Goodbye, Friend: Hello, Mean Little deaf Queer

This week the book group met to discuss Hit by a Farm How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn by Catherine Friend (Da Capo, 2006) and overall, a well-liked pick. For anyone who’s ever wanted to chase a dream, imagines chucking it all for life on a farm, or loves llamas, this is a book for you. Friend is at her insightful and hilarious best when describing the very steep, very furry, and often very painful learning curve she and her partner Melissa struggled through over several years as they got their sheep farm going and vineyard growing (once they placed the plants right-way-down into the soil, that is).

But, owning a farm was Melissa’s dream not bookish, writerly Friend’s and much of the tension in the book comes from Catherine trying to maintain her own career as an author in the face of hundreds of needy sheep. The sadness, frustration, and complaining dragged on a bit too long—figure it out, already!—but the solution is a bit controversial: did she do the right thing? Was it self-preservation or selfishness? Can it last? (Stay tuned. Friend’s “sequel” Sheepish is coming out on April 26 (Da Capo)).

Besides the llamas (they really are extraordinary), I loved how Friend is very conscious that they are a lesbian couple living in the rural Midwest and in an insider-y way remarks on it, but their neighbors don’t seem to remark on it at all. (Though, if they did could she say? She does live there after all.) In many ways, this is a sincere yet humorous look at an all too common issue for any couple: where do we live? And for lesbians: what do you do when the U-Haul just ain’t coming?

Next up: Mean Little deaf Queer: A Memoir by Terry Galloway (Beacon, 2010). The title says it all and the praise below puts the cherry on top:

 “This is a damn fine piece of work which is unbelievably powerful.” —Dorothy Allison

“This is not your mother’s triumph-of-the-human-spirit memoir. Yes, Terry Galloway is resilient. But she’s also caustic, depraved, utterly disinhibited, and somehow sweetly bubbly, a beguiling raconteuse who periodically leaps onto the dinner table and stabs you with her fork. Her story will fascinate, it will hurt, and you will like it.” —Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home

“Galloway was born a storyteller, and her narrative gifts are in full force throughout, spinning yarns about herself and her family that mesmerize.” —Robert Faires, Austin Chronicle

“Told with understandable rage, quirky humor, and extraordinary humanity, this remarkable woman’s engaging account deserves a large readership.” —Booklist

And for my fellow Hunger Games fans, start smithing those mockingjay pins: Lionsgate will release the movie version directed by Gary Ross, on March 23, 2012. Shooting is scheduled for late spring or summer, although no cast has been announced yet. I vote for that girl from True Grit for Katniss—that glower!

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