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Queer Fiction (by Zoe Whittall)
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Queer Fiction (by Zoe Whittall)

By 49thShelf
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Zoe Whittall is the author of two literary novels - the Lambda award-winning Holding Still For As Long As Possible and Bottle Rocket Hearts. She has published one short novel for adults with low literacy skills called The Middle Ground (Orca Books, 2010.) She won the Writers' Trust of Canada's Dayne Ogilvie Award in 2008. Her poetry books include The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life,The Emily Valentine Poems and Precordial Thump. She edited the anthology Geeks, Misfits & Outlaws in 2003. She lives in Toronto. http://zoewhittall.blogspot.com/
Skim

Skim

by Mariko Tamaki
illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook
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Why it's on the list ...
A graphic novel about lesbian student-teacher affairs at a thinly fictionalized Havergal College.
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Missed Her

Missed Her

edition:Paperback
tagged : lesbian
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Why it's on the list ...
This is the most recent book I've read by Ivan and it had me weeping and I'm *really* not easily moved but actually I would urge you to buy all of Ivan's books of stories, or Bow Grip, Ivan's novel, which was excellent.
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Six Metres of Pavement
Why it's on the list ...
A great novel set in Toronto's Little Portugal with an overlapping cast of characters that range from a man who accidently leaves his daughter in a hot car to die, a widow across the street, and Fatima, a young queer academic who comes out in a school newspaper and her parents kick her out of the house. All three characters intersect in interesting ways.
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The Night is a Mouth
Why it's on the list ...
Stunning short stories written in a masterful and imaginative style that blew my mind - impossible to describe in one sentence so I'll just urge you to go buy it.
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Monoceros

Monoceros

edition:Paperback
also available: Audiobook (CD) eBook
tagged : literary
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Why it's on the list ...
I'm just reading this now, but it should definitely be on the list. About bullying in a high school.
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I am a Red Dress

I am a Red Dress

Incantations on a Grandmother, a Mother, and a Daughter
edition:Paperback
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Why it's on the list ...
A beautiful performative memoir about three generations of the author's family and the impact of a violent patriarch.
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Spelling Mississippi
Excerpt

The Mississippi River belongs to the people. That night, it belonged to just two.

First came the cool, metallic stink of barges moving silently on the river, the ripe scent of things ready to rot and burst from the vines and trees. Magnolia blossoms hung like little yellow corpses, up and down the narrow streets and wider, more American boulevards, their sweet musk a sulky memory. Away from the twenty-four-hour sour of the French Quarter (though still in it, according to any map), she sat alone on the edge of the Governor Nicholls Street Wharf, her feet dangling well above the water. Inhaling the soothing churn of the river, its chilled and unknowable contents, she grew drunk on all these smells -- and so didn’t catch the scent of someone coming up behind her.

The smog and fog tangoed, twisting her view of the opposite shore, now a strip of ochre fuzz between a moonless sky and the notorious water below. The upriver bridge appeared to be a pretty string of lights along which cars sped. There was scant light on the wharf itself, no more than a pale beam thrown down from a lone standard some distance from where she sat. She didn’t see the shadow of a woman racing toward her over the concrete.

The humidity took each individual sound–the thrum of tires on the distant expressway bridge, bass-line thuds from Quarter jukeboxes, horn squeals, a bold crack of what might’ve been gunfire or the rebellious muffler of a car on a side street -- the damp November wind took each of these sounds and perverted them all into one low, seductive moan. A human call rose up here and there, and now and again, a warning blast from a boat. She didn’t hear the small thunder of high high heels coming at her from behind.

The woman had come running, dressed in an evening gown and a rhinestone tiara. She hurtled her body over a dark object, not knowing it was a person, and not caring. She made a perfect arc over whatever it was, hitting the water below with gun-crack precision. There was a tidy splash. Touched by the quick wind passing over her shoulder, and startled by a sudden spray of droplets on her bare legs, the seated woman woke from her reverie. All at once the unexpected presence of a stranger collected in her consciousness: the ghost scent of fine perfume, an echo of high heels hurrying, and a shadow, followed by a splash. She would smell and hear and see these things, in and out of sequence, forever.

Leaping to her feet, the young woman stared out at the water for what felt like a very long time. She stood dangerously close to the edge of the wharf, squinting and blinking. The night murmured and twinkled as it had before, as if nothing unusual had taken place. She peered harder at the water, holding her breath. At first it seemed there wasn’t anyone out there. But her heart roared to life and she stifled a cry as up bobbed some glittering thing a few yards out, surrounded by the arms and legs of someone who now made a fine, if temporary, show of swimming.

But she knew. The young woman on the wharf knew exactly what she was seeing, for who but a suicide would jump into a river so deep-down mean, and in the month of November? And who but a fool would sit there in the dark, courting danger and finding it, too? In that moment she wished she’d been mugged or battered in some other way. An odd thing to wish for, but this woman knew what was happening. Having seen this kind of watery exit from the world before, she did not want to witness a second such act of strange and private violence.

She didn’t call out “Stop!” or scream for help to incite a riot of rescue, nor did she leap in after the woman to make a valiant attempt at salvation. No, she didn’t do any of the things a person in her position ought to have done. She ran.

The young woman ran until the ground beneath her feet turned from wharf concrete to weeds, to rail track and cobblestones slick with fog. She ran without breathing -- or so it seemed to her once she’d stopped. Later on she would realize that the only people who run in the slow city of New Orleans are muggers and dealers and other sorts of criminals, but in those precious moments of flight she didn’t care about local pedestrian customs. She had one destination in mind: away from there.

She ran without releasing the scream that coiled inside her. Her conscience pulsed through the blur as she sprinted: Call the police. There is still time. Call the police. A tourist, she didn’t know that the coast guard patrolled the river or that the police station was very near by. Do something, a voice inside her shrieked. And so she did: she ran.

The river looked after the rest.

* * * * *

When she bursts into her room, the first thing Cleo Savoy sees is the red announcement of the hour glowing in the dark. Switching on every available lamp, she keeps one eye on the clock, as if her safety will increase with the forward march of time. When the numbers advance from 1:11 to 1:12 a.m., she exhales. Locks the door and secures the chain with shaking hands, telling herself, Never happened -- you imagined the whole thing. Yes, she decides, it was a ghost, the kind of river-apparition one’s apt to see after so much bourbon on an empty stomach. A ghost, and nothing more. If it was 11:11 -- I’d make a wish. I’ll make one anyway: I wish I’d never seen that.

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Why it's on the list ...
A wonderful page-turning literary romp set in pre-Katrina New Orleans. She also has a great book of short stories called In The Spice House.
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Cereus Blooms at Night
Why it's on the list ...
...or any novel she's written. Read them all!
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