Smith’s novel excites me, both as a lesbian and as a reader, and I wonder at the teens reading this book in their school libraries: passing over the typical, the cis, the heterosexual, and instead finding something like themselves.
Squad’s protagonist, Jenna, is self-involved turned scrappy when she loses the trust of her best friend and abruptly quits cheer squad. Without cheerleading—the driving force of her life and relationships—Jenna struggles to define herself. Along the way, she dates James, a trans boy and senior. Their relationship is lovesick and lusty as the pair negotiate boundaries, communicate consent, and get in over their heads. But the core of Squad isn’t James or any other boy, but rather Jenna’s relationship to her transforming self. Squad is a refreshing and well-deserved departure from the typical teen novel because nothing is tidy. Jenna’s mess is her own, and as she cleans it up, you root for her with all your heart.
I spoke with Mariah about writing Squad, being a gender cyborg, and why teenage girls deserve better.
Lise Weil quotes Adrienne Rich: “I choose to love this time for once with all my intelligence.” This approach to loving seems to be the exact conceit of Weil’s intimate memoir. Frequent references to H.D., Virginia Woolf, Mary Daly–as well as run-ins in with Audre Lorde–work to create a robust, and sometimes surprising, portrait of the second wave feminist movement. Throughout In Search of Pure Lust, Weil is driven by this intellectual, all-in loving. In her many relationships, Weil lusts for woman not only as partners and lovers, but as poets, scholars, and visionaries.
What does it mean to come of age as a 20-something queer person with no money, no resources, and no illusions about respectability? Black Wave is one of several recent books—including Andrea Lawlor’s Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl (2017), Ariel Gore’s We Were Witches (2017) and Chelsey Johnson’s Stray City (2018)—that seek to answer this question, and each author insists that queer self-actualization requires a radically different approach to adulthood.
Judith Barrington’s Long Love is a collection of new and selected poems celebrating her impressive tenure as a writer. Drawing from Trying to Be an Honest Woman (1985), History and Geography (1989), as well as more recent works like Lost Lands (2008), this latest collection is anchored by Barrington’s stripped-back voice and generous poetic ear.
Published in print, 2017. Sinister Wisdom, Issue 106: The Lesbian Body.