cover image Women on Women 3: A New Anthology of American Lesbian Fiction

Women on Women 3: A New Anthology of American Lesbian Fiction

Various, Joan Nestle. Plume Books, $14 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-452-27661-1

Veteran editors Holoch and Nestle's third compilation of fiction by established and emerging writers boldly challenges any notion of lesbian writing as a homogeneous genre. Unlike its predecessor in the series, Women on Women 3 spans only three decades of lesbian fiction. Excerpts from Elana Nachman's Riverfinger Women and Kate Millet's Sita, both published in the 1970s, and Barbara Smith's 1983 story ""Home"" illuminate the similarities--and radical departures--of current lesbian fiction. The pieces cover a number of different themes: aside from love and relationships, the subjects include gender and butch/femme identity in socioeconomic and historical contexts; the subtleties of intergenerational friendship and trust; family ties and homophobia. Some of the best pieces are those by Sheila Ortiz Taylor, Frankie Hucklenbroich and Lu Vicker, all of which brilliantly capture the fleeting magic of childhood memories. The didactic ""An American in Chiapas"" by Nisa Donelly and the drawn out coming-of-age tale, ""Leap of Faith,"" by Hillary Mullins are among the few weak selections found in an otherwise strong collection. But if the collection itself is various, the series is not: it's a little disappointing to see so many names repeated from Women on Women 2 (Michelle Cliff, Gerry Pearlberg, Ellen Frye, Lexa Rosean, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Rebecca Brown). It's not that they're not good writers. They are, but varying (or at least rotating) writers would serve the series better. (June)