Monday, September 29, 2008

A review of So Many Ways from the Skinny in Scotland!

Yay -- the article is lovely -- it describes the book as:
a blistering rollercoaster through one individual's experiences and dreams, set against the backdrop of queer San Francisco in the early part of this decade. It was written in two-paragraph bursts when fibromyalgia made typing, or even holding a pen, a painful task for Mattilda. The novel careens along with a fragmentary zest - never coming apart completely even though thoughts, interactions and stories speed past in a blur of racing, disjointed narrative. Seemingly endless encounters with tricks, phone calls from friends that offer occasionally bittersweet insight into their lives, open relationships that seem like they should work even as they drift away, addictions to hooking up for sex over Craigslist, dancing to pounding beats, sex, sex, and more sex, coping with rebellious bodies and constant pain and the memories of sexual abuse, and random moments of shared understanding with strangers on the bus: they all flow over each other. All the while, we're treated to a contemporary landscape of fragmentation: the spectre of war post-9/11 and the futility of the peace demos; a 'gay community' that seems to be absent outside a collection of friends; and meanwhile the narrator’s apartment is taken over by mice, pigeons, rats, and a collection of cockroaches that seem to be fond of the electric toothbrush. Like life, the novel never seems to know where it's going, but keeps on pulsing forward, always bustling, although its consistent narrative style makes it feel more like swimming against the stream.

But then only dead fish go with the flow.

Mattilda has taken a snapshot from the start of this decade, straight from the voices of queer realities in San Francisco, and distilled it into a glorious rant about surviving and dealing with life. With all this said, the book is never depressing. The narrator never dips into self-pity and even though the book is certainly shocking, it is also at times extremely touching, and often hilarious.

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