Alexander Crompton

📚 23 - December

Unfortunately I was so overwhelmed with work that I put off this blog post until months later. But now I'll be all caught up!!

Radclyffe Hall (1928). The Well of Loneliness.

I was expecting something very pessimistic and dreary—this book floated like a moorland specter around my literature education, an example of one of the self-loathing proto-queer books where joyless lesbians are punished for their sin with death. It turns out that was not the case at all!

Something this book caught brilliantly that I've never seen in print was the (proto-)gay child's sense of foreboding—the sense that your parents are fragile and you hold a secret (one even you don't know) that will cause them great harm.

Audre Lorde (1982). Zami: A New Spelling of My Name.

The "biomythography"—the first half is a (mytho-?)memoir of a New York childhood, and the second half is a chronicle of a the young woman's relationships. The second half brilliantly captured that self-centeredness that 20-something lovers can have—all swept up in their feelings, learning what love and life is about—their lovers popping in and out as if specifically to teach them something along the way. I wish I'd read books like this, Well of Loneliness, Giovanni's Room, Maurice when I was first making my way in the world—maybe (maybe) I would have learned something and avoided some pitfalls.

Sarah Schulman (2016). Conflict is not Abuse.

I loved this book—it put into words something I've been thinking through a lot and points out obvious but very common dysfunctions in how people (particularly queer people, but beyond that) communicate or view each other interdependently. In a nutshell, the title and subtitle: "Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility and the Duty of Repair". I could go on and on about it (please ask me to if you run into me sometime!), but I need to wrap this up.

Gayl Jones (1975). Corregidora.

This novel does amazing things with dialogue—innovative, masterclass-level.