You’re Not Edith by Allison Gruber

you're not edithThe English student in me cringes whenever someone says, “Let’s read an essay” because in my mind, the term “essay” is still equated with the five-paragraph, three-reasons-why type essays that you had to write in high school. When I was flipping through Allison Gruber’s You’re Not Edith, a book exclusively filled with autobiographical essays, I noticed that instead of the traditional format, her essays read like chunks of a story broken apart for relief, flashback, comedy, and a wide variety of other purposes. I started reading You’re Not Edith and discovered that I was in fact reading an autobiography with much shorter chapters, something that my brain found easier to digest because there were breaks where I could stop if I had to go do something else and I found that I was able to finish this book much quicker than I was other books. Books containing autobiographical essays have begun to grow on me.

In You’re Not Edith, Allison Gruber reflects upon her entire life as she’s experienced it so far. Just like in her life, Gruber takes risks when she explodes her life into these essays for readers to dissect. She pulls no punches as she describes how she tried to use her fascination with Diane Fossey to help her win her girlfriend in high school or how she was diagnosed with breast cancer as she was teaching at the collegiate level. Gruber is a hilarious writer who speaks with shocking candor and isn’t afraid to tell the truth about her struggles with cancer and how she figured that even though she wouldn’t allow others to take care of her, she would still be able to care for Bernie, a little dachshund who didn’t fit her perfect ideal of the Edith dog, but ended up being exactly what she needed.

I encourage you to pick up this book to check out her feelings on weddings, her father’s mental problems, and how she came into her own through music, drama, English, and many other interconnected things.

June is LGBT Pride Month

The six-colour version of the pride flag is the most commonly used version. The original version from 1978 had two additional stripes — hot pink and turquoise which were removed due to manufacturing needs. Via Wikimedia Commons.
The six-color version of the pride flag is the most commonly used version. The original version from 1978 had two additional stripes — hot pink and turquoise which were removed due to manufacturing needs. Via Wikimedia Commons.

In honor of LGBT Pride Month, we are featuring films, novels and media created by and for the LGBTQ** community on this blog. We’ll also have an ongoing display of these materials at the DPL’s Main branch.

First, a little history …

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month  is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, New York City. The Stonewall riots  – occurring over the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 – were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. While protests for LGBTQ rights had occurred prior to the Stonewall riots, many considered the riots as a “shot heard round the world,”* the first to garner large-scale media attention for a population that had, prior to then, been forced to live in secret.

156px-Stonewall_Inn_1969
Stonewall Inn, site of the 1969 Stonewall riots, New York City, USA, Via Wikimedia Commons.

Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street (where the Stonewall Inn was located); with simultaneous Gay Pride marches in Los Angeles and Chicago, marking the first Gay Pride marches in U.S. history.  Since then, Gay Pride marches have occurred annually in major cities across the U.S.  to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.

On June 2, 2000 President Bill Clinton declared June “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month”.  On June 1, 2009, President Barack Obama declared June 2009 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, citing the riots as a reason to “…commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.” Read President Obama’s  2015 declaration here.

If you’d like to learn more, the Library of Congress hosts many historical documents, photos and recordings about LGBTQ Pride month, as well as the history of the LGBTQ movement in the United States. Check it out here: http://www.loc.gov/lgbt/

National Public Radio’s StoryCorps produced the documentary “Remembering Stonewall” on the 20th anniversary of the riots. You can listen it here: http://storycorps.org/remembering-stonewall/, as well as explore other stories from their OutLoud initiative, founded to preserve LGBTQ  voices and stories across the U.S. On the 40th anniversary of the riots, NPR’ Margo Adler produced another retrospective, “Years Later, Stonewall Riots Remembered”

Check back here next week for a look at LGBTQ literature for all ages!

___

*Faderman, Lillian (1991). Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth Century America, Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-017122-3

**A note on terminology: The acronym LGTB and LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) are both used in the official Presidential declaration. According to the GLAAD and The New York Times style guidelines, LGBT is the preferred term, based on universal acceptance and recognition. However, I’ve chosen to use LGBTQ throughout, except when citing a direct quotation, or using the name of a specific organization or event.