The Girls of Usually, by Lori Horvitz
When you take a creative writing course in college, you’ll no doubt have a professor like Lori Horvitz, and if you display some talent and follow the professor’s guidance, you’ll write some well constructed non-fiction pieces similar to those in The Girls of Usually. Ms. Horvitz has led an interesting life of travel and bohemianism, slowly finding her footing as an adult and her sexual solace as a lesbian.
There’s little to critique in the author’s writing style; she’s all too aware of how to string opening “hook” passages, meaty stories, and ironic ending sentences into publishable confessionals. However, despite the author’s adventurous early life, the prose is sometimes bland, cautious in glossing over her inner life. As I read piece after piece, the author traveling from exotic place to familiar haunt, extrapolating from home in New York to unfamiliar locales, having sex with multiple males, then females, I had to ask, “Why?” What was she avoiding in seemingly superficial sexual encounters, some lasting for several years? Why the constant urge to travel? What subterranean wounding led her to run from family, from sexual partners, from commitment? What was it she finally had to confront about herself? and how did she, in the end, grapple with it? I don’t think it was her journey from heterosexuality to bisexuality to lesbianism, but if it was, how did her inner life change as she went through this sexual odyssey? At a minimum, perhaps more could have been made of the parallels between travel and sexuality.
As a result, one gets the feeling that it was simply age and perhaps becoming jaded with her adventurism that resulted in her coming to rest in academia as an outed lesbian. Still, with the contemporary focus on gay marriage, teens coming out, and the transgender phenomenon, this book, despite its weak links, is perhaps as good a place as any to begin yet another conversation on sexuality in modern society.
My rating: 15 of 20 stars