Morris, Bonnie J. “Sappho’s Overhead Projector”, Bywater Books 2018,
“Banned Books and the Women They Rescued”
Hannah Stern is a feminist scholar working at the Library of Congress where her assignment is to catalogue a donation of rare lesbian books. This is more than a one-year job in Washington and she got job from Sappho, The Overhead Herself. A series of desperate, haunted phone calls from the ghosts of lesbian writers directs her to rescue even more at-risk books and Hannah embarks on a journey into the love affair between banned writers and newly-out readers. Now you should have a couple of questions here. Unless you are familiar with Bonnie Morris, you probably wonder who is this Sappho, the Overhead is and what is so important about the saving of lesbian books from the 1920s and 1970s. Does the saving of these books guarantee a literary legacy for the writers?
In effect, what this book does is give us a look at the lesbian literary past in the form of a eulogy. Sometimes we think of remembering who we are, where we’ve come from and what we have contributed to modern culture when it is already too late. I have noticed that recently many cities are preserving their LGBT histories and it is a good thing as we move more and more into the world of technology. We are transferring information electronically as the art of latter writing dies. We forget that so much of our history comes from the exchange of letters.
There is a supernatural element to the story and this makes for more of a fun read (not that would not be a fun read without eat. The author has been involved in women’s studies programs for more than 20 years and we feel her love for the subject throughout her writing. Hannah gets a series of phone calls from the ghosts of lesbian writers and she complies by attempting to rescue all of the books that she can. There is also realism here in that the story is set in the Library of Congress and as we read, we realize the importance of our literary. heritage and how it must be preserved. (One of the reasons I decided to become a reviewer was for that that reason. If we are not aware of our literary heritage than it is not important. I see every book as being part of the history of our community). Bonnie Morris wrote this book to remind us if how we feel when we read about ourselves— and I use that term loosely.
Granted, I am not a woman nor a lesbian and you might think I would have a difficult time becoming involved in a story that has nothing to say about me, but the opposite is true, and I became involved on the very first page (yes, my M.A. is in Feminist Literary Criticism). In reading this story, we become involved in a community of women and we share their history, politics, sexuality and even their ideas about patriarchy that are still main points in how they live. We must remember, and this has always been my motto, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. The lesbian authors we meet here paved the way for how we live today. Morris brings history to life and she does so beautifully.