My Giveaway Book Came In! 

I just got my two chapbooks from Black Lawrence Press yesterday….

  
and today I got my copy of I’m Supposed to Protect You From All This from the Goodreads giveaway (hosted by Riverhead Books)! 
   

  I even got a cute little letter with the book, which made me quite happy indeed! 
I’ll be reviewing all three ASAP. I’m taking Spiegelman’s with me this weekend on my first camping trip (ever). 

Book 26: Celestial Bodies in Orbit by Eve Littlepage

I mentioned Femsplainer before, and the ad that Eve Littlepage put out looking for honest reviews of Celestial Bodies in Orbit: Memoirs of the Unknown Stripper. I read my emails everyday, especially Femsplain’s, so I was quick to jump at the opportunity to get my hands on a copy of this book!

I’ve repeatedly mentioned my love of memoirs, but I don’t think that I’ve delved into my vast respect for sex workers. (Yes, I’m pro-sex work all the way through, of course excluding children and only on the condition that the adults who enter the industry do so willingly. I’m for the legalization and regulation of prostitution as well as a safer industry for all.) I have next to no experience with stripping first hand, but I absolutely love Lux Atl and keep up with her amazing work on social media. She even has her own podcast, Stripcast: True Stories from a Stripper with a PhD by Lux ATL on iTunes, which I definitely need to catch up on.

On to the book!

TW: abuse, abortion, drug use, harassment, suicide.

In the Author’s Notes, Littlepage (her pen name) mentions Paganism and Witchcraft (which she chooses to capitalize, as I have here). Though she doesn’t dive into that subject matter until Chapter 19, I was excited to hear her experiences. From the start I knew I was getting into a very unique book. It’s written in interview style, and though names are changed, it is a true story (told to a fictional author).

I did not enjoy the format as much as I’d hoped; the fictitious interview style was less personal than the traditional memoir style, it took something away from the book instead of adding to it. The format also made the reading a bit less immersive; instead of becoming wrapped up in the story, I was pulled out by the water breaks and other interview pauses that were written in. The dialogue between chunks of story is also very awkward, and doesn’t have the flow of natural conversation. Stella, as a character, doesn’t have enough personality to hold up well with Eve’s.

I didn’t love the format, but I was able to look past it the farther into the book I got.  

Though I didn’t enjoy the style itself, I do see how writing a memoir this way could create a bit of a separation from the act of letting it all out. It’s quite a scary thing, putting your writing out there, and even scarier when it’s about your life. I suppose that treating this like an interview could have allowed for some space from the story.

Another thing that didn’t flow well for me was the overuse of similes (the comparison of two things using like or as, i.e. “Stung like the lash of a whip” p. 15) in Littlepage’s writing. They work in some cases, but it almost feels like there’s one in every paragraph. Figurative language is nice, but it can weaken writing when it’s overused.

I think that I would have liked the book a great deal more if it weren’t for the style it was written in. As I said before, it kept the book from being as immersive and personal as I would have liked. The faux interviews and fictitious interactions between Eve and Stella were just that, and they cheapened the writing.

Probably my favorite little element of the book was the point in which Littlepage incorporates notes and poems from old lovers and club regulars; the concept of small gifts and notes being given to strippers wasn’t something I’d considered, and it was precious.

I did truly enjoy the subject matter. You get to see a lot through Littlepage’s eyes, including but not limited to the strip club and party scene of the 70-80’s. Her experiences were a cornucopia of emotion, and it was truly a book that encompassed a good bit of her story, stripping being just a part of it.

~~~

I am officially halfway to my goal, and we’re just about halfway through the year! According to Goodreads I’m two books ahead of schedule!

Goodreads progress

Anyway, I’m feeling pretty pumped about my progress so far. Keep reading to stay up to date and to find out what reading materials I’ve enjoyed so far.

~~~

I give this book a 6/10.

CELESTIAL BODIES IN ORBIT: Memoirs of The Unknown Stripper

Disclaimer: I’ll be posting a shortened version of this review on Amazon.com and Goodreads, as I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. I want to be transparent with my readers, as well as with readers who are interested in this book on those platforms.

Happy reading!
Scarlett

Book 27: The Rose that Grew from Concrete by Tupac Shakur

 I’m still forming my thoughts on Tupac. I know that he was an activist (willing to put himself in between crooked cops and a motorist) , feminist (according to many outlets, though it’s basically speculation), and a man who was charged with sexual assault. I definitely need to read up more on him, buy his Aunt Assata Shakur’s autobiography. The Shakur family is tied to activists like Angela Davis, so I know that I need to delve further in my research.  

Leila Steinberg was Tupac’s first professional manager and was responsible for the safekeeping of the poetry in this volume. She also wrote the introduction. Afeni Shakur was Tupac’s mother, and she wrote beautifully of her son in the preface. Nikki Giovanni wrote a forward that spoke to his honesty and his revolutionary qualities. To have so many women come together in an effort to represent his memory speaks volumes to his character and to the true power that his words held. 

These poems, according to Steinberg, were written when he was nineteen. Tupac Shakur was yet to be famous, yet to be portrayed negatively, etc. That’s a level of him that isn’t as well known, and one that I feel privileged to have been able to read from. 

I have to admit, I haven’t listened to a lot of Tupac’s music, though I do plan on it in the future. Keep Ya Head Up is often lauded as a feminist anthem in terms of rap music, and I plan on expanding my repertoire asap. His poetry was raw, with topics that ranged in emotion. 

My favorite poems were Under the Skies Above (After the Miscarriage) and the first Untitled poem. Both address deep subjects with grace. He also dedicated a poem to Marilyn Monroe that addresses her fame, exploitation, and death. I also enjoyed the poems that focused on the Black Panther party. 

In the Event of My Demise hit really true to event, almost in a haunting way. There’s zero doubt that he was woke, woker than it was safe to be in his time. 

Poetry is one of my favorite genres, and it’s something that I’m aiming to dedicate a big part of my life to, so reading poetry that has such an intimate feel is incredible; not only is it Shakur’s unedited work, but the scanning a of his handwritten poems are adjacent to the typed version. You get to read his poems in his handwriting, see the doodles and the words he crossed out. 

There’s a musicality to his work that you don’t always find, and it’s definitely telling of the career that he had following the writing of this poetry. 

That’s one more book knocked off of my Baker’s Dozen list, and it was another good one! 

I give the book an 8/10. 

The Rose That Grew From Concrete

Happy reading,

Scarlett 

Book 25: The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

I picked this book up at the friends of the library used book sale (on a date, no less). I hadn’t looked at it again since until I was reorganizing my bookshelf (aka integrating the books that would now fit thanks to my previous thinning).

I read an excerpt of the first story in the memoir for a class a few years back, so I recognized it and I was immediately sure I’d picked up the right book to read. No Name Woman is written beautifully, and I was hooked on Kingston. I fell into Kingston’s writing and didn’t want to come back out of it. She’s very literary; not necessarily a breeze to read, but it’s so worth it.

Kingston delves into Chinese culture, going so far back as foot binding. Threading of eyebrows is mentioned as well, something that I deplore (hair removal in general sucks). She writes about the way that Chinese women walk, talk, and eat; the silence at the table compared to the shouting of normal communication. Both hands holding each bowl.

If you’d like to get a feel for her writing, I’ve found a PDF of No Name Woman here.

White Tigers is the second story in the book, and it begins with talk-stories from her mother about women who are heroines. Fa Mu Lan is one, but Kingston’s is just as powerful. I love the intertwining of myth with memoir; her talk-story self is a woman warrior, and it is an incredibly empowering story. Even the menstrual cycle is mentioned, in a shameless and almost glorious way. She wanted more than just to be a wife, and her story realized her wildest dreams. When this story ties into her Chinese-American reality, there’s a lot less myth and amusement, but a lot more information. Kingston’s cultures are vast and complex, and I’m happy to have been able to peek in at her experiences.

Shaman is just as beautifully written, and gives a lot of insight on Kingston’s mother. Her background in medicine, her schooling and other general badassery, also including more talk-stories. A woman professional, she took a serious step down from her prestige as a doctor in China when she came to America to work in a Laundry.

It’s in Shaman that Kingston let’s the reader know that “ghosts” are foreigners; in America everyone is a ghost to her, etc. At the Western Palace describes an Aunt’s move from China to America to rejoin her family, and A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe discusses Kingston’s childhood and adolescence.   It does contain some serious ableism, so reader beware.

Kingston’s writing is unmistakably sharp. It is as pointed as the swords she mentions in her talk-stories. She writes with a fierceness that is absolutely exhilarating. Reading work from a passionate woman is incredible, especially in the case of such an underrepresented culture.

Overall, I truly loved this book. I picked it up for $1 because I vaguely recognized Kingston’s name, and I am so so glad I did. It’s empowering in many ways, and it doesn’t provide a singular, demure view of domesticity. There are several strong women written of in this book, as well as a view on what it was like to be a woman in China and in America in those time periods. The Woman Warrior is written entirely on women, as a means to discuss culture and womanhood in a way that is uniquely Kingston’s and Chinese-American. I consider it an essential read for intersectional feminists.

I give this book an 8/10.

The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts

Happy reading,
Scarlett

Update on the Baker’s Dozen

I posted A Baker’s Dozen Reviews to Look Forward to back in March, and I hate to admit that I haven’t finished the list just yet! Here’s my progress so far:

  • Read:
    How to be a Bad Bitch by Amber Rose
    The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
    Raising Confident Girls by Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer
    Me, My Hair, and I edited by Elizabeth Benedict

I’ve actually loved all of the books that I’ve read off of this list so far, which is impressive! Yet another reason to pick back up on this list.

  • Unread:
    Bossypants by Tina Fey
    What You Really Really Want by Jaclyn Friedman
    An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison
    Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
    In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens by Alice Walker
    Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
    The Rose that Grew from Concrete by Tupac Shakur
    This is Chick Lit edited by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
    This is Not Chick Lit edited by Elizabeth Merrick

Damn, I’m batting 4:9… not my best work by far. I do look forward to quite a few of these. What with them all being in my possession, I have no real reason not to plunge headfirst into my list, but I won’t lie to y’all. I’m not going to go straight through this list, though I will get through it this year at some point.

Happy reading,
Scarlett Peterson

Exciting Things

 I’m deep in Season four of OITNB because it’s pretty amazing, so I don’t have a review ready for you yet. I will say, I’m loving Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior so far. 

 
Also, LOOK WHAT CAME IN THE MAIL! I’m so excited to read it next. 

I’ll be giving a totally honest review, worry not about freebies etc. clouding my judgement. 

  

Goodreads Giveaways

This morning I woke up to an exciting email… I won a Goodreads.com book giveaway! 

 
I’m pretty excited to read this memoir about mothers and daughters, and I love that I won something in my favorite genre! It’s not everyday that you win a giveaway, so I’m sitting here happily thinking about the now four books that are headed my way in the mail. It’s a happy, happy thing.