Jane Eaton Hamilton

"It was her mouth that had a hand over it, not her eyes." -Jane Eaton Hamilton

Tag: Weekend

It’s a bit of a stretch, finding queer characters with physical disabilities, but Casey did

Yonder at Autostraddle, where I’m a contributing writer, Casey answered the call. I’m totally smitten with Leah Lakshmi Piepzna Samarasinha’s work, no matter its genre, and I look forward to reading the others here (the antho QDA is already on board). Check out the list here.

“Weekend:” have a great one, people

It’s great to get thoughtful and lengthy reviews of one’s work. Thanks to Casey!

“There’s a lot to revel in in Weekend, just purely from a representation angle. When was the last time you read a queer novel about people in middle age, let alone a novel that has extended sex scenes featuring queer people in their 40s and 50s? Older queers getting it on feels revolutionary in and of itself, but Hamilton also features a character who is disabled and black (Ajax has a heart condition and grew up in the Bahamas), a trans masculine character who uses they pronouns (Logan), a masculine-presenting polyamorous character who uses she pronouns (Elliot), and a kinky couple (Logan and Ajax). None of this feels forced or for the sake of diversity itself, but simply a portrayal of some real people with various intersecting identities.

“As you’re probably guessing, this is a highly character and relationship driven novel. You know at the beginning that shit of many kinds is going to hit the fan for both couples. Hamilton takes you there slowly while letting you get to know all the characters, their dynamics, and histories. The only other work I can think of that has so much authentic dyke processing in it is Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For. Logan, Ajax, Joe, and Elliot talk about their gender and sexual identities (I found Ajax’s ruminations about her lesbian identity in the face of Logan’s in-flux gender identity particularly fascinating), sex, feelings, their exes, illness, and relationship practicalities.”  -Casey, the Canadian lesbrarian

Here is the rest of her review:

Viscerally Real Queers, Dyke Processing, Kink, and Disability in Jane Eaton Hamilton’s novel WEEKEND

Go pick up a copy of ‘Weekend’ at 30% off!

My ultra-superbo press Arsenal Pulp Press is having a 30% sale to celebrate their new website! Go peek at their groovy backlist and use this sale to replenish your stacks! Best queer publisher in North America!

 

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The ReLit Awards “The country’s pre-eminent literary prize recognizing independent presses.” -The Globe & Mail

Today ‘Weekend’ was long shortlisted for the ReLit Awards. Congrats also to Ashley Little for Niagara Motel, also through Arsenal Pulp, and the other finalists in the three categories of novel, short fiction and poetry.

The ReLit Awards

Books by Writers with Disabilities

I love that slowly, slowly, we build a literature about disabilities written by the disabled themselves. Pain Woman last year by Sonya Huber is one such book. Another is the upcoming Sick by Porochista Khakpour. Dorothy Palmer, well-known for her clear reports/retorts about/to UBCA, has a memoir coming out this very year.

Now here is an interview with author Kim Clark on her book A One-Handed Novel. Her narrator has MS. Can’t wait to read this.

The BBC ignited fury after having 3 able-bodied spouses on to talk about the hell of having spouses with disabilities. I have threatened to write an essay about the hell it is to have an abled spouse.

My novel Weekend with one disabled character and plenty of romance wouldn’t pass my own Bechdel Disability Test, in that it is a romance, and there’s just one character with a disability, but Clark nevertheless recommends it as a good read.

Read Local BC

 

At the Whistler Writer’s Fest…

I’m delighted to be reading with Lenore, Jim and Joan at the Whistler Writer’s Fest! I wrote about the risk in writing my novel ‘Weekend’ for the festival, here.

Writers of Fiction

October 14, 2017 | 10 – 11:30 a.m.| Fairmont Chateau Whistler | $15

Lenore Rowntree, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Jim Nason, Joan B. Flood and the fiction winner of the Whistler Independent Book Prize. Author Claudia Casper explores the essential elements of fiction through our guest authors’ stories. They involve an only child struggling to emerge from his mother’s bipolar disorder; the complexities of contemporary queer love; how a veterinarian’s life choices, at times, contradict her alleged love of children and animals; and a family drama set in Ireland in which decisions and mistakes echo through generations.

 Moderator: Claudia Casper

Mandy Len Catron recommends “Weekend” for love

If Mandy Len Catron recommended my novel “Weekend” and Khloé Kardashian recommended Mandy’s “How To Fall In Love With Anyone,” does that mean I should figure out who Kholé Kardashian is? Or does that just mean you should read Mandy’s book?

This week How To Fall In Love With Anyone” has been released. Mandy is the author who set the NY Times’ Modern Love column on fire with her essay about “36 Questions” to make a couple fall in love with each other, a column viewed millions of times. And now there’s a whole book of her writing!

CBC wanted to know what revs Mandy’s romance engine, and “Weekend” made the cut, with a nod to its dealing with disability issues.

Hopefully Mandy will be here on the blog with a Q+A soon!

Mandy Len Catron on offbeat love stories, and the one secret to relationships that last

Huff Po Loves “Weekend”

 

Lesbian Communities: Looking Backward, Looking Forward

1. Weekend by Jane Eaton Hamilton. Do you remember what it feels like to read a novel that has lesbian lives, lesbian bodies, lesbian minds thoughtfully and carefully rendered by a writer of extraordinary talent? If you feel like it has been a long time since you read a novel like that, pick up Jane Eaton Hamilton’s Weekend (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016). Examining two lesbian couples, their romances, their conflicts, and their lives, Weekend reminds me how lesbian writers render lesbian characters with extraordinary grace, humanity, and insight.

 

 

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CBC Books: Weekend

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CBC Books

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Julie R Enszer

“[Weekend] is the best book I have read this year. Hamilton brings us four wonderful characters who live and grapple with lesbian/queer/women’s contemporary experiences. The sex is hot; the characters are wonderfully flawed, human, and relatable. This is the book to beat for the 2016 Lammy in Lesbian Fiction. Buy it. Read it. Love it.

My review at Curve: http://www.curvemag.com/Reviews/Weeke…”

 

Weekend Makes Pride’s The Fifteen Must-Read LGBT Books List of 2016

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Pride Magazine

Weekend, Jane Eaton Hamilton

Trouble the Water, Derrick Austin

The Angel of History, Rabih Alameddine

Imagine Me Gone, Adam Haslett

Boy Erased, Garrard Conley

Juliet Takes a Breath, Gabby Rivera

After Disasters, Viet Dinh

Black Wave, Michelle Tea

Small Beauty, Jia Qing Wilson-Yang

The Wonder, Emma Donoghue

If I Was Your Girl, Meredith Russo

Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout, Laura Jane Grace

Desert Boys, Chris McCormick

Eleanor and Hick, Susan Quinn

Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson

 

After Ellen calls WEEKEND “The Book”

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I’m so glad to see After Ellen managing to continue after their status changed in September. I surely never thought anyone would find cause to put me and Barack Obama on the same page. In their year end wrap-up, After Ellen via Beth Reynolds calls WEEKEND “The Book.” (All the same, I’d probably rather be “The Writer” since Glennon Doyle Melton sounds like she’s making money hand over fist. 🙂 jk)

After Ellen

Books for Your Holiday Shopping

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Books by Queer Vancouver Authors for Everyone on Your Holiday Shopping List

Hiromi Goto, Jane Rule, Sarah Leavitt, Wayson Choy and I are recommended here for gift giving this year in a list compiled by Casey Stepaniuk. I was hanging out with Jane Rule when she wrote ‘After the Fire’ and ‘Memory Board,’ so her inclusion here is very meaningful. In fact, the next novel I’m going to write if I ever finish the ones underway is going to be loosely based on her and her partner, Helen, although with a fabricated story to support that conceit.

Book review: Agony and ecstasy apparent in new novel Weekend

Tom Sandburn’s review of WEEKEND in the Vancouver Sun. From June 2016.

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“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” Tolstoy tells his readers at the beginning of Anna Karenina.  Like most successful epigrams, this line is pungent, compelling and memorable. Also, like many such quips, it could work just as well turned inside out, as a declaration that all unhappy families have broad stroke elements in common.

While award-winning Vancouver poet, short story writer and novelist Jane Eaton Hamilton’s new book, Weekend is, by, the author’s own account, inspired by Raymond Carver’s grim 1981 meditation on love among the ruins “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” it can also be read as a reflection on Tolstoy’s formulation about happy and unhappy families. But however the erudite reader wants to compare it to earlier fiction, Weekend itself is a tour de force, an account of two same-sex couples in crisis, a tender meditation on the nature of love, desire, betrayal, mortality and reconciliation.

2016 Handout: Book cover of Weekend by Jane Eaton Hamilton. To go with review on Tracy Sherlock books pages. [PNG Merlin Archive]
Book cover of Weekend by Jane Eaton Hamilton

It also is notably successful in rendering the complex realities of sex, a challenge that defeats most writers who attempt it. Not many readers these days will be shocked or offended by the book’s sexual frankness, but some will wince at the way Hamilton breaks another taboo. Her enthusiastically sexual characters are in mid life (one is turning 50 as the weekend occurs) and come to their erotic experiences with all the baggage that status implies. In a culture that disdains the old, particularly older women, as sexless, these moments of powerful erotic realism are genuinely transgressive and wonderfully done.

While I describe the main characters as same sex-couples, the reality is somewhat more complex, as one of the characters is considering a gender transition. The fact that this character prefers the de-gendered singular pronouns “they” and “their” will take a bit of getting used to for some readers, but the calm, matter of fact way in which Hamilton portrays trans issues and the new verbal etiquette they imply is one of the book’s many strengths.

Unlike the gay novels of my youth, which tended to focus univocally on the coming out narrative, this book takes all that for granted and turns its attention to what happens after one has come out, won the right to marry and moved into what the public intellectual Stan Persky calls a “post gay” reality. Often enough, Hamilton suggests, this post liberation reality, while obviously a huge improvement on the fever swamps of homophobia and oppression that preceded it, is full of ordinary human heartbreak and betrayal, sorrow, tedium and flawed, triumphant love.

That recognition, and the lapidary prose Hamilton uses to embody and dramatize it make Weekend a remarkable, intricate and mature work of art. And Hamilton can reflect on these matters from the perspective of one of liberation’s veteran warriors. According to the University of Toronto’s Poetry Online, Hamilton “came out in 1982. She was a litigant in Canada’s same-sex marriage case from 2000-2003, and then maintained an website called queermarriage for the next several years to aid couples coming to B.C. from other countries with queer-friendly resources.”

Most of the novel’s action takes place over a weekend at two lake island homes in Ontario cottage country, giving the book a tight temporal and geographic focus, almost Aristotelian in its unity, a unity that is only partly diffused by the book’s coda, which takes the four lovers past the weekend, back to the city and on into new domestic and medical complications.

The couples are Elliot and Joe, two women who are celebrating the recent birth of their daughter Scout, and Ajax and Logan, who have come to the lake for Logan to propose marriage to Ajax. In the course of the weekend the couples are both disrupted, one by abandonment, one by a health crisis.

While in summary this may sound like the stuff of queer soap opera, in Hamilton’s deft, spare treatment, there is no melodrama. Sex is portrayed in a compelling, original fashion, and the trials and rigours of dealing with a new baby are portrayed with sensual detail and emotional depth. Hamilton’s rendering of her character’s heart crisis and of the years of impaired functioning, pain and body shame that preceded it benefits from the same sensual precision and closely observed detail that illuminate her sex scenes. All her characters are nuanced, complex and believable creations. This is the real world of imperfect adults, captured and rendered with compassion, wit and intelligence.

Much of this is accomplished by Hamilton’s exemplary use of free indirect discourse, that challenging but supple device that allows a third person account to reflect the first person inner life of the character. This approach, pioneered by Jane Austen, is a powerful one, allowing layers of double perspective and irony to be rendered in careful, minimalist fashion.

This is a remarkable book. Little wonder that Hamilton has been recognized so often for her narrative skills- by the Guardian’s Best Book of the Year List, the BC Book Prizes, the VanCity Award, CBC Literary Awards and many other prizes. If you have not yet discovered this important Canadian voice, Weekend is your opportunity.

Tom Sandborn lives and writes in Vancouver. He welcomes your feedback and story tips at tos65@telus.net.

 

 

Weekend at the Rumpus

Thrilled that WEEKEND appears in this great company in Anna March’s Reading MixTape #26 at the Rumpus!

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  1. Weekend by Jane Eaton Hamilton
  2. Transitory by Tobias Carroll
  3. The Lost Girls by Heather Young
  4. Arcade by Drew Smith
  5. The Art of Waiting by Belle Boggs
  6. Every Kind of Wanting by Gina Frangello
  7. This Angel on My Chest by Leslie Pietrzyk
  8. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  9. Intimations by Alexandra Kleeman
  10. The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam

The Rumpus

Weekend: sexy and far-seeing

JEH 2016

Couples in Flux

Heather Seggel on September 2, 2016

The Gay and Lesbian Review (US)

THE ACTION in Weekend takes place over a mere two days, and it all happens on a small island in Ontario, where a celebratory getaway reveals fracture lines running through the relationships of the participants. The central characters are two lesbian couples who occupy adjacent cabins: Ajax, a black woman, and Logan, a white “boi”; and Joe and Elliott, who have come with their new baby. The novel by Jane Eaton Hamilton is sexy and far-seeing, and it offers many surprises.

This is Hamilton’s ninth book, and she engages the complexity of her subjects with a sure hand. The lakeside setting with its side-by-side cabins is full of glimpses of nature: look out a window and you’re as likely to spot a towhee searching for seeds as you are to observe a couple having sex on the dock. The oppressive heat of the water and the isolation of the island—boats are required to get there, to shop, to seek medical help in an emergency—make the couples’ attractions and divergences feel equally pressurized. The sex is explicit, hot, and complicated by both the gender dynamics at play and the changes wrought by aging.

In the course of the weekend, Joe learns that a former lover who was deeply unstable has died, possibly as the result of suicide. She looks back at the relationship she feels lucky to have escaped intact, but can’t help recalling the good times as well, surrounded as she is by the new reality of parenthood and the ways in which it has redefined her current relationship. Those questions of knowing are woven throughout this story, and never come with pat answers. Even Ajax and Logan’s above-board discussions of power disparities don’t yield a tidy solution. “I promise I’ll bend toward you,” Logan tells her at one point, “but I can’t promise how often I’ll bend toward you.”

It’s surprising to note how much can happen in such a short span of time, though less so when you consider how we can mentally whipsaw between past and present while rifling through our luggage, checking our watches to see if the future will arrive on time. Weekend handles this mental time travel artfully. Hamilton keeps the perspective flexible and shifting, and our sympathies and loyalties can’t help but move and change with the story as more is revealed. By the end much has changed, and there’s a powerful sense of hope about where things stand. We need more stories that celebrate the ways we bend, break, and rebuild ourselves; this is a particularly good one.

Gay and Lesbian Review

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