The Secret Loves of Geek Girls is a non-fiction anthology mixing prose, comics, and illustrated stories on the lives and loves of an amazing cast of female creators.
Can I just say that this was exactly my kind of anthology?
There are a lot of short stories in this one (around 50), so I decided to feature the ones that captured my heart the most:
This review contains mild spoilers.
Comics by Margaret Atwood:
We start out with 4 comics from Margaret Atwood that I throughly enjoyed.
Minas Truth by Marguerite Bennett:
Bennett writes about ‘idle fangirl chatter’ between two lovers, including: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Wonder Woman… with the focus being mainly on Harry Potter, which I loved. I’m a sucker for anything featuring the Boy Who Lived.
“It’s idle fangirl chatter, yes, but it is secrets, too, knowledge more intimate than you would care to make known to strangers. Would you trust a stranger to know what you saw in the Mirror of Erised? Would you trust a stranger to know what shape the boggart in the wardrobe would take, for you?”
I can honestly say that I never thought of it before… this story made me want to sit down and seriously contemplate. But most of the other references (the ones not Harry Potter related) went shamefully right over my head.
Settings by ALB:
Such a beautifully unique take on emotional support in relationships.
Loved it! I just wanted a bit more pages.
Lungerella by Stephanie Cooke:
I knew this was a keeper from the very first line:
“Once upon a time of technological wonders, there lived a girl named Lungerella. Lungey, as she was called, lived quietly in the woods with her parents where they were super basic.”
Lungerella follows Lungey’s decision to online date because she wants to accomplish the one missing thing in her life: romance.
She goes on Spindr & StupidCupid and is astonished by some of the more crude responses, inducing some dude sending her a picture of his mostly flaccid penis— “Why would anyone send a photo of a flaccid penis? That’s like taking a photo of a sunrise at 3pm!”
I’ve yet to read about online dating, so this definitely managed to pique my interest.
“Lungey had learned that you could have chemistry with someone via text very easily but whether or not that translated into real life was an entirely different matter. It was another way that the Internet had changed dating.”
How Fanfiction Made Me Gay by J.M. Frey:
That title certainly knew how to get my attention…
How Fanfiction Made Me Gay celebrates fanfiction and how it taught the writer to talk about:
- everything there is to know about starting discussions
- everything there is to know about questioning the default “straight” setting
- everything there is to know about relationships
And I absolutely fell in love with the openness and inclusiveness this story featured.
“Fanfiction writers, especially queer ones, found their voices by borrowing a character’s.”
A truly important piece on accepting and discovering oneself.
URL > IRL by Gita Jackson:
Gita Jackson writes about her experience with IRL relationships compared to long- distance relationships.
“I don’t date as an active activity anymore because the work of loving myself is enough. I have long-distance relationships and crushes I’ll never act on because the feeling of liking someone and being liked back is enough. I am enough. I don’t want to have to explain that again.”
She managed to explain a lot of things that have been on the tip of my tongue for a few weeks now. It’s such an exhilarating feeling when someone manages to write about everything you’ve been thinking about.
“In whatever relationship I get into, I have to keep some parts of myself tucked away.”
Shipping by Jenn Woodall:
Jenn Woodall describes her earlier gamer years as being obsessed with Final Fantasy 7.
Her devotion to shipping Cloud + Aeris brought up some cringe-worthy memories of my own…but it’s all good now. Definitely a nice walk down memory lane.
Also, I loved the art style in this.
Mechanism by Meaghan Carter:
This was such an unexpectedly sweet story about meeting someone online. It just truly warmed my heart.The capitalized “HE’S CUTE” screaming in glaring red gets me every damn time!!
But she didn’t get the “just friends” text, and now my heart craves to know if she ended up with him… Please, don’t leave me hanging like that.
I’m Your Biggest Fan by Adrienne Kress:
Adrienne Kress takes on the subject of crushing on people, and crushes it with brilliance.
“The thing is, there’s a safety and security in crushing on celebrities or the characters they play because deep down we know we’ll never meet them. And therefore they can never disappoint us. But holding people in our real lives up to the same standard gets problematic.”
I also loved how she described her crush for Billy Boyd. And I truly felt her pain when she wrote that she could have come up to Billy Boyd but instead, she ran away.
“I showed up early for the show one evening. I walked into the hotel.
And there, checking in, was Billy Boyd.
Now here’s what I could have done: I could have approached him politely and said, “Hi, Mr. Boyd? I just wanted to say I’m a big fan and I don’t want to bother you, but I’m the playwright and director of a play that’s happening in half an hour upstairs, and here’s a postcard with information about it, and if you have the time, maybe you might want to check it out. Of course I totally understand that you’re likely very busy.”
He might have replied with, “Marry me.” But instead, I ran away.”
I was all: go back, please. Even though I would have done the exact same.
“I avoided the reality of having a real-world boyfriend because deep, deep down I liked the fantasy better. And when I finally did date someone I found that the fantasy was indeed much easier. It was safer; it was predictable; it was what I wanted the way I wanted it.
Most of all, I was what I wanted to be.”
So much YES for this piece.
Yes, No, Maybe by Megan Kearney:
Not only was the art in this one gorgeous but it’s also my favorite take on demisexuality.
Megan Kearney managed to capture that moment of perfect clarity in such an honest way. Like, “THIS IS A THING. YES, THIS IS A THING.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Rise of the Late Bloomer by Hope Nicholson:
The story starts out with the writer always wanting to check the ending before starting something – whether that be a book, a game, or… her life.
And as a result, she has this huge fear of dating – mainly because she can’t figure out what will end up happening.
“I ended up hanging out with gay men, and women who didn’t date.
I wonder now if these women were like me and were late bloomers, or whether they were just very discreet in their love affairs. Either way, I never heard about their romantic encounters and it made me feel more at ease. I avoided heterosexual men for years. I was scared of them, and I didn’t know why.”
That last line got me at my core.
“I desired men. Yet, the thought of them being in the same room as me made my skin crawl. The thought of sitting across the room from a stranger no matter how attractive or likeable made my stomach sink.”
I thought this story was leading to asexuality, but she considered herself to be a late bloomer, which was an increasingly interesting narrative to feature.
Heard It Through the Grapevine by Brandy Dawley:
This talks about girl-on-girl hate and how we should abolish its pretence in our relationships with females.
“Women are taught that, to be better than other ladies, we have to cut them down to our level. This is a critical exercise in stupidity, of course, because by pulling other women down, nobody gets ahead—all us ladies are still stuck wallowing in the muck of the trenches while, meanwhile, dudes are pole-vaulting mountains. And there’s a type of guy, he’ll try to work that to his own advantage.”
Super important read.
Popping the Heat Sink by Sam Maggs:
Sam Maggs writes about how unfortunate it is to hate on the girl her ex dated, so she decides to befriend her instead.
“And thus, a beautiful, lifelong friendship was born. Now I love her like she was my own sister—and all because of a shared ex.
Strange as it may sound, I think similar short of foundation is the fundamental tenet of fan communities. You bond with people online or IRL over your shared love—or, sometimes, hatred—for something; be it the fifth season of new Doctor Who (love, obviously), or the lack of a Black Widow solo film (super extra mega hate, but that’s a story for a different essay).”
This reminded me of my own super-extra-mega hate for not having a Black Widow solo movie… But the essay handled a topic I hadn’t really thought about before in a thoroughly explained way.
Overall, this collection was exactly what I wanted and more. There was talk of so many subjects in the most inclusive way. I have so much love, love, love for it!
ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.