Monday, August 29, 2011

[Book Review] EDITED OUT by Lisa Haddock

Fiction/Gay and Lesbian

The history of Gay and Lesbian fiction was presented during July’s “What’s Your Flavor?” Reader’s Advisory session.

Nancy reviews EDITED OUT by Lisa Haddock, Lisa (Naiad Press, 1994)

Edited Out, a Carmen Ramirez mystery, was a good choice for me because of my newspaper background. She’s a copy editor assigned to clean up an updated story about a dead lesbian school teacher assumed to have killed a 12-year-old girl before committing suicide two years ago. Carmen believes the dead woman didn’t do it, so she enlists library clerk Julia Nichols, also lesbian, to help her research factual content. (They wind up in the sack, of course, but that’s a sub-plot that takes a while to develop.)

What begins as background research soon becomes a full-blown criminal investigation, something a copy editor would never take on, trust me. Not even behind the copy chief’s back, which Carmen does, would a reporter’s legwork be usurped in this way. That’s the assignment editor’s purview. Haddock’s playing fast and loose with real newsroom procedure is impossible to overlook, but it does make for a jolly read.

Interspersed with Carmen’s scrutiny of those involved in the crime and cover-up are the confrontations with her homophobic grandmother. She describes her granddaughter’s life as perverted, but the two do eventually reach a meeting of the minds. For one thing, the women realize they are cut from much the same cloth ­-- in that both are courageous, stubborn, and bold – so they cannot help admiring each other.

As expected, all ends well. Carmen exposes the real killer, the crusty copy chief forgives her disobedience, she and Grandma agree to be friends, and there is the promise of a future with Julia. The elements meld with the tidiness of a Nancy Drew adventure, were Nancy lesbian and sexually active. Hot-to-trot Julia is a modern-day substitute for Nancy’s sidekick/boyfriend, the asexually-depicted Ned Nickerson.

Sophomoric as the writing and storylines are, I do see this series of books as inspirational for adolescent girls still pondering their sexual orientation and sense of self-worth. They should be shelved with YA fiction for that reason.

Nancy Campbell, LINC Department

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