Reviews

Notes on Imagined Places: From Tim’s Creek to Santo Domingo

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This imagined town in North Carolina, where all of Kenan’s stories take place, is home to preachers, farmers, Black and white people, the rich and poor. In this town lives a queer Black boy, Horace Cross, whose life is being shrunk by the social boundaries delimiting his desire, the same machinations of shame and disregard that turn many young Black queer people into ghosts of themselves.

a visitation of spirits
On September 3, 2021

Function at the Junction: Notes on Summer of Soul

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I’m getting ready for the function at the junction And baby you’d better come on right now Because everybody’s gonna be there We got people comin’ from everywhere – “Function At The Junction,” Shorty Long, 1966 There’s a long, long legacy of Black folks gathering around food and funk, bbq sauce and song. Before we […]

Summer of Soul
On August 19, 2021

Mushrooms Talk to Her: A Conversation with Bett Williams

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I first did mushrooms with a green-haired mermaid. It was Halloween, we were at an off campus party, and the sea creature invited me to climb into the back of her Bronco with these magic words: “I love your work.” By “work,” she meant the diary entries I posted online, which were mostly about cigarettes […]

wild kindness book cover
On August 17, 2021

Nonprosecutable: A Review of Shiori Ito’s Black Box

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Through personal narrative, journalist, survivor, and activist Shiori Ito examines rape culture in Japan.

black box book cover
On July 13, 2021

Spelling Cyphers: A Review of Long Division by Kiese Laymon

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The most interesting mystery novels don’t announce themselves as such. There is no murder to solve or culprit to apprehend. Rather, events which have no obvious explanation unfold and an air of ambiguity surrounds them. Kiese Laymon’s novel Long Division belongs to this category of mystery.

Long Division Book Cover
On June 24, 2021

Documentary The Accidental President Intentionally Forgets the Trump Presidency

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We desperately need documentaries to help us understand how Trump won the 2016 election. Not only does The Accidental President fail to perform this type of analysis, but the movie also stymies it, giving those who participated in the grooming and installation of pro-fascist leader a platform from which to manipulate history.

The Accidental President film poster
On June 22, 2021

‘Executive Order’ Re-Writes the Post-Apocalyptic Genre

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Executive Order challenges viewers to re-think the post-apocalyptic format and hero-making narratives, flipping the script on a genre that has long reinforced racism, centering Black humanity as a racist government lead by an evil Karen tries to force all Black people to repatriate to Africa as a form of reparations.

Executive Order Film Still
On June 17, 2021

Embodied is an Intertextual and Intersectional Masterpiece

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I could go on and on about these collaborations, but I don’t have enough space here to describe how wonderfully, gloriously, and lovingly enthralling they are. There are poems about birth and the body, stories of misogyny at a university and of grappling with a miscarriage. These works explore heritage, family, gender, love, and in the case of the inimitable Diane Seuss, tits. Altogether, they typify the robust state of contemporary poetry.

Embodied Cover
On May 6, 2021

Her Taste For Speed: Rachel Kushner’s “The Hard Crowd”

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The Hard Crowd offers us a portrait of Kushner through her preoccupations, obsessions, concerns, affinities, and distastes. Her writing on others is always writing about the self and in this sense, she is always doing donuts, flashing the lens externally so as to make an entire revolution, pointing the eye inward once again.

Myriam with the Hard Crowd
On April 28, 2021

Crying in H-Mart: Grief, Hunger, and Healing

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In rock musician Michelle Zauner's memoir "Crying in H-Mart", food is not just a vessel to memorialize her mother but a touchstone for accessing her Korean heritage.

Crying in H-Mart book cover
On April 22, 2021

Pola Oloixarac’s Mona is a Devastating Satire That Got Blurbed by a Creep

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Pola Oloixarac’s Mona (translated from Spanish by Adam Morris) is a devastating and harrowing satire of the literary world, an alternately hilarious and piercing examination of the culture surrounding books.

Mona book cover
On March 23, 2021

‘Moxie’ Provides White Girls an (Imperfect) Guide to Activism

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Amy Poehler's Moxie is the narrative version of Feminist Organizing 101, made with the white, teenage set in mind. If that sounds tiring, know that Poehler brings her singular ability to make do-gooding fun and while its white feminist reach is limited, Moxie manages to inspire.

Still from Moxie
On March 11, 2021

Bad Attitude: The Art of Spain Rodriguez Explores the Legacy of a Cartoonist Who Reserved the Right to Objectify

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Toward the end of her documentary Bad Attitude: The Art of Spain Rodriguez, director Susan Stern asks in voice-over, “Did I make this film to defend Spain? Or to defend myself?” It’s a telling question, one important enough to justify Stern briefly putting the focus on herself and taking it away from her husband and […]

Spain Rodriguez
On March 9, 2021

Of Women and Salt: A Beautiful Novel from Flatiron Books Rubs Salt in the Wounds of the Black Caribbean

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A complex and nuanced story of mother-daughter relationships developed across five generations. But while Garcia attempts to contribute to the larger conversation of race and ethnicity in Cuba, but the depictions of Black Cuban characters lean heavily on age-old stereotypes defined by theft and criminality.

of women and salt cover
On February 16, 2021

The Dangers, and Pleasures, of Smoking in Bed

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Mariana Enriquez’s The Dangers of Smoking in Bed joins the ranks of magic realism's finest short story writers with a group of off-kilter tales enlivened by captivating unease.

Smoking in Bed cover
On February 4, 2021