Friday Reads: An Anthology of Native LGBT Myths

Unfortunately I can’t find a bigger picture of the cover.

Today I’ll be reading some more of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Myths from the Arapaho to the Zuni: An Anthology, edited by Jim Elledge. I’ve been reading this book for class — namely, so I could find a myth to turn into a skit that would be performed in order to teach our classmates about trans* issues from a Native perspective (my class is a 400-level First Nations Studies course in community development). I’ve found that myth now, and so the other thing I’ll be doing today is writing the skit and putting together a props list.

However, I’m still reading the book. Some of the myths are really interesting, some are funny, some are WTF — like most myths from most cultures. The one thing they all have in common, however, is they show that the origins of American and Canadian literature were most definitely not heteronormative and cissexist — knowledge of queer and trans identities has existed in North America as long as Native cultures have. This book is not even a complete anthology — it is a selection of some of the myths, notably ones where Two-Spirit characters are more prominent then those where they have more secondary or tertiary roles.

In fact, in many of the myths, Two-Spirit characters were responsible for much of why the world is the way it is. They create cultural traditions, they decide how the animals will be, they create the earth itself…. They were not people of little importance; they were vital parts of community and cosmology.

Interesting how easily that narrative can get turned around. From the original literature of this continent acknowledging and even featuring prominently trans and queer individuals to us fighting for our right to live in peace, let alone have the same basic rights as cis and het people do.

Another example of how colonialism is still alive and well in these countries. We’ve come a long way, but it’s not even a fraction of an inch of the distance we still need to travel. Let’s not forget that.

Friday Five, August 26th: Books I Think You Should Pick Up (And Read, Obviously).

Cover of
Cover of Through Wolf’s Eyes (Wolf, Book 1)
  1. Bitten, by Kelley Armstrong. Book #1 of the Women of the Otherworld series. It may get classified as “fluff” or “paranormal romance” but I disagree. I classify it as “Urban Fantasy”. Yes, there’s romance, but jesus h. christ just because the main character is female and she gets some tail (literally, she’s a werewolf) does not make it chick lit or fluff or a romance book. For fuck’s sake.
    Right. Canadian werewolf Elena (so alternatively polite and ragey) has to make the choice between Pack life or pretending to be something she’s not. The rest of the series is worth a read too (though I’m not quite finished; I’ve read up to No Humans Involved and there’s a whole bunch after that, but I plan on catching up at some point).
  2. Glenraven, by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Holly Lisle. I’ve blogged about this book before and how much I love it, and apparently I have read something by Holly Lisle — I just keep forgetting because my brain has classified Glenraven as an MZB book. My bad. (Apologies to Holly Lisle.) Anyway, really good book. Adventure, strange new worlds, romance, magic, best friends…you can’t go wrong, really.
  3. Rhapsody: Child of Blood, by Elizabeth Haydon.  The first in what is supposed to be an 8-book series, though only 6 books are out at this point (no word on the 7th, either, which is depressing). Regardless, it’s worth it to read at least the first trilogy (Rhapsody, Prophecy, and Destiny), if not the bridge (Requiem for the Sun and Elegy for a Lost Star) and the first of the final trilogy (The Assassin King). It’s not that the bridge and sixth book aren’t good — they are, and that’s the problem. There are two more books coming out and they leave you hanging. But you can read the first trilogy by itself and be satisfied; I was until the other books came out.
  4. Stormqueen! by Marion Zimmer Bradley. A standalone novel in the Darkover series, set during the Ages of Chaos. Dorilys Aldaran is the stormqueen, able to call forth devastating lightning and storms from a small age. MZB was a very talented writer though I think her Darkover works get overlooked in favor of The Mists of Avalon. Both are excellent, but one gets more press. So here I am giving Darkover some press.
  5. Through Wolf’s Eyes, by Jane Lindskold. This entire series is very good. Firekeeper is a different sort of heroine and Lindskold’s knowledge of wolves is exemplary. The series is done and I recommend checking it out: 1) Through Wolf’s Eyes, 2) Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart, 3) The Dragon of Despair, 4) Wolf Captured, 5) Wolf Hunting, 6) Wolf’s Blood.

 

Friday Five, August 19th: Books I Think You Should Pick Up (And Read, Obviously).

cover for La Chiripa

  1. Mother Ocean, Daughter Sea (Book #1 of a Witch of Two Suns), by Diana Marcellas. Easily one of my favourite fantasy novels. Brierley is a compelling character and the world is rich and vast. Highly recommended.
  2. La Chiripa, by Kaimana Wolff. This rich novel, set in Todos Santos, Guatemala, gives young people a voice in situations where they are usually ignored. You will sympathize with young Pira as she fights for everything she holds dear.
  3. A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin. An undisputed classic from the First Lady of Fantasy.
  4. Happiness, by Will Ferguson. Winner of the 2002 Leacock Medal for Humour, this book will have you giggling so hard you won’t be able to help but be happy.
  5. Orfe, by Cynthia Voigt. A short read. Poignant retelling of the myth of Orpheus. Heart-wrenching and real.

Friday Five, August 12th: Books I Think You Should Pick Up (And Read, Obviously).

Cover of "Good Omens"
Cover of Good Omens
  1. Bitters, by Kaimana Wolff. “Weeks after Victoria and Elan disappear on a romantic elopement, officers find a small plane at the bottom of Bitterroot Lake—with Victoria in it and no sign of Elan except remnants of the plane’s avionics in a burned-out campfire. Ray Walker, the youngest deputy sheriff in his town’s history, cannot let this case become his only failure–especially after Victoria’s sister pays a call. Meanwhile, the Green Fairy is escorting a new man-about-town to all the best places—and keeping him alive.”
  2. Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacquline Carey. I’ve blogged about the amazing Kushiel’s Legacy series on multiple occasions, but if you want to get into it I recommend starting with this book. It is the first, after all.
  3. Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. This book is a hilarious send-up of all those ridiculous apocalypse books that hit the markets from time to time. Involving an angel and demon who are millennias-old drinking buddies, a misplaced antichrist, and the completely accurate prophecies of a witch named Nutter, this is one novel you do not want to pass by.
  4. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire. A bit depressing, but worth it.
  5. The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. A book with a heady sense of myth if there ever was one. Quite good, highly recommended.