Hello friends! I am very psyched today, because starting tomorrow I have a four day weekend and ALSO because yesterday the Knives Out trailer FINALLY arrived and I am deeply obsessed with everything about it, in particular Chris Evans’ scarf.
Okay now for some books before I scurry off into an airconditioned room with Orange Crush and a Veronica Mars rewatch.
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name – Audre Lorde
What an excellent, excellent month for all of us [especially me] in that we get a double helping of Audre Lorde! This book, which Lorde defined as “biomythography,” while being quite different from Sister Outsider structurally, weaves the themes of Lorde’s body of work into story-memoir form. It chronicles the first approximately 25ish years of her life, from her childhood in Harlem as the daughter of immigrants to her early 20s navigating life as a Black lesbian.
I read the entire first half of this in one sitting, and then spread the rest out so it wouldn’t end quickly. The story moves so fluidly that it feels impossible to put down (god bless short chapters as well!!) and the imagery and sentences remind you constantly that Lorde is a gotdamn POET. [p.s. her acknowledgements section is at the front of the book, in which she thanks her friend and fellow poet Adrienne Rich “who insisted the language could match and believed that it would,” and over and over throughout the book I was bowled over by Lorde’s ability to so PRECISELY match the language to the content.]
The way Lorde writes about otherness, loneliness, longing, the bonds between people, and the deep pain inflicted by racism, sexism, and homophobia is superlative
[cw: sexual assault, suicide]
There There – Tommy Orange
Another uniquely structured story for us today!! This book, a unified story told as series of short sections from 12 different characters’ perspectives, has gotten a lot of attention for its gorgeous language and exploration of several Native/Indigenous experiences, all of which is beyond deserved.
I’d definitely like to reread this someday, because I could tell I was missing some of the impact of the language in my impatience to see where these characters were going. When I first heard there were 12 main characters I was skeptical, but each one is both personally distinct and carefully united to the others as they all make their way to a powwow in Oakland for the book’s devastating climax. There are also two extended sections in the beginning and middle that recount a variety of the horrors and humiliations inflicted on Native people by colonization.
Occasionally the timeline did feel a bit confusing, but I’m curious how that would feel on a reread. As the character perspectives increase, you gather information and understandings about them that they often don’t have themselves, so they definitely need to be read in the precise order they’re presented in, even if the timeline is a bit hard to follow (which could very well be a feature, not a bug!)
[cw: sexual assault, suicide, domestic violence, some body stuff that I felt iffy on]
See you next week! If you have a long weekend, or just a day off, I hope you enjoy it, and if not I hope you’re able to treat yourself to a tasty beverage anyway.