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Flatbush Flashback

Climaxing Prose

I spent the better part of the summer dipping into a book called Girlfag, and I wanted to say a few words about it before it got buried in the onslaught of printed matter that accumulates in this house.

Though Girlfag (Beyond Binary Books) is not the kind of book I'd normally read, I met the author, Janet W. Hardy, at the BEA last year. She was (wo)manning the booth of our mutual distributor, SCB, and our books were on display, side-by-side. We got to talking, and Hardy, who's best known for her book The Ethical Slut, explained that girlfags--a term I’d never heard before--are women, like herself, who love, are attracted to, and identify with gay men.

Episodic and diary-like, Girlfag is a poetically rendered memoir, and Hardy is at her uninhibited best, or at least her most entertaining, when she’s writing about sex. Tossing around words like “cunt” and phrases like “mass of pussy hair,” her prose climaxes in such amusing passages as:

While cocksucking is not on my top-ten list of ways to while away the time—well, let’s face it, not even on the top-100 list—a cock is discernibly an appendage and not a giblet, and it is possible to suck a cock without getting pubic hair up your nose. I suffer, it seems, from cunniclaustrophobia.

So, yes, Girlfag is also erotica of sorts, but at its heart is the story of a courageous woman’s search for an unconventional identity. Read More 
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My Encounter with a Girlfag

For the past four days I've been wandering the aisles of Bookexpo America, and the experience has often left me feeling as if I were an invisible man exploring an exotic city in a forbidden country. With rare exceptions, I felt no connection to anything. I saw nobody I knew. Sometimes I wondered what I was doing there.

Happily, those feelings were alleviated when I strolled over to booth 4214—SCB Distributors. SCB is the company that gets Beaver Street into bookstores in the U.S. And there was Beaver Street, prominently displayed on their rack, nestled between a Gram Parsons bio, God’s Own Singer, by Jason Walker, and book called Girlfag, by Janet W. Hardy.

I was standing outside the booth, trying to draw some psychic energy from the sight of the Beaver Street cover, when a woman with a punky blonde haircut asked if she could be of any assistance.

“No,” I said, pointing to Beaver Street, “I just stopped by to take another look at my book. I wanted to make sure I still existed.”

The woman was Janet W. Hardy, author of Girlfag.

“Well, aren’t you smart,” I said. “You write the book and you work for the company that distributes it.”

“I’ve only been doing this for 18 years,” she replied, pointing out that Girlfag’s publisher, Beyond Binary Books, was her company as well.

I was impressed. Here was a woman who’d totally embraced the demands of modern-day book publishing—she was doing everything herself, leaving nothing to chance.

I told Hardy that I’d never heard the expression “girlfag.”

She explained that girlfags are not fag hags. They are, rather, women, like herself, who love, are attracted to, and identify with gay men. “But the title seems to make a lot of people angry.”

I liked Hardy’s vibe and invited her to Bloomsday on Beaver Street, on June 16. “I think it’s your kind of event,” I said, explaining that it was a celebration of literature, like Ulysses and Beaver Street, that had been branded pornographic.

I told her the story of how, when excerpts of Ulysses were published in the U.S. in 1920, the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice went to court, had the book declared obscene, and managed to have it banned it for 13 years.

“There’s one paragraph where Joyce describes Bloom masturbating. It’s probably the most poetic description of jerking off in the English language. But that’s the paragraph that did it.”

Laughing, Hardy said she that had to go home, to Eugene, Oregon, and would, regrettably, be unable to attend Bloomsday on Beaver Street. But she did give me a copy of Girlfag, which I plan to discuss in more detail in some future posting.

She also left me wondering if I should go to Eugene and do an event there. Oregon, after all, is the Beaver State. Read More 

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