Hump Day Reviews: Sapphic Traffic

I’ve got issues with stationery. Drop me into any store where paper and ink are on sale, in various forms, and I will be content to browse for hours. It may well be a sickness, or an obsession.

It may also partially explain why I loved Suki Lee’s book, Sapphic Traffic, so much.

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See, on first glance, the book appealed to some of my strangest obsessions. Its paper may not be stationery-grade, but the book itself (published by awesome Montrealers Conundrum Press) is small in size and nearly square in shape, which gives it a very intimate, made-just-for-you feel. This is the sort of thing that’s really at the root of all my swooning over pretty notebooks and fancy pens: the idea that someone could take those blank pages and write a book that is completely personalized for a very small readership – maybe even an audience of one.

I suppose the rationale is the smaller the book, the more intimate the feeling. Since Lee’s book fits into your purse or back pocket, you get the impression that it must have been written especially for you.

For those who don’t share my particular brand of insanity, you’ll be happy to know that when I cracked the pages, I found even more to love. Lee’s prose is short and succinct, and follows characters with a variety of obsessions, whether they are sexual, artistic or otherwise.

Though the stories are based on 1950s-style lesbian pulp books, they’re not just hot girl-on-girl action to satisfy the horny reader. Some are touching, strange, beautiful. All of them feature lesbian protagonists, and most of the characters are female, but without the book’s title in mind, you wouldn’t even think about these subtle differences. And that’s as it should be; these aren’t “lesbian stories” that should be segregated from “straight stories.” They’re just great stories.

Granted, some of them do feature the hot girl-on-girl action that readers of erotica crave, and the sexual scenes are well done. The first story, “Diva Antoinette Concherez,” features a star-fucker who ultimately seeks to assume the star’s identity, and there’s both an intriguing view of celebrity and a number of love scenes, satisfying two of my dirty obsessions simultaneously.

All in all, I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in honest depictions of female relationships, as (thankfully) none of these are your average, run-of-the-mill stories about romcom-ish women in love. The characters in this book aren’t outlandish; instead, they strike the reader as real – something truly original in a world of dull social clichés and so-called family values.

(Originally reviewed at Black Heart Magazine)

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