The Middle Of Somewhere

Title: THE MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE
Author: Clifford Henderson
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
ISBN-13: 978-1-60282-047-0
ISBN-10: 1-60282-04703
Rated: 4 Stars
Genre: Romance-Mystery

What happens when a citified dyke from San Francisco decides to cross the Texas Panhandle in the middle of summer with a dead cell phone and expired credit card? In a car old enough to be her mother, no less?

Disaster hits, that’s what.

After a nasty break-up from her umpteenth loser girlfriend, Eadie Pratt decides she’s going to take off on a cross-country trip in her ’66 T-Bird, towing a piece-of-shit travel trailer. One broken U-joint later she finds herself stuck seemingly in the middle-of-nowhere, Texas. Yep, that would be Baptist Texas, complete with hallelujahs! and amens.

Things definitely get worse when she finds the only source of help coming arrives in the form of the local church congregation. What’s a poor pierced and tattooed San Francisco lesbian to do? She doesn’t have much choice in the matter. Well, none, to be frank.

She finds herself taken under the hefty wings of two old spinster sisters who live side by side, each in their own trailer. With Eadie’s own little travel egg on wheels pulled up right alongside theirs, she starts to fear that she’ll never be able to leave the pondunk town she finds herself trapped in. Will she ever make it out alive, much less get to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival before it ends?

I read this book as the required reading for a book club. What a great pick it was! Our upcoming meeting to discuss it is sure to rock-n-roll. What can I say? I loved this book. I was laughing from the first paragraph all the way to the end, and in the meantime fell in love with all the characters.

Although this is Henderson’s first published novel her writing is replete with complex characters and a full-bodied plot, sort of like a well-rounded Merlot. I can’t help but give this book a hearty two-thumbs up review and hope that you’ll read it. I know you’ll enjoy it just as much as I did!

REVIEWED BY JARRON ENNIS

Alexandra Wolfe

Alexandra is the founder, owner, and publishing editor of the Kissed By Venus web site and magazine.

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Let’s Gay Up the Classics!

To illustrate the truly warped way that my meandering mind works, indulge me and follow along for a moment.

With the passing of Pride Month, as well as the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, I’ve been pondering the developments within queer culture, which seem to be unfolding at breakneck speed. Setting aside how monumentally things have changed just in my lifetime, it seems as though very recently there have been massive strides in LGBT rights and social acceptance.

As things continue to morph before my eyes, like New Delhi decriminalizing gay sex, and sporadic states in the U.S. legalizing same-sex marriage and passing anti-discrimination legislation, it still seems patently ridiculous that we have had to fight so hard and so long to attain basic civil rights.

Queer fiction has also advanced exponentially in the last twenty or so years. Gay protagonists are now regularly allowed to live all the way to the end of the book, and are only occasionally struck by lightning, consumed by syphilis, or the victim of a horrific javelin accident.

That being said (yes, yes, we’re getting there), I find myself wondering if the progress we’ve made would be even more significant if all the classic authors who had actually been gay or bisexual had written openly about queer relationships. I mean, sure, there were authors who walked the tightrope between sneaky and shocking— Virginia Woolf, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde— and a few bold souls here and there who tackled it head-on— Radclyffe Hall, Colette— but what if everyone had done it?

In fact, what if even heterosexual authors had recognized the inherent flair for the dramatic, which we, as a people, possess in spades? Can you imagine what the classics that we grew up with would be like? (And here we finally are at our bizarre destination. Welcome!)

How many 8th graders would find a new appreciation for Great Expectations if Miss Havisham had been a drag queen named Mistress Lavonia Pepperoni? (Which, let’s be honest, would take “flaming” to a whole new level.)

And what if in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff had instead been Heather? Sure, there still would have been all the initial anger and betrayal, but by the time Mr. Lockwood arrived and learned everyone’s backstory, a gaggle of lesbians (though my friend insists that more that three lesbians is referred to as a “pod”) would have shouted all that rage out, split with their new partners, reconciled, parted again, and eventually become those peculiar, co-dependent, ex-loving boundary-crossers that we all swear we’ll never be, but still inexplicably become at some point or another. So the book would have been decidedly shorter, yes. But I’ll bet at least one of them would have gotten shanked with a broken beer bottle, which is just slightly edgier than dying of consumption.

Let’s suppose that the monogram in Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter had been an “S” for “sodomite,” and that Hester Prynne had been Hector Prynne. Granted, that would have made Pearl’s existence slightly harder to explain, but it certainly would have held my interest more. And though I’d love to say something like “but who would have believed an esteemed minister secretly having a penchant for young men?” there’s just no way I can even muster the appropriate sarcasm for that. My variation would be so much more socially relevant.

I also strongly believe that Thoreau’s Walden could use as much gay sex as it can possibly contain—perhaps more. Had it been written that way, it would have likely been the only thing that kept me from having to read the same page over and over as my mind errantly wandered off to process such fascinating topics as whether my next load of laundry needed to be whites or colors, or whether I thought James Buchanan was a sexier president than James K. Polk. (For the record, Polk wins hands down, though Buchanan gets points for his affinity for dick. Sadly, we can only speculate about the other presidents’ fondness for male members—though I have to admit Millard Fillmore pings my gaydar something fierce, but you know how those Whigs were.)

Likewise, Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath certainly could use some fabulousness. With a story that makes Angela’s Ashes seem like The Parent Trap, the plight of the Joad family could have benefited from some good old-fashioned show tunes. Granted, I’ve never heard a snappy song about breastfeeding a dying stranger, but if anyone can pull it off, the gays can. I picture elaborately choreographed dance numbers amongst all the corpses, and optimistic lines like “dustbowl, shmustbowl!”

In a similar vein, Moby Dick might now be about exactly what it sounds like, and Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea could become The Old Fop and His Young Thing (and wouldn’t that have made the battle for one to claim the other much more thrilling?)

Little Women could have shown Jo just as I always suspected her to be—strong, brainy and decidedly lesbian. Instead of wasting her time with a boy named Laurie (a suspect name, to be sure), we could have had chapter titles like “Aunt March Gets an Eyeful,” and “Jo Buys a Strap-On.”

As you can see, the possibilities are endless in this regard. The real tragedy is that while I’m supposed to be toiling at my corporate job, I’m periodically getting flashes of these alternate novels and bursting out in audible laughter at inappropriate times.

So in some ways it’s unfortunate that these authors and their contemporaries decided to stay safely within the boundaries of heterosexual storytelling, for it hasn’t advanced our acceptance as mainstream. It only further relegated our place in the shadows— underrepresented and viewed as intrinsically “other.”

But it also allows my ridiculous mind to wander to improper places and dally there like an unsavory prostitute on a street corner playing “I Spy” between tricks. And as I cruise through conference calls on auto-pilot, jotting things in the margins of my notepad like The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Hyde — A magic vibrator turns a bottom into a top, when I’m occasionally asked for my opinion, I’ll continue to respond with a string of useless buzzwords— something like “Absolutely. I think we need to focus on synergy and integrated bandwidth.” No one ever knows the difference.

Colette Moody

I'm an author of lesbian fiction for Bold Strokes Books and amateur mixologist.

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Interrupted Service

Dear All,

My humble apologies to you for the interruptions in accessing our web site, over the last month. This has been due to unwarranted attacks on our hosting service, A Small Orange, where we host Kissed By Venus.

They have promised me that the worst is behind us all, and that they have put measures in place to thwart any future attacks to service, and have now placed KBV on a new server, which, hopefully, may fair better in the coming months.

The upshot is, while I hope we are back up and running smoothly from our end (after a loss of data, including a number of comments and posts) we cannot guarantee—despite assurances from ASO to the contrary—that this will not happen again.

While I cannot restore and replace the lost comments because of this unforeseen interruption of service, I will take the next few days to restore the lost posts and book reviews.

My thanks to you all for your forbearance during these last few weeks of ‘outage’ and I hope all is back to normal.

Alexandra Wolfe
Publishing Editor

Alexandra Wolfe

Alexandra is the founder, owner, and publishing editor of the Kissed By Venus web site and magazine.

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