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Book Review: Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham

Not that kind of girl : a young woman tells you what she's

When I learned a couple months ago that Lena Dunham was doing a speaking engagement in my city, I went straight to the “buy tickets now” page. The seats cost around $40 (+ fees, if I recall), so I wavered for a couple hours. I really don’t typically spend a lot of money on entertainment, so it seemed kind of expensive. But, I was feeling a little lonely and reasoned, I really don’t typically spend a lot of money on entertainment & a copy of the book is part of the ticket fee, so maybe I should do it! I turned on my computer, clicked the “buy tickets now” button, and found that within a couple hours, the other half of the theater had completely sold out. bummer.

So I waited in line for a library copy of the book, and just got it the other day. I like Dunham’s humor and work, and I liked the book too. Nothing in it really surprised me, but that’s ok. It’s a well-written collection of self-themed essays that will certainly amuse you for a couple of hours if you like the style of her work. The art by Payton Cosell Turner on the inside of the covers is pretty fantastic; In fact, the entire book is a pretty cute, kitschy design.

I don’t think I necessary relate to Dunham’s privileged life experience– I think my fondness is  more based in the idea that I think her candid style is important and kind of revolutionary. She’s made a career out of personal TMI’s, which I’m all for. Get a copy of the book here.

Book reviews: Travelly comics

So I read a bunch of stuff, then got really distracted. Here’s  a couple of the graphic novels.

RED EYE, BLACK EYE by K. Thor Jensen

Red eye, black eye

Grabbed this one from the library on a lunch break.

It’s the travelogue of a guy who gets dumped/fired/evicted, so he buys the legendary unlimited Greyhound pass and travels around the country. The protagonist seems like a big jerk, and I honestly found myself wondering how he’d ever attained a girlfriend (with his bad attitude and rape threats toward women at the bar) in the first place.  It really wasn’t the travel story that I wanted it to be. Reminded me a little too much of pretentious bro-art snobs living off their parents’ dime. But the whole thing was structured fine, and I liked the art. get a copy if you’re into that.

Truth is Fragmentary by Gabrielle Bell

Truth is fragmentary : travelogues & diaries

I waited for this one for a few months from the library. It’s mostly a travel diary as Bell moves between speaking engagements, readings, and sabbaticals out in the country. Bell has a peculiar knack to write/illustrate a daily diary in the most disconnected of ways. Like, a series of actions but not a chronicle of self. or something. I typically really like her work, but maybe it wasn’t the right time for me to read this one. At times I skipped parts because I felt bored, and at other times I was frustrated that she didn’t seem more excited about getting to travel to different places in the world. Call it envy if you need to. Regardless, much like real life, there were still moments that were delightful to read through. Like too-familiar bouts of awkwardness, for example.

Get one here or here.

 

Book Review: Adam by Ariel Schrag

Adam

About 25% into this book, I started to think Oh man, this book is hilarious but is gonna seriously ruffle some feathers.

(upon checking out the 1-stars on Amazon, the answer is yes! it did!)

The premise, alone, made people uncomfortable– and I’ll admit, is the reason why I waited for this book from the library instead of buying hot off the shelves of the store. Adam, a “typical” privileged hetero teenage boy from the ‘burbs in the Bay Area spends a Summer with his queer big sister in NYC. It turns out that her peers think he’s trans, so he plays it that way in order to get action with the older queer girls (and it works). It turns out that (even though this book definitely treads some dangerous terrain in the trans and queer department, and what the characters say and do isn’t always politically correct or right) I could’ve bought the book and been ok about it.

If you’re a person who’s ever thought about internal and external queer politics and you can read through the description without getting upset, I recommend reading Adam. I didn’t always fall in love with the characters, their motives, or their actions– but they were a really good backdrop for Schrag’s smartly pointed critiques of elements of our queer culture, different layers of privilege, sometimes superficiality, and deeper “queer insider” knowledge (it’s written by a queer insider through the gaze of an outsider discovering it for the first time). Her writing is hilarious and interesting– in addition to great pointed critiques, there are also a lot of really great cringe-worthy moments that sometimes feel kind of universal.

check it out!

 

Book Review: Beyond the Pale Motel by Francesca Lia Block

I will always be a supporter of FLB. From my first library copy of Weetzie Bat when I was a kid maybe 20 years ago, I’ve been a loyal reader, buying almost everything of hers that comes out. She’s a master of place, she always constructs a character that I could/(want to) slip myself into. Her writing is simple-yet-intoxicating; the everyday seems magic, even in her books that don’t involve some kind of magical realism in the plot.

I enjoyed a lot of this book; the place was totally awesome, the attention to a gruesome American obsession was solid. I liked the characters, well enough (though I wanted a little more development). I totally hated the ending though– I wish something different had happened. I don’t know if this is petty of me (you know, not liking unpleasant endings). I also felt like everything wrapped up a little too quickly and conveniently. But maybe that’s the kind of book this was. And despite my crabbiness about the end, I still liked the rest of the journey– it took me somewhere that I don’ usually go with my reading choices (though I guess one could say that about the ending as well).

get a copy here!

Book Review: 100 Crushes by Elisha Lim

100 crushes

Elisha Lim draws attractive comics of cute queers, and often pairs them with poignant hand written text. Their style is super-distinct; if you’re like me, you’ll look at the pages and realize ohhhhhh that’s who does does drawings i’ve been seeing around…

I didn’t read 100 Crushes straight-through, I instead read it in chunks between other bits of reading. It’s a nice combination of heavy, light, and random.

Get a copy at the library or buy one!

Book Review: The Flappers: Vixen by Jillian Larkin

Vixen

Taking place in the 1920’s and lightly historical, Vixen is a fun and captivating read. It won’t be researched enough for staunch historians or literary enough for lit lovers– but it’s success is in gossipy drama that occurs in an unusual setting. While the characters didn’t necessarily romance me, the setting did, and I found myself trying to hunt down both the sequels and other YA books on the topic (sparkly outfits! music! danger! rebellion!). It is indeed a fun read– and if you read a lot, you won’t lament that you spent a day or two on this one.

ch-ch-check it out!

Book Review: Data, A Love Story by Amy Webb

http://litstack.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/data.jpg

This experiment was done on the internet of 2005, and the book was published in 2014.

A lot has happened in 8 years.

This is a book about how after lots of dating fails, an ordinary woman researched how online dating sites work(ed in 2005) and created a coded profile that she used to meet the perfect guy.

I didn’t find the protagonist likable (too elitist, capitalist, and old-fashioned for my taste), I thought that the methodology was often incomplete and unnecessarily confusing, and I wasn’t quite sure that it was her methods, (and not just luck) that caught her the perfect man.

If you want, you can go and read all the one-star reviews on Amazon to see more more critiques that I generally agree with. I think, however, that this book would have fared better as a serialized blog. The author does crazy things (like staying up til 4 AM making charts and drinking wine) that would be amusing to read about in short spurts. As a book, however, it doesn’t seem substantial.

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