SCIS­SORS, PA­PER, STONE

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight - LETI­TIA MONT­GOMERY-RODGERS

Martha K. Davis, Red Hen Press (APRIL) Soft­cover $16.95 (312pp), 978-1-59709-046-9

A com­pelling fam­ily drama res­o­nant with fem­i­nist and queer is­sues, Martha K. Davis’s Scis­sors, Pa­per, Stone neatly cap­tures the grit of in­ti­macy as re­la­tion­ships ex­pand and con­tract.

“We had been walk­ing for over an hour be­fore I re­al­ized I was ac­tu­ally run­ning away, or at least in­ves­ti­gat­ing how it could be done.” These words hang in the air as the novel fol­lows an evolv­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween Cather­ine, Min, and Laura from 1964 to 1985.

Cather­ine opens the novel: “I had never wanted my own fam­ily. The older I grew, the less I could tol­er­ate the one I came from.” So she moves to San Fran­cisco as a newly mar­ried woman who is de­ter­mined to live out her prin­ci­ples, no mat­ter the dis­tance it causes. She doesn’t ex­pect the re­al­ity. When the re­sponse to her adopt­ing three-month-old Min from Korea is alarm­ingly racist, Cather­ine starts cut­ting off those who can’t ad­just, but the un­der­ly­ing fear, ha­tred, and doubt lingers.

Min grows up with an in­creas­ingly dis­tant mother. Like most kids, she’s fo­cused more on her own jour­ney than she is on fig­ur­ing her mother out. At her side is Laura, her best friend, who forms an in­stant con­nec­tion with Cather­ine. As Min and Laura age, their paths di­verge. Laura goes to col­lege and the seem­ingly in­evitable MRS de­gree; Min goes to mas­sage school and lives as an out-and-proud butch les­bian. The women’s re­la­tion­ships must weather their in­di­vid­ual storms of self-dis­cov­ery if they’re go­ing to sur­vive.

Davis sus­tains a beautiful ten­sion be­tween the women. De­spite all that dis­tances them, they’re in each other’s lives for good or ill. Like the chil­dren’s game of the ti­tle, they come to­gether, face off, and drift apart, though at heart they’re a set, com­pelled to find the parts that com­plete it in each other, even if their con­nec­tions are at­tended by con­fronta­tion.

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