THE WRESTLING PARTY by Bett Williams

THE WRESTLING PARTY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Ruminations on life, love, and lesbian subcultures.

In her first book-length nonfiction (her work also appears in Out magazine and online at LesbiaNation.com), novelist Williams (Girl Walking Backwards, 1998) starts with her drive to a nightclub holding a Trash Disco Night. The goings-on are appropriately depraved and less than logical, peripherally involving Williams’s non-obsessive non-relationship with a gorgeous submissive named Anikka. The text moves on to other topics, but in a sense never quite leaves the nightclub. Like most members of her early-30s generation, the writer is impressively grounded in pop and underground culture; the highlight here is her visit to Ladyfest, a riotgrrl music/political awareness festival in Olympia, Washington. Wandering among the testy mix of young hippie women and overly fashion-conscious punk chicks, Williams gets antsy at just how hard it is to get laid in this achingly PC landscape: “The phrase ‘identity politics’ makes me want to become a heroin addict. I have dents in my wall from hurling books by bell hooks.” There’s a lot more in that vein: slashing attacks on the stifling attitudes of her lesbian nation that are yet leavened with a desperate, passionate love. (Perhaps you can only truly critique what you adore.) The author’s intelligent, self-deprecating manner allows her to pull off pretty much anything, from reflecting on her relationship with a teenaged girl—oh-so-improper, she knows—to rhapsodizing about the wrestling parties she hosts for her friends involving a real wrestling mat and lots of vegetable oil.

Somewhere in the midst of all the post-slacker knocking about, Williams comes up with a smart, breezy chronicle about a smart, breezy woman who’s game for just about anything and has something sharp to say all the time.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 1-55583-785-9
Page count: 148pp
Publisher: Alyson
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2003