Last night I engaged in some risky behavior. I started a new novel at bedtime.
Yes, I stayed up too late.
Yes, this book is off to a great start.
I relate to young Lily Hu not understanding her attraction to certain images of women, yet instinctively knowing it was something she should hide.
The opening scene where everyone’s eyes are riveted to the stage watching the Miss Chinatown contestants is a brilliant showing of how, when you’re young and queer and don’t yet know it, you do know it’s not okay to look, even when everyone else is.
“Lily, still holding her half-eaten drumstick, looked away from the stage uncomfortably. She didn’t understand the shrinking feeling inside her, as if she shouldn’t be caught looking at those girls” (6).
The book is Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo. Apparently, I’m late to the party on this one as several friends have read and loved it. Oprah, Ms. Magazine, and Sarah Waters have all praised it. I found out about it while cruising the GLBT Historical Society’s events page. They hosted an author talk with Malinda Lo and Amy Sueyoshi that you can watch on their YouTube channel which is linked below.
Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the feeling took root—that desire to look, to move closer, to touch. Whenever it started growing, it definitely bloomed the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. Suddenly everything seemed possible.
But America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.
Hurts so good
I had planned to save this novel for summer reading, but it kept calling to me from my “stack of hopefuls.” This stack has been growing for several months now. Since I started school in February, I’ve been experiencing delayed reading gratification for the first time in a while. As John Cougar crooned, it hurts so good.
Purchase a copy of Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo through Bookshop.org and help support independent bookstores and this blog.
ha ha loved your title and opening line, Chris! I’ve been staying up too late myself reading this week (The Vanishing Half). I’ve been hearing about Last Night at the Telegraph Club – it sounds great!
Oh, and remember, Big Book Summer is coming up at the end of the month! Hope you’ll have time to participate again now that you’re in school.
Book By Book
I wouldn’t miss Big Book Summer and have been planning for months now. The big classic I’m going to tackle this summer is Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I have several others…guess I need to start getting my post ready.