RaveBook ForumBlood Kin is a story about power, political and personal, and its dangerous ineffability ... The knit of Dovey’s tale, though seemingly ponderous, is tightly controlled, and her characters reveal only choice bits of themselves in each chapter ... At stake for the chef, barber, and portraitist is their apparent unquestioning loyalty to the president, but with the inclusion of the women’s voices, each narrator is compelled to address his or her complicity in various power structures, particularly in manipulating personal relationships to painfully self-serving ends ... Blood Kin reveals only that those who wield power are just as much its instrument.
RaveNew York Review of BooksTo catalogue delights and to delight in them at some length, as Gay does, shines a light on otherwise private, intimate moments, and the book that collects this catalogue has the feel of a devotional poem. Because Gay is a poet, it’s hardly a stretch to read his prose as versifying, and an attentive reader will notice moments of overlap between the concerns in The Book of Delights and Gay’s poetry ... it’s not simply that Gay has dedicated this book to a single idea—delight in its many forms—but that in its repetition, in his act of finding delight in rice candy, in music from a passing car, in babies on planes, and in a backyard log pile, it becomes an enthusiastic exercise in observance ... The shock of Gay’s writing—and I wonder if I would have fully understood this if I hadn’t heard the work read aloud by Gay himself—is his seamless shift from breezy, affable observation to sober (and admittedly still affable) profundity ... I want to say that Gay’s writing is magical because that’s the way it feels when I read it. But the essays didn’t come into being with a flick of the wrist, a wave of the wand. Calling it magic undercuts Gay’s craft, the effort that goes into producing literature that feels as fluent and familiar as a chat with a close friend. His voice has integrity, in both senses of the word: a completeness or consistency, true to itself; and an honesty and compassion...so frankly subjective that it produces an incorruptible vision.
RaveThe New York Review of BooksLouche, mordant, funny, and surreal, Dirty Plotte comprises a mix of short and long comics—wordless and with dialogue, narrative and plotless, autobiographical and fictional (and everything between)—in which there are no rules. Nor are any subjects off-limits ... these comics are as pertinent and captivating today as when they first made their way into the culture ... Doucet’s parodic depictions of intense violence are still unsettling; her elastic treatment of sex and gender is still daring; and her open-ended treatment of female identity is still vital ... if the environment of Dirty Plotte is acutely Doucet’s own—relying primarily on dreams, fantasies, and imagined scenarios starring a version of herself—it is also freewheeling enough that readers, particularly women, can recognize something of themselves in it ... in calling out her fantasies and fears with words and pictures on the page, Doucet uses transgression to carve out a space of power and freedom. She revels in the joy of unfettered exploration, and her enthusiasm buoys otherwise dark subject matter ... Doucet’s distinctiveness is equally due to her highly graphic drawing style: packed, rambunctious black-and-white panels depicting cramped interiors swarming with bric-a-brac and busy street scenes alive with eccentric humanity.
Emma Reyes, trans. Daniel Alarcón
RaveThe Paris ReviewHers is an incredible biography by any measure, but the book’s most startling element is Reyes’s clear-sighted, unsentimental remembrance of her difficult childhood. The narrative comes in the form of twenty-three epistolary sketches written by Reyes between 1969 and 1997 to her friend, the critic and historian Germán Arciniegas. (He once showed them to García Márquez, who effused about them to Reyes herself; furious with Arciniegas’s breach of privacy, she didn’t write him another letter for some twenty years.) Reyes is gloriously unceremonious in her telling: the memoir begins in a garbage heap and ends with a dog sniffing another’s behind.