PositiveThe Brooklyn Rail\"... an epistolary novel that is as much mystery as cultural analysis and rewards the reader by never giving us what we expect or what we think we want ... The way Thornton is able to construct the limited embodiment and connection that surviving abuse and a violent cis culture puts on the body is one of the greatest hauntings in the text ... If you try hard enough, it is yours. Thornton’s novel gently pats that narrative on the hand and takes a knife to the world as it is, slicing ribbons that emit a light where The Get Happies actually do sound like America.
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
RaveThe Baffler... a lyric tirade against gentrification—of our minds, our sexualities, our cities—and the persistent, collective longing and loneliness it produces. This book, this intervention, was written well before the coronavirus was a quiver in our lungs. And yet it’s a bizarre gift that we get to read it now, quarantined as we are in the American nightmare and acutely attuned to our fear and disconnection ... Sycamore opens us to the desire of the unknown, the stranger that gets to become something else ... Sycamore politicizes the roots of human suffering in The Freezer Door . Connection, its lack thereof, and the vagaries of desire are the work’s animating forces. It’s not quite a memoir and yet, like her fiction, it spirals into nonlinear, associative magic: passages about cruising for sex, meditations on grief, and an imagined dialogue between an ice cube and the tray that holds it, both imprisoned by and dependent upon the freezer ... Sycamore offers us possibility through the language of desire: to act on the thing you want by feeling and risking disorder. However, as the lyrical recurrences of the book demonstrate, Sycamore and the people she encounters are stuck in a loop: everyone is doing the same things and expecting different results. The willingness to expect the different result can make us feel alive, especially in those moments when we are surprised, but they never bring lasting nourishment. If we must constantly resist violence, which includes the gentrification of our minds, our communities, and our relationships, we will only have the resilience for brief moments of surprise at best before we are thrust back into the cycle again. Ephemeral pleasures are not a destination, and Sycamore is uncertain she will ever truly experience the queerness she longs for.
PositiveThe Brooklyn RailThis is a slutty book, not just in content but in form. The long, sprawling essay bends prose and language to seek both intimacy and the alive body ... T brings us through lack by allowing separate threads of desire to intersect and interrupt each other. Each feeling of loss and desire brings us another. In this way, T creates a new sense of experiencing desire and time ... The transgender body knows that there is ultimately no end point or destination ... We’ve trained ourselves not to look back—or in any direction. But Fleischmann postures that turning toward the thing we desire at the risk of loss shows we are alive or, at the very least, honestly within a body.
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
RaveBomb MagazineSketchtasy, Sycamore’s third novel, takes us to Boston in 1995, where Alexa, a twenty-one-year-old queen, is waiting for her soup and arguing with another queen about the empty activism of the AIDS ribbon ... The prose unveils like a spiraling phone message from someone you love, moving at the timeless pace of a high you keep rolling through to prevent crashing.
RaveElectric LiteratureMost stories take place in or around Illinois in towns where the army base and the prison are both near by and this nation’s endless wars are far away and on TV and mostly fought by you or your neighbors … Queerness untrashes people…[the] narrator says in the title story, and we feel the grittiness of this position?—?it’s not lonely?—?Woods never delves into nostalgia?—?but it makes for existence having a different purpose … As serious as this all is, somehow Chavisa Woods offers it to us free of didacticism and full of humor and flat out absurdity, as if to say, it’s absurd what we refuse to see and acknowledge. She creates a kind of meta reality?—?this world but peeling back the other possibility of our reality underneath.