The “Fine Madness” of Discovering Lesléa Newman

During an otherwise unidentifiable undergraduate semester, I took a class called The Psychology of the Lesbian Experience. (I’m not even kidding a little bit that that was the title.) I was not politically savvy enough at the time to think that this class could be problematic if it were not taught by actual lesbians (it was), or to worry about the idea of representing queerness via the lense of psychology. I found the class in the small newsprint pages of the University’s course listing and signed up.

I read a lot that semester, previously unaware that the Well of Loneliness, Oranges are not the Only Fruit, and Stone Butch Blues existed. And by read a lot, I mean, I read in class, and by in class, I mean, all my classes that were not this particular one. I spent most of my time reading a medium sized book with a lipstick mark on the cover, Good Enough to Eat by Leslea Newman, about a 25 year old Jewish woman who’s bulimic and, over the course of the novel, comes out to herself.

Most people probably know Newman from her short story, “A Letter to Harvey Milk,” but I didn’t actually read that until later that semester, when I was blowing through bookstores in Northampton and Amherst searching for every single word she’d written. I bought everything, eventually, including a small blue volume of poetry called “Sweet Dark Places.” The poems are bright and erotic and stark, sometimes hilarious (“Dream”), and feminist.


You might also like:

Related Posts