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 clichâ€šs 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.