.com/

A group of bookworms and #DiverseBookBloggers dedicated to uplifting Asian voices in literature. Hosts of #AsianLitChat and #AsianLitBingo.

Literally Black http://www.literallyblack.com/

Literally Black is a review site dedicated to the exposure, and promotion of black literature–this includes but is not limited to books written by African-Americans.

Literary Everything https://literaryeverything.com/

Literary Everything is a blog that reviews books written by Nigerian authors.

Monlatable Book Reviews https://www.monlatablereviews.com/

Monica reviews an eclectic mix of fiction to spread her love of reading.

Office of the Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian https://www.library.wisc.edu/gwslibrarian/

The Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian (GWSL) at the University of Wisconsin provides topical bibliographies and resource guides, lists of feminist and LGBTQ+ publishers and bookstores, as well as one-on-one research consultations to activists, scholars, and citizens around the world.

Shelf Awareness http://www.shelf-awareness.com/

Shelf Awareness is a free e-newsletter about books and the book industry.

Trans Book Reviews https://transbookreviews.wordpress.com/

Trans Book Reviews review books featuring transgender or non-binary main characters.

Well Read Black Girl https://wellreadblackgirl.com/

Glory Edim is the founder of Well-Read Black Girl, a Brooklyn-based book club and digital platform that celebrates the uniqueness of Black literature & sisterhood. Her book club has met with several award-winning authors including Margo Jefferson, Naomi Jackson, and Angela Flournoy. Well-Read Black Girl’s mission is to increase the visibility of Black women writers and initiate meaningful conversation with readers.

WOCreads https://wocreads.wordpress.com/

Bina reviews books by women writers of Color and non-binary people of Color as well as indigenous WoC/NB PoC, at all intersections.

Women’s Review of Books https://www.wcwonline.org/Women-s-Review-of-Books/womens-review-of-books

Since 1983 the Women’s Review of Books has provided a forum for serious, informed discussion of new writing by and about women.

Women Writers, Women’s Books http://booksbywomen.org/

An online literary magazine by and about contemporary women writers from around the world. Women Writers, Women’s Books was launched in 2011 to be another platform for contemporary women writers and authors around the world writing in English.

 

What are your favorite bookish sites or blogs that feature diverse authors and titles? 

Black Women Writers from South Africa

Black Women Authors from South Africa – A Resource List

I’ve been traveling to South Africa regularly since 2009, mostly to conduct research supporting my doctorate in Information Science, which I received from the University of Pretoria (South Africa) in 2016. As a result, I’ve grown a real appreciation for literature from this amazing and diverse country.
This list will provide you with names of Black women authors from South Africa. Come back often as I will continue to add to it as I learn of more!

Sweet Medicine by Panashe ChigumadziPanashe Chigumadzi – Chigumadzi was born in Zimbabwe but raised in South Africa. Her debut novel, Sweet Medicine, was released to great critical acclaim in 2015.

Ellen Kuzwayo – A women’s rights activist and politician, Kuzwayo wrote her autobiography,  Call Me Woman, in 1985.

Kopano Matlwa Mabaso – Matlwa emerged onto the writing scene at just 21 with her debut novel, Coconut, followed by Spilt Milk.

Sindiwe Magona – Heralded as a literary legend, Magona focuses on the hardships women experience in South Africa every day such as poverty, motherhood, and patriarchy. Her books include To My Children’s Children, Mother to Mother, and Living, Loving and Lying Awake at Night.

Angela Makholwa – She’s been called the first Black crime writer in South Africa. Born in Johannesburg, Makholwa recently published her fourth book, The Blessed Girl.

To My Children's Children by Sindiwe Magona

Lasego Malepe – Malepe published her first novel, Matters of Life and Death, in 2005. Her second book, Reclaiming Home, is the diary of her travels across South Africa in 2004.

Lebo Mashile – Mashile is one of the most renowned poets in South Africa.

Love Child by Gcina MhlopheGcina Mhlophe – Mhlophe is a poet, playwright, activist, and actor. She’s written numerous children’s and other books, including Love Child and Have You Seen Zandile?

Lauretta Ngcobo – Best known for her novel And They Didn’t Diepublished in 1990, Ngcobo wrote about patriarchy and women’s oppression in South Africa.

Angelina Sithebe – Through her debut 2007 novel, Holy Hill, and her short story collection, Target Life, Sithebe tackles subjects such as child-rearing, religion, and crime.

Miriam Tlali – In 1975, Tlali was the first Black woman to publish a novel in South Africa. This book, Muriel at Metropolitan, and her second book, Amandla, were both banned by the apartheid government. Muriel at Metropolitan was later republished globally under the title, Between Two Worlds.

Zukiswa Wanner – Wanner has written several non-fiction books, as well as children’s books and novels. She has contributed articles to various journals. Her books include Refilwe, an African retelling of Rapunzel.

Have you read any of these authors? If you know of others to add to this list, please comment below!
How We Get Free by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

What I’m Reading – 29 Jan 2018

Unlike many of you, I did not watch the Grammys. I love music but haven’t watched music award shows in years. Instead the gf and I finished binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8… I know, I am behind, but trying to catch up. In the meantime, I am recording the latest season of Ru’s all-stars. Also, I am finishing up my review of Red Clocks by Leni Zumas and have begun reading Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi.

I’m also reading:

Besides RuPaul, I’m watching Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor discuss “What We Can Learn from the Black Feminists of the Combahee River Collective” on Democracy Now.  If you haven’t read Taylor’s latest book, How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, you are missing out. Go get it right now!

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

What I’m Reading – 29 Dec 2017

Books

Articles

And this Twitter thread:

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