Elissa Washuta is white and Native, bipolar, and lost her virginity to rape. Her first book, My Body is a Book of Rules, is a modern coming-of-age memoir that reaches into these tangles of the body and mind through American pop culture. “I didn’t want to create just a rape memoir, or a bipolar memoir, just a memoir of one small segment of my life,” she says. “Everything I have experienced has been so intertwined.”
Author Ariel Gore, the long-time publisher of Hip Mama, has a new memoir about the death of her mother.
Like many, people I discovered writer Ariel Gore when another mother handed me her beloved first edition of The Hip Mama Survival Guide. She said something like, “Here, you’ll need this.” And she was right.
Bird of Paradise is a charming, engaging memoir from hip-hop journalist Raquel Cepeda that mixes emotional personal history with a reporter's quest to decipher her racial identity. Officially released today, it's a great read.
Cepeda is one of a handful of women who were prominent in the glory days of hip hop journalism. Feminist hip hop fans will recognize her name from the masthead of Russell Simmons' now-defunct One World, and as the editor of the anthology And It Don't Stop: The Best American Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years.
In the first part of the book, we get to watch Cepeda grow up in New York City, the daughter of two immigrants from the Dominican Republic. A child of divorce who finds community with Latinos and African Americans as hip hop's progenitors, Cepeda is a tomboy who inherits her farther's sarcasm. Even as she takes tennis and piano lessons, young Cepeda is not shy about cursing out anyone who crosses her. Her infrequent vulgarity, just like her Spanglish, is delightful to read.
Trans icon Kate Bornstein's memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The true story of a nice Jewish boy who joins the Church of Scientology and leaves twelve years later to become the lovely lady she is today, shines a bright, unflinching light on self-image, gender, and life on the far edge of the fringe.
Jeanette Winterson is probably the most quotable author I have ever read, especially for those of us who live passionately, love obsessively, and believe that art can (and will) change the world. If you ever want a cool literary tattoo just read one of her books—you are sure to find some kind of quote that resonates. With the release of her memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? in October (in the U.K—official U.S release date is March 2012), the harsh reality of Winterson's upbringing stand out even more starkly against the layers of her non-linear, heavily metaphorical, fictional work.
Chaz Bono's new memoir, Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man, co-written with Billie Fitzpatrick, brims with candid emotion. It covers his entire life so far, and as the title implies, it frequently comes back to Chaz's lifelong discomfort with being thought to be female and his gradual acceptance of himself as a trans guy. Unfortunately, it's also full of sexist statements about who men and women can be.
I am in awe of feminist author and activist Dorothy Allison.
Born in South Carolina in 1949 and now living in California, Allison has attracted numerous accolades in the last thirty years for her six published books. (They include Lambda Literary Awards, ALA Awards for Lesbian and Gay Writing and a ridiculous number of others.) She is the rare writer to reach, in my opinion, wonderful heights in nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, though her two already-released full-length novels, Bastard Out of Carolina and Cavedweller, are her most famous works.