Love’s Perils, Trauma’s Wounds: New Story Collections

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2021-10-21 18:18Z by Steven

Love’s Perils, Trauma’s Wounds: New Story Collections

The New York Times
2021-10-15

Tracy O’Neill

THE RUIN OF EVERYTHING
By Lara Stapleton
123 pp. Paloma Press. Paper, $18.

If love conquers all, in Stapleton’s second story collection it’s not clear then whether anyone wins much of anything from it. There is plenty of sex in this book, but little is erotic. Bringing someone to bed skews more toward self-medicating. The fantasy tends to begin and end with being someone worth desiring. Careening in tone from fairy tale to social satire to grim, confessional emails, these stories center on wounded devotees of intimacy. “The way I love people is to consume them,” one narrator muses. “I didn’t want him to know that I eat with love.” But carnal enterprise fails to compensate for the disappointments of broken homes, previous demoralizing romances, artistic failure and a sense of meager privilege. To the women who love too much, heterosexuality is, predictably, a prison…

Read the entire review here.

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SC senator’s ‘reply all’ disrupts unveiling of Black Reconstruction lawmaker’s portrait

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2021-10-21 15:07Z by Steven

SC senator’s ‘reply all’ disrupts unveiling of Black Reconstruction lawmaker’s portrait

The State
Columbia, South Carolina
2021-10-16

Caitlin Byrd

This image shows the portrait of Stephen Swails, which now hangs in the state Senate chambers. This image was attached to the email sent to state lawmakers on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2021.

CHARLESTON, S.C.—In South Carolina, a state with a painful legacy of racism, a white lawmaker on Thursday fired off an email that casually challenged the complexion of a Black Reconstruction-era lawmaker, whose portrait now hangs in a place of honor inside the State House.

And, thanks to the modern-day perils of the reply-all email, now all 46 of South Carolina’s state senators, their staff and the senate clerk, know what Charleston Republican Sandy Senn thought when she saw the portrait of Stephen Atkins Swails.

“That sure is the whitest looking black guy I’ve ever seen,” the senator from Charleston wrote in a message that included an emoji symbol [🤷‍♂️] of a person shrugging…

…Swails was born in Pennsylvania to a Black father and a white mother in 1832, and made his way to South Carolina first as a military man.

He stormed Fort Wagner on Morris Island as a member of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, one of the nation’s first Black fighting units whose story would later be immortalized in the film “Glory.”

In 1865, he became the first commissioned African American officer in the Union Army. After his military service, Swails stayed in the Palmetto State, where he worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau to help newly freed slaves in the South

Read the entire article here.

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Immigration, Passing, and the Racial Other in Neo-Victorian Imperialist Fiction: The Case of Carnival Row (2019–)

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United Kingdom on 2021-10-21 14:20Z by Steven

Immigration, Passing, and the Racial Other in Neo-Victorian Imperialist Fiction: The Case of Carnival Row (2019–)

Adaptation
Published 2021-10-07
DOI: 10.1093/adaptation/apab018

Dina Pedro, Ph.D. candidate
Department of English and German, School of Philology, Translation and Communication
Universitat de Valencia, Valencia, Spain

In this article, I provide a close reading of Season 1 of the neo-Victorian TV series Carnival Row as both an ambivalent postcolonial and neo-passing narrative. I first draw on previous criticism on postcolonial neo-Victorianism and turn-of-the-century American passing novels in order to analyze Carnival Row’s contradictory revision of imperial London through its re-imagining in a fictional city named The Burgue. I then explore the conflicting ways in which the series tackles (neo-)imperialism and colonialization, as it simultaneously criticizes and reproduces imperial ideologies and stereotypes of the racial Other. Finally, I argue that Carnival Row seems to offer a new take on American passing novels by allowing Philo, the mixed-race male protagonist, to embrace his biracial nature without meeting a tragic fate at the end of Season 1. Nonetheless, by choosing a White actor (Orlando Bloom) to play the role of the passer, the series culturally appropriates a form of Black oppression for the entertainment of a White audience. Thus, despite the series’ well-intentioned attempts to criticize (neo-)imperial, racist, and xenophobic practices, it ultimately perpetuates—rather than subverts—those very same ideologies.

Read or purchase the article here.

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The Fiction of the Color Line

Posted in Articles, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-10-21 01:01Z by Steven

The Fiction of the Color Line

Vulture
2021-10-18

Brittany Luse

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photo: Getty, Yale University Library

Black women writers have long used passing stories to crack our façades of race, class, and gender.

Somewhere on Long Island around 1980, a blondish preteen is onstage at summer camp channeling Hodel from Fiddler on the Roof, her confident voice and star power self-evident. Her tawny-skinned father beams from the audience, and as she takes her bow, soaking in the applause, he approaches the stage bearing a hefty bouquet of daisies. He hands her the flowers, their eyes and hearts locking for a beat in shared pride. Then the girl realizes that every other parent, instructor, and child in the auditorium is staring at them. “Not in a way that felt good, not because I had given the outstanding performance of the night,” she would recall decades later. “They were staring because my father was the only Black man in sight, and I belonged to him.” The others had assumed until that moment that Mariah Carey — the girl with the frizzy honey-blonde hair — was white like them.

The Meaning of Mariah Carey, the singer’s delectable memoir co-written with Michaela Angela Davis, a former editor at Essence and Vibe, recalls many such stories. In doing so, it’s in direct conversation with the American literary tradition of novels about passing and passing-capable Black women — stories about the concealment, or the possibility of concealment, of one’s Black parentage and all of the attendant personal and social complexity. Since the late-19th century, writers have used passing as a narrative tool to do everything from encouraging white readers to sympathize with the struggles of Black characters to scrutinizing the hypocrisy of America’s racial hierarchy…

Read the entire article here.

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Hall’s film has cracked open a public conversation about colorism, privilege and secrets.

Posted in New Media on 2021-10-21 00:36Z by Steven

[Rebecca] Hall’s film [Passing] has cracked open a public conversation about colorism, privilege and secrets. On Twitter, people are sharing stories and black-and-white photographs of a grandmother’s cousins who moved out of state, great-aunts who sneaked back to see their family in secret, relatives who lost their jobs when co-workers informed management about their identities: a public airing of what in Hall’s family was once closely held. Recently one of her mother’s sisters reached out: She said that they never really had language to understand the hidden context that shaped their family, and she thanked her for giving it to them.

Alexandra Kleeman, “The Secret Toll of Racial Ambiguity,” The New York Times Magazine. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/20/magazine/rebecca-hall-passing.html.

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Personal Attention Roleplay, Stories

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Novels on 2021-10-21 00:23Z by Steven

Personal Attention Roleplay, Stories

Metonymy Press
2021-10-19
280 pages
13.3 x 20.5 x 1.27 cm
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-7774852-1-4

Helen Chau Bradley

A young gymnast crushes on an older, more talented teammate while contending with her overworked mother. A newly queer twenty-something juggles two intimate relationships—with a slippery anarchist lover and an idiosyncratic meals-on-wheels recipient. A queer metal band’s summer tour unravels amid the sticky heat of the Northeastern US. A codependent listicle writer becomes obsessed with a Japanese ASMR channel.

The stories in Personal Attention Roleplay are propelled by queer loneliness, mixed-race confusion, late capitalist despondency, and the pitfalls of intimacy. Taking place in Montreal, Toronto, and elsewhere, they feature young Asian misfits struggling with the desire to see themselves reflected—in their surroundings, in others, online. Chau Bradley’s precise language and investigation of our more troubling motivations stand out in this wryly funny debut, through stories that hint at the uncanny while remaining grounded in the everyday.

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The Ruin of Everything

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2021-10-21 00:22Z by Steven

The Ruin of Everything

Paloma Press
2021-10-19
126 pages
5.98 X 9.02 X 0.3 inches
0.43 pounds
Paperback ISBN: 978-1734496550

Lara Stapleton

The Ruin of Everything tells tales of abandoned children living in adult bodies. Bastards, bi-racial half-siblings, and orphans raised by aunts, they lose their last best love through brokenness like “the impossible loop in a stress dream.” Racial ambiguity abounds and confounds US color lines. Tones stretch from lugubrious sorrow to wicked dramedy. Obstinately fluid in architecture and identity, stories range from slick Hollywood glam to essayistic musings, from traditional immigrant realism, to rehearsals of autofiction that grow more metatextual as the book goes along. Just as we think we’ve learned how to read Stapleton’s stories, they shapeshift. And yet, the pieces reflect each other, a sad-clown funhouse hall of mirrors. Through wanton experiments with character, The Ruin of Everything asks us what is important to a tale and what it means to be American in country and continents. Lovers of Clarice Lispector and Luisa Valenzuela will find much to admire here.

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My Monticello, Fiction

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Novels, United States, Virginia on 2021-10-21 00:21Z by Steven

My Monticello, Fiction

Henry Holt & Company (an imprint of Macmillan)
2021-10-05
240 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781250807151
e-Book ISBN: 9781250807168
Audiobook ISBN: 9781250820723
Compact Disk ISBN: 9781250820716

Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

A young woman descended from Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings driven from her neighborhood by a white militia. A university professor studying racism by conducting a secret social experiment on his own son. A single mother desperate to buy her first home even as the world hurtles toward catastrophe. Each fighting to survive in America.

Tough-minded, vulnerable, and brave, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s precisely imagined debut explores burdened inheritances and extraordinary pursuits of belonging. Set in the near future, the eponymous novella, “My Monticello,” tells of a diverse group of Charlottesville neighbors fleeing violent white supremacists. Led by Da’Naisha, a young Black descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, they seek refuge in Jefferson’s historic plantation home in a desperate attempt to outlive the long-foretold racial and environmental unravelling within the nation.

In “Control Negro,” hailed by Roxane Gay as “one hell of story,” a university professor devotes himself to the study of racism and the development of ACMs (average American Caucasian males) by clinically observing his own son from birth in order to “painstakingly mark the route of this Black child too, one whom I could prove was so strikingly decent and true that America could not find fault in him unless we as a nation had projected it there.” Johnson’s characters all seek out home as a place and an internal state, whether in the form of a Nigerian widower who immigrates to a meager existence in the city of Alexandria, finding himself adrift; a young mixed-race woman who adopts a new tongue and name to escape the landscapes of rural Virginia and her family; or a single mother who seeks salvation through “Buying a House Ahead of the Apocalypse.”

United by these characters’ relentless struggles against reality and fate, My Monticello is a formidable book that bears witness to this country’s legacies and announces the arrival of a wildly original new voice in American fiction.

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