book reviews, crafts, cheap things…


Express Book Review: The Most Beautiful Rot by Ocean Capewell

This book deserves more than an “express entry.” But time. You know.

This is a totally awesome independently published book. A punk house is its framework, and the residents are its substance. As a reader you spend some time in the shoes of each resident, each similar enough to live together– but still quite different from one another. You will like this book if you like things like: zines, art, DIY, poetry, dirt, sex, and more… It’s really kind of epic.

You should buy a copy.

I read it: Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost Of Cheap Fashion

Overdressed : the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion

I read this maybe a month ago and my memory has faded– so I won’t be going into too much detail. But here’s the thing. I think a lot about clothing, fashion, and style. I regularly troll the clothes sections of thrift stores, sew and alter garments, read fashion industry blogs, remember people’s shoes before their names or faces, and covet-covet-covet clothing and shoes that I find exciting. It creeps me out a little (particularly since I’ve noticed this interest had expanded since I’ve started making a little more money)– but I’m still super into it.

As a result, Overdressed is rare nonfiction that didn’t bore me to sleep. It begins with an open discussion of excessive American consumerism (I too am part of it– I now, for example, have too many shirts to fit on my shirt shelf). Cline  then discusses American manufacturing, fast fashion (e.g. Forever 21, H&M), the tragedy of the clothing recycling industry, the growing industry and wage demands in China, and what some innovative people are doing today to subvert their lives from the whole mess.

Super interesting and not boring! Check it out!

Book Review: This is Where We Live by Janelle Brown

This is where we live

A couple in LA. Their drama. Lush, nearly-visible settings. Tense Emotions. Enviable wealth. Universal destruction.  You don’t get too close to the characters in this book– but it’s not like you want to, either. If you liked All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, you’ll like this one too.

Well-written, but with a beach-read weight. Ch-ch-ch-check it out.

Book Review: Walks with Men by Anne Beattie

Walks with men

I’d never heard of Anne Beattie when I picked this one up off of the bargain rack for $3. To be honest, I thought the picture on the front cover was kind of hot, and I was attracted to the pretension in the description on the back cover. I still really haven’t googled Beattie– though I did look up the Amazon reviews for this title. I only read the bad and mediocre reviews, but it seems like most of them are from readers who are otherwise big fans of her work. How happy I am to have started fresh!

This was a slick little snapshot (112 pages)– a detached but romantic (to a person who had yet to be born in the era she’s writing about) series of events in one of those relationships that takes over everything. The last third gets a little weird, but it’s ok because you’re not really attached to Jane, the protagonist. I got the feeling that I was reading a disguised memoir piece, but didn’t really get around to looking into it. on another hand, I also got the feeling that I was missing something big– like something symbolic or something that I really had to be there (NY in 1980) for.

Find  copy at the library

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: Data, A Love Story by Amy Webb

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.

Book Review: My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki

My year of meats

This book is totally awesome!

An out-of-work NYC documentarian (Jane) takes a job producing a new Japanese TV show about American wives’ cooking that is secretly intended to promote and increase Japanese consumption of American Beef. Yeah, you read that right.

And a TON of stuff happens in the year that this book covers. Like crew antics, a hot sort-of relationship, ambiguity, self reflection, abuse, wry commentary on America, insight on cancer-causing chemicals, a trip to the slaughterhouse, tenderness…

This book is very tightly written; though the summary might make it seem ridiculous, it actually all works really well. If I weren’t so tired I would gush more.

Check it out!

Book Review: How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir by Amber Dawn

How poetry saved my life : a hustler's memoir

How Poetry Saved My Life is pretty rad.

For whatever reason, I’m not really in the mood to go into detail today– maybe it’s because I’m at the end of an illness, or maybe it’s because I feel weird dissecting someone’s memoir that pretty much holds itself up.

This is an impressive piece of work, and I’m really happy that I impulse-bought it for sixteen dollars at the local indie bookstore. Framed by sex work, there are three distinct sections: Outside, Inside, and Inward. Outside begins with poems and is about doing sex work on the street. Inside is about the “safer” times of doing sex work for an agency. Inward is distinct and sort of like a conclusion chapter; it’s about all this as well as personal life, relationships, leisure fucking, queer relationship dynamics.

How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir is very carefully and gorgeously written, and has a number of sentences that have the kind of architecture that leaves you wondering  how she did it.

buy it or see if your library has it.

Book Review: Teen Spirit by Francesca Lia Block

Teen spirit

234 pages went by in a flash; if you’ve liked FLB’s other books, you’ll enjoy this one. Like many of Block’s books, this one includes some good magical realism and has elements of a love letter to LA, companionship between weirdos, inspiring sartorial descriptions,  and a female protagonist as an explorer.

Plot-wise, Julie lives a sweet life with her awesome mom and grandma, but then grandma dies so she and mom move to an apartment in a new part of LA. Amidst the change and mourning, mom goes weird and gets a strange boyfriend, and Julie makes a friend at school and tries to bring her grandma back with a Ouija board that she finds in the bedroom closet of her new apartment. But it’s not her grandma who comes back. What happens next is surprising and interesting.

I could have gone for a little more length and depth (maybe a little more magic and more details about Julie’s job), but in all, Teen Spirit was quite good.

find a copy here