The Midnight Couch by Jae.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.
Will Paula ever get the nerve to ask Dr. Christine Graham out? She’s had a crush on her for over two years! Paula, who is a broadcast technician at KWSG radio in Southern California, has it bad for Dr. Graham, who hosts a late night call in show, perfectly named, The Midnight Couch. Every night Paula is determined to ask the doctor for a date, but chickens out at every opportunity. She’s not even sure if Christine prefers women.
Though this is a short tale, it encompasses a wide range of feelings, issues, and personal insights for its narrator (Paula). When it comes to fixing things with her hands, she’s great. Getting the nerve to simply talk to, let alone make a move for her crush, is quite another. This story is like watching a good romantic movie. Before you know it, you’re rooting for the shy girl to take a chance and “Say something… anything!”
Just hearing Dr. Graham’s voice on the radio gives Paula chills. “Oh, God. That voice. She could sell scuba-diving gear to Bedouins with that voice.” The question is, will Paula ever use her voice to express her feelings, without second-guessing herself? You’ll have to read The Midnight Couch to find out. Without hesitation, I must say that Jae writes extremely well. If the rest of her stories are as good as this one, I’ll call in every night.
Communion: The Female Search for Love by Bell Hooks.
One of my favorite passages from one of my favorite books.
Witness to Love
Women and men, girls and boys, must restructure how we spend our time if we want to be loving. We cannot be overachievers and perfectionist performers from kindergarten on in our public lives (the world of school and work) if we are to learn how to love, if we want to practice the art of loving. Genuine love requires time and commitment. And this is simply the case for love in the context of partnership. Self-love takes times and commitment, particularly on the part of those who are wounded in the space where we would know love in our childhoods. New women today, the late-twenties and thirty-something crew, are as reluctant as their patriarchal male counterparts to make time for love. Wise aging women know that one of the keenest regrets a large number of females experience in their lives is failure to understand early the power and meaning of love. Not only would that knowledge have afforded an understanding that would have prevented them from ending up emotionally abused and battered, it would have ushered true love in to their lives sooner rather than later.
My hope for younger generations of women is that they will examine the unfulfilled spaces of their lives soon and boldly, unabashedly choosing to do the work of love, placing it above everything. Again and again it must be stated that when I talk about doing the work of love, I am not talking simply about partnerships; I am talking about the work of self-love in conjunction with the work of relational love. Visionary feminist thinkers were among the first group of people to call attention to the disservice we women do to ourselves when we act as though it were important only to find the right partner, someone to love, rather than to choose a circle of love. When we place emphasis on building a beloved community, of which having a partner may be an essential part but not the whole, we free ourselves to lead joyous lives as single folks, (in or out of partnership with another).
Review of The Last Conception
Onely: Single and Happy
13 September 2014
“To my mother. To my wife. To my husband.” Authors commonly dedicate their books this way. Nice, but boooring. (To everyone, that is, except the mother, wife, or husband.) Gabriel Constans dedicates his book The Last Conception “To Love, in all its manifestations.”
We here at Onely are interested in all aspects of the single experience and particularly like to learn about single people from different backgrounds than ourselves (Lisa and I self-identify as white, upper-middle-class, agnostic, heterosexual women). The beginning of Constans’ novel allows us into the world of single scientist and first-generation Indian-American lesbian Savarna, whose parents–still unaware of her sexuality–have been pressuring her for years to marry and give them a grandchild. Any unmarried, child-free reader whose parents have pressured them in this way will wince along with Savarna as her parents become increasingly fervent in their matchmaking–all while Savarna is trying to figure out her relationships with two different women. (I refer to her as “single” because initially she is not part of an “official” couple.)
Appropriately, as an embryologist, Savarna spends her working hours manipulating eggs and sperm to help women conceive. She herself, however, doesn’t feel the tick-tock of her biological clock. If she did, this book wouldn’t exist. (Or it would be very boring.) We have several layers of tension going on throughout the story. Savarna the happily child-free woman vs. her grandchild-wanting parents. Savarna the American vs. her Indian parents. Savarna is not religious, but her parents who travel to India once a year for some ceremonious gathering that Savarna has never attended and vaguely considers cultish.
Through the course of the book these subtle battles wage, peak, resolve and eventually weave together into an ending so satisfying I really wish I could share it here. I’m afraid to say much more because I don’t want to put out any spoilers. Let’s just say that ultra right-wing conservatives would hate this book, especially the conclusion. (All the more reason to read it!) One of our favorite words here at Onely is amatonormative, which means the normalizing of a few specific kinds of love relationships while marginalizing all others. The Last Conception kicks amatonormativity in the ass.
Which is why it gets one thumb up from our blog. The other thumb is busy turning the pages for a second read-through.
Read entire review and more at Onely: Single and Happy.