Deviant Lives, with Carmen Maria Machado (A Book Review of ‘Her Body and Other Parties’)

Book Reviews, Fiction, Love, Writing

I picked up Carmen Maria Machado’s book of short stories Her Body and Other Parties (Amazon | Indiebound) after seeing it on the National Book Awards shortlist for fiction. The title first drew me. I looked up to see who Machado was and found she’s a queer Latinx (yes!), which made me want to read her work even more. And whoa. As soon as I finished one story, I knew I was in for a wild, beautiful ride.

The first story on the book called The Ribbon was my first introduction to Machado. Hers is a concise but weighty voice, one that told the story but kept important details hidden. It was both what she is and what she isn’t saying that drew me even closer to the text, a kind of magnetic pull impossible to resist.

I think it’s also in the way she writes about women in the book, filled with audacious desire and a wonderfully overwhelming presence that had me enthralled. They were eerie in their brilliance, as if something hummed underneath the story line.

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A QPOC Guide to the 2016 Litquake Festival

Sunday Spotlight

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Literature lovers, unite!

Starting this week, the Bay Area will be home to various literary events as the 2016 Litquake Festival launches. Originally created as a one-day reading series at Golden Gate Park, it has evolved to be a multi-day affair filled with workshops, youth programs, speaker events and more with local authors and writers from around the world.

With 50+ events, my book-loving, queer heart had to look through the list and narrow it down to events that would speak to the fellow QPOC minds and hearts. Here’s what I came up:

LGBTQ Spotlight: Litquake in the Castro

Outstanding writers from the LGBTQ community present their work outdoors in the heart of the world’s gay mecca: Rabih Alameddine, Meliza Bañales, Julie Blair, Roberto F. Santiago, James Siegel, and Willy Wilkinson. Wine reception and book sales follows at Dog Eared Books, 489 Castro St. FREE 

RADAR Queer Reading Series at the Library

RADAR Productions gives voice to innovative queer and outsider writers and artists whose work authentically reflects the LGBTQA community’s diverse experiences. This Litquake edition spotlights four incredible artists, hosted by RADAR artistic director Juliana Delgado Lopera, and followed by audience discussion and cookies. FREE 

Yaa Gyasi at The Octopus

Yaa Gyasi discusses and reads from her new book Homegoing, a story of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana, and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. FREE

American Lyric: Claudia Rankine in Conversation

Litquake welcomes Claudia Rankine, an award-winning, genre-defying, groundbreaking American writer and author of the New York Times bestselling Citizen: An American Lyric (“…the best note in the wrong song that is America. Its various realities—’mistaken’ identity, social racism, the whole fabric of urban and suburban life—are almost too much to bear, but you bear them, because it’s the truth” —Hilton Als). In conversation with author/professor Sarah Ladipo Manyika. $15 advance or at the door

Global Fiction: Litquake’s International Night

Amidst an increased climate for international fiction, whether translated or originally in English, Litquake convenes this stellar selection of authors from Australia, Ecuador, France, and Romania, to discuss and read from their latest works. Moderated by Transit Books publisher Adam Z. Levy. Seating is limited. Doors open at 6 pm for pre-show reception. FREE

Arisa White and Robin Coste Lewis in Conversation

Award-winning poet and teacher Arisa White, author of the new collection You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, discusses poetry, race, and the body politic with National Book Award recipient Robin Coste Lewis (Voyage of the Sable Venus). FREE

Writing Indigenous Experiences

Indigenous, First Nations, Native Americans, or American Indian—whichever words you use, a new wave of literature is bringing their issues to the forefront. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Dina Gilio-Whitaker, Alison Owings, Kim Shuck, Lindsie Bear, and Greg Sarris discuss the unique challenges faced by writers who communicate indigenous realities for a wider audience. $10 

Mission Bookstores: United We Stand

A words-and-music celebration hosted by the independent bookstore coalition working to preserve and serve the longstanding community and creative interests of the historic Latino Cultural District. Adobe Books, Alley Cat Books, Dog Eared Books, and Modern Times Bookstore Collective join to honor the authors, poets, musicians, and activists who make their culturally diverse spaces hum. Hosted by Denise Sullivan and Kate Rosenberger. Music by Preston Swirnoff and special guest. Scheduled to appear: Ian Brennan, MK Chavez, Freddy Gutierrez, Victor Krummenacher, Alejandro Murguía, Natasha Muse, Po Poets, Kate Schatz, Miriam Klein Stahl, David Talbot, and Katie Tomzynski. $5-10 sliding scale

See you in the streets / bookstores / cafes / readings!