Friday, March 25, 2022

Maiden, Mother, Crone, edited by Gwen Benaway

I was directed to this book, published in 2019, to read one specific story, but as I've never before encountered an anthology made up of stories about "fantastical trans femmes" I thought I'd read the whole thing. It's fairly short, eleven stories spread out in under 150 pages.  A few stories were underdeveloped, and clearly by writers still learning the craft. Most were okay or passable stories, but they all encompassed some similarities: the trans protagonists all have a sense of being very special, together with an aggrieved sense of being misunderstood and looked down upon. With one exception, all the males in the stories are there to be evil. One story ("Freeing the Bitch") reads completely like fanfiction--all the boxes of representation and identity are successively checked, as if that is the point of storytelling. The story that was recommended  to me ("i shall remains"--yes the author refuses conventional punctuation and capitalization) was indeed interesting-- a deliberate response to Ursula K. Le Guin's famous story "Those Who Walk Away from Omelas," which is quoted in the  headnote to the story. The book's editor (who also contributed one story) Gwen Benaway described herself as "a trans girl of Anishinaabe and Metis descent"--indiginous peoples of the Great Lakes area of Canada and the U.S. The truth of this assertion was questioned (on Twitter and elsewhere) in 2020, and Benaway has since been cancelled. The publisher of this book, Bedside Press, ceased operations in 2021.  I have no idea if the two events are related, but the book is now out of print and copies are scarce. So it goes. 

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