Mar 27

Johanna Fateman is a musician (Le Tigre), writer and artist who co-owns Seagull Salon, which I recently described in an email as “like the part in The Wizard of Oz where they get to the Emerald City and get makeovers, except also like being in your own apartment hanging out with your friends.”  In addition to her criticism and scholarship, she also maintains the best twitter.  We asked her about what she’s working on and what she’s reading (in addition to Speedboat, of course.) 

Emily: Where do you live, what did you go to school for, and what are you working on right now?

Johanna: I live in Manhattan and I went to art school. Right now I am working on a few things. I co-own, with my friend Shaun, the West Village hair salon SEAGULL; I secretly write songs for pop artists; and I’m working on a long thing—a book?—about the militant and generally reviled feminist writer Andrea Dworkin. But I also really want to tell you and your readers about The Riot Grrrl Collection, a book that will be available in June from the Feminist Press. Its edited by my friend Lisa Darms, the archivist who began the collection at NYU’s Fales Library, and it contains some archival material from my papers (a mid nineties letter to my friend and band mate Kathleen Hanna, and my zine Artaud-mania … The Diary of a Fan), as well as a new essay of my personal reflections on riot grrrl.

Emily: Sounds like an Emily Book!  How did you find out about Emily Books?

Johanna: From twitter. I think we became twitter friends when I was looking at the sky, it was totally pink and purple, and you tweeted “Lisa Frank sunset.” That’s what I was thinking! Anyway, I have meant to subscribe for a while since I love the ethos so much, and also the selections obviously, but I’ve always been deterred because I have this huge amount of stuff I want to read already. I was going to get Speedboat anyway and I was just like, fuck it, let me just subscribe to your great thing. Also Ruth was in the salon and that reminded me.

Emily: What are you reading right now, and why did you start reading it?

Johanna: Because of my current project, since last July I have almost exclusively read books by or pertaining to Andrea Dworkin. Luckily for me this includes a wide variety of totally inspiring stuff—fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I’ve read Dworkin’s books (she wrote more than ten) in almost chronological order, but I’ve also been researching or re-familiarizing myself with the authors she revered like James Baldwin, Emily Bronte, Jean Rhys, Huey Newton, Kobo Abe, Frederick Douglass. Also the poets (Plath, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Ginsberg) and her second-wave forbears (Millet, Firestone, Morgan). I’ve also read a great deal about anti-pornography activism including Susan Brownmiller’s memoir In Our Time, and a history by Carolyn Bronstein called Battling Pornography: The American Feminist Anti-Pornography Movement, 1976—1986. I’ve also spent a some time with Dworkin’s often brilliant detractors. Anyway, this is a long preface to say that right now I am reading a book of essays by Dworkin’s widower John Stoltenberg. It’s called Refusing to Be A Man and includes these sort of strident, crystalline essays such asThe Fetus as Penis and Disarmament and Masculinity plus some weird didactic poetry.  Also, I’m reading a biography that Dworkin admired and wrote about called The Provoked Wife: The Life and Times of Susannah Cibber by Mary Nash. Cibber was an English actress in the eighteenth century. The omniscient narrator is subtly sarcastic and castrating and it’s a great story. And, of course, I’m reading Speedboat by Renata Adler!

Emily: What’s your favorite book you’ve read lately?

Johanna: It seems like everything is my favorite book when I’m reading it. I just re-read some long passages from Dworkin’s novel Ice and Fire—the sex parts and best friend parts. Maybe that’s my fave right now. And the poetry book she self-published on Crete at age 20 called Child.


  1. marginalutilite reblogged this from emilybooks and added:
    Hope she’s reading Dworkin critically—as I have, with great enjoyment. Also, it’s worth noting that Le Tigre have played...
  2. emilygould reblogged this from emilybooks
  3. johannafateman reblogged this from emilybooks
  4. emilybooks posted this