Literary Events

Alexis Coe

When: Wed., Oct. 22, 7:30 p.m. 2014

Alice and Freda were like countless teenagers before them. They were in love and wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. There was just one problem: They lived in Memphis in the late 1800s, at a time when same-sex love was considered not just perverse, but unthinkable and insane. For that reason, Alice and Freda planned to flee to St. Louis, where Alice would try to pass as a man and husband. But the night they were to leave, Freda’s sister found out their plans and forbid Freda from ever seeing Alice again. Cutoff and desperate, Alice stole her father’s razor, and used it to slash her ex-fiancée’s throat in public and in broad daylight, shouting, “I don’t care if I’m hung. I want to die anyway!” Local author Alexis Coe, who will read from her nonfiction book, Alice + Freda Forever, at the Booksmith (1644 Haight St., San Francisco) on Wednesday, October 22, tells Alice and Freda’s heart-rending and poignant tale using primary sources — including court transcripts, love letters, newspapers (even the San Francisco Chronicle sent reporters to cover Alice’s trial), and historical documents. The book also features more than one hundred original illustrations. Coe writes with a historian’s eye for detail and the kind of compassion that was denied to the people whose lives she reconstructed more than one hundred years later. In addition to the grisly true crime, Coe examines issues of sexism, racism, and the control of women — all of which are still (sadly) relevant today

Anna Pulley

Price: Free

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