December 12, 2007

Goodbye, Jane Rule.

You were one of my heroes. I'm glad you died with a chocolate bar and a bottle of high-quality whiskey by your bed. And I'm glad you and Helen lasted 45 years. Wow!


• • • • •

What a life-affirming, fabulous woman. The triumph and tragedy of her life is that she became the face of lesbianism among Canadians and the literati. Though this probably helped fortify a lot of young women who needed someone to look up to, I think it unfairly limited the market for her books, which were largely carried in feminist/GLBT bookstores, but not always available at mainstream venues. And that's a shame: they were wonderful. They deserved to be read by everyone.

There was a lot more to Jane Rule's characters than the fact that some of 'em were gay.

I know most people's favorite Rule novel is Desert of the Heart. It was indeed a magnificent read, and it was later loosely adapted for the film Desert Hearts, which I saw with a boyfriend in the early 1980s (he didn't mind, of course; he developed a crush on one of the actresses, so seeing her in a lesbian sex scene was AOK—men are so cute).

But there are others: I liked Inland Passage, and (especially) Memory Board. The most amazing Jane Rule book of all is undoubtedly Contract with the World. I could read it over and over again. I may just do that, this month, as a tribute to Our Jane. (Um. Not this Jane. I mean, "Our Other Jane.")

And I see that not all of her books are widely available. If someone wants to make some money in the English-speaking world, they might want to re-issue Rule's stunning body of fiction. (All of it, including This Is Not For You. The fact that a book is not easy reading—or tremendously accessible to straights—does not make it less worthy of reprinting.)

• • • • •

You did well, Ms. Rule. If I can die as half the woman you were, I'll be very, very happy.

I'll be praying for you; I'm sure you and G-d made your own arrangements years ago, and I'm confident I'll see you on the other side of the veil. You, Auden, Yeats and I can have some laughs. You bring the cigarettes; I'll bring the cigars. You bring the whiskey; I'll bring the gin.

(Photo courtesy of the Globe and Mail piece linked above.)

Hat tip to David Linden for penetrating my influenza fog/usual MSM blackout.

Posted by Attila Girl at December 12, 2007 06:41 AM | TrackBack

A very nice tribute.

Checked my local library system, This Is Not For You is the only book written by Ms Rule in the entire county. I guess I'll be reading that in tribute. Thanks for the idea.

Posted by: Janette at December 12, 2007 02:02 PM

They have quite a nice collection of Jane Rule's works at Amazon, btw. Some start at 1 cent, gently used.

Posted by: Darrell at December 12, 2007 08:40 PM

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