They’ve Come for Your Guts
I named my in-store display ‘They’ve Come for Your Guts’ because each of these writers took my guts in loving, weathered hands and twisted, tweaked, polished, pinched, and molded them into something a little different than what they were before. On one level, I’m saying that the experience of reading these books had immediate physical and emotional effects on me that I remember to this day. Two years ago I sweat through First Bad Man for about 8 solid hours. Seriously, I had to take a two-hour speedwalk AND go to hot yoga just to calm down afterward. A year ago I alternated plunges into Chronology of Water and into Deep Eddy, both of which left my June-sun warmed skin covered in goosebumps. Three years ago I read Just Kids while sitting on my rickety Chicago back porch at night, smoking wintertime cigs (would not encourage under any other circumstances, kids!!), shivering and light-headed and only partly due to the cold. Ask me where I read any one of these 12 books and I’ll tell you what temperature it was that day. Heck, I can’t even remember the details of the day I met my boyfriend (potentially because I don’t have one) — my point is, these books leave a mark.
On another level what I’m saying is that each of these books changed my own soul makeup, have colored and broadened the way I see the world. To Miranda July, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Elif Batuman I owe the humor and humanity in the repulsive and rejected. They approach the world the way I like to approach the world — with confused but amused curiosity over how absurd it all is. To Lidia Yuknavitch, Maggie Nelson, and Alison Bechdel, I owe a conception of sexuality that is as warm and essential and nurturing as it is powerful. Lucia Berlin and Patti Smith clued me in on how essential it is to find art and poetry in everything you come across. Not only are you the gatekeeper to what you see and take in and make important from all the planet’s many resources, you also are responsible for morphing all that input into some thing. This is life-making and can be done by anyone, anywhere. To Valeria Luiselli, Han Kang, and Claudia Rankine, I owe consciousness, which honestly, hey these are three women of color on this list and yeah, they are the ones bearing the burden of elucidating the extent to which we are living in a false and f**ked world order, but theirs are voices I want and need to listen to. Reading them is both distancing and fortifying, as it’s a sturdy reminder that there is concrete work to be done in this both ever-changing and no-way-in-hell-changing-fast-enough society of ours. And finally, what’s Anne Carson done for me? Poetry! Epics! Love! Tradition! I will be a student of hers forever. All in all, each of them gave me the wildness I need to knuckle through this crazy human ~thing.
So yeah, I say read them! Read them if you love driving west in a beat up tiny old pickup truck with nobody but Joni Mitchell and a big furry dog to keep you company. Read them if you’re sensitive to sensation — or if you’re not and you want to be. Read them if you want to See like a Witch. Idk how many other nonsensical ways I can say it (probaby 36) so I’ll just say — GIVE THEM YOUR GUTS THEY WILL COME BACK TO YOU STRANGER AND BETTER THAN EVER.
— blog post and display by Molly Moore