When sculptor and author Barb Davis is given an NEA grant to pair original feminist sculptures with searing first-person essays on transitions in women's lives, she organizes a two-week writing retreat with 12 of the best, brightest, and most notorious lesbian authors in the business. But in between regularly scheduled happy hours and writing sessions, the women enter a tournament bass-fishing competition, receive life coaching from a wise-cracking fish named Phoebe, and uncover a subterranean world of secrets and desires that is as varied and elusive as the fish that swim in the waters of Lake Champlain.
Set on the beautiful shores of Vermont's Lake Champlain, Backcast is richly populated with an expansive cast of endearing and outrageous characters who battle writer's block, quirky locals, personal demons, unexpected attractions, and even each other during their two-week residency. For Barb and each of her 12 writers, the stakes in this fast-moving story are high, but its emotional and romantic payoffs are slow and sweet. Filled with equal parts laugh-out-loud humor and breathtaking pathos, Backcast serves up a sometimes irreverent, sometimes sobering look at the hidden lives of women, and how they laugh, love, lose, and blunder through their own search for meaning.
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Reality Can Be One Tough Topic
Herstory is past.
Mavis or Pheobe
The last scene. Too bad it was just the snake that got shot. Maybe just a kneecap or something, but dude got off easy.
The character development was two sided. We knew something about their past, even though we can't now attribute the past to specific characters, which is one of my complaints about the use of the epilogue... Otherwise, GREAT character development. Good stitching of friendships together and how each woman balances the other.
I'll start with my most positive thoughts and leave my grumpiness for last...
One of the things that I admire about Ann McMan as an author is that she writes from a place that allows her to speak frankly and authoritatively regarding religion and LGBTQ issues. She does this respectfully, not pigeon-holing the whole lot of them, but not letting them get away with their ignorance either. It's a delicate road to walk. Based on her use of scripture across all of her books to which I have listened, I'd say she spent some time with the Bible. She very well may have been raised in one or more of the southern states. Here's the crux... If you're gay and a Christian, gays will give you a ration, because you're a Christian. Christian's will give you a ration, because you're gay. It sucks. Maybe, at least the LGBTQ folks could just not be so hard on us for a spiritual belief, regardless of their anger of own spiritual beliefs or lack thereof... Anyway, I respect Ms. McMan for her work and what I perceive she is trying to accomplish with it -- accomplish in addition to excellent story telling....
I have heard several books of late that dive into the ugliness that represents our not-just-American-but-particularly-American religious handling of LGBTQ young people. I know it extends to older people, but older people have at least developed some bit of defense against the crap that goes on in our world. Young people don't have those tools. Anyway, it's hard to read it. It's hard to take it in and allow it "to be" in a way that will allow us to actually learn from that crap and figure out how to do something better for kids. We can see how stupid that crap is. We can see how it affects kids. Some of us know exactly how it affected us. Listening to it, hearing it, it's hard. It engenders anger and frustration. It's reality, though. I feel like I have to listen to all of the stories like that, because I have to have the most accurate sense of those things and understand them. I haven't experienced *all* of it. I can only learn from other peoples' accounts.
I gave the Story rating only 4 stars, because A. Though I may have become accustomed to the jolting transitions after awhile, that was more of acquiescence. I stopped fighting the transitions, because it was distracting me from the rest of the really great content. Also, I think the transitions, as the story went on, were accomplished more gracefully. B. Since I was unable to figure out which herstories went with which person, and, because I really would have liked to have had the exhibit explained, if even based on the models that were created, I feel like the Epilogue was just a final chapter and not the traditional wind-up-the-story-with-a-neat-bow that most often are. The opportunity to clear up some of the mysteries and to provide that nice bow was wasted.
I shared the first two paragraphs of this on my website, handsacrossthepond. Cheers!
- Ann Townsend
I LOVE Ann McMann!!! This is a Laugh Out Loud book.
- Heather Dodge