A Quest for Love During the Heady Lesbian Feminist Movement of the 70s & 80s.
By turns hot and cold, raunchy and literate, Buddhist and Sapphist, this is a generous, complex complement to any story or study of women. Weil makes me grateful to have shared this history.
—Kate Clinton, humourist/author, a.k.a. Jane
When Lise Weil came out in 1976, lesbian desire was the pulsing center of an entire way of life, a culture, a movement. The air throbbed with possibility, a heightened erotic intensity that Weil believed was the source of all vital knowledge. Desire was her guiding light.
Yet after fifteen years of torrid but ultimately failed relationships which tended to mirror the tumultuous political currents of the time, Weil had to admit to herself that desire was also a conduit for childhood wounds; it reared its head when she was feeling wary and estranged, and flagged in the presence of fondness and trust. And it often trumped love.
Now, in her new memoir, In Search of Pure Lust ( She Writes Press; June 5th ), Weil shares her immersion in this heady experiment of the '70s and '80s with endearing vulnerability and unabashed candor. Within these pages come to life the intellectual and sexual passions that sparked the politics of the time. Feminists, and above all lesbians, were reinventing everything from the ground up, beginning with their own lives.
At its heart, however, In Search of Pure Lust is a universal and deeply personal story about the search for love by a high-profile feminist consciously motivated by only the purest feelings for women, who paradoxically is also partner in a series of lesbian relationships marked by injury, betrayal and disconnection. After Weil finds herself attending a local Zen session retreat, her quest takes an interesting turn; as her Buddhist practice deepens, and hot-headed lesbian desire duels with spacious Zen mind, snarkiness gives way to tenderness and mystery. In the end, Weil makes peace with her ideas about what love is supposed to look and feel like and comes to understand that there are infinite ways to love and be loved.
Lise Weil founded Trivia: A Journal of Ideas, an award-winning radical feminist literary and political magazine, in 1982, for nine years. She was also editor of its online relaunch, Trivia: Voices of Feminism, from 2004 to 2011. In 1990, she translated German writer Christina Thurner-Rohr's collection of essays Vagabonding:
Feminist Thinking Cut Loose ( Vagabundinnen ), which was published by Beacon Press. She founded the online journal Dark Matter: Women Witnessing in 2014 to provide a home for writing. Dark Matter publishes writing and artwork created in response to an age of massive species loss and ecological collapse. Weil's short fiction, essays, reviews, literary nonfiction, and translations have been published widely in journals in both Canada and the US. Her collection of Mary Meigs's writings on aging, Beyond Recall ( 2005 ), was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in biography in 2006. Weil teaches in the Individualized Master's program in Goddard College's Graduate Institute. She lives in Montreal and spends summers in a cabin in the woods north of the city, where she hosts annual retreats for women writers centered around dreamwork.
Reading and Discussion on Saturday, Sept. 29 of In Search of Pure Lust: A Memoir by Lise Weil. A quest for love during the heady lesbian feminist movement of the 70s & 80s. 4 p.m. at Barbaras Bookstore, 111 N. State St., Chicago.
She Writes Press, 978-1-63152-385-4, $16.95 paperback, $9.95 ebook.
—From a press release