RaveThe Washington Post... the text is not simply a catalogue of terror; it is a conversational call to action, an urging to rewrite our definition of White manhood and diminish the power it holds. Oluo is asking us to evaluate the myths America tells itself about itself, see the violence within, be honest about the perpetrators and the victims, and then tell different stories. Truer ones. But she is also inviting us, on occasion, to chuckle. There is levity and voice in Mediocre, which Oluo dedicates to \'Black womxn.\' The work presents nuanced historical accounts and analyses of America’s westward expansion, education system, mistreatment of women in workplaces, politics and sports, while interjecting the author’s personality and personal history.
PositiveThe Washington PostBelieve me when I tell you, Little Scratch is difficult. It will tax you. You will have to learn the syntax of a distracted and distressed mind. But rigor, in this case, is not without reward ... While the story line is simple, Watson’s style is experimental, and revelations about what horrors the unnamed main character has endured trickle, like droplets from a leaky faucet, until the pool of her trauma is made apparent. The writing is stream of consciousness and has the trappings of a narrative poem ... I may be making this novel sound cheerless. That couldn’t be further from the truth. One benefit of spending 200-odd pages in one character’s head is that we get to savor her idiosyncrasies, stray thoughts and offhand insights ... Much like the quiet triumph you might feel once you’ve convinced a closed-off person to unfurl, to get comfortable, to reveal intimacies, there’s a certain satisfaction to learning that she’s an aspiring writer, thinks about sex on the train and is wrestling with a consuming secret ... Granted, the style can occasionally grate on the nerves ... I suggest you soldier on. Despite the occasional overuse of repetition, the writing is economical. It’s a quick read. It takes a regular day and renders it irregularly, interestingly. It presents grief, violence, self-harm and self-doubt in an unusual fashion, driving home just how disorienting and destabilizing these forces can be. It is of the #MeToo era, tackling both catcallers and unrepentant predators, but exists on a plane all its own.
Dorothy Butler Gilliam
MixedThe Washington PostBeyond her journalistic slights and successes, Gilliam charts watershed civil rights moments ... as a chronicle of black history and advancement, Trailblazer is potent. As a memoir, less so. Gilliam seems reluctant to unshroud her intimate memories and emotions. Perhaps this is a function of her trade. Journalists are trained to report a story, rather than inhabit it, and to focus on facts, not feelings ... In the chapter on her 20-year marriage to artist Sam Gilliam, we only scratch the surface of their troubled relationship.