Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer (NetGalley review). Visionary Weirdness.

I suspect that a great many readers will not appreciate the dense language and the non-linear structure a this loose prequel to Borne. Borne, for all of its hallucinogenic qualities, has a fairly straight forward plot that could be turned into a film, albeit one by Jodorowsky. Dead Astronauts, though, revels in its textuality. It can’t be filmed. Though it’s an ecological science fiction novel that plays with theoretical concepts like Time Travel and parallel Earths, it operates with dream logic. Vandermeer plays games with typography (though not in a House of Leaves way; it’s more like the beginning of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye with its use of repetition and claustrophobic line spacing) that underscore the surrealistic nature of book. The novel—prose poem?— is closer tone to Delany’s DHALGREN or even Lautremont’s Le Chants de Maldoror. This kind of visionary writing—full of beautiful nightmarish imagery—is one of my favorite forms of fiction. I hope it finds the right audience. 

BOOK REVIEW: Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene by Gerald H. Gaskin. A peak inside a magical subculture.

Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom SceneLegendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene by Gerald H. Gaskin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Legendary is a gorgeous photography book that chronicles the vibrant underground Ballroom Scene. Gaskin captures black and Latino gay men in their finery. Their outfits exist somewhere beyond couture. They transform themselves into ephemeral creatures of their own imaginations. The balls themselves, held in NYC, DC and other urban areas, are alternate dimensions, where you can let your freak flags fly. Gender warriors become proud peacocks in bold colors. The sheer beauty of these photographic compositions are astounding. Gaskin has created a visual feast that reveals this magical subculture.

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