The Queer Review | Issue 1 - Queer women

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The

Queer Review Book reviews

Rubyfruit Jungle Oranges are not the Only Fruit

Opinion

Sexualisation of lesbian love Witchcraft and lesbian culture “Bury your gays”

New releases Queer bookshops

Gay’s the Word

Creative writing

Issue #1

TV & film

Carol The L Word Orphan Black


WELCOME

YAIZA CANOPOLI Editor-in-chief

W

hen I first read Rubyfruit Jungle, I fell in love. Not just with the badass main character, but with queer culture, and with Brown’s ability to write a story that felt so natural yet so entirely unique. It took me a few years to realise that the brilliance of her writing lies in the quality of representation. And that is why I decided to start The Queer Review: to highlight books that are important, that deal with the oppression and dismissal of queer people, but that also show how incredibly fun sexuality and gender can be. I hope that the books we explored in this issue open up new ways of looking at your own, personal way of being queer.

BEVERLY A. DEVAKISHEN

Deputy editor

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s an English literature student, I hadn’t been able to give people an answer when they asked who my favourite author was. Most novels I had read included heterosexual relationships, and I was tired of feeling the subtle effects of heteronormativity. Then I read one of Jeanette Winterson’s novels, and I knew I had found my answer. Her poetic prose and her raw portrayal of queer characters really captivated me. That made me realise how important the inclusion of LGBT+ characters was, and that the queer community needed to see themselves in literature. I hope this magazine helps people find that much-needed literary representation.

queerreviewmag@gmail.com © Photos by Yaiza Canopoli, Sylvie Tan


The Queer Review

Book reviews

27

Creative writing

11

Opinion

31

TV & film

19

New releases

23

Queer bookshops

3

The Color Purple Rubyfruit Jungle Here comes the Sun Oranges are not the Only Fruit

Sexualisation of lesbian love “Bury your gays” Witchcraft and lesbian culture Sexuality as a plot twist

A Sonnet for Her The Debt of my Magic Pride Flag

Carol Imagine Me and You The L Word Wynonna Earp

We Were Witches Marriage of a Thousand Lies Her Body and Other Parties English Animals

Gay’s the Word Overview of queer bookshops

© Artwork by Isabelle Siddle. Lettering by Beverly A. Devakishen


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BOOK REVIEWS

© Artwork by Megan Furr. Lettering by Beverly A. Devakishen


BOOK REVIEWS

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Described as the ‘lesbian Dickens’, Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith tells the story of Sue, an orphan adopted by a family of petty thieves. When she agrees to tricking a naive gentlewoman out of her inheritance, Sue does not expect to fall in love. Waters retells the beloved Dickensian narrative from the point of view of the marginalised, making this novel not just an intriguing family mystery, but a surprising love story between two women, as well as a masterful recreation of the Victorian. - YAIZA CANOPOLI In The Color Purple, Alice Walker writes about the themes of gender, sexuality and race. The main character, Celie, is a black lesbian, and Walker manages to interweave an exploration of her sexuality into a narrative that is largely about racial and gender oppression. Celie’s relationship with a woman is portrayed in a careful and sensitive way, but at the same time very little attention is drawn to the fact that their relationship is beyond societal norms. It is refreshing to read about a same-sex couple that, in a literary sense, is treated no differently from a heterosexual one. - BEVERLY A. D. In The Salt Roads you will find African mythology, sexuality, slavery, and women’s issues, all woven together in a weird and wonderful narrative. Nalo Hopkinson writes across nations and boundaries of all sorts—this is a book that will blow your mind, in a combination of history and magic, while you walk the salt roads alongside its people. - YAIZA CANOPOLI

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© Covers by Virago, Orion Publishing Group, Open Road Media


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BOOK REVIEWS Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes tells two stories: that of the present and that of the past. Told through the memories of an elderly woman in a nursing home, we meet Idgie, her sister-in-law, and family friend Ruth, who run a café in 1920s Alabama and make for one of the most iconic lesbian couples in historical fiction. The subtlety of their love creates a tender narrative, which explores themes of sexuality and race, and it remains one of the must-reads of lesbian fiction. - YAIZA CANOPOLI This brilliant piece of historical fiction includes real events that happened in the life of the artist Tamara de Lempicka. The novel is inspired by a painting the artist created, called Beautiful Rafaela, and depicts a period of global tension that had a significant impact on Paris. In The Last Nude, Ellis Avery does not flinch from portraying the intense passion between Rafaela and Tamara, and offers unapologetically piercing descriptions of their relationship. She has a gorgeous style that draws readers into the novel and, coupled with a gripping storyline, makes for a truly memorable read.- BEVERLY A. D. The queer aspect of The Sealed Letter has you waiting a good while before it takes off, but nonetheless it is a beautifully written piece of historical fiction, perfect for lovers of intrigue and scandal, and a curious look at early cases of divorce. While very different from Emma Donoghue’s Room, it is just a brilliant, and can be read just as quickly. - YAIZA CANOPOLI

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© Covers by Penguin UK, Penguin USA, Pan Macmillan


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BOOK REVIEWS

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irst published in 1973, Rubyfruit Jungle is mindblowing in its narrative. We follow Molly Bolt, an orphaned child adopted by Southern parents who quickly realises her dreams are too big for the small town she grew up in. She loses her virginity to her girlfriend in sixth grade, beats up the boys around her, and takes shit from no one. When she makes it out of town, she charms an heiress and somehow gets a place in college without having any money—then she gets kicked out for being gay, here known as ‘moral turpitude’. Yet even then she does not get discouraged, does not stop for anyone or anything, but quickly moves on and finds the next thing to dedicate herself to. Her dream to become a famous filmmaker is not taken seriously by anyone, and in turn Molly takes no one seriously, kicking ass all the way to her final film presentation. However, this novel is much more than the story of an aspiring filmmaker and badass lesbian. Rita Mae Brown narrates a life of differences within family, and most importantly of forgive-

ness. Molly never turns her back on her mother despite the difficulties of their relationship, and instead we are presented with a complex picture of mothers and daughters who grew up in a time of change and of vast generational differences. Friendship, family, and even the relationships that seem like meaningless love

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affairs on the surface are all infused with value, and together they make this an unforgettable and incredibly important book in the realm of lesbian fiction. Rubyfruit Jungle is, ultimately, a novel about loving people despite their flaws, and of finding the balance between the rebellious and the gentle. - YAIZA CANOPOLI © Cover by Penguin USA


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BOOK REVIEWS

© Artwork by Megan Furr. Lettering by Beverly A. Devakishen


BOOK REVIEWS

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All Inclusive by Farzana Doctor

All Inclusive is a mix of ghost and contemporary fiction, which depicts the cities of Mexico and Canada in a realistic light. With the portrayal of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-white and mixed-race characters, as well as polyamorous relationships, the book really is all inclusive. - BEVERLY A. D.

For Sizakele by Yvonne F. O. Etaghene

This novel celebrates the queer African community and draws attention to African diaspora identities through the main character, a Nigerian-American bisexual student. Etaghene deals with issues like biphobia and the negative stereotypes surrounding masculine women’s identities in a refreshing and honest way. - BEVERLY A. D.

Kissing the Witch by E. Donoghue In this queer little short-story collection, Emma Donoghue rewrites common fairytales to give a voice to the women who have been wronged, each story linking back to the previous one. The evil witches get a chance to speak up for themselves, to tell their own stories, and to take back control over their decisions and their lives. If you’ve always wanted some lesbian princesses, read this. - YAIZA CANOPOLI

8© Covers by Dundurn, Red Bone Press, Harper Collins


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BOOK REVIEWS Vow of Celibacy by Erin Judge In this hilarious novel, Natalie explores her relationships not just with others but with herself. Not too happy with what her life is shaping up to be, she makes a ‘vow of celibacy’, exploring the link between her failed relationships. Erin Judge constructs a laugh-out-loud narrative about body image and sexuality. - YAIZA CANOPOLI

Here comes the Sun by Nicole D. Benn

The novel’s protagonist, Margot, is a sex worker whose love for her sister is central to the novel. Margot’s love interest is shunned by the community as a ‘witch’, touching on an issue that women have historically faced. Here comes the Sun is a book about three strong women who learn to deal with their problems in Jamaican society. - BEVERLY A. D.

A Portable Shelter by Kirsty Logan In this beautiful short-story collection by Kirsty Logan, two women awaiting the birth of their child tell the unborn baby fantastical stories, spinning a narrative filled with magic and love on the north coast of Scotland. However, they have to keep their stories a secret from one another, for they promised to only ever tell the truth—and so the witches and monsters come alive, quietly. - YAIZA CANOPOLI

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© Covers by Rare Bird Books, W. W. Norton & Company, Penguin UK


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BOOK REVIEWS

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eanette, the main character of Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, grows up in a Christian household with a mother who is extremely conservative and religious. She struggles with her sexuality because of her church’s lack of acceptance once they find out that she is dealing in ‘Unnatural Passions’, but the book is not just about her identity as a lesbian. It is about freedom of thought, how it was restrained by her religious community, and the way she tries to find herself outside the conventional ways of the church. The novel is largely centred around the relationship between Jeanette and her mother, and explores ideas of parenting and respect. It raises questions about how far one should allow one’s parents to define one’s identity, with Jeanette’s experience as a lesbian challenging her mother’s definition of what her daughter should be. The exploration of love is one of the most interesting aspects of the novel. There are many figures that love Jean-

ette: her mother, her girlfriends, a n d God

himself. In this semi-au-

tobiographical book, Jeanette Winterson looks at what kind of love she found to be essential for herself through these different figures, and it prompts readers to think more deeply about their own experiences of love. - BEVERLY A. D.

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To what extent is lesbian love sexualised by both men and the media? How damaging is the “bury your gays” trope, present in shows such as The 100? What is the strange connection lesbians and women in general have with witchcraft? And in what ways is sexuality used as a plot twist?

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OPINION

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THE SEXUALISATION OF

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e see love between a man and a woman everywhere— on posters, in the media we consume, in books, and even in our music. Heterosexual, close-minded people are thus fascinated with samesex couples, because that is something that they are not exposed to and do not understand, and they often end up exoticising it. Add that on to the long-standing problem of the objectification of women’s bodies, and love between two women becomes overly sexualised by certain members of society, this usually being heterosexual men. This is largely due to the fact that many straight men’s primary exposure to lesbians is through the porn industry, with content that caters to their own sexual desires. Women’s sexualities have been repressed for centuries, and their existence was unfairly tied to the validation that only men could give them. A misogynistic man, therefore, will see women in terms of their worth to him. It is easy for a man to think of a relationship between two women as ‘hot’, and to fixate on the fact that they have ‘lesbian sex’, something that men are still able to pleasure themselves with

thanks to the porn industry and the sexualisation of lesbian love everywhere. It is harder for heterosexual men to imagine that two women could actually love each other beyond sex, that they do not need a man to be happy. This is something that they cannot take pleasure in imagining, hence it is a useless image to their minds. When straight men constantly go online to watch videos of lesbians having sex, what they see there becomes the default image of two girls being together. Thus, the sexualisation of lesbian love happens because that is the easiest and most beneficial way for straight men to view two women in a relationship. The porn industry also does its part by playing into men’s sexual fantasies of lesbians. There is a lot of content that features two women who are together at first, and then shows a man coming into the picture later on. Men are influenced through these videos to believe that women want men’s constant involvement in their sex lives, even if these women are not sexual-

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© Lettering by Beverly A. Devakishen


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OPINION

ly inclined towards men. Lesbians become a sexual fantasy, a fetish, something that they can watch online and fantasise about; this leads to them being dehumanised in real life. You often hear people say, ‘I don’t care what people do in bed’ or ‘they have the right to have sex with whoever they want’ when they want to vocalise their support for the LGBT+ community. However, this only whittles a same-sex relationship down to what happens in the bedroom. This is problematic and damaging because LGBT+ rights are

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so much more than having the right to decide who you want to have sex with. What the discriminatory attitudes of society towards sex do not give the queer community is the right to love whoever they want. LGBT+ rights are about equality, freedom from discrimination, safety, happiness, in some instances marriage, and, above all, the freedom to love—without our relationships being hypersexualised, sensationalised, and turned into something worth nothing more than entertainment for heteerosexual men and a movie on PornHub. - BEVERLY A. D.

“Bury your gays”

ury Your Gays is a trope as old as time, but one that has come into the public eye particularly in the last few years. This can be at least partially attributed to the infamous uproar in 2016 over the death of The 100’s Lexa, a fan-favourite character who was killed off arbitrarily almost immediately after her and love-interest Clarke got together. Many fans felt betrayed by this turn of events, lead-

ing to people looking deeper into what was actually happening to our LGBT+ representation on-screen. According to Autostraddle, almost 200 lesbian and bisexual characters have been ‘buried’, which is insane considering how few of these characters are included in the first place: 10% of all deaths on TV are those of queer characters. It’s proportionally astonishing.

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OPINION The way screenwriters justify this is through what they call “equal-opportunity killing”, where they hold their queer representation to the same standard as all other characters. The trouble is, with so little representation out there, if you kill a show’s one gay character, you’ve killed the show’s entire gay representative pool. Therefore writers have a duty to treat those characters well for the sake of their audience. This counts doubly for deaths like Lexa’s, which appeared to serve no greater purpose in the story other than angst. There are two easy solutions to this (aside from the obvious: just don’t). The first is to expand the amount of LGBT+ characters in shows, which reduces the impact of any harm that comes to a gay character because the emphasis is shifted away from their sexuality. And before anyone protests, it is in fact not unrealistic to have more than one gay person in a friend group or

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family; it’s actually more noticeably unrealistic to only have one. The second solution is, to quote GLAAD’s Megan Townsend, “We need more safe LGBT+ people at the center of the story. The safe character who can’t be killed, the one whose story is nuanced and fully developed—rather than being stuck in the ensemble, which is still where we see a lot of LGBT+ characters relegated to.” One good thing that has come of the Lexa disaster is that it has brought awareness to something that’s been happening quietly throughout the history of TV. People are starting to question and react vocally to what’s happening to the meagre lesbian quota on our screens, and we can only hope that this outrage disturbs the peace of the television industry and we see creators listening to their fans and respecting them. - CHLOË MURRELL

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© Artwork by Isabelle Siddle


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OPINION

WITCHCRAFT AND

L

esbians are notorious for a few things: they are vegans, they move in together after the first date, and they love cats. The latter, one could say, is almost a defining feature. While I’m not a big fan of stereotypes, the intimate relationship that has existed between lesbians and cats throughout history cannot be denied, and ties in with the predominantly female practice of witchcraft. Witches are commonly portayed with their cat companions, they are shunned by society, and they live their lives either solely with their feline friends or in the company of fellow witches.

referred to as fragile masculinity—similarly to h o w lesbians refuse to need to be married to a man to make it through life, witches survived perfectly fine on their own. Cats are proud, they are independent and strongwilled, and women who are not afraid to be outsiders often identify withthem, choosing them as their comapnions.

One of the major reasons for burning witches in centuries past was the fear they evoked in society and especially the men around them: their knowledge of medicine and their active denial of social expectations awak- Nowadays, a new era of witchened the insecurity that is now often craft seems to be blooming.

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OPINION More and more women show interest in Wicca, a Pagan religion developed in the 20th Century, which presents an alternative way of life for those tired of the traditional expectations of marriage and family. It is now c o m -mon for members of this religion to be a part of the queer community: with most of religious society still actively descriminating against homosexuality, queer women especially are finding in the recent religion something to validate their identities without the accompany-

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ing feelings of shame and guilt. In an entertaining article in The Guardian, Sady Doyle writes about Azealia Banks and the ‘season of the witch’. By tweeting about being a witch, Banks proved that there is power in choosing a name for yourself, in believing in something and living out a lifestyle that goes against the grain—the fear felt by the people reading Banks’ tweets is the same fear evoked in the men hunting witches centuries ago. It is a fear of women who are independent and magical, and who cannot be held down. In literature, lesbians seem to pop up surprisingly often as witches once you start looking closely. Perhaps one of the most iconic examples of this is Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner, published in 1926. While the novel does not include explicitly lesbian scenes, the gay is there, and it is palpable—and so is the witchy magic, with cat familiar and everything. Fed up with her nornal life, Lolly decides to adopt a cat, live alone, and become the new town witch. Basically, no matter where you turn, if there is a lesbian, there is a witch. - YAIZA CANOPOLI

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OPINION

show or film that they’re in, eager to get my hands on any representation I can find, and instead being slapped in the face with a two-dimensional or stereotypical character with a measly storyline that only serves to imply that queer people exist second to straight people, and only then to further their stories. It reminds me too much of the tired trope of the GBF—the gay best friend—whose only contribution is to yell ‘makeover!’ or ‘you go, he female character leans in gurl!’ at certain points in the story to for a kiss, eyes close, lips puck- bolster the straight girl’s self-esteem. ered. Her male companion, eyes wide, jumps away with the realisa- Another scenario that gets on my tion that the hapless heroine invited him nerves is the one in which a nice, ‘norround to do more than just hang out. mal’ person turns out to have been “Ohhhh!” he says, “sorry, but I’m gay!” gay all along. This information is then The laugh track plays. The heroine is callously used as a device to drive the disappointed, but amused. Her crush story forward, as an obstacle for their turned out to only be another obsta- friends and family to overcome, or as cle in her quest to find Mr. Right. a secret that they must hide at all costs. It’s all one big misunderstanding. And yes, I’m looking at you Hollyoaks, with your recent storyline that I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve revealed (spoilers) that Ryan Knight seen this scenario play out in comedy killed his wife after she discovered he shows or soaps. The side character is was gay. Nil points for that one. Or, to in one episode, maybe two if he gets cite an example from literature, David lucky, and exists solely to be a plot Hair’s Mage’s Blood, which promtwist. Well, I’m over it. I’m done. I’m ised to be a strong, interesting fantasy fed up with hearing about a new queer novel, but ended up not only perpetcharacter, rushing to watch the TV uating colonial discourse and orien-

AS A PLOT TWIST

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OPINION talism, but used sexuality as a punchline all the way through, and finally revealed a character as intersex for shock value, a ‘plot twist’ followed by an excess of gasping and pity. These are not the storylines that queer people deserve. This is not the representation we should have in 2018. Queer people do not exist in relation to our straight friends. We have our own lives, our own stories, and yes, while it’s important to represent the struggles we face or have faced in the past—such as homophobic families or the AIDS crisis—we need to remember that gay people can be happy too! Our lives are not constantly marred by crisis, and this needs to be represented more in the media. LGBT+ k i d s are growing up with TV shows and films implying they don’t matter enough to have their own stories told.

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I want queer characters that are queer from the very start, and happy and proud in their own skin, instead of a half-hearted coming-out story further down the line when writers are running out of ideas and need to make things more interesting. I’m tired of seeing articles popping up with the same old title: “This TV show just featured a gay plot twist!”. Really? Good for them. Why wasn’t the character gay from the start? Why are you revealing it now? For the drama, that’s why. Too many shows care more about ratings than representation. It’s baffling that this still needs to be explained in 2018, but queer people are not just plot devices to use when and where you see fit to draw in gay viewers or to create controversy. I am a real person. I am not a punchline or a plot twist in somebody else’s story. - ISABELLE SIDDLE

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Š Artwork by Megan Furr. Lettering by Beverly A. Devakishen


NEW RELEASES

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We Were Witches Ariel Gore

Swearing Off Stars Danielle Wong

New Life Jan Gayle

It is practically impossible to find a negative review of this magnificent memoir-turned-magical-realist-novel. A teen mom makes her way into college only to be disappointed by the oppressive narrative, turning instead to feminism, and constructing a story that is not really a story at all. If you love witches, spells, and all things personal, radical, and magical, you will devour Ariel Gore’s book. - YAIZA CANOPOLI

Despite what the cover might suggest, Swearing Off Stars isn’t a feelgood type of book—the sweet lesbian couple that we are introduced to at the start goes through a lot of heartbreak and pain throughout the story. However, it is a testimony to how love can endure through tough times. The ending of the book is not a predictable one, and shows the true complexity of romantic relationships and love. - BEVERLY A. D.

New Life follows Trigena and Karrie, a couple who are trying to have a baby and are facing the typical anxieties that come with it. The view point swings between the two women, allowing the readers to connect with the characters on an emotional level. The love between them is strong and incredibly heart-warming to read about, notwithstanding their differences in approaching this new step. - BEVERLY A. D.

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© Covers by Feminist Press (Drew Stevens, Suki Boynto), She Writes Press, Bold Strokes Books


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NEW RELEASES

Marriage of a Thousand Lies S. J. Sindu

Her Body and Other Parties Carmen Machado

Pages For Her Sylvia Brownrigg

Lucky’s arranged marriage to a man seems like a good deal, pleasing her family. However, once she reconnects with her former lover, a woman now about to enter an arranged marriage of her own, she starts to question the choices she’s made. S. J. Sindu constructs a narrative filled with symbolism, and a stunning representation of the tension between sexuality and tradition. - YAIZA CANOPOLI

In this remarkable collection of eight short stories, Carmen Maria Machado explores themes of feminism and queer theory through a mix of science fiction and fantasy. The stories she tells have been described as ‘terrifying’ and ‘strange’, and they draw attention to how truly horrific the sexism that women face in society is. She definitely doesn’t shy away from bleak and difficult subject matters. - BEVERLY A. D.

In Pages For Her, Sylvia Brownrigg writes about two women who have rekindled their love for each other after a devastating event. It is intense, compelling and gripping, written with a beautiful technique that evokes powerful emotions in Brownrigg’s readers, and keeps us coming back for more. The novel is a sequel to Pages For You, the book that first introduces us to Flannery and Anne. - BEVERLY A. D.

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© Covers by Soho Press, Graywolf Press, Counterpoint Press


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NEW RELEASES

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nglish Animals is a transcendent literary debut that had me engrossed from page one. Mirka moves from her native Slovakia, expecting to be hired as an au pair, but instead lands with an eccentric English couple, Richard and Sophie, who run a taxidermy and a wedding business at a crumbling country estate. What begins as a recognisable narrative of the English countryside quickly transforms into a story packed with layers of themes and timely issues, exploring the interactions and tensions between natives of rural England and immigrants, as well as LGBT+ individuals. Mirka’s adaptation to her new environment and her immediate enticement with Sophie lend to a wonderful exploration of the complexity of human relationships. The building tensions between Mirka and Sophie’s sexual attraction and Mirka’s simultaneous fondness for Richard create a powerful and three-dimensional examination of characters who are both the English Animals as much as the literal animals within the book: violent, selfish and un-

predictable. The trio’s happiness depends on each other, which however emphasises Mirka as the outsider, for she is crucial to Richard and Sophie’s happiness but remains severed from the bond of their marriage, just as in England she remains estranged from the British culture no matter how much she adapts and progress-

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es. And so, Kaye crafts a heroine whose deliverance is powerful, complex, compelling and refreshing. Despite a bittersweet ending, at the heart the book is mostly a beautiful and tender coming-of-age story, and Laura Kaye is a new literary voice worth looking out for in the future. Highly recommeded. - SARA LAPIN © Cover by Little, Brown


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FEATURES

BOOKSHOPS Not a lot of people know that they exist, but they are just around the corner, sneaking up on all your gay literature needs: queer bookshops! On your right you can observe our beautiful deputy-editor Beverly Devakishen in her natural habitat: Gay’s the Word, a queer bookshop in London.

Š Artwork by Miles Atkinson. Lettering by Beverly A. Devakishen


FEATURES

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© Photo by Yaiza Canopoli


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FEATURES

G

ay’s the Word is the only bookshop exclusively for queer literature in the United Kingdom. It was founded by a gay socialist group in 1979, when the gay rights movement was still primarily based in America, importing lots of gay literature from the United States as not enough was yet being published in England. This was a time when the UK was still largely closed off to the idea of LGBT+ rights; the bookshop went through some tough times, especially when Customs and Excise carried out a large-scale raid and took away thousands of pounds worth of books in 1984. Thankfully though, public support for the bookshop saved it, allowing us to enjoy it in all its glory today. Gay’s the Word has something for everyone who is interested in any type of queer literature. There are books from almost every genre, including non-fiction, with content that portrays people of various sexualities, genders, races, and walks of life. For those of

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you who prefer shiny, clean copies of newly released books, they have a section on recently published novels, where you can keep up-to-date with the latest LGBT+ literature. On the other hand, for those who prefer the yellowed pages of used books, they also have a section for secondhand novels, which is definitely kinder to your wallet and makes the shop an accessible place. Overall, the bookshop has an impressive range of queer literature, and you’re likely to be satisfied with the variety of books that it presents you, all accompanied by personal staff recommendations. Gay’s the Word also has a very cosy, homely feel. You could spend hours blissfully browsing for books there, as the shop has a very relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. The staff are usually incredibly kind and pleasant as well. This is a great place to escape from the harsh reality of the outside world, and retreat into a gay little corner. - BEVERLY A. D.

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FEATURES

HARES AND HYENAS | Melbourne, Australia

GLAD DAY BOOKSHOP | Toronto, Canada

GIOVANNI’S ROOM | Philadelphia, USA LIBRERIA COMPLICES | Barcelona, Spain

PRINZ EISENHERZ | Berlin, Germany THE BOOKSHOP DARLINGHURST | Sydney, Australia

SAVANNAH BAY | Utrecht, Netherlands

LES MOTS A LA BOUCHE | Paris, France

LITTLE SISTER’S BOOK AND ART EMPORIUM | Vancouver, Canada

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WRITING © Lettering by Beverly A. Devakishen


CREATIVE WRITING

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A SONNET FOR HER Every person here knows their tale by heart, A girl, a boy, two foes, two lovers, dead, But what of she who’s lost right at the start? Is her story of hope, or pain instead? For she was at the revel and found too, That true beauty existed not before, An angel sweet as sun came into view, And met her gaze from far across the floor, Alas that angel chose a different love, As she watched on with painful pining chest, That broke in two when standing far above, She saw her angel take her final rest, Here lies another story lost to time, That of Juliet, and her Rosaline.

Francesca Forrest

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CREATIVE WRITING

THE DEBT OF MY MAGIC Toiba Blumstein

I stare at the words on the page in front of me, the topic I supposedly chose to have to present at my next supposed ‘meeting’ with my parents. How on Earth could I explain it to them in terms they could understand? And even more to the point, how could I make it concise? So I wouldn’t have to pour all of my soul into an explanation that wouldn’t be taken to anyone else’s heart. It’s awful enough that I have to have these ‘meetings’ every time they find out anything new about my life. They just want to tell me that they know better and I’ll change my mind and all my knowledge about my own people, culture, and experiences, is wrong and worthless. But they still insist on these explana-

tions and presentations before they tell me all that. It’s not fair! At least when I started dating my girlfriend they could acknowledge the existence of us lesbians. But I don’t owe them any explanations about who I am. Whoever raised me or didn’t raise me doesn’t matter because I never chose them, I never agreed to be ‘theirs’. And even if I had, I still don’t owe them anything. I keep staring at the blank page un-

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PRIDE FLAG

Asexuality is not a curse.


CREATIVE WRITING der those 5 words which are the most important to me to be understood. I won’t give them a presentation this time. My life isn’t some kind of textbook, I’m not some kind of case study to help people who don’t even care understand what it means to me to be an asexual lesbian.

The Queer Review

mind. If they were willing to listen to understand, rather than listening to argue, I would tell them. But I’m so tired of fighting for the right to be myself in my own ‘family’, so today I’ll tear up this presentation before I even write it.

My girlfriend knows, and right If they actually cared I wouldn’t now that’s all that matters to me; she’s the only one whose business Hanging it up on my wall, it is anyway. If I can For all to see, say no to something Including me, physical which makes But I don’t want the colours to fade. me uncomfortable, You see, then I can say no The sun hits directly through my window, to something menFor most of the day. tal which makes me And my flag is hung directly where it hits. uncomfortable too.

I don’t want the colours to fade. I imagine, if they do, they will be imprinted, I owe no-one any In the same way, explanations. I am On my wall, where the flag was hung. allowed to say no.

Juliette Rey

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Asexuality is not a curse.


The Queer Review

TV & FILM

Lesbian movies are hard to come by as it is, but good lesbian movies are a whole other story. Most of the ones out there are over-sexualised or just plain terrible. In this section, TV & film editor ChloĂŤ Murrell introduces us to some of the better lesbian movies and TV shows on the market!

Š Artwork by Miles Atkinson. Lettering by Beverly A. Devakishen


TV & FILM

The Queer Review

FILM: THE HANDMAIDEN The Handmaiden became something of an instant (if cult) classic when it was released in 2016 as an adaptation of Sarah Waters’ popular novel Fingersmith, and, in my opinion, this is not based on overhype at all. It is intense and beautiful and engaging, and ultimately a story of how the love between two girls directly shaped their happy ending, which, as we all know, is a rare occurrence in itself in queer media. The story follows a young girl who becomes maid to an heiress as part of a scheme for a conman to seduce her and steal

her fortune, a scheme which definitely didn’t account for the heiress falling in love with the maid instead, turning the plans upside down. Just like the book, this is a layered film, with new dimensions to past scenes revealed as it goes on, but it is a lot more accessible than I was anticipating, thanks to the mastery of the director, Park Chan-wook, in creating an authentically Korean story that became a worldwide hit. It is incredibly unique and I can’t wait to watch it again (and again and again). - CHLOË MURRELL

FILM: ANATOMY OF A LOVE SEEN This film as a concept is great in itself. It follows, in real time, two actresses who are called back to reshoot an intimate scene; however, while the first time around they were dating, by the second shoot they’ve broken up, making things on set complicated and emotional. It is heart-breaking to watch the two women stoke up their old feelings for the camera in this awkward, interesting, and unique scenario. The film is zoom-focused on their relationship, and (my favourite bit) the story

seems to happen in a bubble outside of a wider modern-day setting, greatly due to its style, which means there is no stereotypical homophobic context! The simplicity of it is a breath of fresh air, and you (obviously) wind up rooting for the two women, as does every other character in the film, very much unsubtly. Anatomy of a Love Seen is a queer staple, it is on Netflix, and it is very easy watching. - CHLOË MURRELL

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The Queer Review

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TV & FILM

FILM: CAROL

hat more can you want than a classy period drama where Cate Blanchett falls in love with the awkward quiet girl you probably relate to? Although it premiered in 2015, this is a film that feels like it’s been around forever, having a timeless quality that almost makes it easy to imagine girls seeking it out decades ago, and certainly needing it. It’s a story of subtleties. A rich older woman in the process of divorcing a husband who’s looking for ways to catch her out, in a meet-cute with someone scared of their own questioning: that is a recipe for many faltering outstretched hands and aborted questions. Neither of them dares to make a move despite the obvious attraction between them, which I think is

© Artwork by Isabelle Siddle

something very unique to queer experience and contributes to the way the film seems to almost transcend time. It is unequivocally tet in the fifties, reflecting the historical secrecy of queer relationships, but the story itself could have been placed in front of any backdrop and played out in the same way. It touches something human, and this goes some way to explaining why it became so revered in the world of lesbian film so quickly. (Ask any given lesbian and she will tell you how amazing Carol is.) It is gorgeously shot, and the way the script leaves room for quiet stretches means you can really get inside the heads of the characters, who are so desperately trying to remain ineffable, just as they are to each other. The details of the film, the small touches that were added and make it so unique, give it an unmistakable sensuality, an air of passion between the two women that makes this film almost addictive. I’m sure this is a film that will still be as popular as it is now in a decade, and the one after that, and I’m just sad for all the girls in decades before ours who did not yet have Carol. - CHLOË MURRELL

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TV & FILM

The Queer Review

FILM: IMAGINE ME AND YOU Imagine Me and You fulfils all your cheesy rom-com needs, with the added plus of lesbians, and it definitely makes for a good time. The cast and script are both amazing, the main actresses talented and the story well executed, taking a fairly standard plotline--newly-married woman falls in love at first sight with someone she meets at her wedding-and humanising it so it becomes more than a love story: a film about people’s lives. The many points of view create a well-rounded and thoughtful portrayal of a difficult predicament, and

it is all so well written that it becomes hard to dislike any of the characters (except Rob). It is not only a lot of fun to watch, but heart-warming, with special appreciation for the support of Rachel’s family. Luce being such good gay representation definitely is a big bonus as well. It’s worth checking out for the writing alone, but also the clueless delight of what is essentially first love for Rachel. If you’re looking for a queer film that does not fall into the ‘bury your gays’ trope, this is for you. - CHLOË MURRELL

FILM: APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR I actually wouldn’t call this a film as much as a snapshot of someone’s life, roughly covering the course of a relationship. Desiree Akhavan stars as herself (sort of) in this semi-autobiographical cinematic debut, and I think that’s what makes it feel so intimate: because it is. It is set in the lively New York scene, but for all its trendy elements it is still, above all, a personal story about the struggle for identity for a young person in the modern day. Shirin (Akhavan) is a brilliant protagonist

that really pulls you through the story with her humour and honesty, and her relationship with Maxine feels truthful. One of my favourite things about the film is that it doesn’t gloss over things— it includes Shirin’s difficulties with her family and culture in the context of her sexuality, and even a subplot about the dreaded ‘couple’s looking for a third’. Its introspective tone really makes it, and it’s definitely one of the most enjoyable films of its genre. - CHLOË MURRELL

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The Queer Review

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TV & FILM

ended up cheating on their loved ones, casting a generally bad light on the community. While cheating forms part of most shows featuring relationships, The L Word made itself known for the sensationalised and over-the-top pointless nature of most of its characters’ love affairs.

hen it was first released in 2004, The L Word made history. The first show with a full cast of lesbian and bisexual women, it was only preceded by Queer as Folk in its portrayal of LGBT+ people. Now, nine years after the release of the final season, The L Word has suffered plenty of backlash. Often seen as Queer as Folk’s trashy sister, it had However, the work The L Word did a tendency in its day to dramatise lesbi- cannot be denied. Despite its issues, the characters were the an lives a bit too much, “The L Word managed first women on TV to and to create scenarios that, even for lesbians to represent women openly love each other living the wild life in Los who are gay, bisexual, and to criticise the heteronormative world. Angeles, were often entirely unrealistic. There questioning, black, While today’s TV is ofseemed to be lesbians mixed-race, closet- ten riddled with token around every corner, ed, famous, poor, de- queer characters, The L Word supported a which, while perhaps pressed, physically ill, group of all-queer woma lovely idea, bothered those who lived the re- young, old, and much, en, putting the limited representation of shows ality of an often hommuch more.” that should have proophobic and closeted space, with a much more limited choice gressed to shame. Nowadays, queer in partners. Moreover, the women in people are the minority even in the the show, even those in initially loving shows that include them, and while relationships and family situations, often their representation is arguably often © Lettering by Beverly A. Devakishen

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TV & FILM more realistic and well-rounded, tokenism has its problems. The L Word managed to represent women who are gay, bisexual, questioning, black, mixed-race, closeted, famous, poor, depressed, physically ill, young, old, and much, much more. This kind of diversity is impossible when only one character is queer, and it makes the LGBT+ experience seem more limited than perhaps in the early 2000s. Revisitng The L Word now feels like a jump into the past: for many women the show that introduced them to queer culture, the issues it presents cannot diminish its impact and the love many fans felt, and still feel, for the characters. Even those who did not experience it in its glory days and are introduced to it now find an odd fascination and attraction towards it—and of course, whether they’re watching it in 2004 or 2018, no one can ever resist Shane McCutcheon. There seems to be a queer shaped hole in the TV industry: LGBT+ characters pop up here and there, but the magic of an all-queer cast, of shows like Queer as Folk and The L Word, is gone from our screens. All we can do is hope for a come-back. - YAIZA CANOPOLI

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The Queer Review

THE REAL The Real L Word was not nearly as popular as its big sister, but if you’re a hardcore fan of lesbian shows, you will probably have heard of it. With The L Word’s massive success, executive producer Ilene Chaiken decided to create a reality TV equivalent, following the lives of real lesbians. Running for three seasons, one of the things fans appreciated was the variety of women featured: just like in The L Word, the lesbians of Los Angeles had all sorts of personalities and personal situations. However, one thing they all had in common was how much they believed in the importance of the show: they wanted to show everyone that lesbians have fun, have families, have jobs, and that they are ultimately like everybody else. Whether they loved to party or stay home and read, they were all unapologetically themselves. It’s a fun show, and just as lovingly ridiculous as The L Word. - YAIZA CANOPOLI

© Lettering by Beverly A. Devakishen


The Queer Review

TV & FILM

S

hows like Sense8 are few and far, far, far between. Its original story, fantastic acting and compelling writing make for a show you can’t help but fall down the rabbit hole into. It centres on eight people around the globe who find themselves telepathically connected to each other by no explanation I will reveal here, and who, as they go on, help each other fight their own individual battles that eventually join them together. This aspect in particular leads to some very powerful scenes, where they all enter themselves into one particular body in a time of distress. This, I think, serves as a good example of what the show is ultimately about. However, not only is it crammed with intrigue and intricate stories, but features two wonderful queer couples at its core, including a trans woman. In both cases their happiness is the foundation for the characters’ strength, and is essential to the story. Nomi and Amanita are so inseparable that it is strange to remember that Amanita is not one of the eight, because she is so

© Lettering by Beverly A. Devakishen

much more than just a significant other. This portrayal of a good and healthy queer relationship is something I didn’t realise was missing from TV until I noticed that so much of LGBT+ media focuses on the process of finding yourself, or falling for someone, or otherwise realising all is not as it was. Sense8 shows us the afterwards of all that, and explores the beauty and complexity of a side of queer life so often omitted from what we’re shown on-screen. More shows should look at this kind of representation for guidance, and take a hint to include happy queer couples, to show that these relationships are normal and valid, even in a context as strange and unique as that of Sense8. Each episode is almost a film in itself, but it would be more accurate to call each season an eight hour film that has something for all types of binge-watchers: hackers, car chases, karate, heists, and, on the flip side, love, family, recovery, and DJing. - CHLOË MURRELL

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TV & FILM

F

rom clones to deadly institutions for scientific research, Orphan Black has it all. Along with its positive and relevant portrayal of women, it puts LGBT+ matters at the forefront of the series. Indeed, Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) and Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) seem to be the show favourites, as their love endures through the obstacles they face and the turmoil their relationship suffers. Keen to show diversity, Orphan Black uses these characters as a basis for realistic representations of LGBT+ women and relationships. By using characters such as Cosima and Delphine, as well as other queer personas such as Felix, the writers show diversity as part of the quotidian, making the show stand out among its more heteronormative counterparts. Orphan Black focuses on sexuality but does not make it a crucial part of the plot. That all too familiar, uncomfortable wedge of inclusivity in a TV show is not present here. Instead, the

The Queer Review

use of LGBT+ characters fits perfectly, never feeling unnatural or forced. Indeed, Delphine and Cosima are great examples of this. Cosima is an openly queer woman but makes it clear that her ‘sexuality is not the most interesting thing about [her].’ In contrast, Delphine identifies as straight until she meets Cosima; once she falls in love, she explains that while she had never considered bisexuality for herself, she knows, as a scientist, that sexuality is a spectrum, and that the societal restrictions and expectations around what is an acceptable relationship are against the biological facts. These fan favourite lines perfectly sum up the show and its portrayal of queer women. It illustrates, in its entirety, that people are people, and some just happen to be queer. It is a show about individuals finding strength in community, and empowerment in their complexity as human beings. - JULIETTE REY

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© Lettering by Beverly A. Devakishen


The Queer Review

TV & FILM

WYNONNA EARP

The o u t cast descendent of lawman Wyatt Earp teams up with an immortal Doc Holliday to rid the world of demonic revenants from the Wild West’, Netflix says about the show Wynonna Earp, but you don’t need to be familiar with these historical US figures to enjoy it. Wynonna Earp takes the hallmarks of the Western genre and twists them up with supernatural horror to create a premise that is utterly ridiculous

bly

Wynonna Earp (Melanie Scrofano), the title character, is a hard-drinking, leather-wearing, foul-mouthed heroine tasked with killing demons using her ancestor’s magic gun, Peacemaker, but the show doesn’t fall into the trap of turning Wynonna into a brooding Byronic hero. Instead, she possesses relatable emotional depth, and is realistically afraid in the face of danger. She begins her quest utterly

worth looking at © Lettering by Beverly A. Devakishen

but undeniaentertaining.

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TV & FILM

The Queer Review

lacking in the skills she needs—she has she appeared on screen like I did, you the gun, yes, but she’s a rubbish shot. probably will after you hear her reminisce about “Waverly Earp, smilin’ Wynonna learns quickly that she needs at me from her front porch” in a soft a team behind her, including crafty Southern drawl. An out and proud lesDoc Holliday (Tim Rozon), secretive bian, Nicole flirts openly with Waverly government agent Xavier Dolls (Sham- to the soundtrack of Secular Love by ier Anderson), earnest police officer The Casket Girls from the moment Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell), they meet in the second episode—such and book-smart younger sister Wa- a marked difference from the way most verly (Domonique Provost-Chalkley). shows tentatively, if at all, approach a But the jewel in this show’s crown is the lesbian relationship that I had to watch now-famous romance between Waver- the scene twice to make sure I wasn’t ly Earp and Nicole Haught. Waverly be- imagining their chemistry; I wasn’t. gins dating Nicole early in the show, and their relationship is, without a doubt, Their relationship has become one my favourite on television right now. of the most tender and honest eleTall, redheaded Nicole Haught—and ments of the show, and with the first yes, her last name is pronounced ex- season up on Netflix UK and the actly the way you think it is—has a cat third season currently being filmed, named Calamity Jane and an enor- writer Emily Andras promises ‘Waymous soft spot for one Waverly Earp. Haught’ aren’t going anywhere. If you didn’t fall for Nicole the moment - ISABELLE SIDDLE

BLACK MIRROR San Junipero

EASY Vegan Cinderella Lady Cha Cha

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The Queer Review

UPCOMING

STRAY CITY BY CHELSEY JOHNSON A queer woman escapes her catholic childhood and establishes herself in the queer community of Portland. However, one night she gets drunk and hooks up with a man--and she ends up pregnant. COMING MARCH 2018.

WHO IS VERA KELLY? BY ROSALIE KNECHT Vera Kelly is recruited by the CIA while working at a radio station in 1962, suddenly becoming a Cold War spy. This promises to be a fun lesbian spy novel. COMING JUNE 2018.

PAPER IS WHITE BY HILARY ZAID When oral historian Ellen decides to marry her girlfriend, she wants her grandmother’s blessing— but her grandmother is dead. A book about the holocaust and the pull of the past, this promises to be a unique read. COMING MARCH 2018.

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SEE YOU SOON

YOUR COMMITTEE

Chloë Murrell (TV & film editor), Isabelle Siddle (artist), Chloe Ann P-H (proofreader), Miles Atkinson (artist), Yaiza Canopoli (editor-in-chief), Beverly Anne Devakishen (deputy editor)

NEXT ISSUE

QUEER YOUTH Coming April 2018

Featuring Golden Boy, Under the Udala Trees, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, and lots of other wonderfully qneer young-adult reads.

Want to contribute? E-mail us or join The Queer Review on Facebook! queerreviewmag@gmail.com

Twitter @queerreviewmag © Photo by Sylvie Tan


Š Cover artwork by Miles Atkinson. Lettering by Beverly A. Devakishen. Logo by Isabelle Siddle


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