Lindsay Hunter’s Daddy’s (Featherproof, 210 pages) is a fairly disturbing look at life in a southern rural area, though I think the book probably is meant to depict many rural areas. What the work is able to do, however, is entertain on more than one level through her craftsmanship in voice. The cold, matter-of-factness with which she writes is met in a simultaneous observational sentimentality, which works to then give us an inner clock-working machine we can hear clicking. Have you ever known a girl who has a deadpan sense of humor and this sort of distant manner yet simultaneously is obviously deep in existential thought? That’s what we’re working with here. Continue reading
Vanessa Libertad Garcia’s first book, The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive (Fiat Libertad Co., 92 pages), is a slim volume of 23 short pieces, some of them poems, many of them first-person or third-person vignettes that capture a few minutes or hours of a given character’s “despicable, embarrassing, or repulsive” life.
Gritty and unflinching, the tone of the book is one of desperation and starkness as each character depicted—Marta, a young, disenchanted lesbian; or Diaz Diaz, a gay fashion designer, for example—speaks to us of their heartbreak, alienation, and sometimes of suicidal plans. The personas that Garcia invokes are products of a society that is too fast-paced, too materialistic, and too shallow for twenty-somethings or thirty-somethings trying to find a meaningful niche in life, as they struggle simultaneously to pay bills, be successful in a career, find true love, or simply forge a connection to someone or something outside of themselves that can make their lives fulfilling. Welcome to the underbelly of Los Angeles. Continue reading