PositiveLambda LiteraryWhile [Schulman\'s first crime novel] The Sophie Horowitz Story was set during the conservative Reagan era amid the escalation of the AIDS crisis, Maggie Terry is concerned with hyper-contemporary issues such as the Trump presidency and movements such as Black Lives Matter. This melding of classic form with contemporary concerns indicates not only a revitalization but a reconstruction of the lesbian crime genre ... the initial premise of the genre collapses, and in its place Schulman constructs a different kind of story, one in which victimhood is reversed and the protagonist must become accountable for her actions and privilege. Schulman tackles the topic of NYPD police brutality head-on ... if there were a Venn diagram for privilege, Terry would be at the center. She represents the force of oppressive power. She is a WASP from the \'rotting privileged class.\' She is infused with \'privilege, arrogance, and superiority.\' To top it all off Terry is notably blonde, attractive, white, and normative looking. Schulman lays it on pretty thick, and doesn’t hold back her contempt for the ignorance and entitlement stereotypically associated with the upper class ... Traversing the personal to the sociopolitical, Shulman’s latest offers a strikingly rich portrait of lesbian identity, as well as a smart treatise on how an once righteous \'outsider\' can end up at odds with the vital ideals of justice and equity for those who need it most.
RaveLambda LiteraryGurba approaches these topics with ample doses of dark humor, and I found myself both laughing and cringing from page to page. Gurba’s experience as a spoken word poet shines through in her colloquial quips and clever turns of phrase. It’s not an easy feat to inject wit into such a heavy subject matter, but Gurba does so with tact ... Gurba offers an alternative narrative in which meanness, hardness, and bluntness are valid and valuable responses to patriarchy, oppression, and violence ... There is no subtlety or euphemism here, only stark realities. In Mean, Gurba is offering readers an alternate take on victimization and trauma.
Anne Garréta, Trans. by Emma Ramadan
MixedLambda LiteraryIt’s a calculated, punishing way of approaching the topic of longing and it’s fulfillment. Garréta’s parameters ironically bar her from constraint, as she writes mechanically, without looking back or editing her work ... Despite her earnest attempts at intellectualization, desire is too unruly to be neatly categorized ... Garréta’s desire for queer love outside of hetero social norms aligns with the ultimate philosophy behind the creation of her book. Not One Day refuses to follow the rules it’s been assigned. Just as Garréta revels in 'the situations of secrecy homosexuality may involve,' she gleefully obscures the mechanics of her own creation.
RaveLambda LiteraryI trusted Myles to take me on an engaging journey, and perhaps even change my tepid feelings about man’s best friend. Myles did both of those things, as well as redefined my concept of what a memoir can be, as Afterglow is a multi genre tapestry seen through the perspective of both human and dog ... The attempt to translate the written word into a type of meditation is mesmerizing. Myles defies conventional narrative in the pursuit of enlightenment: the pure and heightened perception of the dog ... Myles ultimately succeeds in honoring Rosie’s life not through sentimental reflections or expositions of grief, but by embodying the wisdom of the dog: to breathe in every smell on the street, and to be here, now.
PositiveElectric LiteratureGerard offers us personal essay and reportage side-by-side sans judgment or critique, leaving us to draw our own conclusions ... She inserts herself into her stories in both highly personal ways and as a second party observer, leaving the reader with a map of her internal landscape as well as a Floridian topography. The combined effect is a bird’s eye view of the state at large. In Gerard’s work, the body is made of star stuff. The personal is political.
Lesley Nneka Arimah
PositiveThe RumpusArimah’s endings are frequently ambiguous. Freedom is not always synonymous with happiness, and sometimes her characters fail in their attempts at forging their own paths. These characters are both foolish and mighty. They may not really know what they’re doing, but they’re tough and they won’t back down. In our current political climate with its rampant animosity towards immigrants, Arimah offers a humanizing portrait of both the Nigerian citizen and first generation young female immigrant. She showcases their flaws, their desires, their victories, and their attempts at carving out a place in a country whose customs and values diverge from that of their heritage.
Deb Olin Unferth
PositiveElectric LiteratureUnferth is a master of comic darkness punctuated by a glimmer of hope ... Voltaire’s message that we must 'cultivate our garden' despite continual and senseless setbacks is prevalent throughout Unferth’s collection. By the end of each story, Unferth’s characters, despite constant humiliations and degradation, manage to pick themselves up. They exercise their offbeat power and savor small victories amidst the erasure imposed upon them. In Unferth’s world, moving forward is an act of fortitude.
PositiveElectric LiteratureIn this darkly comedic feud between anarchists and capitalists, Zink lays bare how the aesthetics of idealism are appropriated by corporate opportunists and subsequently fed to an unwitting and unquestioning public. As the title suggests, this novel is both addictive and jolting before leaving a final harsh, corrosive taste.