book reviews, crafts, cheap things…

Posts tagged “AIDS

Express Book Review: Widow Basquiat by Jennifer Clement

Widow Basquiat : a love story

Bummer that he was such a jerk (albeit with apparently charming moments). Being an arty person myself, and spending lots of time with artists, I have very little patience for people who feel like they can treat others badly just because they made rad art. But still, as I stood in Uniqlo looking at their brilliant and desirable SPRZNY line of artist shirts, I couldn’t bring myself to feel ok about buying the shirt I liked with Basquiat’s art on the front. He was just too mean to poor Suzanne. (Did I buy garments with other artists’ designs? Yes. Do I feel bad about the sweatshop factor? Yes. Will I probably continue to buy products from this line because it does a genius job of showcasing the artists I love? Probably. Siiiigh.  BUT there is hope! J Morrison is an artist who makes some really awesome artist themed shirts. Ethically. There are still a few left. I’ve bought  a few and they’ve made my life awesome. BUY THEM, cuz OMG. )

But back to Widow Basquiat— this is a beautifully written book. It poetically explores the lives of both Jean-Michel Basquiat and his longtime off-and-on lover Suzanne Mallouk. Even if you don’t care for the art, or weren’t in NY for the 80’s, you’ll love the story (if you go for that romantic artistic kind of stuff). Check it out!!

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Express Book Review: We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

We need new names : a novel

Everyone is going to love this book.

I thought it was awesome, and have been recommending it to library patrons like crazy.

The basic plot is that Darling and her peers grow up in a shantytown in Zimbabwe with memories of the past (when they had school and food and before their town got bulldozed to make way for fancy rich people houses) and dreams for the future (move to America or to the fancy rich people houses that were built atop their old neighborhood). The surprisingly plucky and resilient kids (despite some pretty gnarly circumstances) steal fruit from the rich, play games in the dirt, and have some surprising impressions of their sparse interactions with NGO workers. It’s simultaneously heartbreaking and warming, told in really talented writing.

Eventually Darling moves to America to live with her aunt. Her new life has shelter and indoor plumbing and plenty of food- but there is a whole slough of new issues for Bulawayo to skillfully tell the story of. For reals, just check out a copy.


Book Review: If there’s a Heaven Above by Andrew Demcak

If there's a heaven above

Small press gem! It’s the 1980’s. 18 y/o gay goth Matt lives in the ‘burbs near LA with his mom and step dad. Works at May Company. Spends his free time with his gothy girl bff’s getting fucked up, listening to music, buying stuff, going to clubs.

Interesting, upbeat writing, and if you were around in the 80’s– or know a lot about 80’s music (specifically the band Love and Rockets), you’re gonna be pretty jazzed. The writing in general is pretty good– you can tell that it might secretly be a just little bit autobiographical, and that the author might’ve been smirking a little (at himself) as he wrote it. Some of the plot devices kind of bugged me– but now that it’s been a couple weeks I’ve forgiven them. I saw Demcak read at a Radar reading and he’s a delight irl.

Check it out!

Get a copy at the library or buy one from the publisher.


Book Review: Break Any Woman Down (stories) by Dana Johnson

Break any woman down : stories

Looking for short stories that read easy but actually make you think? Dana Johnson’s collection, Break Any Woman Down will do the job. I read this a couple weeks ago and a lot of stuff happened since then, so I don’t remember the details perfectly. BUT the stories in the collection are super diverse, with lots of different types of characters, and take place in multiple eras. They all showcase the Black female experience in the US, and touch on stuff like family, relationships, racism, school, work, abuse, AIDS, dating, love, etc. It won a Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and according to the internet, seems to have been pretty popular when it was published a bit over a decade ago.  Check it out!


Book Review: 7 Miles a Second

7 miles a second

The title of this post lied. This isn’t really a book review.

I just wanted to let you know, if you’re a fan of David Wojnarowicz, this book exists.

If you’ve ever at all previously been sucked in by his tornado-style language/essence, then you’ll like this comic collaboration with his writing in it.

I wasn’t as obsessed with it as I was, say, Close to the Knives (best opening paragraph of a book maybe ever), but it was good.

Find a copy here