Thomas Pynchon and the Lost City of Lemuria

April 2019

My first language was one of transcendence. I was raised by a single, nomadic mother on a relentless spiritual journey, and my childhood was laced with chatter of ascended masters and astral traveling. When I was seven, Mom moved us from a gritty SRO in San Francisco’s Tenderloin to Mount Shasta City, California, a forested …


Drummer-turned-novelist, Leni Zumas

November 2013

Writer Leni Zumas is balanced on the corner of a tightly made bed in Room 400 of Portland, Oregon’s trendy Ace Hotel. With her fair skin, dark pooling eyes, and curtain of black waves, Zumas already looks at home in the Northwest. A young, lean photographer is shooting her with a Mamiya that he says …


Punk Rock & String Theory: YA Author Kari Luna

July 2013

Kari Luna‘s debut young adult novel, The Theory of Everything, is a bright, shiny antidote to the dystopias and vampire love stories that dominate today’s YA shelves. The story follows 14-year old protagonist Sophie Sophia on a soul-reckoning journey from the suburbs of Chicago to New York City to find her missing father – an …


Wrecked, by Charlotte Roche

June 2013

“With my husband’s cock in my ass, my women’s movement head always tries to talk me out of the possibility that it can feel good, even as my rectum is telling me how good it feels. Who should I believe?” Elizabeth Kiehl, the main character in Charlotte Roche’s second novel, Wrecked, hears her feminist mother’s …


My Awesome Place: Biography of Cheryl B.

March 2013

Before Cheryl Burke became one of New York’s most celebrated queer poet-performers, her New Jersey high-school guidance counselor told her she’d better shoot for a career as a toll-road guard. The daughter of a fourth- generation longshoreman and a neurotic Italian-American housewife, Burke was an overweight teen whom no one expected to reach far beyond …


Depression: A Public Feeling, by Ann Cvetkovich

December 2012

What if depression is not an isolated medical condition treatable through diagnosis and drugs, but instead a collective phenomena whose roots lie in social, cultural, and political dislocation? Ann Cvetkovich, a professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Texas–Austin, unpacks this concept in her “queer academic self-help book,” Depression: A Public Feeling. Half …


Lidia Yuknavitch’s Freudian Flip

November 2012

Lidia Yuknavitch gives the term “body language” fresh meaning in her debut novel, Dora: A Headcase (Hawthorne Books). In response to Sigmund Freud’s famous case study, “Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria,” Yuknavitch recasts 19th-century teen Ida Bauer, or Dora, as a 17-year old punk-rock video artist in modern-day Seattle. In the original study, …


VIDA by Marge Piercy

June 2012

When it was first released in 1979, the L.A. Times called Marge Piercy’s Vida the “Golden Notebook of the ‘8os,” both a record of and reflection on the state of feminism at a historical turning point. In the 1960s American antiwar movement (the setting of half of Vida) , feminist issues were considered second-tier, even …


Odd Couples: Friendships at the Intersection of Gender & Sexual Orientation

April 2012

“Men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.” Who can forget the classic argument by Billy Crystal’s character in When Harry Met Sally? Well, Hetero Harry overlooked one important angle in his famous spiel on the impossibility of male-female friendships. Odd Couples picks up where he left off by …


Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM & the Circuits of Sexuality

March 2012

Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality is not the sort of sexy bedtime reading you might imagine upon glancing the title. It’s a dense, academic text best absorbed early and bright-eyed with a fresh cup of coffee. Author and anthropologist Margot Weiss’s ethnographic study of the Bay Area’s organized BDSM community in …