Lauren always has at least two books in her bag and approximately 78 next to her bed and feels that the best books are the ones that make us feel anything strongly, even when it's uncomfortable. On the off chance that she is not reading, she can be found taking fast, purposeful walks (really, they are stomps) around Seattle or writing with exactly the right pen in a very specifically chosen notebook.
Reviews & Recommendations
Someone once said of Rachel Ingalls that she had a particularly jaunty way of writing about tragedy and this is so true it makes my teeth hurt. Mrs. Caliban is a love story between a lonely housewife and a sea monster who only recently escaped from the lab where he was imprisoned. She feeds him avocados (a heretofore unknown delicacy), he listens to her and makes her feel seen for the first time in years. It's campy, but also unexpectedly devastating: it made me think of all the things we turn away from, the deceptions that that make our lives bearable. It's a very lonely book to read, but in the best way possible--I still think about it.
Kate Zambreno has always been fascinated by the "wives and mistresses of great men," the women history has dismissed as crazy, toxic, or unworthy of legacy. This memoir/biography hybrid gives them their due in a way that feels transgressive and incredibly refreshing. Zambreno tells her own story alongside those of Zelda Fitzgerald, Vivienne Eliot, Lucia Joyce, and others to contextualize and provide evidence for the way women's voices are ignored, diminished, and stolen in literature and in life. Who gets to tell their story? And whose story gets believed? Both referential and the reference, Heroines is mesmerizing, compassionate literary criticism with bite.
This was such a welcome rebuttal to the deafening white noise of the mainstream feminist movement, the one that prioritizes personal success over systemic change and reinforces oppressive power structures. This straight-to-the-point manifesto posits the necessity of a feminism that is anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-transphobic, anti-ableist, and anti-sexist—in other words, a movement that will make the world a better place for everyone. Reading it, I had to resist the urge to underline every single word.
The witches are indeed coming and I want to join Lindy West's coven! Her concise and direct style of truth-telling is a refreshing counterpoint to those howling for a past that never existed, to the quivering and ineffectual centrists, to those who urge civility in the face of fascism and use the high road as justification for inaction. The Witches Are Coming presents the Trump presidency and its attendant atrocities not as the beginning of our sharp descent into dystopia, but as the culmination of our national legacy of indifference. It is our collective eagerness to believe convenient lies over shameful truths that has damned us, the American tradition of looking the other way. West makes case after compelling case for caring: about abortion rights and bodily integrity, about climate change, about the appalling human rights violations at our borders, about the corrosive bigotry that is so pervasive here and so devastating. That a collection of such bleakness also manages to be undeniably hilarious will surprise only those who are new to West's work (this grim feminist killjoy hasn't laughed that hard in ages). It is a nimble, clever, compassionate book and I put it down feeling fired up and hopeful.
It started out like a fairy tale: once upon a time, Carmen Maria Machado met a smart, sexy woman who made her feel brand new. When they fell in love (quickly, extravagantly), it made perfect sense. But when the mask slipped and her girlfriend revealed herself to be a different kind of person altogether, it was hard to believe and even harder to talk about. Machado tells her story in a series of vignettes like bread crumbs dropped along a dark forest path, and it's incredibly affecting. Fairy tales are the truth told slant, a safe way of exposing the things we cannot name. There is a resounding silence, both historically and currently, surrounding abuse in queer relationships. And rarely is emotional abuse recognized, legally or socially, as a form of violence. By writing this book, this brave, fascinating, multitudinous book, Machado is creating a record, one that will resonate personally with many readers and prompt others to recognize their blind spots. Prismatic and charismatic, In the Dream House is a shape-shifting memoir of remarkable beauty and pain.
This is not the first book to explore the eerie, poreless pre-dystopia of the tech world, but it's certainly the best. Hearing of the exorbitant salaries offered, Anna Wiener left her publishing job to join a start-up and ended up in Silicon Valley. Here she offers us both an insider's perspective and an observant outsider's judgment as she chronicles the culture and their vision for the future: an idealized simulacrum of reality in which every inefficiency has been solved and everyone exists in a seamless, unending cycle of optimized production and consumption. She has a keen eye for the absurdities of the industry (just about everyone she encounters takes themselves very seriously), as well as the horrors: the sexual harassment, the casual bigotry, the accelerated gentrification and massive wealth imbalance, the participation in and promotion of surveillance culture. It's incredibly dark, but equally as funny and compassionate--Wiener is an excellent, witty guide to this good-intention-paved road to hell. Uncanny Valley is a thoughtful, fascinating, and incredibly smart glimpse into the way Silicon Valley is disrupting the world and remaking it in its image--I loved it.
This book. THIS BOOK. It's a queer, upgraded reimagining of 50 Shades that's also an indictment of capitalism and an exploration of bondage, consent, and privilege. Obviously, I loved it. In this highly plausible future world, personal debt never goes away, but is passed down through generations. To survive and avoid prison, inheritors of these burdensome legacies can sell themselves and their debt to the unforgivably wealthy. Dociline is what gets them through it, a drug that forces compliance and numbs users to the pain and indignity of their situation. But when Elisha becomes a Docile to Alex, he refuses to take it, determined to hold onto his true self. But there's more than one way to control someone... Here Szpara presents such a nuanced look at power dynamics, both within a BDSM relationship and on a sociopolitical level. It's uncomfortable at times, but in a way that feels important. Docile is incredibly hot, troubling, and thought-provoking--K.M. Szpara has written the exact book I want to read!
Instead of a hare with a pocket watch, it's an enigmatic man with a proposition who leads our unnamed narrator down the rabbit hole. His offer is unusual, but lucrative: if she is willing to relinquish her identity entirely to work as a stand-in for a reclusive young actress until she is well enough to work again, she will be paid a small fortune. Since she has no family, no prospects, nothing to keep her in the holding pattern of her current life, she accepts. Her transformation--from an unknown and rather aimless person into a famous person whose entire existence is planned and commodified--is total and mesmerizing. As she is absorbed into her glossy new life, she begins to pick up on the subtle machinations all around her. Who is manipulating who? Against the sun-bleached beauty and decay of L.A., Emily Beyda uses her debut to explore the power imbalance of visibility versus surveillance and the startling mutability of personal identity. A hallucinatory journey through a mind warped and focused by obsession, The Body Double is a literary thriller with a philosophical bent!