I love a good comeback story, a phoenix rising from the ashes if you will. So I sincerely appreciate the efforts of folks to bring back books that have gone out of print. Whether or not they should be brought back or are “worthy” enough to go back into print is pretty much beside the point to me—it’s subjective like everything else about publishing. One person’s classic is another’s bland dreck.
It is about accessibility. I want the opportunity to decide about these books for myself and if I simply can’t get my hands on a copy, there’s no way for me to make up my own mind.
So thank you to Arsenal Pulp Press and Little Sisters bookstore in Vancouver for their Little Sisters Classics imprint, dedicated to reviving OP gay and lesbian books. The book club has read two in the last two months, The Young in One Another’s Arms by Jane Rule (still not sure how I feel about it yet) and Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller (so sorry it took me until now to read it!). These are handsomely designed and thoughtfully edited editions, with new introductions and additional content to help but the book into context, including reviews and interviews published at the time of original publication.
There are 10 books in the series and I hope they keep publishing. Partnering with a successful LGBTQ bookstore was a really smart way to go as they have a direct line to potential readers and can hand-sell the heck out of them. (And, not just successful but heroic and badass: Little Sister’s was bombed three times in it’s earlier years when it was the only gay and lesbian bookstore in western Canada. More recently Little Sister’s legal battle against censorship and discrimination in the Supreme Court Of Canada continues to broaden and redefine the definitions of obscenity and tolerance in contemporary Canadian society.)
Also, a shout out to Virago Press in the UK, especially their Virago Modern Classics line, the Feminist Press especially their Femme Fatale pulp series (check out their most recent release, Stranger on Lesbos by Valerie Taylor–fun!) and Bywater Books who are all committed to bringing “forgotten” books back into press. Now, if only all of these titles were also available as ebooks, too.
“[We’ll] choose one great out of print work of classic and/or obscure sci-fi a month, track down the people that hold the copyright (if they are still around), and publish that work online and on all the major digital book platforms for little or no cost. Every month on this website visitors will get to vote on the next great but not so well remembered work we will rescue from the obscurity of the past.”
Anyone have a favorite lesbian book they’d like to see back in circulation? Did a little spot-checking and to my surprise—and pleasure—many of the lesbian titles I thought would be OP are very much in print. One I would like to see:
Hunt the Slipper by Violet Trefussis
Maybe it’s time to hunt this book….