Desperate times call for desperate measures, and all the characters in Donnelle McGee’s debut poetic prose novel seem infused with the utmost desperation. Capturing a bleak landscape of folks barely hanging on by their fingernails, McGee introduces us to a neo-realistic world of commercial sex workers, poor folks with AIDS, crooked cops, families struggling to survive abandonment and violence that is stark and emotionally raw. While its subjects and themes are sensationalistic, the treatment of his character’s lives is anything but in McGee’s assured and loving hands. Compassionate, considered, and knowing, the author uses a wide array of literary techniques to reveal the interiors and the fairly direct story of a tragedy whose foreboding conclusion appears inevitable almost from the start. (more…)
In most families there is at least one lady who is a larger-than-life pip. She lives life a little too hard, over shares the details of her dubiously acquired knowledge with a wry laugh, and a generously filled rock glass. She’s the life of every party and one is never quite sure how she comes by her income. Presenting herself never less than expensive, never less than fly, she always keeps some moneyed or easy-on-the eyes lovin’ in her life (sometimes both). If you aren’t lucky enough to have an aunt, sister, or even a grandmother in your life like that, you can borrow singer Bettye LaVette for a while and get an experience. But, buckle your seat-belt. (more…)
After one reading of his debut collection of flash fiction, it comes as no surprise that Robert McVey is a not only a skilled writer but also a psychotherapist, one who’s paid emotionally detached if intellectually close attention to the idiosyncrasies of a menagerie of hauntingly disturbing, but all too human personalities. (more…)
“…you can no more separate Cool from Blackness than you can separate Hula from Hawaiians, or Yoga from Indians, or French cuisine from the French. “
Rebecca Walker is cool. The origins of her cool aren’t located in some unquantifiable “swag,” nor is it strutting down a Fashion Week runway, cooing in a music video, or residing in a pulpit oratory whose cadence conjures protests of Southern trees bearing strange fruits. It isn’t even found in her casual Soho clothes or Noxema-clear complexion. Rebecca Walker’s cool stems from a mind, talent, experiences bred on both coasts (New York City and San Francisco, to be exact), and a pedigree of accomplishments that puts to shame many a slacker son and daughter of the 1%. Through her latest edited collection, Black Cool: A Thousand Streams of Blackness, one would say that Walker cites the ground-spring of her cool in a residence both less and more obvious, depending on your embrace of stereotype and level of social consciousness—her Blackness. (more…)
“Whatever happened to our dreams of sexual splendor only bounded by the limitations of imagination? Gay sex is now more about regimentation than experimentation, following the hideous rules rather than creating new possibilities for loving, lusting for and taking care of one another. “
Mattilda Sycamore agitates. A self-declared troublemaker, the community she’s most recently zeroed in on for a bruising migraine is the mainstream LGBT community and its campaign for normalcy.
Despite conservative queerdom’s best efforts to hide its “otherness” behind a velvet wall of “same as you” Tom and Hank and Jill and Janes, Mattilda and her like will not be ignored. As parades of neo-nuclear same sex families mug for the cameras on courthouse steps, queer body boys parade and flex impossibly taut muscles across our nation’s gym runways and circuit parties, and far, far too many proudly proclaim in knee-jerk defensiveness how “straight-acting” they are across the net, Sycamore blows raspberries at the forced mirage and holds up faded pictures of yesteryear boys and girls whose one claim to fame once was their difference. Sycamore endlessly delights in reminding them of the sacrifice they are making to be like everyone else. Nobody likes a know-it-all whose nervous tic seems to be a penchant for aggressive truth telling. A 90s era activist kid from San Francisco Act Up’s height, the now Santa Fe resident has released two novels So Many Ways to Sleep Badly (City Lights 2008) and Pulling Taffy (Suspect Thoughts 2003), edited four non-fiction anthologies (including: Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity (Seal 2007), That’s Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation (Soft Skull 2004; 2008), and Dangerous Families: Queer Writing on Surviving (Haworth 2004), appeared in film (All That Sheltering Emptiness), and is a columnist and review editor for the feminist magazine Make/shift.
Released earlier this year, her latest anthology, Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform, is a pesky reminder of those being left behind (the drag kings, differently-abled, the obese and average bodied, feminist women and men, and most of all, people of color) in the political and economic rush for “normalcy,” a word likely to make Mattilda shudder. (more…)
There are no sacred cows in humorist David Rakoff’s world. From the faux-preciousness of Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” to the consumeristic vapidity of Disney World to Jews’ secret love of forbidden grub, Rakoff eviscerates idyllic Americana beliefs left and right in his truth-telling crusade. The loose, Thurber Prize-winning collection of autobiographical essays possesses all the sardonic wit of Wilde and Sedaris. Through his half-empty lens, the NPR monologist reveals the follies of “positive thinking” and side-eyes our far too-easily accepted, madcap world. (more…)
The chronicle of the displaced, teenage sex worker is such a staple of gay film and literature that he’s almost his own genre. From Richie McMullen’s Enchanted Youth to Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho, the young, inflammable rebel’s trials, tribulations, and “liberation” loom large in the creative mind with harsh lessons and dark, sexual adventures on urban mean streets. (more…)