cover image Lesbian Love Story: A Memoir in Archives

Lesbian Love Story: A Memoir in Archives

Amelia Possanza. Catapult, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-64622-105-9

In her impressive debut, Possanza stitches together personal memoir, painstaking research, and fictional imaginings with a fluid style and a sure hand. Lesbians, Possanza asserts, “invent their own systems of love”—romantic, family, friend—“even when they are at risk of losing everything,” yet remain largely ignored by history. So Possanza, determined to restore her own curdling concept of love, became a “collector of lesbians,” exhuming hidden histories to see what she and other cynics might learn from their lesbian forebears. She tracked down Mary Casal’s 1930 lesbian memoir, The Stone Wall, and learned it was written by Ruth White Fuller, who shielded her identity with a pen name. Subsequent chapters highlight Mabel Hampton, cofounder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives, athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias, ancient Greek singer Sappho (“the patron saint of today’s lesbians”), male impersonator Rusty Brown, Chicana feminist Gloria Anzaldúa, and writer Amy Hoffman. Possanza’s sensuous prose also introduces fictive elements: in Hampton’s first encounter with her lover Lillian, Possanza imagines the two meeting “on a downtown sidewalk thatched with leaves turned gold by the alchemy of the season.” Throughout, she weaves the threads beautifully. This is an outstanding work of literary scholarship that also delivers a vulnerable, intimate portrait of its author. Agent: Sarah Levitt, Aevitas Creative Management. (May)