book reviews, crafts, cheap things…

Posts tagged “drugs

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!!

Book Review: Leap by Z Egloff


Yay! Another queer indie! Leap is pretty good. The year is 1979 and our protagonist Rowan has just finished high school in her small town and is spending her last summer before college working at the local burger joint. There’s lots of stuff going on (as there always is when you’re 18 and on the cusp of life), but the main thing is that there’s a new girl in town and Rowan’s about to get in her first relationship…

The writing is quite good– the 223 pages give you LOTS of information. There are lots of parallel side plots, the character development is good, and certain things are left unexplained in just the right way. I’ll be looking for more from this writer.

ch ch check it out from the library or buy it from the publisher!

Book Review: Over Easy by Mimi Pond

Over easy

Well that was nice!

It’s the late 1970’s and Margaret quits art school (CCA (then CCAC) in Oakland, CA) to be a waitress at the diner by the art school that caters to artists, bohemians, etc. This book is an account of some of the stuff that happens during that time.

The entire book is done in green, black, and white, and the pictures are nice to look at. The stories are amusing, and will resonate with people who have worked in restaurants before. Check it out!

Book Review: Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert

Ballads of suburbia

I totally would have loved this book as a 15 year-old. At my library it’s cataloged as an adult title, and I don’t think that fits. It’s about Kara– our protagonist– and her coming-of-agey teenage times dealing with sex, drugs, music, divorce, independence, and more. Ultimately things go bad at home, she meets some new kids, gets into some bad relationships, falls into using heroin, and OD’s. The bulk of the book is her looking back on these happenings as a now-sober youngish adult. The story itself is pretty captivating, and those of us who grew up in the 1990’s will appreciate the alternative pop culture nostalgia.

For me, it got a little too Go Ask Alice-y near the end, which was kind of a drag. But hey, it’s only one story.

I think it would do really well as a series of interconnected artistic short films.

Find a copy here.

Book Review: The Infinite Wait and Other Stories by Julia Wertz

The infinite wait and other stories

I reserved this book from the library as soon as I finished Drinking At The Movies. Upon checking it out, I read it in like 2 seconds. This volume brings us from childhood to the present-ish, and back again. It’s in 3 segments:

1. Industry (crappy and awesome jobs through Wertz’s life. lots of food industry stuff that I could seriously relate to)

2. The Infinite Wait (moving to SF and getting a diagnosis and living and stuff. oh, san francisco. The author and I may have some different opinions about homelessness, but the rest was lovely)

3. A Strange and Curious Place (about the hometown and the hometown library. yay libraries.)

I liked this one just as much as I liked the other one; I pretty much sat down with it and didn’t get back up until I was finished reading it (when I was doing other things I was totally thinking about getting back to it). The illustrations are alluring, the pace is good, the plot is engaging, and I want more.

get one at the library or from the author

Book Review: Girls I’ve Run Away with by Rhiannon Argo

Photo on 2013-11-24 at 18.21






Totally worth it!

So Lo’s a teenage girl who skates with the dudes in some NorCal suburb in the 90’s.

Everything around her is pretty boring and her family life kinda sucks, and in the midst of it all a crazy reciprocated crush starts happening with a girl from school. They become total BFF’s, but in the meantime something totally nuts happens in the family realm, some other things happen, and Lo ends up going on a wild runaway adventure and tons of interesting stuff happens.

This book is often poetic, and always a little magical. Argo’s capture of the onset of first crushes and queer identity and discovery of identity-shaping things is ridiculously spot-on. She nails how it works in your (ok, my) head. There’s drugs, action, sex, music, ADVENTURE, and a solid story line that keeps you reading until the last page (apparently there’s a sequel in the works, and this is a good thing). Though under 300 pages, the story is dense and you’ll definitely probably take a couple of days to read it.

This book is super enjoyable and well written. BUY a copy here cuz it’s self published and you’ll probably want it for your bookshelf anyway.



Book Review: Taipei by Tao Lin

After Lean In, I give you:


Tao Lin captures ambivalence and vague nihilism and contemporary sorta existentialist existence like no other.

i.e. he’s really good at replicating the (i suspect common) circumstance of floating through life in the contemporary era (esp w/ the assistance of various drugs).

I want to make it clear that this is not a book that you read if you want a super clear traditional story structure, characters that you will love, a happy ending. It is not a book to try to speed-read (it won’t work). Consider how you feel about experimental film. That may be how you feel about this book.

Lots of the reviewers on Amazon are like wah, wah it’s so narcissistic and boring. Um, that’s the point. It’s about capturing a concept/feeling/reality/something. I found the characters’ insecurities and mental blocks and technological dependence to be spot on. Dialogue is used in a really interesting way. Not every book character has to be a hero.

I read this book for a book club that is composed of many middle-aged Yalie-types. I was born in the 80’s and like “alternative” things. They’re coming at it from a different angle. It’s going to be an interesting discussion.

Find a copy here.

Book Review: Girlvery by Oriana Small aka Ashley Blue

Girlvert : a porno memoirGirlvert : a porno memoirGirlvert : a porno memoirGirlvert : a porno memoir

I like memoirs. This is a porno memoir by Oriana Small aka super famous porn star Ashley Blue.

I’d never heard of her before going to a sex work literary performance/panel at YBCA, where she read an excerpt of this book. This book is addictive, raunchy, well-paced, interesting, and pretty good to read, all together. She describes lots of her work pretty thoroughly, so I didn’t feel lost, having not seen her movies (though I googled her pics afterwards, and her eyebrows are freaking perfect).

My one critique is that things seem to wrap up a little too quickly at the end (but maybe that’s just how life is sometimes?)

Find a library copy here!

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

Book Review: Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’neill

Lullabies for little criminals : a novel

Can we talk about all of the little pockets of genius in this book?!

So Baby’s around 11/12/13, and lives with her dad who’s in his mid-20’s and a heroin user.

Life kind of nuts and he’s kind of erratic, but in the beginning they’ve got this really solid bind, the two of them against the world.

Eventually, Baby’s world gets bigger, and grows to include things like foster care, juvenile detention, a first boyfriend, sex, a pimp, drugs…

This is one of the better books I’ve read this year. Baby, as a narrator, has a really honest/unexpected/pure/unique/calm point of view and tone. And seriously, there are such deep bits of genius writing that have been expertly slipped into unexpected locations in this book. If it wasn’t a library book I would have been underlining them. They’re too good to give away here. read the book.




Find a library copy here.

Book Review: The Elementals by Francesca Lia Block

The elementals by Francesca Lia Block

I’ve been reading FLB for probably 2/3 of my life now, and the magic is still there. She can still wrap a poem around anything, and the magical realism is still abundant and shimmery. There aren’t really lines between dreams and reality in her recent writing, and maybe that’s kind of the point.

So, Ariel’s super-close best friend disappeared a year ago on a class trip to Berkeley (she lives in LA). Ariel’s mother has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She is out-of-place and awkward. It’s time to head off to college at Berkeley (where she was supposed to go with her missing best friend).

Distraught, Ariel starts looking for her missing friend when she arrives in Berkeley. She passes out flyers, asks around, gets ridiculed for her persistence. She’s breaking down, on the edge of crazy, unable to find peace in the present because of this. She meets a trio of older people, grad students who have a large house off campus. They suck her in, and she is intoxicated with them and the magic, but still floundering. Additionally, there are other surrounding characters who engage in both terrorizing and trying to save her.

When reading this book it’s hard to determine between metaphor and actuality, and that might be the point because it’s pretty much about where she’s at mentally– furthermore, there’s a constant current of magic and drugs and memory which is both destabilizing and essential. If you take this book literally, you’re going to have a problem. If you just let it wash over you, things will be better.

My one problem (and it might be cruel to place it at this part of the review): The Ending. I don’t know whether the author wanted it or the publisher wanted it or maybe there just wasn’t time to write something better. Maybe just skip the last chapter or two. They’re not terribly necessary.

Find a copy here