Positive4ColumnsMy Pinup, is concerned with Als’s past selves and past loves, refracted through and tested against the pop icon. The memoir weaves between accounts of and encounters with Prince, as well as two boyfriends ... Much of the writer’s work pulls at the knot of sex, gender, and race. Barring a great rupture, these things can’t be definitively unwound ... My Pinup is at its best when it pursues this disavowed desire [for power]. Als demonstrates throughout that a whiter life, a straighter life, a more religious life, may be anathema to the radical promise of black or queer life, but it has its seductive qualities.
RaveBookforumRather than using her life’s narrative to structure the book, she organizes her becoming through her models. Who, she asks herself, were those people she secreted away? In whose eyes did she see herself reflected? The collection is unorthodox ... Memoir, the highest form of autofiction, is an unmannerly genre. Its appeal lies in its indecency. Jefferson’s indecency lies in her honesty about the contortions into which black intellectuals have long been forced ... Jefferson doesn’t shy away from her attraction to certain artists who might otherwise have earned her disavowal. She is at her most dexterous when discussing two otherwise unrelated giants: Ike Turner and Willa Cather ... The book is a marvel as a work of criticism and would serve well as a manual for writing, in the sense of teaching the practice as a means of thinking. As in Negroland, Jefferson circles back on herself, questioning, clarifying, and complicating her own intentions. She works through what cannot quite be expressed ... The brilliance of the culture we have shaped is not dimmed by the pressure of Jefferson’s interrogation. What’s left is something awe-inspiring, but more fractious, more prone to false starts and massive leaps. Its power demands such criticism, such insistent questioning.