Amateurish first novel composed of portraits of women whose paths cross in a lesbian bar in Oakland, California. Babe Daniels first turned to bartending after she shattered her leg, had to give up a promising roller-derby career, and ran off with an unwed mother and her newborn baby; now, at last, she's the almost legendary owner of Babe's, known for her "razor-sharp wit," though the reader is treated mostly to a string of clichÇs that Babe can't deliver without giving either a sly wink, impish grin, or wicked smile. Her patrons include fighters and survivors as well as the "crippled capitulators, stumbling along clutching a couple of tattered dreams, a handful of tarnished golden-moment memories all wrapped up in shadows," as well as a prominent photojournalist (suffering from a fatal illness) who wants to document "the lesbian nation" before she dies ("Now this is a photograph," Abby had oozed. . ."). The author mixes toughness and sentimentality with a clumsy old-fashioned style and moments of unintentional humor as she relates a series of melodramatic life histories. Fans of explicit, lesbian fantasy/pornography will be moderately rewarded (for wading through hundreds of dull pages) by a couple of competent but uninspired soft-core chapters towards the end. This is not an introduction to the lesbian nation, however, but to a novice writer.
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