Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Following on the heels of H is for Hawk and Carson McCullers, and in keeping with the esprit of the month, Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet is a further swing at breaking from what I usually read. Though I’m not expecting to actually like it, I can’t deny that the subject matter isn’t tantalising, if not overtly titillating. ‘Tipping the velvet’ is supposedly Victorian slang for cunnilingus. Certainly, I’m not the intended readership; I don’t like period dramas.

I’ve mistakenly attributed hearing about Jeanette Winterson to a particular girl I worked with in London before. Sarah Waters she definitely told me about… maybe? I was thinking about the cliche of what people read what. Sarah Waters is a lesbian author of lesbian fiction. This friend of mine is a lesbian, and this was the recommendation she gave me.

Do I do that too? Do I only read what an impartial observer with a major in literature and a minor in psychology would expect me to read? Do those algorithm-fed Amazon recommendations really understand me? Because in this game of identity politics, I’m not even sure what it is I’m supposed to read. Still, if I’m not even right now besieged in some targeted expectational ‘trap’, then what is it that I’m, with my constant trans-generic reading forays, trying to break free from?

-Reading the Why


The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

Why Carson McCullers? Why The Heart is a Lonely Hunter? There’s no satisfactory answer to this. The names are there in my memory, floating free, connected to nothing. I knew nothing about the author or the title. A friend told me I would like it, but that was after I had already picked it out and brought it home. Post ‘purchase’ reinforcement. I’m intrigued now by how the conversations will be related seeing as the central character is a deaf-mute–I’m currently learning American Sign Language–but that was also a subsequent discovery. A female author? I am always looking to read away from the old white men. Could that be all there was to it? My hand must’ve hovered over this book on other library visits, finally it landed.

-Reading the Why