Black Blade Blues, by J.A. Pitts (38/107)

So I went out on a date, my first in like five months, I’m very proud of myself. I swear, I am catnip for bicurious straight dudes. We came back to my place and watched Dr Horrible and I beat him at Scrabble and sent him home. Then I settled in to read a book, and what I grabbed off the shelf was Black Blade Blues.

What follows is less of a review and more the commentary I was jotting down as I read, joined by my BFF as she wandered in drunk and started reading Judge Dredd comics for the first time. Recall that I promised to read at least 50 pages of a book before giving it up as a lost cause.


This author has odds turns of phrase — wrong turns of phrase? Like saying “trending toward” rather than “tending toward.” Might not be wrong, but it’s distracting.


This has less interesting & concrete detail than the rageprufrock fic I read earlier. (Granted, there is a reason why the woman is a BNF.) Concrete, humanizing detail is one of those things I’ve started paying attention to since Bastard out of Carolina, and this book lacks that. There is nothing in chapter 1 to make the protagonist in any way unique.


Very boring established relationship. (Did I mention that I bought this book for my BFF specifically because it was lesbian urban fantasy?)


Oh christ, forty pages before I can quit.


After having read and written a lot of third-person POV fiction lately, first-person feels… unsubtle. In general I don’t have a preference, but now I can see why some people think it’s a definite negative and possibly a deal-killer.

(Have had someone refuse Melusine because they hated first-person POV so much, which is a damn shame.)


The protagonist is a modern-day blacksmith, and some detail on the how-to of that would be interesting — everyone likes to feel like they’re learning something. Like Neal Stephenson’s Zodiac, where you learn how to be an environmental terrorist.


….christ, thirty-six pages.


Man-hating is no more attractive than woman-hating is.

Quote: “Testosterone is a poison. It takes perfectly nice guys and turns them into raving maniacs.”

……shitfuck, I don’t even know what to say to you, lady. My knee-jerk response is rude and ad hominem and doesn’t exactly elevate the debate.

Okay, engaging that line on a more intelligent level than it deserves: I think the problem has more to do with certain types of male social conditioning than with hormones. Look at prepubescent boys — they’re little shits, and you can’t blame that on testosterone.

Methinks this is going to become another in-joke around our house. Deadpan: “You may be unaware of this, but testosterone is a poison.”


Me: “I bet she thinks it’s clever.”
BFF: “She?”
Me: “The writer.”
BFF: [look at book] “J.A. … Pitts?”
Me: “Which is practically code for being a lesbian writer.”
BFF: “What is this code?? I need to know this code!!”
Me: “Initials + last name.”*
BFF: “Which would make me… M.M. Payne?”
Me: “Sounds legit.”
BFF: “Mmm, pain!”

* This observation was taken from the stacks and stacks of lesbian fiction that my aunt used to leave lying around, though apparently it’s not as prevalent as I thought it was.


Me: “Okay, so the text starts on page 11…”
BFF: “Tutti frutti! PLAGUE MAN, LOOK OUT!!”
Me: “…so does that mean I can stop at page 50, or do I have to read until page 61?”
Me: [snorfs water through nose]
BFF: “What? Come on, you’ve read this before. Surely you realized how ludicrous it was.”
Me: “Was trying hard not to.”
BFF: “I think I’ll make that my new zombie battle cry. TUTTI FRUTTIIIII!!”


27 pages off now.


23, holy shit I am so bored. Everyone is an idjit. This is like the crap I wrote in middle school.


20, and I’m fucking done.

BFF: [holds up book] “Is that a badger?”
Me: “No, that’s a rat — a flying rat.”
BFF: “Okay, I’m done.”


Every night is a party night at our house.


11 thoughts on “Black Blade Blues, by J.A. Pitts (38/107)

  1. Oh good, I’m confirmed that I was right in not getting that book. (Although I’m saddened as I’d dearly love to read more stuff that wasn’t a male lead and/or hetero in urban(-ish) fantasy.)

    . . . and I’ve not had the captcha before. Annoying.

  2. Apparently, the library thought so, too. We had copies (or one copy) but it has been a “dead” record for a while. :-)

    However, while I was walking through the library, I saw one of the books that changed the way I saw the world. And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts. It broke my heart.

  3. Haaaaaaaaaaaaah. That is — omg. I don’t even — wow. That is a game-changer. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

    Well, that is the point of writing with one’s initials, innit? J.K. Rowling’s publishers wanted her to use initials because they thought that boys would respond better to the Harry Potter books if they didn’t realize it had been written by a woman. It’s why Nora Roberts becomes J.D. Robb or whatever when she wants to appeal to a mixed crowd. And why a middle aged dude named John goes by J.A. Pitts when he wants to channel his inner lesbian.

    …Okay, but seriously, what excuse does he have for the above quotes? Because I could understand some retaliatory misandry coming from a woman — particularly a lesbian woman — who’s frustrated with the constant barrage of media misogyny and decided to be like FUCK YOU and write the opposition as one-dimensional fuckwits. It’s not exactly taking the high road, but it’s cathartic, I get that.

    So then what’s his deal? Is he self-hating or does he actually think that’s how lesbians’ minds work? Way to be reductionist and play to stereotypes about man-hating dykes.

  4. And apparently J.A. Pitts is a DUDE~! See below!

    See, I was actually feeling kind of bad about panning this book so hard, because I want to support the home team, I do, and it makes me sad when gay people are no-talent hacks because I want us all to be brilliant.

    I am far less sad about panning a lesbian book written by a (presumably) straight dude.

  5. ::blink::

    I would ask if perhaps I missed something, something that made that book good, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t. He sounds like a nice enough guy, if rather self-congratulatory, but I am wondering if/how he’s ever confronted less-than-glowing feedback about his portrayal of a lesbian twenty years his junior.

  6. “Oh christ, forty pages before I can quit.”

    Hah! Never a good sign.

    First person really may be tougher for an author to pull off and do well than third person.

    At least the book was fodder for a good new in-joke around the house! Lord knows we all need those.

    Glad to hear it turned out to be written by some guy instead of a queer lady who was tragically failing to be fabulous.

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