Postcards from the Canyon by Lisa Gitlin

A Jewish lesbian novelist clings to sanity by writing about her childhood, but finds that it only adds chaos to her life.


Coming in December 2017

Postcards from the Canyon is a journey through the 1960’s, from the perspective of a disturbed young girl from Cleveland, Ohio. Joanna Jacobs is gay but would never in a million years admit it to anyone, not even to herself. She and her friends live their lives against a backdrop of events such as the election and assassination of a president, the evolution of 60’s music, white flight in a postwar neighborhood, racial conflicts and rioting on city streets, and, finally, the entrenched homophobia of the times, which deprives Joanna of any hope of ever having a normal life.

Her terror about herself, combined with a disturbed and chaotic home life, compel her to act out in all kinds of ways. She leads a neighborhood campaign to torment a lesbian couple. She becomes her school’s number one behavior problem. She sets fires. Her behavior alarms all the adults around her, except her parents, damaged survivors of the Depression and the Great War, who refuse to see their daughter as anything other than perfect. Eventually Joanna ends up on a psychiatric ward, where she falls in love with half the nurses, endears herself to the adult patients, makes friends with a bunch of crazy kids, and has so much fun that she never wants to leave. But leaving the cocoon of the loony bin forces her to face the scary fact that she can’t remain a child forever.

Joanna a writer, and has begun a book of “creative nonfiction” about her childhood in order to regain control of her life, which has gone haywire: Her mother recently died due to a medical error. The FBI has ordered her to get a psychiatric evaluation after she made a hysterical phone call to a TV station. The only woman she’s ever loved is shacking up with her best friend. Her Brooklyn tenement has been “taken over” by undocumented Chinese immigrants. Eventually a crew of juvenile delinquents will invade her apartment and turn it into a clubhouse . And then it will start raining for weeks on end. Adding to Joanna’s distress is that the U.S. government is being run by fanatics and lunatics.

Joanna is trying to preserve her sanity by toiling away at her book about growing up in a world so different from the present one that it’s hard to imagine that it even existed. But what links her past to her present are her two best girlfriends, the friends who accompanied her on her childhood adventures and who are still in her life, a half-century later. One of them has remained her steadfast loyal friend. But she is furious at the other one. She’s even more angry at her now than she was when they first met, in the days of skate keys and hoola hoops and a future that seemed to stretch into the glorious distance, that nobody ever imagined would end up becoming the mess that it is today.

LISA GITLIN is a freelance writer who calls Washington, D.C. home. Her debut novel, I Came Out For This, was the first book to simultaneously be awarded IPPY Gold Medals in both the LGBT Fiction and Humor categories.

Praise for Lisa Gitlin’s Debut Novel, I Came Out for This?

“Lisa Gitlin’s funny, quixotic, poignant, gut-wrenching and yes, romantic debut novel is definitely a must-read. More than just the standard romance fare, I Came Out for This? is told as a series of journal entries . . . Joanna is a whiner. She’s also a comedian—not intentionally, she’s just unbelievably witty (as is Gitlin). And so what starts out as a diatribe and actually continues for the entire 300 pages as a diatribe, is never irritating, never maudlin, is indeed occasionally shockingly irreverent but is always, always, always immensely readable. . . . This book is a bona fide page-turner; there’s no suspense—it’s not that kind of page-turner—but it is compelling from the first sentence to the last. . . . Yes, Gitlin has a razor-sharp insight into the foibles of love and human nature and Joanna’s first-person narrative reads like the rantings of a real live woman who is alternately in love, angry, sad, embarrassed, verklempt and ultimately incredibly strong and vibrant. It’s difficult to imagine who wouldn’t love this book. If it’s not on the list of finalists next year for a Lammy, there’s no justice, as Joanna Kane herself might claim. Get this book and read it and then give it to someone else. It’s that good.” —Victoria Brownworth, Lambda Literary Review

If you love Lisa Gitlin then check out Ann McMan, Joan Opyr and Mari SanGiovanni. You won’t be sorry.

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