Books by Karla Jay

Speaking in Tungs by Karla Jay
Released: May 14, 2015

"An often intriguing story, despite a few too many plot elements, that shows the disparate ways that speech therapy can help people regain their voices."
In Jay's debut novel, a speech therapist moves to the small town of Tungston, Pennsylvania—locally known as "Tungs"—and finds colorful characters and a little mystery. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1999

Oh, to be young and a radical lesbian in the late 1960s and early '70s—here is a sharp and funny account of what it was like. The author (Women's Studies/Pace Univ.; co-author, Out of the Closet, not reviewed, etc.) was "a nice, Jewish girl from Brooklyn" attending Barnard College in the 1960s. Growing up with a mentally ill mother given to hallucinations, rages, and depression had driven her from home but not out of the closet. Jolted by the Columbia University student uprisings in 1968, she marched with antiwar and civil rights protesters—and began exploring her lesbian inclinations at Greenwich Village bars. She also began to be drawn to the fledgling women's liberation movement, joining the radical feminist Redstockings and a consciousness-raising group. Also involved in the start-up of the Gay Liberation Front, she worked by day for Collier's magazine and by night for a radical publication called Rat. On the feminist front, she was part of media women's sit-in at the Ladies Home Journal and organized an "ogle-in" on Wall Street, where a group of women whistled and commented on men's physical attributes as the bankers and brokers emerged from the subway. She also helped organize the "Lavender Menace" action (the term is Betty Friedan's) that set lesbian interests on the agenda of the feminist movement. Exhausted, ill, and frightened because her phone was tapped, she took off for California, for a summer dominated by beaches, bars, sex, and minimal gay politics. This marked the beginning of a withdrawal from activism and the start of her trek to tenure. Jay's action-packed stories are often accompanied by reflective analysis, including why many feminists resisted, and continue to resist, lesbians in the movement. Thoughtful, witty and informative, this memoir captures the fervor and exuberance of those years when young idealists stenciled T-shirts and marched to change the world—and perhaps they did. (8 pages photos, not seen) Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 8, 1995

Although loosely organized, this collection of writings on lesbian life is striking in its intellectual and experiential diversity. Jay (English and Women's Studies/Pace Univ.) offers a window into a wide range of lesbian experiences and, more important, some analyses not often heard. Essays explore lesbian relationships to families of origin, sex, gendered roles, parenting, health issues, midlife, marriage, aging, race, and the ethics of outing. Two complex and well-argued entries call for more flexible thinking about butch/femme roles, while a charming and equally convincing essay by LeslÇa Newman celebrates her traditional butch/femme relationship. Marcia Munson brings some much-needed common sense to the fervor over lesbian safer sex: ``Always fasten your seat belt while driving to or from a sexual encounter,'' she advises. ``You're far more likely to die in a car crash than from an STD you might get from a woman.'' Marny Hall explores the role of the imagination in lesbian sex livesand ends up fantasizing about one of the women she interviewed for the chapter. In ``Black Lace Hairbow,'' Greta Gaard articulately reflects on the way getting involved with a man complicated her femme lesbian identity. Short sidebars scattered throughout are among the liveliest pieces in the collection: E.J. Graff's on her commitment ceremony; Amanda Kovattana's on life as a ``lesbian vampire''a seducer of straight women; and a piece by novelist Mary Meigs on romance in her old age. Unfortunately, the schema is haphazard, and it is often unclear why a particular essay falls under a given theme: Why, for instance, are articles about lesbian youth, baby boomers, and aging lumped under the heading ``Relating to Others''? The essays themselves, however, are both entertaining and thoughtful. Read full book review >