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Bent On Writing: Contemporary Queer Tales
Edited by Elizabeth Ruth
ISBN: 0889614032
Review by: Moira Richards


There’s Literature and there’s Chick Lit and then there is Clit Lit. Bent on Writing: Contemporary Queer Tales is about the last. The term Clit Lit was coined by Elizabeth Ruth as name for the monthly reading series that she initiated in late 1998 in a Toronto restaurant/lounge. She wanted a title that “suggested queer, women and literary but didn’t take itself too seriously” and that is just the kind of writing that you’ll find in this book.

The anthology comprises some few dozen short pieces of prose and poetry that have all been read aloud by their authors in the first four years at this, Canada’s only monthly queer literary series. Each item is introduced in the collection by its author who also gives her (occasionally, his) impressions of the experience of a Clit Lit night. The readings are all concluded with a short biography of the writer. Both this anthology and the reading series aimed to be as inclusive as possible in their definition of queerness, and so the contributors include writers with as many gender bendings as one could imagine.

You’ll find bits as widely different as the extract from Elizabeth Ruth’s debut novel, Ten Good Seconds of Silence and the one from Nalo Hopkinson’s then novel-in-progress, Griffonne which was subsequently published by Warner Books as The Salt Roads. You’ll have chance to read a couple of poems and short bits exploring diverse feelings about breast surgery by Barbara Brown and other contributors to the collection, My Breasts, My Choice published by Sumach Press. Some of the writings are raw and angry, others over-the-top witty and funny. Together they make a wonderfully eclectic collection about which my only regret is that I live too far away from Toronto to have been able to attend the Clit Lit readings at the Red Spot and experience them in performance.

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