How Lesbian Pulp Novels Helped This Teen: Critical Linking, August 11, 2020

Critical Linking, a daily roundup of the most interesting bookish links from around the web, is sponsored by Wednesday Books.


“Many of these books were treated as perverted. Not only in terms of what their content was actually about but how their expression was literally perverted or manipulated by publishers. Yet, this immediate indictment of morality and monstrosity imposed onto some of these books didn’t dishearten me. Instead, I found that there was something strangely heartwarming at the time about seeing how two characters love despite all narrative attempts to keep them apart. “

Jessica Xing’s look at how lesbian pulp novels made her feel normal as a teen.


“It is Emezi’s third book, following their critically acclaimed Pet, a young adult novel, and Freshwater, a semiautobiographical novel. Inspired by Toni Morrison’s Love and Gabriel García Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold, the saga of Vivek’s life and death is told by a chorus of Nigerian and migrant voices. These narrators defy a constellation of constraints, from the gender binary to linear time, their nostalgia drawing the reader into a world of memories, talismans, photographs, spirits, and intimacies. Though the book begins with Vivek’s death, it reads less like a mystery and more like a novel of suspicion. Emezi spoke to ZORA about sensual prose, the power of names, and the challenge of killing one’s protagonist on the first page.”

In case this wasn’t already on your must-read list.


“Four giants of American literature famously neglected the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed 50 million people, and which struck just as they were establishing themselves as writers. Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos and William Carlos Williams were all affected by that pandemic, yet none drew it into their fiction (though they did discuss it in letters and diaries). It has been argued that they didn’t have the necessary distance on it, that it was for later writers to take up the theme; but this doesn’t wash. The first world war (death toll approximately 17 million) looms large in their stories, and they didn’t have any distance on that either.”

How COVID novels now can help warn future generations.

We're giving away a $250 gift card to Barnes and Noble! Enter here: