IN­DOMITABLE

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight - LETITIA MONT­GOMERY-RODGERS

Joanne Pas­set, Bella Books, Hard­cover $28.95 (338pp), 978-1-59493-471-1 Al­ways en­thu­si­as­tic, of­ten im­per­fect, Grier helped de­velop and sus­tain an in­dus­try, not just for her­self, but for so many oth­ers.

Joanne Pas­set’s In­domitable: The Life of Bar­bara Grier presents the life of LGBTQ pub­lish­ing pi­o­neer Bar­bara Grier in tan­dem with the de­vel­op­ment of the LGBTQ press it­self. Pas­set’s choice shows how much she un­der­stands the woman at the heart of In­domitable —a bib­lio­phile whose pas­sion was her work and work her defin­ing pas­sion. Laid out in un­flinch­ing yet sur­pris­ingly com­pas­sion­ate prose, this bi­og­ra­phy por­trays a woman who val­ued, more than any­thing, writ­ten rep­re­sen­ta­tions of her com­mu­nity.

Grier brashly sought out both women and les­bian lit­er­a­ture in the 1940s, a time when such ac­tiv­i­ties were il­le­gal. She soon re­al­ized her for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ences as an out les­bian—of­ten so counter to the clos­eted women she would meet—were unique. This re­al­iza­tion led Grier to be­lieve lit­er­ary rep­re­sen­ta­tion was a po­tent key to val­i­da­tion.

Al­ways a vo­ra­cious reader, in the 1950s she be­gan col­lect­ing ev­ery­thing re­lated to les­bian pub­lish­ing that she could find, even­tu­ally amass­ing more than 15,000 books as part of a col­lec­tion that ex­panded over time to in­clude a wide range of LGBTQ lit­er­a­ture, cor­re­spon­dence, pe­ri­od­i­cals, and jour­nals. Col­lect­ing in­tro­duced Grier to the early gay and les­bian press, first as a news­let­ter sub­scriber and fre­quent let­ter-writer, then as a colum­nist, writer, and re­viewer, and, fi­nally, as the dy­namic force be­hind Na­iad Books.

Pas­set’s easy, ac­ces­si­ble style be­lies the com­plete­ness and rigor of her re­search. She de­picts Grier as a com­plex, of­ten con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure who possessed strong, some­times ruth­less fo­cus. It’s ob­vi­ous how com­pletely lit­er­a­ture and les­bian­ism de­fined Grier, so, it’s fas­ci­nat­ing, though not ter­ri­bly sur­pris­ing, how deeply the field of LGBTQ pub­lish­ing bears her stamp.

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