sarah waters is keeping me up all night again

March 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized

This is me up in the middle of the night all haunted by Sarah Waters’ new book, The Little Stranger. I was fortunate enough to get an advance copy, and just finished. I can’t tell you ANYTHING about it or I’ll ruin it. But I will say this: READ IT. Then we can talk! It’s coming out at the end of April or early May.

132 Responses to “sarah waters is keeping me up all night again”

  1. KarenE says:

    Oh you wicked book tease, you!!!!

  2. Ng Yi-Sheng says:

    Hahaha. I only just read the Night Watch… what epoch of British history could Waters be investigating now? The Swinging Sixties? The Georgians? The Elizabethans? The Celts? Or is it science fiction?

  3. wildeny says:

    I envy you!
    Interesting thing is that the US release date is much earlier than the UK release date.

  4. grrljock says:

    Yes, finally! What’s your favorite Waters book? “Fingersmith” is mine.

  5. laura says:

    It must feel terrible to have read a book and not being able to talk to ANYBODY about it. I empathize with you.

    Then again, while you wait for us to catch up why not devise a clever one-off dtwof episode on it?

    (Sorry about that, but I could not refrain, since I won’t be able to read the book for a VERY VERY long time, being in a non-English speaking country, and I know that at some point I will have to avoid the blog for a while to avoid spoilers).

  6. ayenomaybe says:

    De-lurking to squeal in excitement and envy!
    grrljock: I love Affinity and Night Watch best.
    Ng Yi-Sheng: It’s postwar, according to And I’d love Waters to write science fiction!

  7. judybusy says:

    Oh! This is great. I’ve only read Tipping the Velvet and Night Watch–she hasn’t written much (yet) so I’m pacing myself. It’s been about a year since my last Waters, so will put this on the to-read list! Fun photo, too, AB.

  8. jen says:

    I love how the previous post from “reader” seems to be as self-absorbed about his/her topic as they’re accusing Alison of being. Like Alison (and all of us) don’t have interests other than the ones that we post here.

    Now, about the book: Alison you’re a tease! That’s like telling the first part of a joke and then not being able to tell the punch line!

  9. WaywardScooterGirl says:

    Oh, so mean…taunt me with a novel I won’t even be able to read for 4-6 weeks. Longer depending on when the libraries get it.

  10. Alex says:

    I’m someone who only reads literary fiction and comics. Almost nothing else. I read Tipping the Velvet several years ago and couldn’t stand it. Couldn’t even get half way through it. This is probably because I’m not a fan of anything Victorian. However, I think I’ll try reading this new novel by Waters. Thanks, AB, for bringing it to my attention!

  11. acilius says:

    See, at first I thought “reader” was a real troll, now I see s/he must be a prankster. To tell someone as hyperliterate as Alison that she needs to read even more if she’s to avoid the status of “dozey bint”- that’s comedy gold! Why did you choose the variant “bint” rather than “bini,” by the way? More reminiscent of the FLASHMAN novels, is it?

  12. ksbel6 says:

    I think I will read Fingersmith first and then Night Watch. That ought to keep me busy until this new one comes out. I agree with jen though, I suppose if you tell us a joke and the punch line we can deal 🙂

    Also, to everyone: don’t feed the trolls!!

  13. Dr. Empirical says:

    Okay, I’ve never heard of Sarah Waters. Anyone want to give me a thumbnail description and first book recommendation?

    I haven’t discovered a new author I really like in a long while!

  14. ksbel6 says:

    Dr. E she is probably most famous for “Tipping the Velvet”. She is about as far away from The Mad Scientists’ Club as you can get.

  15. M-H says:

    Oh, reader, thanks for the morning laugh. “I know someone who knows AB and s/he thinks…” is about the most provincial justification for any opinion.

  16. MidSouth Mouth says:

    Wow, thanks for giving TMI about your tumescence or lack thereof, reader. That seems really relevant to actually reading!

    Oops, must not feed trolls.

    Of the many things I have enjoyed reading from Sarah Waters,Tipping is still my favorite.

  17. KarenE says:

    Wow, “reader”, you are certainly pompous and hostile. Shoo!

  18. acilius says:

    Nice try at a spoof of troll posts, reader, but you have a long way to go to match this:

  19. Alex K says:

    Mairzey bints and dozey bints / And little lamzey divey…

    Maybe Sarah Waters’ newest isn’t at the cutting non-LGBT edge, and maybe it has nothing to bring to our attention from outside “queer culture”. (A big claim to make — none of us but AB has read it, nessy pah?) Maybe it’s a waste of a lovely long afternoon that we could have used for Ivo Andric. Maybe not.

    I’m ready to cut AB some slack. If she uses her blog to recommend something to us, I reason: AB had a good time with it; she thinks we might, too. Sometimes I get around to eating at a friend’s favourite new restaurant sooner, sometimes later, sometimes not at all. But that the friend wants to tell me about a pleasure that she has experienced, in the hope that I may enjoy it too — that’s not a bad thing.

    We can find time for Waters as well as for Andric, I hope. Right now I’m happily making my way through BARCHESTER TOWERS for the third or fourth time. Since Waters won’t be released in Britain for some while, and since I’m clearly not giving non-canonical literature a fair shake, Andric it is — aeroplane trip coming up, and I’ll stop by Foyle’s this weekend to stock up. Thank you, “reader”!

  20. Alex K says:

    Oh, hey! Forgot to ask: AB, how did you luck into an advance copy? You’re part of some sort of inner circle, that’s clear: Being asked to review books, to make contributions to anthologies… The copy you’re holding is not a et of galleys: Can one infer that you haven’t been asked for a blurb? Is it a review copy?

    When answering, please wear a shiny blue bra or the moral equivalent thereof. I’ll know, even without pictures, because of the disturbance in the Force / your prose that it will induce.

    Aw, c’mon. Please? Holly doesn’t need to know that you borrowed it…

  21. enjoying the balance says:

    thanks AB for posting opinions that shake up the room …. it keeps me interested….

  22. i'm wearing a shiny blue bra right now says:

    @enjoying the balance: I am also glad that there is sometimes space here for people who disagree with the majority.

  23. acilius says:

    May I just say that the picture at the top of the post is fascinating. The edges of the book form an arrow pointing up and off to the side, the lampshade points off in another direction, and AB seems to be spinning in the space those arrows define.

  24. Andrew B says:

    Dr E, I have only read _The Night Watch_, which is very good. It’s set in London during the Blitz, and moves backward in time. (That is, it’s in I think three parts, starting late and ending early. Within each part time moves in the usual direction.) You’re probably better off looking Waters up on Wikipedia than having me try to give a summary of the rest of her career.

  25. Riotllama says:

    I am so smart! S-M-R-T!
    I have a huge cock. you vaginal epithets wish I would let you touch it, but yer all ugly. and you don’t look like porn stars.
    I’m so glad I found this blog so I could insult you!

    Sorry, he’s just so funny. I want more of the troll. Isn’t that weird? sigh. spank me now please.

  26. Riotllama says:

    Affinity was my least favourite Waters novel. Did yous know that there are BBC film versions of Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith that one can rent, or in some cases, borrow from your library? I suggest a marathon with Oranges Aren’t the Only Fruit thrown in for misery’s sake.
    I do wish they’d get to the sex earlier on, but I’m just that kind.

  27. Riotllama says:

    oh and sarah waters was deeply involved with the production of the movies. (not oranges) You can watch the extras and hear her talk about the adaptation process.

  28. Lori in NYC says:

    I’ve been waiting for this book for so long! I work in a bookstore and haven’t seen the proof yet. Luck you, Alison!

  29. governor, stoat

    VT’s governor Jim Douglas is threatening to veto the same sex marriage bill if the legislature passes it. The Senate has already passed it, now it’s in the House.

  30. Did you know that the term “troll” comes from the fishing practice of dragging a baited line behind a boat? It’s not about the monster under the bridge at all.

    Please Don’t Bite!

  31. little gator says:

    Is that a lezzie bint stoat?

    It’s naked!


  32. @Alex K: Man, I gotta go change out of this shiny blue bra. It’s itchy.

    I am, in fact, holding the “galleys” of the US edition of The Little Stranger. I don’t think galleys come like this any more:

    mr earbrass and his galleys

  33. hairball_of_hope says:


    Put that on the end of your hook as you putt-putt-putt under the bridge with your baited line trailing the boat.

    (Tosses shoe in direction of aforementioned PTTWTTBOPH)

  34. shadocat says:

    If the governor vetos the bill, what’s next? Someone clue me in, I know nothing about Vermont government procedure.

  35. ksbel6 says:

    @shadocat: I’m pretty sure that sends it back to the Senate and the House and they vote again. I have no idea what percent is required to pass it though.

  36. Dr. Empirical says:

    Hey Riotllama, Auntie, and other Philly-area folks: The Brandywine Museum is doing an exhibit of Edward Gorey art!

    I’d forgotten until Alison just reminded me.

    I’ll be there, with a blue bra on!

  37. Ian says:

    I couldn’t find an etymology for bint. Despite it’s definite sexism, “the daft bint” is a common epithet of mine I’m afraid. I did find it on the urban dictionary:

    I was surprised to hear it on here because I’ve always thought of it as peculiarly British term. I always thought it was adopted from the Indian sub-continent for some reason but I can’t remember why. By the way, I would have thought it was definitely definition no. 18 that was correct.

  38. shadocat says:

    Thanks ksbel6; I am really wondering what the percentages need to be for it to pass.

  39. Duncan says:

    That’s good news. It sounds like the new Waters will be released just in time for me to take it to Korea with me — along with the next volume of Proust’s Recherche (fab faggy Jew shit), the newest Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency novel (fab hetero Botswana shit), maybe some Benedict Anderson or Raymond Williams (fab Marxist cultural studies shit — Williams was hetero, but I wonder about Anderson sometimes), and whatever else I feel like taking along. Aside from reading, I’ll be traveling around South Korea, chatting up old ladies and cute men on the subways and streets, seeing some new Korean films, blogging, and generally broadening my horizons. The funny thing is, though, you can’t broaden your horizons *without* including some fab lezzie and fag shit. Amazing how many heterosexuals think that we fab lezzies and fags are not a significant part of the world.

    (For purposes of comparison, on last year’s visit to Korea, my reading included Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, Micaela di Leonardo’s Exotics at Home, Rabih Alameddine’s The Hakawati, Basho’s Back Roads to Far Towns, Dmitri Merejkowski’s Romance of Leonardo da Vinci, and Flaubert’s Sentimental Education.)

    Incidentally, there is also a BBC version of Waters’s Affinity, though I haven’t seen it yet.

  40. Kate L says:

    We’re all right smart on the book learnin’! 🙂 In fact, I think this crowd might enjoy viewing The Onion’s video clip about Prague’s Franz Kafka International Airport being named the world’s worst airport in terms of lost luggage, flight delays, despair and madness…
    A spoiler alert… some of The Onion’s stuff isn’t as good as this, although I do recommend their video clip about the giant mutant crabs.

  41. Rakkasah says:

    I have read all of Sarah Water’s books and have enjoyed them for different reasons.

    But I must admit that I do like “Tipping The Velvet” best. I guess it’s sentimental.

    I read so much about the book before publication when I lived in England.

    And most of all, it was the first thing my partner and I shared.

    I’m looking forward to reading the new book. Alison, thanks for bringing it to our attention!

  42. formertechnophobe says:

    Terry Pratchett is an author all should sample – not lezzie lit but i think this crowd would truly love the wit and wisdom of his fantasy/satire/parody- all of the Disc novels are fab – sadly he has early onset Alzheimer’s disease

  43. Ng Yi-Sheng says:

    Wah!!! Where’s reader??? I want more of his funny trolling comments!!!

    (Although it is a little disappointing that he turns out to be a straight man rather than a self-hating gay woman. But perhaps this makes the character more complex rather than less. Kinda like a nerdy teenage Norman Mailer in the land of the Amazons.)

  44. Frances says:

    I like Affinity best. That’s a lovely picture of a stoat. Weasels are weasily distinguished, because the stoat is totally different.

  45. Eva says:

    Gallies come with slick cover illustrations and review blurbs on the back and everything?! It looks like a regular paperback…(shaking head, wondering how one will ever be able to tell the real from the faux ever again)…

    P.S. Love this blog and all its’ evocations of shiny blue bra-ness.

  46. acilius says:

    @Ian: “Bint” was a slang term for prostitute in nineteenth century India; “bini” was a synonym used in other parts of the country. There’s a little excursus on the terms in George MacDonald Fraser’s first FLASHMAN novel. Those books include quite a bit of colorful Victorian-era slang; for example, Sir Harry Flashman never misses an opportunity to declare that a group of people “couple like stoats,” meaning that they often engage in sexual activity.

    Flashman is funny in much the way “Reader’s” comments are. Of course, to make him tolerable at book length Fraser has to give him far more self-awareness than the creator of “Reader” has given that persona.

  47. I just deleted all “reader’s” disruptive comments, so I’m afraid the subsequent comments referring to them won’t make sense now. I hadn’t read all the stuff he wrote last night, but this morning I did, and they were too unpleasant to leave here.

    I will try to be more vigilant about removing disruptive posts, but it’s an open forum, and I’m reluctant to censor.

    On the other hand, I just read this great quote by Robert Frost which sums up very neatly a phenomenon I’ve given a lot of thought to over the years. “A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.”

    So I’ll be taking a heavier hand with the delete button.

    But it’s much more effective to ignore than to delete. I hope you’ll all do your part too by not responding–or even referring obliquely to–disruptive comments on the blog. The last time this happened, I was very moved by Public Health Vet’s observation that the problematic comments were “pain-filled.” That was very perceptive and compassionate. It would be great if we could all bear that in mind should my lower-case admirer return.

  48. alifbaa says:

    ‘Bint’ is Arabic for daughter or girl – though I suppose it may have come into British English via derived words used in India.

    For my money, ‘Affinity’ is Sarah Waters’ best book – if you read it in a state of sex-starved homoerotic despair you’ll get the full impact… but it’s probably quite good even without that!

  49. Antoinette says:

    There are so few places left where a person can expect a modicum of civility, and I’ve come to think of this as one of them. You sort of restore my faith in the intertubes as it was originally envisioned.

    And as another sage once said, A soft answer turns away wrath. Sometimes it blunts an opponent’s weapon in her/his own hands too, although it is hard to remember this when provoked.

  50. Andi says:

    Hi Alison et al,

    Most people spend spring break on the beach, but I’m here in beautiful Dayton Ohio, watching it rain. Good reading weather, actually, but I hear that I’m missing our first really good spring snowstorm in Boulder – dang!

    I also haven’t heard of Sara Waters before, but she’s going on my “to read” list. Right now I’m reading “A Lion Among Men” by Gregory Maguire, from the “Wicked” series. I still haven’t decided if I like it, which is an odd feeling. What do you do with a book when the writing is beautiful, but something about it gives you kind of an itchy feeling? Thoughts? Here’s a description of one of the characters entering a pond in the forest at night…

    “Satisfied. More than satisfied, relieved, she arched a foot to enter the water. But before she did, she saw in the flat green of the pond’s surface a reflection of the moon. At first she thought: Now there’s a surface safer than to write upon than paper. The circular page of the moon in the water — words written in water are sure to wash away, and the moon itself no wiser…”

    Dang! The boy can write!

    As for pushing the “delete” button Alison, I believe that blogs are not a democracy, but rather a benevolent dictatorship. Or perhaps an imperial monarchy. One gets to be Empress and decide the fate of each comment with one swift “click.” Ew, sexist? Offensive? Just plain rude? Off with its head! There is too much nasty floating around in the world to clutter up one’s blog with hateful comments. The follow-up discussion is interesting all by itself. So chop at will, Alison.

    As they say, on the internet, no one knows you’re a dog.


    Enjoy the day, All.

  51. bean says:

    andi, i’m so with you on Gregory maguire. i’v only read wicked, and i remember thinking, this guy has such an amazing talent with words and an amazing ability to write well and beautifully that i would give anything for! but isn’t it ironic that his plotting leaves so much to be desired? such a good start with that book, that kind of petered out… so many writers are all about the plot, but their writing sucks. he needs plotting help. or, he needs to ghost write for the likes of rita mae brown or someone.

    as for sarah waters, i read tipping the velvet, and also saw the film, and i have to admit that neither did much for me. i think only one other person on this list was brave enough to admit they didn’t get through waters. but that’s what makes the world wonderful right? 😉 I LOVED jeanette winterson’s the passion, but there are others reading this now who feel differently. vive la difference!

  52. judybusy says:

    AB: Why put such a slur on stoats? I am sure they are noble creatures and would resent any connection with a homophobic pol! 😉

    Duncan: Do you know Alexander McCall Smith also has a _Tales of the City_-like series set in Edinborough? It all begins with _44 Scotland Street_, and there are five so far. I’ve listened to two of them on CD, and am certain I’ve looked unhinged while LMAO in the car. Also, would you consider sharing your blog address? I think it would be really interesting to follow you!

    Lastly, because I like sharing things that bring me joy: I’m currently listening to _Coraline_ read by the author, Neil Gaiman. Perfect in the kitchen while cooking. The rats’ singing is particularly creepy!

  53. judybusy says:

    One more thing:

    Hint: Rachel Maddow goodness.

  54. ksbel6 says:

    I agree with the Terry Pratchett plug…Going Postal is particularly good!

  55. Heidi says:

    I somewhat regret coming late to the conversation and not getting to see these comments from “reader”. But I agree with Andi that sometimes it’s just best to delete. I don’t go to a lot of blogs that I would otherwise enjoy because people are allowed to bicker and be nasty to each other. It basically disturbs my peace of mind, so I avoid it.

    I think the stoat is adorable, but not so much the governor.

  56. mary(an) the librarian says:

    i am so jealous of the advance copies and those that got to read “reader”‘s comments!

    as for me, i loved night watch, fingersmith and tipping the velvet. when i finally got around to reading affinity, i expected to love it as much as the others, but it just didn’t do it for me. it was an interesting read, but the ending left something to be desired. i don’t need a hollywood, tie-it-up-with-a-bow ending, but i need some sort of resolution to character’s internal struggles, rather than just “the end.”

    that said, i still can’t wait to read this one!

    (p.s. has anyone read jeanette winterson’s YA sci-fi novel tanglewreck? this is why i want sarah waters to try her hand at sci-fi. it’s an amazing read, especially if you like her writing and YA sci-fi novels, like me.)

  57. Lori in NYC says:

    Galleys (or proofs) are much better than the one Mr. Earbrass is holding, with colorful covers and are often mistaken for actual paperbacks, but once in a while we do get just pages held together with a binder clip here at Strand Bookstore. We usually just recycle them!

  58. Andi says:

    Correction to my previous post — it should read, “On the internet nobody knows you’re a dog.” Taken from this prophetic New Yorker cartoon, circa
    1993 (way ahead of its time!)

  59. Mame says:

    The film of “Affinity” ran someplace on cable…Showtime, maybe…or LOGO…? Not sure, but I saw it. All three films are good, “Tipping the Velvet,” “Fingersmith” and “Affinity.” I think I liked “Fingersmith” best because I hadn’t read the book yet so it was suspenseful and really unusual. For sheer fun, “Tipping..” is great. The Nightwatch would be a hard film, I suppose. Loved all her books. I will look for the new one in a few months. Thanks for the tip!

  60. Mame says:

    Oh yeah…one more bit on “Affinity.” Coincidentally with my reading of that book, I was reading alot about the life of Radclyffe Hall, who was very very into mediums and reaching people in the “beyond.” Noel Coward apparently used our sister Radclyffe as the model for his Madame Accardi in “Blithe Spirit.” Any other New Yorkers reading might know “Blithe Spirit” is running yet again on Broadway with the ever wonderful Angela Landsbury as Madame Accardi.

  61. rinky says:

    Oh man, how spooky was “Affinity” late at night? I was a bit disappointed that it was all explained in the end though. Yeah Fingersmith was a great film, much scarier than the book. I was a bit disappointed by the film of “Tipping,… but that’s probably just because the book was so expansive.

    Has anyone read the blurb at the back of “Patience and Sarah” That’s pretty spine tingling – about how she wrote the book. Sorry if people have already mentioned this above. I haven’t read all comments

  62. Alex K says:

    Hey, “breeder”! Welcome back. I’ve never read Naomi Klein, though I have heard of the “no logo” movement. What is the connection between her work and what I posted? **scratches head in puzzlement**

    Still no Andric in hand, still working on Mrs Proudie (woof! what a gal!). Foyle’s: This weekend.

    And — AB, itchy or no, the blue-bra look is hawt.

  63. Alex K says:

    Uh, AB, I’m sorry. I guess I shouldn’t have posted as I did, since you asked for a don’t-feed-the-fires policy.

    In justification: “He drew a circle that shut me out… / heretic, rebel, a thing to flout / but love and I had the wit to win / I drew a circle that took him in”. One of the very few things I remember from first-day school at Friends’ Meeting, fifty years ago…

  64. Erika says:

    judybusy — Thanks for the link! Watching Rachel Maddow make cocktails is always a pleasure.

  65. Jessica Bessica says:

    Hi AB, please do keep deleting. I’m with Heidi on this one; the obnoxious comments are %#&*ing annoying.

  66. Andrew B says:

    Re Robert Frost, my grandfather used to say, “Don’t be so open minded that your brains fall out.” He often was a little too enthusiastic about taking his own advice, sad to say, but there are times when it’s right.

  67. Ian says:

    @acilius: Thanks for that – I knew it came from India.

    I’m reading The Catcher in the Rye for the first time at the moment. I’m debating doing an A Level in English Lit on my way back to taking a Uni degree and thought I’d better start doing some reading of the ‘classics’. I’m afraid I’m finding Holden Caulfield a bit irritating. Maybe if I’d read it at 14 I’d feel differently.

  68. Ted says:

    Glad to see fans of Gregory McGuire here. Elphaba is one of my favorite literary heroines. “A Lion Among Men” is worth sticking out to the end. Elphie’s granddaughter is out there somewhere.

    He has written other books with a different take on age old fairy tales that are worth a read.

    AB, don’t feel bad about deleting posts or banning posters. If you don’t you will be inundated with trolls. I come from the old days when you signed up with a BBS for usenet access. “Don’t feed the trolls” has been the cry for 20 years and it falls on deaf ears (mine included). This is a really nice forum to post on and it would be sad to see it change.

    Is “heroines” OK or like “Actresses” should it be thrown in the dustbin in favor of Actors or “heroes” for both sexes?

  69. M-H says:

    AB, if you want to delete my smart-ass comment about the deleted one, please do. I apologise for feeding, but it I was too weak to resist temptation. ::hangs head in shame””

  70. FrenchToastComix says:

    alifbaa: Loved the comment about reading “Affinity” in “a state of sex-starved homoerotic despair”!! Add to that “on a late-night Greyhound bus traveling AWAY from home in the middle of WINTER,” and you have my experience. *Brrrr!*

    Rinky: What’s the spine-tingling blurb at the end of “Patience and Sarah”?

  71. hairball_of_hope says:

    @ksbel6, shadocat

    According to Wikipedia, the VT governor’s veto can be overridden by a two thirds majority in each chamber of the VT General Assembly (legislature). Lower chamber (VT House of Representatives) has 150 members, so that chamber requires 100 veto override votes. Upper chamber (VT Senate) has 30 members, so that chamber requires 20 veto override votes.

  72. Anonymous says:

    “If you read it in a state of sex-starved homoerotic despair you’ll get the full impact.”

    Thanks Alifbaa! I’ve put a hold at my library for it 🙂 Does the film have a similar effect?

  73. Ian says:

    Reading in “a state of sex-starved homoerotic despair”? (Post of the month I think). That’s how I read ALL my gay literature! 😉

  74. rinky says:

    Frenchtoastcomix There’s a detailed and interesting description of how she started her research then moved onto using a ouija(sp?) board to contact the people it was supposedly based on. She contacted them again and again whilst writing the book. It made my girlfriend and I really get shivers as we read it.

  75. rinky says:

    FTC It’s not in every edition I don’t think

  76. Brklyn Grl says:

    Another way many blogs deal with trolls: disemvoweling – or removing the vowels from text to censor unwanted postings, while maintaining some level of transparency. This makes comments illegible or legible only through significant cognitive effort. The dialogue stays, but the troll looks ridiculous, and the emotional sting is neutralized. I think there are even plug-in filters that will do it for you automatically.

  77. acilius says:

    @Ian: You’re welcome!

    @AB: Like M-H, I apologize and hang my head in shame for troll-feeding. In my defense I must say that at first I honestly did think he might be spoofing trolldom- his insults against you were so preposterously inapt that I laughed out loud at them.

    Of course, this blog is yours, and I’m sure all of us appreciate your hospitality. I’ll try to be a better guest in the future.

  78. iara says:

    Brklyn Grl, I like the disemvoweling idea! My personal preference would be to translate the comments into lolspeak – also very easy to do using


  80. Andrew B says:

    Ok, odd question, but I mean it seriously if anybody wants to bother with it… Is there such a thing as non-gender-specific homoeroticism? Will a man reading a Sarah Waters book in a state of “sex-starved homoerotic despair” get “the full impact”? Obviously the comment was made in a joking way, with no expectation that some nerd would come along and try to analyze it. But it got me thinking. I’d be curious to know what people think about this.

    In writing the above I have discovered that Mac OSX’s built-in dictionary thinks that “homoeroticism” and “homoerotic” are not words. So much for cool Macs and dweebish PCs.

  81. Andrew B, I think you meant:



  82. judybusy says:

    God, I so need this today. Best LOL EVAH! Sadly, Andrew, B, I am too sleep-deprived to even understand the question, much less formulate a witty, cohesive response, which is certainly required hereabouts!

    Thansk to all for the good recommendations for movies and books.

    I add my support for deleting the trolls. It’s just not fun reading their hateful crap.

    i cna has bloo brah?

  83. acilius says:

    @Andrew B: “Is there such a thing as non-gender-specific homoeroticism?” That’s an interesting question. How much do lesbians and gay men really have in common? It’s a hard question to ask now, and was impossible to ask as recently as a few years ago, because among the things the two groups undoubtedly do have in common are determined and formidable enemies. So it’s the sort of topic that could only be productively explored in a space where everyone was confident that a discussion wouldn’t rupture necessary alliances. (I usually try to avoid martial imagery, but I really think it is called for in this case.)

    @Alex K: (Quaker fist bump)

    @AB: I think of that Robert Frost quote quite often, especially when I’ve just heard myself utter a sentence starting with the words “In fairness to…” Over the years, I’ve spoken sentences beginning with the locutions “In fairness to Osama bin Laden,” “In fairness to Dick Cheney,” “In fairness to Fred Phelps,” and “In fairness to the Nazis.” In fairness to myself, each of those came right after I realized I was taking satisfaction in hating the figures named. (Sheesh, I can’t even side AGAINST myself in an argument…)

  84. ksbel6 says:

    I was feeling like my credit card balance was too low so I went to Women and Children First and ordered the 3 Sarah Waters books that I don’t already have. That was fun. Just trying to stimulate the economy you know 🙂

    We are supposed to get 8 inches of snow here in NE MO tonight, good ol’ winter is not ready to go away yet!

    Oh, and I love this blog and am in full support of deleting all those troll comments.

  85. Kate L says:

    Here in NE KS, we dodged the half-foot of snow we were predicted to get today.

    Has anyopne else noticed that A.B.’s constant texting on her iPhone seems to have affected her typing ability?

  86. Kate L says:

    anyopne, anypwhere?

  87. Kate L says:

    But seriously. I’ve long been intrigued by the cultural differences between different parts of the LGBT continuum. Also, here in this small, midwestern colege town there seems to be a cycle of what part of the LGBT continuum takes the lead in the battle for equal rights.


  89. Christine says:

    “A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.”
    This whole thing reminded me of an argument I had on a whiteboard. On my floor in the dorm I live in, there is a big whiteboard in the hallway for people to “communicate” through. One day I saw that somebody had written, “Ladies, if you are having male company, please keep it down. THANKS.” So I did something probably very immature and dumb, but I couldn’t help myself. I wrote, “So if we are having female company we can be loud?” The next day I saw that someone wrote “EW” next to my comment. I debated about whether to erase it because I didn’t want to censor anyone. Then someone wrote another comment saying I was being rude or something because I was talking about “personal things.” So I wrote something like “people talk about personal things all the time. example:” and I drew an arrow back to the original comment. The next day the whole board had been erased. (Probably by the RA.) Maybe it would have made more sense to have just erased the whole thing after “EW” instead of having a big argument on a whiteboard in the hallway.
    I thought it was interesting because I did take my side, but I didn’t censor anyone. Now that (maybe) you’ve read my whole stupid story, I want to say I don’t think there’s anything wrong with deleting a comment in your own blog. If the blog belongs to you, you can do whatever you want!! It’s your choice whether you want to let people argue like idiots or just delete all the inappropriate comments.

  90. acilius says:

    @Christine: Your story wasn’t stupid at all! It was very much to the point.

    “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with deleting a comment in your own blog.” You are absolutely right. This blog belongs to AB. She’s no more obligated to let people insult her or each other here than she would be in her own home.

    People who like the trolls can start their own blogs and invite the trolls there. “Are you a comically obtuse angry person? Then comment on our blog!”

  91. hairball_of_hope says:


    I like your approach, fighting invisibility of LGBT with humor on the whiteboard. I would have let the EW comment stand, just to see if anyone else commented, either as an ally or as a narrow-minded person.

    As far as deleting the PTTWTTBOPH posts, I say AB should go hogwild with the DELETE key. I used to moderate a couple of online technical forums, and it’s a thankless task when trolls or almost-trolls post stupid and inflamatory crap.

    Letting the troll output stand turns off good netizens, makes threads hard to follow, and generally inhibits folks from reading and posting. There’s enough stupid stuff in the world, who needs to deal with it here, when we have a choice of which forums to frequent?

    It’s easy to hit DELETE when they are obscene and irrelevant, such as our puerile pal who envies our shiny blue foundation wear. It’s a much harder call when folks are making technical arguments (sensible or not) about flavors of Linux, the best method to interface different data streams, etc.

    One of the commenters on a Linux board I frequent had the tagline “I’d rather argue against a hundred idiots than have one agree with me.” Someone replied to his tagline, “Well, you’ve certainly come to the right place!”

    As for blocking the bloviating idiot, AB noted that she gets the IP address, along with timestamp, as part of the site logs. The IP address is traceable back to the ISP, and if she complains to the ISP about his obscene and disruptive posts (I’m sure the PTTWTTBOPH is a he), they can terminate the service of this knucklehead (all ISPs reserve the right to terminate service for non-compliance with rules).

  92. hairball_of_hope says:

    Dammit, it’s inflammatory. Finger/brain disconnect. It’s Friday. My digits are tired of typing in this digital world.

  93. judybusy says:

    HOH: if AB can let her atrocious typing stand, surely we will forgive you for a missed “m!”

  94. ksbel6 says:

    @hoh: so do you use Linux? I’m quite a fan myself. I use Lyx and Xfig to write all my math tests. It will be years before Windows will come up with a reasonably priced version of those two great programs. I’ve been using Linux for quite awhile, I started with Red Hat and then moved up. Mozilla has come a long way also!!

  95. little gator says:

    LOLcat video

  96. iara says:

    Okai, hear it gose:

    MARCH 27TH, 2009 AT 2:19 PM


  97. I deleted the original comment, but had to leave Iara’s lovely translation.

  98. Kate L says:

    Christine, hairball

    Folk in the LGBT community have so many ways to communicate today compared to the Olden Times (my college years in the 1970’s) that it takes my breath away. The whiteboard communication site does remind me of those days of yesteryear, however. I can remember that at the University of Kansas back in the late seventies, lesbians took to communicating with each other by writing on the interior walls of the elevator car in the science library. In many ways, it was just like this blog, except much, much slower.

  99. Ready2Agitate says:

    OK add me to the list of folks who have recently had a dream about AB! (No – not THAT kind of dream 😉 ) Alison was in Boston/Cambridge for a slew of awesome dyke events, and swung by my house to return a book to me — one I’d mailed to her in VT. Um, I think it was the Essentials book (which in real life I’ve lent to my friend). So I sez to AB something lak: kinda funny that I sent you your OWN book, but I sure appreciate yer returning it to me!” One way I knew it was Alison was by her glasses (am I dreaming of Rachel Maddow too?) And then I introduced her to my partner, but I pronounced Bechdel wrong (BechDEL instead of Bechdl “rhymes with Rectal”). That’s all I remember. Guess I’ve been too long away from the blog! (By the time I got here, all of Reader’s comments is gone. Hammer that delete button, AB – I get enough headaches reading the daily news!)

    Friends, I just finished Amamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Half a Yellow Sun” abt Biafra/Nigeria 1960-1970. A stunning novel from a brilliant young Nigerian woman writer abt an impt part of our world history (and one I knew nothing about). Not Sarah Waters (or queer-related), but a worthwhile read.

  100. hairball_of_hope says:


    Yeah, my *nix heritage goes all the way back to the original wars betwen BSD (Berkeley Standard Distribution) and System V (AT&T) Unix, with a strange bunch of *nixen along the way: Irix (Silicon Graphics, aka SGI), AIX (IBM), HP-UX (HP), Digital Unix (DEC), QNX, some oddballs (Coherent Unix, Turbo Unix), and then all the offspring of Linus Torvalds’ penguin Linux kernel and GNU/Linux, too numerous to enumerate.

    Mac fans please note that OSX is actually BSD Unix under all that pretty GUI stuff that runs on top. You’re using Unix and you don’t even know it.

    For you non-computer geeks, you can test drive Linux without installing a thing on your PC. Nearly all Linux distributions are available on a “live CD”, which allows you to boot into a full working system from a CD (or a USB flash drive, although that usually requires a little work to install it on the flash drive.)

    Great for clean surfing on someone else’s computer, or rescuing files from your brain-dead Windoze installation whih loops into a constant Blue Screen of Death (BSOD).

    Knoppix was the first of the live CDs and is probably the most well-known outside of Ubuntu, but my usual recommendation for Windoze users is PCLinuxOS, it’s a very intuitive interface with very little learning curve for the basics.

    Back to my O/S roots… beyond the *nixen and really ancient stuff like CP/M, there are the operating systems that few remember which were in the DEC (Digital Equipment Corp) universe: TOPS-10, MUMPS, RT-11, RSX-11M, and zillions of iterations of VMS and OpenVMS.

    I hate Windoze, it’s bloated crapware. Have it on a few systems for the inevitable brain-dead apps. Eventually I hope to figure out how to get it running seamlessly in VirtualBox so I don’t need dual-boot systems.

    I’ve got two little Asus eee netbooks, and I love them. They are gamechangers. The Linux version comes with Xandros (which I don’t care for), and the default “easy” mode is idiotic, first thing I did was get it into a proper KDE desktop. On my “soon” To-Do list is to install the just-released PCLinuxOS 2009 on an SD card on one of them to give it a good test ride before wiping out Xandros.

    [End of Free and Open Source Software evangelizing)

  101. Acilius says:

    R2A: Thanks for mentioning HALF A YELLOW SUN! That sounds like exactly the sort of thing I need to read. I’ll look for it at the first opportunity.

  102. Virginia Burton says:

    On, people who post objectionable material are warned once and the post is deleted. The next time, they are magically diverted to the Disneyland website. I don’t know how it’s done, but maybe the webmistress here could figure a way to divert trolls to another site. Maybe one espousing tolerance.

  103. Acilius says:

    @Virginia Burton: That’s an interesting idea.

    It might also be possible for the proprietor of a website besieged by trolls to take a sneakier approach. I’m speaking of a hypothetical person maintaining a website besieged by trolls, not the actual proprietor of this site, who I’m sure is much too busy and not at all sneaky enough to do what I’m about to suggest.

    This hypothetical person might launch a mirror of the besieged site. Divert trolls to that mirror. There they could post to their hearts’ content, perhaps not even realizing that they had been sent away. Also, legitimate fans who take a perverse satisfaction in laughing at the trolls could find their entertainment at that site.

  104. Anonymous says:

    IT HER:

  105. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L

    One of my friends goes way back to 7th grade… we met via the graffiti we left on the desk in our respective French classes, several periods apart. After a few months of our desk doodles, we finally met and then discovered we lived a few blocks apart. I won’t say how many decades ago that was. 😉

    I vaguely recall a cartoon somewhere (New Yorker, maybe?) of an explorer opening an ancient tomb and finding graffiti on the wall, “Kilroy was here.” Extra points to anyone who knows the history of Kilroy graffiti.

  106. Kat says:

    I’m so jealous of you right now, Alison!

    I happen to think that Fingersmith and the Night Watch are the best Sarah Waters novels…..I just had to add that, since I wasn’t seeing very much love for Fingersmith in the the comments, and I didn’t want it to feel left out….

  107. Ginjoint says:

    @ Andrew B: Whut?

    Yeah, my *nix heritage goes all the way back to the original wars betwen BSD (Berkeley Standard Distribution) and System V (AT&T) Unix, with a strange bunch of *nixen along the way: Irix (Silicon Graphics, aka SGI), AIX (IBM), HP-UX (HP), Digital Unix (DEC), QNX, some oddballs (Coherent Unix, Turbo Unix), and then all the offspring of Linus Torvalds’ penguin Linux kernel and GNU/Linux, too numerous to enumerate.

    Mac fans please note that OSX is actually BSD Unix under all that pretty GUI stuff that runs on top. You’re using Unix and you don’t even know it.

    @ Hairball of Hope: Whut?

  108. Ginjoint says:

    In othr nooz, I has been buzy fallin 4 strate woman. Dis r not gud! I shud knoe betr. Hormonez r overridin mah brane! Someone halp me nao!


    Teim 2 go masterbate.

  109. hairball_of_hope says:


    Maybe we should combine the inscrutable comments from Andrew B and me into one…

    Is there such a thing as non-gender-specific operating system eroticism? Will a man using a Mac running OSX in a state of sex-starved homoerotic despair get the full impact as a woman running Red Hat Linux on a diminutive Asus eee?

    And what to do with the poor souls stuck in the rinse-lather-repeat loop of Windoze booting to a Blue Screen of Death? They are homoerotically dreaming of Blue Bras of Fun.

  110. hairball_of_hope says:


    You can fix that little problem… you’re in Chicago, hop on over to the Art Institute and take a gander at the Edvard Munch exhibition. Unfortunately, ‘The Scream’ no longer tours because it’s been stolen so many times, but you can get your cautionary tale/anxiety fix watching someone else’s “train wreck waiting to happen” via art. And then promise yourself you will wash that woman right out of your hair.

  111. ksbel6 says:

    @Ginjoint: Jeez grl, strt womn r ausum to convrt! Yull nvr gt yr toastrovn if u gv up now 😉 My lvr is/ws strgt n she swrs shes nvr bn hapir.
    Wow, I guess that comes across as more cocky than I meant, but you get the idea.

  112. Ready2Agitate says:

    Wow – a mirror image of a blog where a PTTWTTBOPH* can see its comments included in the mix, but no one else can? Sounds like just the kinda thing computers are good at!

    *(plastic toy thingie with the bright orange pointy hair)

  113. Catherine says:

    Allison, when will we see your review in the NYT book review?

    I get the Sunday paper. It is shrinking slowly into a pamphlet (esp. the magazine, which last weekend contained William Safire’s verbal navel-gazing, The Ethicist, Deborah Solomon’s one page famous-person interview, some fiction, and the big whammy: a cover story about a preteen basketball player–wow.)

    Unfortunately did not find your review last week or the week before, but waiting with bated breath.

    Thinking of Vermont from out here in California, both states have big fish on the line

  114. hairball_of_hope says:

    PTTWTTBOPH = Plastic Toy Thingy With The Teased Bright Orange Polyester Hair (or so you said a few generations of threads ago)… Welcome back R2A, you’ve been missed.

    When I see PTTWTTBOPH on the screen, I envision Calvin and Hobbes delivering spittle-filled raspberries to each other.

  115. NLC says:

    tsk, tsk, tsk…

    Lisp: The only true choice for Geeks To Watch Out For

  116. hairball_of_hope says:


    Touché! That wins the Geeks To Watch Out For prize. I never used LISP, but 20 years ago or so I inherited a project from Hell written in FORTH, which was strongly influenced by LISP. Both languages (or their derivatives) are still in use. Pity the souls who have to maintain that legacy code.

    I always wondered why we are so preoccupied with AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the Turing Test, when one look at many of our elected officials (and the financial folks running the economy into the ground) indicates that they would fail the Turing Test. 🙁

    Poor stoat… shame s/he’s being compared to the VT governor.

    (Goes back to searching for intelligent life on Earth…)

  117. hairball_of_hope says:

    Interesting article in today’s Wall Street Journal about anonymity on the Web and social networking sites. And of course, it references the New Yorker cartoon by Peter Steiner, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

  118. Jessie says:


    “i cna has bloo brah?”

    oh my goodness! hahaha!

  119. Jessica Bessica says:

    “i cna has bloo brah?”
    oh my goodness! hahaha!

  120. C. says:

    Btw, that WSJ piece is under a “Free suscriber preview”, so tt won’t last too long.

  121. Maggie Jochild says:

    Well, to go to two VERY DIFFERENT PLACES in response (no wonder the terrorists/trolls hate us, we don’t stick to one simple state-approved subject here):

    (1) I go through most of what gets submitted to I Can Has Cheezburger once a week to compile a “best of the week” round-up at my own blog, and the grammar/logic/spelling of LOLSpeak is absolutely addictive. I’m convinced it has an internal logic that we’ve all helped create. For instance, last night when I dropped a mayonnaise-covered slice of bread on the floor sticky-side down, did I say “Well, crap?” No, I said out loud “FAIL”.

    (2) Keeping trolls out by deleting posts makes a phenomenonal, long-term difference in the level of discourse, including fascinating disagreement, at a blog. I had a chance this past year to request and help institute this kind of policy change at a major progressive blog (thanks to a really helpful nudge from Liza), and the folks who had felt silenced by the anger before came pouring out of the woodwork to suddenly participate — a LOT of them women and/or POC. To harken back to a previous post at this blog, the “new technologies” we’re all acquiring includes a certain emotional and physical distance from those with whom we are interacting. Such distance often exacerbates problem areas, like oppressive attitudes, inability to listen, and failure to assume responsibility for one’s own emotions. All of which are the result of pain and damage, but as Sharon Bridgforth has hammered into us, being an artist does not mean we have agreed to being someone else’s therapist, no matter how much we inspire their catharsis. CONSENT, folks. Look for consent.

    (3) I think every attitude we have toward sex and what we define as arousal is the result of conditioning. Since we grow up in a culture where sexual charge is equated with power imbalance, where there is a “normal” gender and a “whatever is left over” gender, and where sexual abuse of those less privileged is the rule rather than the exception, then there’s not really any such recognizable entity as a gender-free, class-free, race-free, adultism-free erotic response. Except that which we create individually for ourselves and those we trust into our beds. And, to some extent, that which we create as communities who have been conditioned in similar ways, in an attempt not to react against that conditioning but to step outside it altogether — a long, difficult, but very worth-it task. Or, to quote Judy Grahn, “The subject of lesbianism is very ordinary / It’s the question of male domination that makes everybody angry.” Nowhere more so than in bed.

    My cat Dinah wants the last word here:


  122. Ginjoint says:

    HOH, nice mash-up there of the impenetrable (at least what’s impenetrable to me – Maggie seemed to handle it just fine). And yes, “train wreck about to happen” pretty much sums it up nicely, thanks. But it feels so good to be horny again! Ksbel, maybe I’ll give it a shot as I see how this plays out, but I doan finks I has teh mad skillz 2 make her come ovar 2 teh light side.

    “Leeve owr hear sikuls alone.” Har. Dat wuz gud.

  123. Andrew B says:

    GJ: Let’s say there are four cases:

    (a) woman attracted to woman
    (b) man attracted to man
    (c) woman attracted to man
    (d) man attracted to woman

    What I’m wondering is whether (a) and (b) have anything in common that neither of them shares with either (c) or (d). Is there such a thing as homoeroticism generally? Or are there only gay male desire and lesbian desire, two completely different things?

    I gather from Acilius’s answer that I may have stepped on some toes by asking this. That is not what I meant to do.

  124. m.pigou says:

    Being a non-native speaker, and an even less native reader, I get lost in this new LOL-speak of you modern Americans. Since: sikuls? What do you mean? Seagulls? Sequels? Cigales? Siegers?

    Andrew B. asks a question that has kept me curious for a long time, but that I have stopped discussing innocently, since it raised too many eyebrows. In my version the question went like this: if you would wake up in the morning, and found out that you had turned into – no, not into an enormous insect as in Kafka’s ‘Die Verwandlung’, but into a man; would you (a) still be attracted to women, or (b) still be gay?

    O, and I tend to agree that we are not anyone else’s therapist, but we are still our brothers keeper, and there is no harm in trying to take people serious and avoid ridiculing them, even if they are disproportionally angry.

  125. Ready2Agitate says:

    sikuls = cycles. I am not a LOL-speaker (or enjoyer) but as someone who speaks US English as a first language, I can locate from the context (and the phonetic) the actual word.

    Down with human oppression
    Leave our heat cycles alone
    (and Maggie, that really made me laugh 🙂 — esp after your eloquent commentary on sex, gender, and oppression)

    ps “heat” = the natural hormonal fluctuations of cats related to their normal/animal sexual reproduction (the cycles of which are nullified by the neutering process)

    And of course (a) and (b) above both challenge patriarchy and compulsory heterosexuality, which they do not share with (c) and (d). Is that what you meant, Andrew?

  126. Duncan says:

    On non-specific homoeroticism. I get a lot more emotion, generally speaking, from the writing of lesbian writers than of gay male writers. From Patience and Sarah to Kate Millett’s Flying to Sarah Waters and Nicola Griffith, I have a lot more fave lesbian books and writers than gay male ones. That includes dykes who wrote fiction about gay men, such as Mary Renault, which might also point to a non-specific homoeroticism. There are a few gay male novelists whose newest work sends me to the bookstore, but there are more lesbian or straight female novelists who do.
    I haven’t quite put my finger down on the reason for this, but I think it has to do with the depiction of the way relationships develop, and also the way female writers write about human bodies. There’s a curious insubstantiality in most male writing about bodies and sex.

    I second the recommendation of Terry Pratchett, whose every Discworld book I’ve read. But there’s something that bothers me a wee bit: in 30-odd Discworld novels, he has never had a non-heterosexual character (except perhaps for two women in Monstrous Regiment). It is, of course, his business what sorts of people he chooses to write about, and I’m not going to stop reading him on that account; but it’s still a failure of basic ‘universality.’ An equally prolific queer writer who went as long without a straight character or even acknowledgment of the straight lifestyle would be accused of ghettoizing him or herself.

    judybusy, I read only one of McCall Smith’s non-Botswana novels, and though it went down smoothly — the man can write — it struck me as a sort of translation of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency formula into a Scots locale. I’ve never felt any wish to read any more of them.

    I wrote about open-mindedness at my blog at great length, so here’s a link (in response also to judybusy’s request):

    I agree wholeheartedly that this is Alison’s blog and she can moderate it as she sees fit. She could be much stricter about the breadth of discussion she permits here, and I’d have no complaint. This is a subject that’s come up around these precincts before, I recall. What makes me uneasy is some other commenters’ criteria, like “objectionable” postings: what is “objectionable”? Presumably something that someone objects to, but *someone* will object to just about anything. Why shouldn’t people learn to object to the objectionable themselves, instead of demanding that “objectionable” material be removed from their sight? The mindset involved is really just the same as that of conservative Christians or other religionists who don’t want to see anything that offends *them*; it’s just the other, liberal, side of the same coin.

    I recall, when we discussed this question here a year or so back, that someone said that she didn’t like to debate or counter the claims/arguments of other people because she didn’t want to risk hurting their feelings. Apparently, deleting their postings, etc. doesn’t involve such a risk. I’m not making a brief for “reader,” only pointing out the danger in giving overly broad criteria for deletion. But the fun thing was, “reader’s” remarks were very easy to refute. His personal attacks on our host/ess were, I thought, a good reason to nuke them. (In the interests of full disclosure, I haven’t enabled comments on my own blog.)

  127. Acilius says:

    @Andrew B: You certainly haven’t stepped on my toes. My point was that it’s a hard subject to discuss abstractly, since, as Maggie and R2A have indicated above, so much of our sexual identity is tied up with the power relations that exist in our society. Asking what lesbians and gay males have in common apart from those relations is difficult, because it’s so hard (maybe impossible) to imagine what “homosexuality” would be like if those relations were radically different. For that matter, it’s hard to see what would be left of the concepts “male” and “female” if the power relations that define them were radically changed. So once we’ve said that what lesbians and gay men have in common is that the same people want to beat both of them up, it’s hard to ask what else they have in common- what would they have in common if there were no homophobia? Is there an essence of female homosexuality and an essence of male homosexuality that remain the same across all societies, and if so how do those essences compare to each other? Many say there are no such essences. For my part I haven’t the foggiest idea whether there are, the question is way over my head.

    One thing I am sure of is that questions like this can only be usefully discussed in the kind of space so many have expressed a wish to create here, a space where we needn’t fear that a difference of opinion or an unresolved question or an admission of a fault will be used as a weapon by those who would like to harm sexual minorities. The reason I said we couldn’t talk about that question at all even a few years ago was that until then such spaces were so rare and so small that a discussion could hardly begin.

  128. ksbel6 says:

    AB: The review is awesome. I can’t decide if I want to read the book or not, but your attention to detail is amazing. I cannot wait for your new book to be released!

    @Andrew B: I totally agree. The one thing that is true about humans is that we are all different. Even trying to do something as simple as “handedness” can become very difficult very quickly. Trying to generalize sexuality…well, I don’t think it can be done. Where would one place the transexuals who get married and have kids, then transition but stay with their spouse…or move on to someone of the opposite sex…or…I think you see my point.

    @Ginjoint: Patience will be the key. I waited 3 years before I felt like I moved into the “a really important friend” category, then things built up from there. So you have to REALLY believe she is “the one.” Also, I’m passing along “Love Will Come To You” by the indigo girls via good vibes and positive forces 🙂

  129. bean says:

    Acilius said: “Is there an essence of female homosexuality and an essence of male homosexuality that remain the same across all societies, and if so how do those essences compare to each other?”

    I think the important question is, what are the implications of the answers to the question; i.e. what would it mean if there really WERE a “female essence?” or a “homosexual essence?” What would it mean if there really WEREN’T?

    to me, these questions are like the question of god; we have a world that treats these things as though they exist; but we understand why it would be kinda silly to try to prove it scientifically. despite no scientific evidence, people believe in god because they like the way it enables them to organize their world. similar with gender/essence/ whatever. believing in god is ok with some people, and they don’t need scientific proof. it’s not ok with other people. believing in gender is ok with some people, and not others. but, there is evidence to show that when you go looking for scientific proof of heteronormativity, then you are talking also about looking for “cures” for everyone else.

    so, i think the question of gender/essence is better left to the realms in which we discuss philosophy and religion. (which certainly includes this blog!)

    a lot of feminists were able to start to think about gender differently when they accepted it as a cultural construct, and not biological determination. but, some feminists still believe (and who is anyone to say they are wrong in the face of so much glaring evidence?) that it is precisely gender constructs/stereotypes/behaviors etc. that continue to oppress women (and also queers and transfolk).

  130. Andrew B says:

    It looks like I was naive to think I could just toss a question like that out and expect people to come up with answers. So thanks to everybody who was patient with my naive question.

    A couple more things, though… My real question was, ‘Will a man reading a Sarah Waters book in a state of “sex-starved homoerotic despair” get “the full impact”?’ The abcd version was an attempt to explain the background to the question, ignoring some difficult problems so as not to occupy Alison’s entire disk quota. It wasn’t just playing with abstract categories. I hope no one, particularly trans folk, felt I was trying to exclude them. I apologize if it came across that way. I was just trying to avoid raising every question at once.

    Everyone who is exclusively lesbian, gay, or straight seeks to distinguish between men and women, with or without the benefit of theory. So it’s something that an awful lot of people want to do and think we can do.

    R2A’s response suggests that the answer to the question is “yes”. If part of the impact of a Sarah Waters novel comes from the transgression against heteronormativity, then a person who is participating in that transgression might feel the impact more powerfully than a person who is only reading about it. And that might be true regardless of the reader’s gender. That’s going beyond what R2A actually said, and I hope I’m not putting words in her mouth. It’s one way to understand what she said.

  131. verbal athleticism says:

    I’m jealous. So you’ve gotta be a best-selling author to score an ARC of Waters’ newest? Lucky dog.

  132. MidSouth Mouth says:

    @Andrew B

    I think, perhaps, that the “sex-starved homoerotic despair” could have a big impact for a guy-on-guy guy, too…

    In some ways, it’s the same recognition of longing** that makes str8 narratives of desire recognizable and oftentimes empathizable…for this dyke-identified queer, femme-of-center, Black/African-American, woman reader.

    **With the caveat that one’s positions as a reader can influence how and why one might feel more Affinity for some POVs or characters.

    When I was an unaffiliated young Southern, urban, black girl reading science fiction, for instance, or many interesting mundane novels in the 70s-80s, I did not find a golden horde of characters like me out there yet they were often interesting in their quirks and desires…