Cover of Missed Her, looks like looking out of a window into blue

Not Oprah’s Book Club: Missed Her

Cover of Missed Her, looks like looking out of a window into blueI’m a big fan of Ivan E. Coyote. That fact that she writes about gender from a queer perspective already puts her on my “likely to enjoy” list, and then this video of hers (after the jump) started circulating. I posted it on Feministing a while back, but it deserves a reposting. I loved this video, watched it at least ten times since finding it.

So when I received a review copy of Ivan’s newest book of stories from Arsenal Pulp Press, Missed Her, I was psyched to see that story included.

Ivan’s writing has this refreshingly simple style to it. While many folks who right write about gender (myself included) tend to do a lot of analyzing, theorizing and philosophizing, Ivan is what she sets out to be: a storyteller. She talks about life as she lives it, as a butch who gets perceived as male sometimes, as female sometimes. As a Canadian, as a member of a big family, as a Yukoner. Her stories are simple, but underneath their simplicity lies such a powerful gender analysis.

One thing that this collection of stories lacks is the rhythm, the vibrancy that comes with hearing Ivan tell the stories herself. They ask to be heard, to be read out loud. I happened to also have a copy of her newest CD, Only Two Reasons, which includes Ivan herself reading the stories from this collection out loud. Stories are meant to be told, and Ivan’s work is no exception.

The good news is, though, that if you listen to enough of her YouTube videos, you can almost hear her reading the stories in your head as you plow through the book.

You can purchase the book here through Arsenal Pulp Press.

(Transcript here).

Join the Conversation

  • Joe

    Ivan Coyote is amazing. I read her book “Loose End” in an afternoon last year, just couldn’t put it down.

  • Zoe

    Love Ivan. Have seen her speak a couple times and she always gets me teary. Reading her stories is almost as good as seeing her in person. I’ve always loved the way she describes gender not quite fitting, like a pair of shoes when one of your feet is bigger than the other.
    She seems to have been traveling the US a fair bit lately, catch her if you can!

  • nazza

    How very moving. To claim the power to not be ashamed of myself as I am is my new goal for myself. I just am not always sure if all the effort I focus towards it will be a success.

  • Véronique

    I consider Ivan to be a national treasure.

    There’s another video of hers on YouTube about butches. Both that one and this one are wonderful.

  • Kellie Peterson

    I usually love Ivan’s work and I’ll be interested to see which version of her “To All The Kickass Femmes” is in the book. The original (I think) as read in the video is awesome. The one she performed recently in LA was a little less than. It’s awesome that she appreciates Femmes of size. And I know that women of size (being one myself, although a butch one) have it rough in the world, but she chose to bag on Femmes who aren’t of size in LA. With one line about the awesomeness of Fat Femmes and how “bones are for dogs” she managed to turn what had been an awesome and empowering evening for my girlfriend into a disappointing night of “WTF?”

    So often in the Butch/Femme world voluptuousness is celebrated. The bigger the better, the curvier the sexier, the more cleavage the hotter. And you know what? It’s great that women of size can be celebrated! But why dis the women who are not bigger, curvier or cleavagey? My girlfriend is awesome in every way, mind, body and spirit and it has nothing to do with her size. She just rocks.

    Considering she’ll be headlining at a Butch Femme event in 2011 I hope she reconsiders and leaves out that one line and allows all Femmes, regardless of their size, to celebrate their awesomeness with her.

    • Zena

      Thanks to Miriam for posting this review of Missed Her.

      The femme piece originally appeared on, so folks looking for a transcript of the piece from the YouTube video can find the text here: Hats off to beautiful femmes.

      Full disclosure: I’m Ivan’s partner, so I’m certainly not unbiased (but then again, who is?). But I do want to respond to Kellie’s comment from my perspective as the femme who is closest to Ivan.

      Ivan celebrates femmes of all shapes and sizes, identities, ages, abilities, orientations, and genders. That love and honour lies at the heart of the femme piece, and in the way that Ivan moves through the world.

      Sure, Ivan sometimes writes or says things that rub people the wrong way (femme or otherwise). After all, Ivan’s a human being – a very public human being who spends her days and most of her nights bringing a proud butch, queer, gender radical voice to stages and schools and bookstores around the world.

      I understand that our public figures and prominent artists are accountable to our communities in ways that differ from or go beyond the norm. But I also think that those of us who don’t spend our waking hours on stage or in the public eye (and I count myself within that group) need to cut our artists some slack. It’s not easy to lay your heart out on the page or stage for everyone to see, and as the femme who is proud to stand beside Ivan every day, I feel compelled to stand up for her, too. One off-the-cuff comment at a show in LA shouldn’t diminish Ivan’s work, or the weight of the sentiments behind the femme piece.

      • Kellie Peterson

        silverfox – thanks much for your thoughts. I find Ivan to be an incredibly gracious performer and usually quite thoughtful and inclusive to her audience and the world at large. So this was a strange occurrence, to say the least. And I hope you can understand that I was not intending to slam Ivan or her body of work. Cause frankly? Your partner rocks on many levels.

        In the current climate of queer youth suicide and all the “othering” that happens in our day to day lives I find it important to discuss/address things that give me pause. I hope neither you nor Ivan felt attacked and if that’s the case, please accept my apologies for my own imperfect communication.

        • silverfox

          No hard feelings at all, Kellie. Ultimately what we share is a concern with representing the diversity of butch and femme voices and experiences.

          With that in mind, you might be interested in our forthcoming anthology. The book, Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme, will feature essays by nearly 40 authors (including Feministing’s own Miriam!) on butch and femme. It’ll be out in spring 2011.