IT TAKES ALL KINDS
BY JOY PARKS
One of my biggest concerns about the state of lesbian literature now is its undeniable "sameness." Lesbian publishers, and for that matter, lesbian writers, seem far too content to continue to churn out the same kinds of books (mostly mysteries, romances and erotic collections) usually populated by the same undistinguished characters. And these books continue to be bought and read by readers who have either become too complacent to demand better, or have never been exposed to more challenging books. Perhaps it is the result of the mainstreaming of lesbian culture or perhaps our collective memory is short. But the point is, without diversity, lesbian literary culture, like any culture, is in danger of stagnation or death. And we just can't risk that. Which is why we need books like those featured this month to remind us that it really does take all kinds.
Grits, Gravy and Girls by Kristen Garrett bears what has to be one of the worst titles ever given to a book, but at least it's memorable and hints at the kind of random nuttiness that can be found between the covers. This cryptically comic novel offers readers--at least those willing to submit to the seduction of its larger-than-life characters and relative absence of plot--a tremendously honest look at how many lesbians think, love and live their lives. The book is basically a quick and hilarious romp through the lives and bedrooms of one time "Bama" state basketball hero Dimples Rooney and the four wonderfully overdone lesbian characters connected to her as lovers, exs and lovers of lovers. Sound familiar? Factor in the general eccentricity that comes of setting a lesbian novel in the south and there's something faintly reminiscent of a roughly written Rita Mae Brown. Despite occasional lapses in language and pacing, an annoying need to clothe her characters in the physical aspects of conventional beauty (when did blonde, long-legged and often scantily dressed become character traits?), Kristen Garrett deserves to be praised for Grits, Gravy and Girls, particularly for giving us such a viciously sincere but easy-to-take look at ourselves.
Copyright 2002 Joy Parks. All Rights Reserved
To read Kristen's response to Ms. Parks' comments, read her interview with author Lee Lynch in the July, 2002 Lambda Book Report.
GRITS, GRAVY AND GIRLS
LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD
BEST SELF-PUBLISHED NOVEL
Kristen Garrett, the best-selling author of the irreverently funny You Light the Fire and Lady Lobo, marks a triumphant return with this compelling, controversial novel of love, romance and mystery.
Kristen Garrett at her best...sensual, seductive, intriguing, enigmatic.
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Praise for Kristen Garrett's Novels:
Garrett gets in your face and slaps you awake with real-life vernacular. Her characters are made stronger for their suffering.
Lambda Book Review
Kristen Garrett has the potential to grow into a first-class author. She shows lots of imagination and innovation.
Tasha Sumner, The Coffee Club
Garrett shows us the character's growing maturity as evidence of the self-realization and triumph women can achieve.
Joli Sandoz, Lesbian Review of Books
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