Margins and Murmurations by Otter Lieffe

Ahhh that moment when a self-published title blows you away! Otter Lieffe's novel Margins and Murmurations was fantastic. It offers diverse queer characters, dystopia, a bit of time travel, and resistance. This novel was super disconcerting because as Lieffe builds this dystopian world for the reader, you realize it has way too many real parallels to our current world. So you get social commentary as a natural part of the world-building. There's a hint of utopia as well: Before the State took control, this society had embraced and been shaped by all kinds of marginalized people. Glimpses of how wonderful that would be gave me hope. Speaking of hope, I have to mention the General (Gus). What an interesting, complex character!…

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Review in Quotes: Radical Reads from PM Press

Independent publisher PM Press specializes in "radical and stimulating fiction and nonfiction books" with a leftist (not liberal) bent. I recently enjoyed reading the following two anthologies and went through a ton of post-it flags as I read. Both collections contain essays focusing on families and parenting. I thought I'd share some of my favorite quotes from each, because they best represent how awesome and intersectional each of these titles are. Revolutionary Mothering - Love on the Front Lines edited by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens, and Mai'a Williams This anthology "centers mothers of color and marginalized mothers’ voices" because "the challenges faced by movements working for anti-violence, anti-imperialist, and queer liberation, as well as racial, economic, reproductive, gender, and food justice…

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Beyond Trans by Heath Fogg Davis

When I'm highlighting furiously in the introduction alone, I know things are going to be good! Beyond Trans was fantastic. It's intersectional, radical, and incredibly thought-provoking. Heath Fogg Davis is a biracial trans man, so set aside any fears of yet another white cisgender person debating trans and non-binary existence. Fogg Davis proposes that removing "bureaucratic administration of sex markers" (whether we're talking about government-issued IDs or college admissions or sports teams) is the only way to achieve gender equality. When we think along the binary (allowing trans people to change that marker from male to female, female to male) we're missing the mark. We're ignoring the root of the problem, and we're still discriminating against gender nonconforming people who don't fit in…

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Brilliant Imperfection by Eli Clare

Able-bodied people, forget everything you think you believe about health and cure and disability politics, grab a copy of Brilliant Imperfection, and listen to Eli Clare. He covers politics, history, ethics, ableism, gender identity, and more; with all the messy, contradictory intersections that cannot be ignored. Clare's prose is dazzling, the way he states his points so beautiful, that this feels like a mix of nonfiction and poetry. I cannot recommend it highly enough!

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Nonfiction November Week 3: Diversity & Nonfiction (Transgender)

Week 3: Becca from Lost in Books asks: What does diversity in nonfiction mean to you? Is it about the topic or theme of the book? Or is it the race or ethnicity of the author? Do you have any recommendations for diverse nonfiction books? Are there any topics that you’d like to see written about and/or read more widely? I've mentioned before that, to me, reading diversely means being brought into the experiences of characters who are different from me. Sometimes this means temporarily setting aside my own lens in order to experience/understand another culture, race, gender, etc. (A Diverse Reader and Her Pilgrimage to Literary Wabi-Sabi). Since the Transgender Day of Remembrance takes place this week (November 20), I thought I'd…

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I’ll Give You Something to Cry About by Jennifer Finney Boylan

My first impression of I'll Give You Something to Cry About was shaky. So many important details about the characters were delivered right off the bat, without much discovery on the part of the reader. It felt a little awkward, and I wondered if the book's short length was part of the problem. This is a novella after all; an ambitious one, tackling multiple themes. The reader needed a good deal of information, quickly. Fortunately, my initial feeling didn't last long. A few pages in, the story smoothed out, found a groove, and I lost myself in Boylan's thoroughly engaging writing style. To say the Rileys are a family in crisis is an understatement. Their lives are messy and riddled with uncertainty.…

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God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines

When I hear the words "gay Christian," I think "theologically liberal." I'm not sure I personally know any conservative evangelicals who are supportive of same-sex relationships. So I was completely surprised when I started reading God and the Gay Christian and discovered it is written from a theologically conservative point of view! Matthew Vines takes a much more literal view of the Bible than, say, a progressive Christian would. This becomes the book's greatest strength, because Vines had to be especially meticulous in his research, which is demonstrated throughout the book, complete with plenty of notes. He believes "our understanding of Scripture can be wrong," that "our fallibility as human interpreters is precisely why" we need "to study the issue more closely"…

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Stuck in the Middle with You by Jennifer Finney Boylan

I read Jennifer Finney Boylan's memoir She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders years ago and was quite moved by it. I was excited to receive an advance copy of her new memoir, Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders, which releases later this month. Boylan's voice is kind, open-hearted, and never judgmental. There is a touching example of this right away, in the memoir's first several pages. Boylan is not a radical, militant activist; she's not trying to win our approval. She is simply herself. No matter how different the reader may feel he/she is from the author, it quickly becomes apparent that we and our families are all "nontraditional" in our own way;…

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