Patti Smith Writes About Nothing in M Train…So she writes.

Patti Smith, M Train

Patti Smith spoke at a church in Berkeley and did an impromptu musical performance. Her self-deprecating humor was exquisitely charming. Her book, M Train, is about nothing. Really, on page one, first paragraph, first sentence, she writes, “It’s not so easy writing about nothing.” (Smith, 1). I devoured M Train. I was on vacation in New Mexico reading it, at my Aunt’s ranch, sitting on the porch, drinking coffee out of my deceased Uncle’s mug. Everything felt so connected, so immediately relevant. And yet, I suspect I would relate to this book and connect everything wherever I was while reading it.

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Death-A-versaries: The Annual Mourning of Seedy Wofford

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Last week I started to feel numb. I realized I was feeling off and couldn’t figure out why. And then, it clicked. Clay’s death-a-versary. This is the third year since he died. And I’m horrible at dates. I can’t remember people’s birthdays. I never know anniversaries when I’m dating someone. I never bother to pay attention. So why would I remember a death-a-versary? But my body knows. My body mourns and reminds me of the great loss of the weirdest, coolest, most annoying, most awesome person, Clay Wofford, aka CD Wofford, aka, Seedy Wofford.

And of course, this day reminds me of the deterioration of his body and mind. And subsequently, the deterioration of our friendship. For years after we broke up, we remained friends. We were in weekly contact: at some points, daily contact.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates’ New History in Between the World and Me

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Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote Between the World and Me as a letter to his fifteen year old son growing into a black man in America. This letter, is 152 pages long. Because this work feels precisely like a letter, it results almost in guilt while reading it because you feel all the love and pain and anguish and anger that Coates experiences and expresses to his son. These are emotions that aren’t generally shared when writing about American history.* Books about history can induce anger, frustration, and guilt, but those are experienced by the reader, and not outright expressed by the writer. Why? Because we were told that history is what actually existed. We do not learn until later that history alters by who is telling the history, who is the writer, the “academic.” And so these “history” books we read growing up, are very one-sided, and of course, emotions are removed, falsely assuming objectivity. But how are they objective when they are only telling one version?

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More Great Book Scores at the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library Booksale

 

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Another year, another Friends of the San Francisco Public Library booksale. This year was different though. I received a VIP pass, so I was invited to go for the member day, when it was closed to the riff raff (me, every other day). I went around five, and everything was still so clean and pristine. People were everywhere, books piled high, similar editions grouped into large stacks, and so many clean almost brand-new editions.

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Women, Explain Things to Me. Rebecca Solnit and the Feminists who Talk

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It seemed everywhere I went I saw Rebecca Solnit‘s Men Explain Things to Me. Having recently read Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist and finding a kindred soul in Gay, I was excited to read this new essay that gestated the term “mansplaining.”

The essay which gives the collection its title, Men Explain Things to Me, is quite short. In it Solnit recalls a conversation with a man. She is telling him about a book she wrote when the man interrupts her to tell her about a seminal book on the same subject released that summer… And it’s her book but he is too daft to realize it, nor has he read this book he is telling her about. Solnit uses this incident to explore this phenomena of men explaining things to women that women already know. And of men telling women what is right (most often regarding our bodies).

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