Fluid Words, October 2001
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For an autographed copy of any of Lesléa’s books, please send an email directly to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
As soon as Lesléa Newman began giving public readings of her work in 1985, people started asking her when she was going to record an audiobook. And so, here it is at last: Just Like a Woman, a collection of Lesléa Newman’s finest short stories, read by the author herself. This compilation, which spans fifteen years of work, features the artist’s signature pieces. Listen to a sound clip here.
“It is extraordinary. Newman reads with verve and panache, and the eight stories, written between 1988 and the present, provide a fascinating look at her development as a writer. Of course, just getting to hear Newman read “A Letter to Harvey Milk” is worth the price of the collection, and there are seven more remarkable stories after that. It is a delight.”
This compilation, which spans fifteen years of work, features the artist’s signature pieces including:
“A Letter to Harvey Milk”—When Harry Weinberg, a 77 year old Jewish widower, takes a creative writing class, he unearths memories, that force him and his teacher, a Jewish lesbian, to see their lives differently. This story was the second place finalist in the Raymond Carver Short Story Competition in 1987.
“Right Off the Bat”—a monologue told by a twelve year old girl whose lesbian mom has been gaybashed.
“The Babka Sisters”—a women’s studies major interviews a nursing home resident and hears a story she’s never told anyone: the story of the girl she fell in love with in high school.
“Eggs McMenopause”—a butch who hasn’t slept in two years finds a unique solution to the trials and tribulations of menopause.
Other titles include “Keeping a Breast,” “With Anthony Gone,” “Comfort,” and “Just Like a Woman.” All are told with Lesléa Newman’s trademark wit, honesty and compassion.
“My mother’s a lesbian. That’s the first thing I want you to know about me. I know it’s not really about me, but it sort of is, and anyway, I like people to know right off the bat so they don’t get weird on me later when they find out.
Like Brenda for instance. Brenda used to be my best friend at my old school and then one day she just stopped talking to me. For no reason. I mean we didn’t have a fight or anything, like the time she told Richard Culpepper I liked him. Which was a lie. We didn’t speak for almost a whole week that time. But this time there was no reason. I mean, she crossed the hallway when she saw me coming and everything. I finally cornered her in the bathroom between homeroom and first period and asked her what was wrong. She said, “Go away, my mom says I can’t talk to you anymore. Your mother’s a dyke.”
Dyke is a bad word for lesbian, like Yid is a bad word for Jew. I’m Jewish too, which is another thing that makes me different. Being Jewish means I go to temple instead of church only we hardly ever go anyway, and we have Chanukah and Passover instead of Christmas and Easter. Being a lesbian means my mom loves women instead of men. Not everyone knows these words. Sometimes my mom says dyke when she’s talking to her friends on the phone or something but she says, that’s okay—lesbians can say dyke but straight people can’t. I don’t really understand that. I don’t understand a lot of what my mom says or does. She’s not like anyone else’s mother I’ve ever met…”
from “Right Off the Bat” © 1990 Lesléa Newman