Lesbian Books for Spring: More Than 150 Fascinating Finds
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Women Aviators, Bernard Marck (Flammarion/Rizzoli)
Thanks to a new biopic on Amelia Earhart, starring Hilary Swank, interest in the historical influence of women aviators is picking up again. What a fascinating history it is, and it’s all documented in the gorgeous, must-have coffee table tome, Women Aviators. From Queen Bessie, a sharecropper’s daughter who was the first African American to become a pilot, to Harriet Quimby, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, they’re all documented in this delightful tribute to over 100 aviatrixes who changed the male-dominated field forever.
Cricket in the Web: The 1949 Unsolved Murder That Unraveled Politics in New Mexico, Paula Moore (University of New Mexico Press)
Moore’s pursuit of the facts around a Las Cruces, New Mexico murder investigation provides for a fascinating read, pulling together the story of corrupt law enforcement, gambling circles, and doublespeak about the victim’s alleged promiscuity. The lack of appropriate response from media and law enforcement to the violent death of an 18-year-old waitress 60 years back appears as a harbinger of the politics and prejudice in headlines today.
Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism, and Chicano/a Literature, Sheila Marie Contreras (University of Texas, Austin)
Contreras traces the genealogy of modern Chicano/a cultural formations through critical analysis of texts. Her look at the selective appropriation of indigenous myth in literature and histories leaves no stone unturned, from the Zapatista movement’s identification with Indio experience, to the ambiguity of romantic treatments by D.H. Lawrence and to legal tracts from U.S. border states where references to Aztec human-sacrifice are still found. Her closing is a dogged pursuit of the conquista in contemporary gender and race issues, revealing new complications to centuries-old problems.
Crime, Inequality, and the State, Mary E. Vogel (Routledge)
This formidable volume of essays dips from the latest work in social theory to examine the relationship between crime and society. The authors examine the function of crime as social control, organizing principle, political publicity method, and cornerstone of capitalism. Rigorous academic discourse grounds the facts, figures and narratives within, but casual readers will find the language refreshingly unpretentious and focused. Vogel is to be praised for prioritizing accessibility over academic pomp.
With books like Pistol Packin’ Madams and The Doctor Wore Petticoats Chris Enss has made a name for herself writing books that put women back into the history of the Old West, particularly locating women in traditionally male-dominated fields. Estimated less than 5,000 female miners joined the hordes of men in the 1849 gold rush. Enss introduces readers to 11 lady miners including Nellie Cashman a lifelong bachelor who not only searched for gold in the rugged terrain of the American West, Alaska and Canada (she was frequently the first white woman to venture into an area) but also ran successful boardinghouses and restaurants and was renown as a philanthropist for (among other things) allowing those down on their luck to stay and eat at her establishments for free.
The Swing Voter of Staten Island, Arthur Nersesian (Akashic Books)
Don’t be confused by the similar title, this has nothing to do with a movie starring Kevin Costner. Instead it’s a surreal, dystopian, turbo-charged epic that plays out over one week in 1980 in New York City. Only this 1980 is the result of an alternate U.S. history and the city is only a simulation of New York; a façade for a military-created refugee camp in Nevada. Nersesian (The Fuck-Up) uses this setting to examine real life issues and actual historical experiences.
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