RaveBookforumFrom the madness [Chu] wrests a lucid meditation on desire as the force shaping our identities, the paradoxes of liberation politics, and her own gender transition ... Chu doesn’t fall in line with Solanas, but she keeps her close, catching sparks off her until the very last page ... leverages the rhetorical triumphs of SCUM—its inflammatory absurdism, its aphoristic deadpan—and it makes related, similarly seductive, similarly doomed, sweeping claims. But here, the failure is staged. Chu’s aim isn’t to build an airtight case. She lets her argument’s smoldering structure flare and fade slowly in a series of profound personal reveals. First-person writing would have been anathema to Solanas’s imperious voice; Chu uses Solanasian bluster as something of a Trojan horse for memoir. But her outrageous central thesis—everyone is female, and everyone hates it—even if it’s not built to last, demands attention as more than a gambit ... If you haven’t already guessed, Chu’s object of desire, at least for the purposes of Females, is none other than Solanas herself. As a conceit it works beautifully—it’s a fascinating, if somewhat terrifying, experiment to imagine what Solanas would want, and it’s riveting to read about Chu trying to become whatever that might be. Her writing is, in its most insistent and unguarded moments, suffused with authentic unresolved longing. Her desire is not only a conceit ... Chu is refreshing for her daring appreciation of what movements and thinkers get right, just before they make their fateful wrong turn ... in advancing a theory of gender that posits the force of intractable, confusing, undesired desire as its source, represents it as a painful, messy business. There is plenty here you won’t like, and a lot you won’t want. But that’s the point. Nobody wants to be female. Sorry.
Positive4Columns... a hybrid marvel—a spy thriller and a fictive memoir about survival, complicity, self-delusion, and sabotage in a time kind of like a stylized now ... Atwood herself seems eager to push past the political shorthand of the iconic costume, as well as Offred’s constrained perspective.
Positive4ColumnsLaing writes, in a tongue-in-cheek description, but elsewhere she portrays Kathy’s trawling solemnly ... When Kathy returns to England, Laing falls into a more convincing rhythm, handling the hairpin turns of her character’s consciousness and incorporating her stolen lines with new ease ... This high-strung book, which reads in turn like a roman à clef, a memoir, and a work of historical fiction set in the almost-present, turns, a little unexpectedly, into a love letter at the end. Somehow Laing pulls off this resolution, avoiding excessive corniness and maintaining the work’s rough texture of sutured quotations, even as she enters a lyrical free fall of earnest emotion ... Laing’s book is truly exciting and, crucially, right on time.