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Posts tagged “gender

Book Review: Wetlands by Charlotte Roche


This novel is pretty obscene! The general plot is that an ass-related shaving accident lands our 18 year-old female protagonist in the hospital and follows both her memories leading up to the present– and intermingles them with her present behavior in the hospital.

My initial reaction is that the book was written wholly to shock– there’s something shocking, super-sexual, cringe-worthy or “dirty” (both the literal and figurative meanings) on pretty much every page (literally). You know that feeling you get from watching the “Two Girls, One Cup” or “Tub Girl” videos online, right? (e.g. one thing that our protagonist allegedly likes to do is pull out a tampon, wipe it on the ground, and then pop it back into her vagina). Every page is like that. It felt a little tiresome– almost as if the author was trying too hard.

But then I thought back to the description that I originally read that lead me to acquire this book (where is it, I don’t know). It was all about chucking traditional notions of feminine behavior and unreasonable expectations of feminine chastity and cleanliness and reclaiming sexuality and bodies– and that helped me think of it more as an artistic or political statement. So now I’m thinking that the book might be a little genius even if it was totally intense to read?

Get a copy here.


Express Book Review: Girl Meets Boy: The Myth of Iphis by Ali Smith

Girl meets boy : the myth of Iphis

There’s a lot going on in this short novel– and if I were Ovid-obsessed (it’s based on the myth of Iphis), I would probably even understand so much more! So there’s these 2 modern sisters, they work for a creative agency that’s promoting all kinds of capitalist corporate stuff, including bottled water (one sister’s serious, the other didn’t even want the job). There’s a protester, there’s a relationship, there’s slips of reality, all kinds of political commentary, and plot that is not quite linear. There’s the most beautifully written non-sex passages in one of the sex scenes, omg.

It’s weird but kinda genius and you should check it out.

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: Gender Failure by Ivan E Coyote and Rae Spoon

Yay, this book is great. It’s co-authored by two classic contemporary queer writers/performance artists, and just came out this year. It’s based on a live show that the two did together, yet it totally reads like a book (i.e. you won’t be plagued by the persistent feeling that maybe something’s gone wrong and this isn’t supposed to be a book). If you’ve read lots of queer and trans coming-of-age, social critique, and memoir stuff, this book covers familiar ground. Yet it’s still totally fresh in the directions that it takes you. The format it also nice– it’s a vaguely continuous series of vignettes that switches back and forth between the two authors. So Good!

The book itself is 255 pages long, and I read the entire thing in a 30 minute BART ride + a 90 minute plane flight + 20 minutes of the light rail train away from the airport in Seattle. Whoa! Super engaging! The writing ranges from factual to heartbreaking to tender, and is quite good. I don’t really want to give anything away, so just check it out! Or buy it.

recently re-read: Cool For You by Eileen Myles

I first read this one years ago, back when queer lit for me was merely a tool for obtaining the facts of (queer) life. Tumblr wasn’t even a zygote. Re-read as a more stable adult (or something), I still like it, maybe for different reasons. The first time around I missed how great Myles is at bringing together concepts/ideas that you really didn’t think were connected, and it’s basically a long rambling story that you actually want to listen to. There’s memory, lineage, institutions of various types, work, gender, family…

This isn’t really a review; just more of a reminder that this book exists, is quite engaging, and does some neat stuff with structure and language. I think it’s out of print, but maybe a library near you has a copy, and it seems that you can buy a used copy on amazon, or maybe even from a real live local bookstore.

Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park : a novel

When someone says “YA banned book” to me, they may as well be saying “Free Vegan Cookies.” I’m there. Eleanor and Park is the most recent I’ve read. The censors are upset because there’s cussing (mostly by “bad” characters) and a brief (and non-graphic) foray between the two main characters to “second base” (tightly followed by their verbalized mutual decision to not go further). I feel sorry for the censors’ children. And friends. And neighbors. And their children’s friends. And the children of the people who see a headline or skim an article and decide to agree with them. Because this book, like many other banned books, is actually pretty great.

I think I know what really makes the censors mad, and it’s not the cussing by the mean characters or the two (in-love) teenagers making out. The book accepts gender that isn’t always perfectly binary,and encourages readers to think critically about expectations of masculinity in America. Also, Eleanor and Park has frank descriptions of poverty and abuse that Eleanor experiences at home, and it’s kind of hard to read. The book also addresses everyday racism and racial stereotypes– and will probably make the purveyors of those stereotypes kinda uncomfortable.

Check this book out! I found that it started a little slow, but as a chapters went on, I became more and more invested in the two characters. By the end, I was making myself late to work because I just wanted to read one more page (and then another). The writing is quirky and maybe a little romantic, you can tell that the author had a smile on the edge of her lips as she ended so many of the chapters. I wanted the ending to be a little more romantic, but I think that realistic was a little more of what Rowell was going for.

Find a copy at the library!


Book Review: Rad Dad: Disapatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood

Rad dad : dispatches from the frontiers of fatherhood

I wrote about one of the Rad Dad  zines a bit back. If you recall, I totally liked it, despite the fact that I don’t plan to spawn any offspring.

I randomly can across this anthology at the library, and of course snatched it up.

It’s pretty great in lots of the same ways that the zine was. Dads of various genres write about experience with and the politics of, well, raising other people.

The stuff that lots of them are saying is simple, but also profound:

1. trust young people

2. you can’t control everything

3. make sure you’re happy

(and more)

Good advice for everyone, I’d say.

Usually even the best anthologies have a couple of duds. I really don’t think this one did!

Find one at the library here, or buy one here