October 22, 2014

‘Barring Complications’ by Blythe Rippon

Posted on October 21, 2014 by in Fiction, Romance

No doubt about it: June 26, 2013 will always be remembered as one of the pivotal moments in the historical fight for LGBTQI rights. The tide which gathered first with the Stonewall uprising swept away the obstacles to marriage equality when the US Supreme Court decided that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. But can a new novel, a debut novel no less, do justice to such a monumental event? (more…)

‘Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis’ by Alexis Coe

Posted on October 18, 2014 by in Features, Nonfiction

It’s a story as old as Tennessee’s Chickasaw Bluffs: two young lovers who plan to elope are torn apart by their disapproving families, and bloodshed ensues. What makes the title pair of Alexis Coe’s Alice + Freda Forever worth writing about is the confluence of their era and their sex. In 1892, 19-year-old Alice Mitchell slashed the throat of 17-year-old Freda Ward, whom she had planned to marry and support by posing as a man before Ward’s sister intercepted their plans and forced her to cut off contact. The murder trial drew swarms of national reporters to Memphis, where Mitchell’s lawyers built a successful insanity defense on the premise that her belief that two women could live together as spouses was itself delusional. (more…)

‘Petite Mort’ by Beatrice Hitchman

Posted on October 16, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Petite Mort, Beatrice Hitchman’s debut novel, opens with a Le Monde article—Paris, 1967—announcing the discovery of a thought long-lost silent film reel from 1914. The article also mentions the mysterious fact that a crucial segment of the film is missing. Following this news brief, the novel moves back in time to 1909, where it effectively begins with two sisters, Adèle and Camille. The two are young, carbon copies of each other, sitting in a tree harassed by local boys, but saved, at the end of this first scene, by the town priest, Pere Simon. Very soon after, we discover that Père Simon plays a much larger role in Adèle’s life: exposing her for the first time to film, and coaching her with acting lessons. He is the impetus for her to run away, in 1913, to Paris, in search of a career on screen. Cinema, we discover, in these first brief chapters, is akin to religion for Adèle—a faith she believes will save her. (more…)

‘Blue Hanuman’ by Joan Larkin

Posted on October 15, 2014 by in Poetry, Reviews

“for I am a dirty bird/no wire cage can save”

-Joan Larkin, “Chicken”

Joan Larkin has been praised extensively for her “ruthless” and self-examining poetry (LA Times, David Ulin), devoid of the trappings of cliché and sentimentality. Writing in the same kind of documentary poetics similar to Carolyn Forche, Larkin has a gift for making the private public, telling and retelling the story, and owing the truth nothing emotive. From Ulin’s review of Blue Hanuman: “For her, poetry is a form of witness; she offers no false hopes, no resolutions, except to reflect, as honestly and directly as she can manage, the complicated, at times uncontrollable, messiness of being alive… this is poetry without pity, in which despair leads not to degradation but to a kind of grace.” (more…)

‘The War Within’ by Yolanda Wallace

Posted on October 9, 2014 by in Reviews, Romance

The lives of four people intersect on Jekyll Island, Georgia during one summer in The War Within. The story is divided into two sections, one historical and one contemporary. The first section gives us the story of a young, idealistic nurse who has volunteered for duty during the Vietnam War. Idealism gives way to realism as Meredith Chase and her enigmatic new-found friend, nurse, Natalie Robinson, navigate the dangers of war and of feelings for Natalie that leave Meredith thrown off-kilter. As the story begins, this history is recounted by Meredith as she and her granddaughter, Jordan, travel from Wisconsin to Georgia for their annual summer vacation. (more…)

Sarah Waters: On Exploring Moral Complexity and Why Writing Her New Novel Made Her Anxious

Posted on October 5, 2014 by in Features, Interviews

“We see murder represented a lot in movies and pop culture and it can be quite glib. So I didn’t want to be glib; I wanted to be faithful to the moral mess, the emotional mess of it.”

Award-winning, bestselling author Sarah Waters has written six novels. Her newest, The Paying Guests (Riverhead Books), tells the story of Frances Wray, an upper middle class young woman living alone with her mother in post-WWI London. Her brothers have died in the War and her father has died as well, leaving them with a legacy of unsound investments and debt. In order to make ends meet, Frances and her mother take in lodgers—the eponymous guests: a young married couple, Lilian and Leonard. The entrance of this young couple has profound and unexpected consequences for all involved—and as Charlotte Mendelson says in her review of the novel for The Financial Times, “There is too much here to convey in brief, or without revealing the switchback twists that make all Waters’ novels dazzling. She can, it seems, do everything: the madness of love; the squalor of desire; the coexistence of devotion and annoyance; ‘the tangle of it all.’” (more…)

‘Everything Leads to You’ by Nina LaCour

Posted on October 4, 2014 by in Reviews, Young Adult

Emi is not your average SoCal teen. As a senior in high school, the ambitious Emi works for a film production company as a set design intern. With the glamour of a Hollywood hotshot tempered by her still-adolescent heedlessness, Emi embarks on an unforgettable summer journey that could only take place in Los Angeles. (more…)

‘A Cup of Water Under My Bed’ by Daisy Hernández

Posted on September 27, 2014 by in Bio/Memoir, Reviews

If you yearn for thoughtful, truth-filled, and honest writing about US racism that is sharp and righteous, read Colorlines. ColorLines exemplifies progressive journalism with a racial justice lens. From 2004 through 2010, Daisy Hernández helped build Colorlines. Working as a writer and editor, Hernández, with a team of activist journalists, migrated the print magazine from its quarterly publication to its current incarnation as a powerful online news journal characterized by incisive analysis. If you care about racial justice news, subscribe to the Colorlines feed. (more…)

‘Queer and Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives’ by Nia King

Posted on September 22, 2014 by in Nonfiction

In my former review of Nia King’s work, I mentioned her media presence, via her website, tumblr, and her podcasts We Want the Airwaves: QPOC Artists on the Rise, in which she interviews queer and transgender artists of color. She successfully used indiegogo to raise enough money to transcribe interviews from her podcast and is now publishing them as a book, in order to share these artists’ stories, knowledge and oral histories. (more…)

‘Kicker’s Journey’ by Lois Cloarec Hart

Posted on September 18, 2014 by in Reviews, Romance

Canadian author Lois Cloarec Hart claims to be an accidental author. But her latest rich, opulent period piece set in Victorian England and the Canadian “Wild West” demonstrates that readers are all the better for the circumstances which prompted this gifted author to take up ink and pen. (more…)