PositiveThe RumpusOf Color is driven by a relentless question: what to do with the life a person of color has, which is also one that is happening to him? ... Of Color might appear to be of little consequence, a thorough examination of Bolina’s life––of his writing career, his marriage, his neighborhood, his classroom––but without deliverance. But perhaps it is our want for firm ground that Bolina is challenging ... Both subtly and overtly, in both craft and clear phrases, Bolina seems to find something like an answer in specificity and sincerity ... Maybe it’s because Bolina’s humility has proved so difficult to conjure in my own life that I see it so clearly here, why I’m marveling, as if watching a magician at work. Bolina waves a comma like a wand and the positive space recedes, the negative space rises to the surface, the play of words proffering a sense of relief. But Bolina is not a magician, although sometimes a poet, a philosopher, can appear as one. He is simply paying attention.
PositiveEntropy... a book which is not quite a novel ... the way Greenwell writes the wind, it is about so much more than weather, an embodiment of the inhospitable world a queer person so often finds themself in ... In Greenwell’s eroticism, the reader as spectator is invited inside the frame to find that the body is not the central object, but the objects by which the people—in the totality of their beings—are fully realized.
Marguerite Duras, Trans. by Olivia Baes and Emma Ramadan
RaveThe RumpusI wonder if our reality had to fracture in order for Duras’s truth not to get lost in translation, that the world had to catch up with Duras’s wisdom that nothing had the substance of everything ... Every essay in Me & Other Writing exists simultaneously as an honest account and as a dystopian portrait, life inextricable from the ineffable pain of distance: between self and nature, self and God, self and self, self and other.
PositiveLos Angeles Review of BooksThroughout his book, there is an awkwardness uncharacteristic of the canon that, he acknowledges, formed him. In structure, syntax, and tone, Row’s writing appears atypically disjointed, jarring, and at times, broken—his sentences pivoting amid lists of adjectives, and trains of thought apparently abandoned in between paragraphs. As when Virginia Woolf forecasted that women writers would have to break everything to create their own literature, white writers too will have to struggle to unlearn the prejudices, and privileges, they’ve inherited from the canon. To do so will not just be difficult but awkward, like a teenager in a body she doesn’t yet know ... Row does not offer conclusions or tell the reader what to do. Instead he offers, simply, a different kind of writing, the product of a different kind of seeing, the process of a different kind of being. His writing appears almost naked, searching, and oddly hopeful ... few pages after that, he wonders about tenderness. In his last words, he offers his language like an extension of the hand, a gesture, I presume, of friendship[.]
PositiveLos Angeles Review of BooksDiFranco needed all of her 300 pages to ready readers to see her so raw. An indie celebrity, she had to write and write and write in order to dispel the many narratives that sought to speak for her. Which is to say that the writing in No Walls and the Recurring Dream lacks the poetic density of her songs in favor of the purposefulness of prose ... DiFranco’s memoir undoubtedly bubbles up from the same creative well as her music ... As if to admit that no matter how much she writes she always thinks in song, the text often breaks into italics—paragraphs and pages that read like a diary’s confessional ... No Walls and the Recurring Dream is...not a literary masterpiece, but the passion of a woman searching for a friend. There are times in the book when DiFranco presents herself as flawed, even downright unlikable, but given the project’s aim, such an honest portrayal is necessary—and welcome. If we are to know her, we must see her ... DiFranco uses the memoir to create a self-portrait through a collage of intimate details ... Lacking narrative purpose, her efforts at self-discovery avoid the memoirist trap of writing toward a predetermined end; indeed, this book might better have been called an autobiography. By the end, a timeline-driven image of DiFranco emerges, somewhat antithetical to our idea of the artist, yet one that still feels honest and factually sure ... This is a story with a soul, a reminder that DiFranco’s life, like all life, has been a process of birthing, of always favoring process over product; and as any artist knows, the hardest part of making is reckoning with what’s been made.