Friday, May 1, 2009

Sarah Waters in Harvard Square

Adoring lesbians of the academic variety gathered to hear Sarah Waters speak this evening at the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Sapphist Gazetteer was among the attractive Cantabrigian sapphists and offers these observations: 1. Sarah Waters was adorable. If it's possible to be elfin and sexy concurrently, Dr. Waters has achieved it. Imagine the tomboy offspring of Chrissie Hynde and the Keebler Elf. That's about right. 2. Waters was gracious toward her fans, some of whom took the Q&A opportunity, to launch, it seemed, into their dissertations on the semiotics of historical lesbian fiction. Or something. Waters listened, absorbed, then kicked their mumbo jumbo to the curb with her own superior analysis. She may be a master of the sexual romp (see "Tipping the Velvet"), but she is also the real deal when it comes to lit crit. 3. She said so many interesting things, and I really should have taken notes, but, hey, I was hungry and a little distracted by the thought of my post-event cheeseburger. Nonetheless, I do remember that she cited fellow Brit author Daphne du Maurier as a huge literary influence, and she made this interesting observation about du Maurier's "My Cousin Rachel" (and I greatly paraphrase): "By choosing a male narrative voice, du Maurier could go full tilt writing about feminine beauty and desire for a woman without the restraint of hiding her lesbian perspective." 4. Waters was unapologetic, despite being put a bit on the defensive, that her new book, The Little Stranger, does not include any lesbian characters. I think we can give her a pass on this, considering that her previous four novels all prominently featured lesbians. The absence of lesbian characters in the book did not dissuade the lesbian characters in the room from lining up for Waters' signature while I went off for my cheeseburger. A lovely evening, indeed.

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