It was close to midnight, the moon high and the street loud; it quieted then grew loud again, when someone asked our mysterious guest a question about stories. “I’ve never told a story myself,” they said, “but I did hear once about a feminist reading group that read nothing but novels, and occasionally supplemented the novels with essays, though those were optional.” I felt a shiver run my spine on spider’s feet and asked, “What were they hoping to find?”
“Well,” the stranger replied, smiling, “I think they did this in part because they wanted to hang out each week and talk about characters and narratives. And also because they wanted to know what stories make possible, and what they preclude. They wanted to understand how stories might reflect and challenge hegemonic fantasies about history and nations and people. They wanted to feel the stories vibrate and drift in ways that undermine the expectation of following knowable selves across linear time. They wanted to hear each story again and again, and have them be different every time. Stories that have beginnings and middles and endings, and no beginnings, no middles, no ends.” Saying this they fell silent, and peered into their drink as if engrossed in the glass.
“Well, what happened to the feminist reading group?” I asked, impatient to know, but the mysterious guest only smiled again and said I’d have to find out for myself. And I’d better get some help.
In The Novel Feminist Reading Group, we will read excerpts from: Dhalgren by Samuel Delany, Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg, Nod by Fanny Howe, Corregidora by Gayl Jones, Woman At Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi, and Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko.
Content note: These novels explore ongoing and historic settler colonial violence, white supremacist violence, sexual and gender-based violence, child abuse, and other traumas. We will, as a group, commit to treating these subjects and each other with care and intention.