weekend reading


In TurpentineAlia Volz recounts her childhood with an artist mother. It is a short, beautiful story centered around the scent of the turpentine her mother used while painting. “When the muse is gorged and satisfied, it will abandon her body like a used rubber glove, leaving her saggy and deflated, a formless, useless biohazard. My mom leans back in the chair once more and grunts. A loose ringlet slips across her forehead. She opens the tin of turpentine and the scent is a force.” This essay is from this week’s issue of Covered with Fur. 

Looking for Suzanneby Chris Kraus (author of I Love Dick, Aliens & AnorexiaTorpor  and many other titles,) is from the latest issue of Tinhouse–the rejection issue. It is a short story, told from the perspective of a late-thirties, caucasian man named Douglas, about his love and affection for the ever elusive Suzanne. As she winds precariously in and out of his life, he struggles to determine the meaning of her presence and the root of his desire for her.

I really enjoyed this essay, Queer Rap is Not Queer Rapby Eric Shorey, in Pitchfork. As a fan of rap in general, and of what has in recent years been termed “queer rap,” I think this essay makes many interesting points about the appropriation/stealing of queer culture and the inherently divisive nature of creating separate categories of musical genre based on sexuality.

From The Rumpus, Horn! Reviews: Sidewalks by Kevin Thomas, is an illustrated book review of Sidewalksby Valeria Luiselli.

In Blood at the Root,  Neelanjana Banerjee interviews Nayomi Munaweera for Guernica. The interview is about Munaweera’s debut novel, Island of a Thousand MirrorsMunaweera was born in Sri Lanka, grew up in Nigeria, and emigrated to the U.S. in her early teens. In the interview, she discusses the influence of a multicultural background on her writing, as well as the dark and violent content of her novel. Island of a Thousand Mirrors tells the intertwining story of two women divided by the Sri Lankan Civil War. Because Munaweera was not in Sri Lanka during the war, she struggles with the issue of authenticity in telling a story she believes is necessary to tell, but which she didn’t personally experience. She says: “It was a really big deal for me that a Sri Lankan publisher picked it up. I didn’t grow up there, and I didn’t go through [the war], so there’s always been a question of legitimacy. When I was at the Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation (VONA) workshop in 2011, I had these tremendous concerns: ‘I’m Sri Lankan, and I’m writing about the war, but I live in America. Can I even tell this story? Am I qualified?’ So it was this tremendous stamp of approval that these people who had lived through the war wanted to publish it.”

From The Kenyon Review, Buddha Natureby Allison K. Williams, details her journey to Bodh Gaya, India. She begins, “I went there to see if I was still an agnostic. Maybe I was a Buddhist now, after years of reading and the desire to be part of something more spiritual than yoga class and the salad bar at Whole Foods. Maybe, here at the source, I would find Buddha-nature in my heart…” Instead, she is repeatedly confronted with spiritual commercialization and consumerism. In the end, however, she unexpectedly reaches a sort of spiritual enlightenment (or perhaps understanding) and reminds herself that we are all imperfect beings searching for the unattainable.

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