Hers 3: Brilliant New Fiction by Lesbian Writers

Overview

The third volume of the lambda Literary award-winning anthology of lesbian fiction.

A lesbian is driven to set fire to discarded mattresses. A scientist discovers the joy of karaoke singing. A young woman waits for her lover to be released from prison, a woman masturbates on the Tokyo subway, and another rises from lovemaking to concoct a magical soup. Featuring stories by noted authors Emma Donoghue, Barbara Wilson, Judith Barrington, and Donna Allegra, as well as relative ...

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Overview

The third volume of the lambda Literary award-winning anthology of lesbian fiction.

A lesbian is driven to set fire to discarded mattresses. A scientist discovers the joy of karaoke singing. A young woman waits for her lover to be released from prison, a woman masturbates on the Tokyo subway, and another rises from lovemaking to concoct a magical soup. Featuring stories by noted authors Emma Donoghue, Barbara Wilson, Judith Barrington, and Donna Allegra, as well as relative newcomers Amelia Maria de la Luz Montes, Natasha Cho, and Carolyn Clark, Hers 3 reveals the breadth of lesbian imagination in twenty-one unforgettable stories that will challenge, provoke, arouse, and surprise.

Featuring short fiction by Robert Rodi, Doug Sadownick, Matthew Stadler, Gil Cuadros, Bernard Cooper, and 15 other contributors, His collects new, previously unpublished work from some of the best gay authors writing in America today. By turns erotic and comic, comforting and enraging, the stories here never fail to entertain.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Novelist Drake (Closet Case) and poet Wolverton (Black Slip), who previously collaborated both on Indivisible, an anthology of West Coast gay and lesbian short fiction, and on last month's Hers: Brilliant New Fiction by Lesbian Writers, here offer a rich, imaginative and diverse, if uneven, collection of 18 previously unpublished short stories by new and established writers. The best includes samples of both, such as Bernard Cooper's portrayal of a teenage boy who tries to deny his sexuality by setting fire to his secret stash of male pornography; Rick Sanford's description of a middle-aged gay atheist's discussion of sexuality with a much-discomfited young Hasidic man; and Matthew Stadler's look at a perplexed college man trying to accept his affair with his 14-year-old cousin and, at the same time, his envy of his sister's lesbianism. Less strong is performance artist Tim Miller's ``Tar Pit Heart,'' perhaps because it is an adaptation of part of his performance work, My Queer Body, about a high school boy's first gay date and kiss on the beach. These stories evince a wide range of characters and locales that hold the reader's interest when the grip of individual narratives occasionally wanes. But most refreshingly, narrative and eroticism are subtly entwined in this collection, and the integrity of the story is never sacrificed simply for sex. (Sept.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This third in an ongoing series matches the admirable range and stylistic variety of its predecessors. Wolverton (Bailey's Beads) and Drake include the works of 21 authors, among them Irish novelist Emma Donoghue (Kissing the Witch), poet Judith Barrington (History and Geography) and visual artist Catherine Lord. Most of their stories (as Wolverton notes) dwell either on childhood or on romantic love. In Ellen Hawley's "What We Forgot to Tell Tina About Boys," a sympathetic lesbian narrator wants to save her teenage niece from an abusive boyfriend: "A single drop of this child should be enough to save a world, although it isn't, somehow." Jane Thurmond's compassionate "Beauty of Blood" depicts an isolated lab technician who discovers love in her 30s. Pat Schmatz's funny, erotic leadoff tale, "Tokyo Trains," explains the joys of masturbating on crowded subways. Lord's "The Art of Losing" follows a romance through its sweet intensities, its 28 short segments almost prose poems. Decidedly stories about lesbian life, these are not only stories for lesbian readers. A few, like Carolyn Clark's "kays and exes" (set in "Club grrrl") even read like reportage, designed to explain a certain scene to outsiders. Those who follow gay/lesbian/queer fiction anthologies will find this one more varied, and better, than most. Other readers remote from Wolverton's target audience will nevertheless appreciate the manifold emotional truths, and modes of experience, offered here. (June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
To saddle any anthology with this unrestrained subtitle is to raise unattainable expectations. Happily, Drake and Wolverton have very nearly fulfilled their promise of "brilliance" with this collection of never-before-published short stories. Although the introduction's defense of "literary quality" as the sole selection criterion is rambling and stilted, the editors seem to have stuck to that guiding purpose. The content ranges from the expected stories of coming-out and dealing with the loss of friends because of AIDS to tales of a dowdy housewife possessed by her new blond wig and a middle-aged man's obsession with the Chassidim of his Brooklyn neighborhood. The contributors include poets (Gil Cuadros), performance artists (Tim Miller), children's authors (Jason Friedman), and a mix of acclaimed story writers (O. Henry Prize winner Bernard Cooper), popular novelists (Robert Rodi, author of Closet Case, LJ 4/15/93), and first-time fiction writers. Presenting a mix of styles as varied as the authors' backgrounds and the stories' subject matter, this collection is unified by that simple but rare combination of freshness and solid writing that is the hallmark of literary quality. Recommended for all libraries collecting contemporary short fiction.-Eric Bryant, "Library Journal"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780571199624
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber
  • Publication date: 7/1/1999
  • Pages: 270
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Read an Excerpt




Chapter One


Tokyo Trains


PAT SCHMATZ


Sabrina went to Tokyo to ride the trains. Most particularly, she went to ride the Yamanote Line between eight and nine on weekday mornings.

    The Yamanote Line is a loop around Tokyo. It stops at all of the Tokyo stations, including Tokyo Eki. There, connections can be made to the bullet train to travel throughout Japan at over one hundred miles per hour, always on time, everywhere. It stops at Ikebukuro and Shibuya, which are major hubs for other local train lines. All day long, the Yamanote runs around and around the huge snarling, belching, filthy beast that is Tokyo, moving throngs of salarymen and office ladies and schoolchildren and foreigners and teachers and sightseers and shoppers. Everyone rides the Yamanote sometime, and many people ride it every day. Especially, many people ride it every day between eight and nine in the morning.

    Sabrina spent three years planning her trip to Japan. She wanted to ride the trains. She wanted to ride bullet trains and commuter trains, subway trains and local trains and express trains. She wanted to go long distances and short distances, she wanted to ride the same car every day for a while and then she wanted to try different lines at different times. But more than anything else, she wanted to ride the Yamanote during rush hour.

    She decided this when she saw a special on television about Tokyo and overcrowding. They showed a packed platform with a mass of people waiting to board. The train pulled up, and faces were literally smashedagainst the windows. Some people got off the train—barely enough so that the people on the train could breathe. Then the mass on the platform began to power its way into the car. They turned around and backed in. Somehow, they all managed to get on the train, but the doors could not close. At that point, the conductor on the platform put on his white gloves. With his gloved hands, he pushed the people in so that the doors could close. When Sabrina saw this, she made up her mind to go to Tokyo.

    Sabrina was "Miss Murphy" to a classroom of second graders back in California. Her life consisted of the children at school, her dog, a literature discussion group, and occasional university extension courses. At thirty-five she was single and not particularly interested in an intimate relationship. After years of therapy, she considered herself fortunate to have survived her childhood with her wits and personality intact, and had been told by more than one professional that it was a miracle that she was not a sociopath. She considered it a fabulous success that she was able to relate to second graders, and to their parents when she needed to. She had a dog which she did not beat or kick; they had a warm and mutually respectful relationship. Sabrina also considered this a success. She had several casual friendships, centered on activities such as hiking and reading books.

    This is not to say that Sabrina was asexual. She was simply not interested in one-to-one, intimate relationships. She liked human contact. She liked physical contact. She did not like it to be acknowledged.

    Sabrina arrived in Tokyo in October. After three years of planning and saving and fantasizing, she had taken a semester's leave of absence to travel throughout Asia. She had spent three weeks hiking in Nepal with a women's adventure group, and now she was on her own for two months in Japan. She planned to study the Japanese language and culture, and to travel throughout the country by train. She was staying for a month in a foreigner house in Tokyo, and she had to ride the Yamanote Line every single day, to sightsee and go to the library.

    Sabrina rode the trains out of necessity from the moment she arrived in Japan. But for the first week, she took great care not to ride at rush hour. She learned about the ticket wickets and the maps and the ways of the trains and their passengers. She studied maps, she studied money, she studied language. She learned the kanji characters for the different stations around Tokyo. Finally, on her second Monday in Japan, she felt secure enough and confident enough to attempt the train ride that she had been anticipating for three years.

    It was all that Sabrina could do not to run to the station in the morning. She was awake at five o'clock. She went downstairs and put a hundred-yen coin into the slot which turned the shower on. She carried an extra coin with her, and slid it in when the shower stopped, allowing herself an extra five minutes of hot shower on this morning. Then she went back upstairs and dressed carefully. Levi's and a casual cotton sweater and tennis shoes. As a foreigner, she was going to stand out no matter how she dressed, so she might as well go for comfort and confidence.

    It was a crisp, clear morning and she walked down the street to the bakery. She treated herself to several pastries and an orange juice. By six-thirty, she was dressed and fed and ready and there was nothing to do but wait. She tried to read and couldn't concentrate. She was already so completely turned on with anticipation that it was all she could do to keep herself from masturbating. But she wanted to wait, to make this first time everything that she had dreamed of. Finally, she left for the train station.

    She walked through a labyrinth of winding narrow streets. There were shops and houses close on either side of her, pedestrians and bicycles passing almost close enough to touch her, and the streak of narrow bright blue sky overhead, between the rooftops and balconies that were draped with drying laundry and bedding left out to air.

    When she came out on a main street, the one that led to Ikebukuro station, her pulse increased with the increasing pace around her. There were cars and buses and taxis, bicycles and people hurrying hurrying hurrying toward the train station. The noise of Tokyo was rising to its daytime pitch, as trains rattled overhead and horns honked and music played from the shops which were opening and the city stretched and yawned noisily as it woke and snorted its way into a day.

    When Sabrina arrived at the train station, it was a thrilling throng of humanity, moving politely in all directions at once. She followed the green "J.R." signs which funneled her toward the boarding platforms for the Yamanote Line.

    It was exactly eight o'clock when Sabrina bought her ticket and climbed the stairs to the platform. She stood in line with men in suits. It was very crowded. Sabrina's face was flushed and her heart pounded. She carefully maintained her distance from the man in front of her so that her body was not quite touching his. Still, her skin was tingling with the excitement of the near-contact and the warmth of the bodies all around her. When the train pulled up, there were faces smashed against the window just like on the television program, and her stomach quivered.

    The doors opened and many people poured out. Sabrina's line moved her onto the train car, touching her now, pressing up close all around her. She was pushed farther into the car and could see that the seats were all folded up against the sides, transforming a perfectly civilized train into a human cattle car. She couldn't see the conductor on the platform. She didn't know if he was pushing people in. She had seen him earlier, but he hadn't had gloves on. She wanted to see the conductor, but her view was blocked by ears, shoulders, chins, and tops of heads.

    This sight, along with the tightening press of bodies around her, intensified her excitement. Her chin almost rested on the head of an old woman in front of her, and the pressure was particularly strong on her right arm and shoulder from a man with wide shoulders and graying hair. She could smell aftershave, stale coffee, and tobacco. Her body was very warm now, and her heart was pounding so rapidly that she wondered if the man who had his chest against her back could feel it. Her legs were weak, but she was packed in so tightly that she could not possibly fall.

    Sabrina had heard about the train perverts who grabbed and fondled women on the trains. She could certainly see how it would happen, and hoped that it wouldn't. The sudden presence of an unwelcome hand would ruin everything. It would instantly put her into intimate contact with that person, whether or not she could trace the hand to its shoulder and face. No, it was the anonymous close contact that she craved, the press of bodies all together by chance and circumstance, rather than by intent.

    The train lurched into motion, and they all rocked and swayed as one large body. Nobody looked at anyone else. Sabrina's hands were pinned to her sides, and the warmth and the pressure and swaying motion pulsed around her entire body. She closed her eyes, to better feel the sensations. She carefully kept her mouth closed and her face masked, but her pulse raced and she was soaking wet, more turned on than she had ever been. The movement of the train soared up through the soles of her feet like one giant whole-body vibrator. As she inhaled, she imagined the molecules of air that she breathed moving into her nose and down inside her body, then back out, into the bodies pressed around her, and then back into her own again. She felt it, felt the presence of carbon dioxide that had just come from the source of warm pressure against her back, her right shoulder, her hip. She felt her body melting into the same breath, the same heartbeat as all of the bodies touching her and the other bodies touching them. She knew that beneath those masks, the blank and staring faces, they must be feeling what she was feeling.

    Sabrina held her breath. She was riding on that moment, that glorious moment just before orgasm, the moment of the best feeling in the entire world, a moment that she wanted to stretch into hours. She concentrated on keeping her face still and relaxed, resisted rubbing her pelvis into the hip in front of her. The train stopped, and the jerking motion followed by the sudden increase of pressure as the doors opened and bodies surged for the door pushed her over the edge and she couldn't help breathing heavily, but resisted making the sound that longed to swell from deep inside of her.

    The bodies pushed her off the train and she didn't resist, although she had not planned to get off yet. She let them push her and spin her and send her along the platform until finally the crowd opened enough so that the constant pressure was gone and there was only occasional bumping as people rushed by her on their way to the stairs. Sabrina was panting now, and she looked for a place to sit down. There was none. She leaned against a post and watched the conductor. There was no expression on his face, none at all. He put on his white gloves.

    People packed themselves into the train as tightly as they could go. Sabrina didn't take her eyes off the conductor's face. It was a good face to look at, with high cheekbones coming down to a narrow chin, a small mouth, and very wide-set eyes. A young and handsome face that betrayed nothing. The hands went carefully to backs and shoulders and pressed them further into the train.

    As the doors closed and the conductor turned around, Sabrina glanced down, but his jacket came over his pants in such a way that she couldn't tell if he had an erection. She thought his face looked flushed, and hers certainly was, as she moved toward a second orgasm, this time touching herself with her hand in the pocket of her Levi's reaching for her clit, not even caring if the people on the train noticed, watching the young conductor and imagining those gloved hands pushing her into the waiting breathing crowd, wanting for the first time in her life to feel the touch of one individual on her body, and knowing that she was going to enjoy the next three weeks in Tokyo very much indeed.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Queerbait 1
Arson 22
Tar Pit Heart 36
Heroes 45
To Nam and Bac 52
Affairs of the Day 61
The Road to Mary's Place 66
Levi 77
Love Problem 95
Bitter Homes and Gardens 100
Love Is Thin Ice 108
The Seizure 122
Wig 138
The Wedding Dress 158
The Horses 176
Guardian 183
Going to Japan 200
The Option of the Coat 202
Notes on the Contributors 233
Acknowledgments 241
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