Breedlove, Lynn 1959(?)-
BREEDLOVE, Lynn 1959(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1959, in Oaktown, CA. Education: California State University, Hayward, B.A. (cum laude).
CAREER: Musician and writer. Lickety Split All-Girl Courier (delivery service), San Francisco, CA, founder/owner, 1991-c. 2001; Tribe 8, lead singer and songwriter, 1990—; Harvey Milk Institute, San Francisco, CA, teacher. Military service: U. S. Army.
Godspeed, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Although she wrote her first poem when she was in the third grade and had it published in her local paper, Lynn Breedlove didn't began writing in earnest until she was in her thirties. Before that, she was an admitted alcoholic and drug addict who managed to survive, get a college degree, and eventually quit drinking and doing drugs. In the early 1990s the clean-and-sober Breedlove started both a bike delivery service in San Francisco and Tribe 8, a lesbian punk band. By 1993, she had begun writing a novel, finishing it nearly nine years later while on tour with her band. The resulting book, Godspeed, is referred to by Breedlove as a roman à clef in that it is both autobiographical and based on stories she has been told by her friends in the gay community.
"It's autobiographical in an anachronistic way, with amalgams of characters, so if you recognized yourself, you're probably the head on someone else's body," said Breedlove on the Tribe 8 Web site. Breedlove added that she also made up a lot of the novel, including things she'd like to do "like train-hopping and some of the fights."
Godspeed tells the story of "Jim," a butch female bike messenger who loves a stripper/sex-show performer named Ally Cat and shooting up speed. Eventually Jim must choose between her addiction and Ally Cat. Unfortunately, her addiction wins out. Fired from her job, Jim becomes a roadie for a punk all-girl band. The novel graphically describes her ensuing sexual affairs. But Jim still loves Ally Cat and eventually quits doing drugs and returns to San Francisco, only to find that Ally Cat now has her own drug addiction. Calling Breedlove's book "literature as a game of dress-up," a Kirkus Reviews critic commented that Breedlove "is actually best at the simple, quiet, yet harrowing moments of life that she actively avoids in favor of hackneyed drug pyrotechnics." A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted, "Amid a tornado of activity and attitude, the author builds a small oasis of honest and unvarnished emotion, constructing a touching and nuanced portrait of a 'boy' who has not quite grown up." The reviewer also called the novel an "earnest debut . . . well worth the ride." Whitney Scott, writing in Booklist, dubbed the main character Jim the "oddly affecting heroine of an oddly affecting book."
One troubling aspect of the book for the author and, perhaps, for its readers is stated by Scott in her review of Godspeed when she noted that "so lyrical does it wax about shooting up and getting high, one almost feels like experimenting." In an interview published on the Windy City Times Web site, Greg Shapiro asked Breedlove whether she was concerned about glorifying drug use in the book. Breedlove replied, "Yeah, I was a little. For me, it was a cathartic experience." Breedlove went on to say, "I needed to put myself through that whole experience in order for me to fully say goodbye to that chapter in my life. I'm hoping that people will keep reading past the first couple of chapters and see that it's not that glamorous at all."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2002, Whitney Scott, review of Godspeed, p. 1089.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2002, review of God-speed, p. 119.
Publishers Weekly, April 29, 2002, review of God-speed, p. 43.
Windy City Times Web site, http://www.outlineschicago.com/ (April 24, 2002), Gregg Shapiro, "The Next Chapter: An Interview with Lynn Breedlove."
Tribe 8 Web site,http://www.tribe8.com/ (March 30, 2002), "Lynn Breedlove on Writing Godspeed."*