The book that I suppose has made the most impact on me in terms of queer identity is La Bâtarde by Violette Leduc. I had a habit at university of wandering through the library literature stacks, picking out books whose titles randomly appealed to me. La Bâtarde was one such book and its opening lines 'My case is not unique: I am afraid of dying and distressed at being in this world. I haven’t worked, I haven’t studied. I have wept, I have cried out in protest. These tears and cries have taken up a great deal of my time. I am tortured by all that time lost whenever I think about it. I cannot think about things for long, but I can find pleasure in a withered lettuce leaf offering me nothing but regrets to chew over…' instantly reeled in the introspective and depressive young person that I was. Leduc’s melodramatic and excessively poetic prose (to the point of occasional opaqueness) spoke directly to my soul as her passionate attractions to both sexes and her incessant self-criticisms mirrored my own myriad interior dramas. I don’t think I’ve told many people about this book as reading it seemed such an intensely personal and revelatory experience, but I do think Leduc deserves to be much better known than she currently is and hopefully she will be one day.
SHL Library staff member