Books by Jan Clausen

Released: March 1, 1999

A tedious trek through private sexual yearnings, and a deft discussion of the politics of sexual identity. Poet and novelist Clausen (Sinking, Stealing, 1985; The Prosperine Papers, 1988) was cast out of the lesbian community, where she—d been immersed for nearly15 years, when she "got involved with a man." Nearly a decade later, she remains with the same man, continuing to puzzle over the personal complexities that saw her switch from heterosexual to homosexual and back. She bemoans the sexual "border police" who enforce rigid sexual categories. To this liberationist, even the label "bisexual" implies sexual confusion more than it does the broad spectrum of erotic attraction of which Clausen feels women (and perhaps men) are capable. Casting her arguments in the light of her own history, Clausen recounts her early affairs with men and brief encounters with women. She didn—t commit herself to women until she moved from Oregon to New York City (with a man) and devoted herself to a lesbian feminist community that encouraged her writing. That dedication led to a 12-year relationship with a woman whose daughter they raised together. It was this "marriage" that she abandoned to live with a man. The rejection that followed wasn—t the first time she—d been shunned by her lesbian cohorts—an earlier accusation of anti-Semitism had also caused a chill among her formerly close and influential colleagues. Today, reconciled somewhat with her lesbian associates, she's still regarded by many as a "former lesbian"—a niche she finds discomfiting. This well-reasoned plea to relax the boundaries between straight and gay (boundaries patrolled on both sides of the sexual fence) is weighed down by a personal history that's curiously mundane in the telling. (Author tour) Read full book review >