Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-02-21
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

BOOK REVIEW So Many Ways to Sleep Badly
2008-10-22

facebook twitter del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Written by Mattilda

Bernstein Sycamore

$15.95; City Lights Publishing; 246 pages

REVIEW BY YASMIN NAIR

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's brilliant new novel, So Many Ways to Sleep Badly, is either about the end of queer politics or its beginning. It's either a record of how dismal the contemporary gay movement has become with its relentless pursuit of assimilation or about the possibility for a politics that challenges the same. But mostly, it's about a character named Mattilda who lives in San Francisco, turns tricks, protests the mainstreaming of gay politics and our wars, calls shoplifting 'bargain shopping' and lives with mice she can't bear to kill.

Willie Brown, a former mayor of San Francisco, once intoned with raw heartlessness, 'If you can't afford to live in San Francisco, you should leave.' San Francisco's reputation as a gay Mecca was cemented in 2003 when current Mayor Gavin Newsom granted gay-marriage licenses. Thousands of gay couples see him as their friend. But, as activist groups like Gay Shame ( of which our heroine is a member ) have shown, Newsom's political ascendancy came through anti-homeless policies like his 2002 initiative Care Not Cash, which cut homeless people's allowances from $322 to $59 a month. The feel-good liberal politics of 'marriage equality' shields the effects of gentrification.

Mattilda and her friends can barely afford to live here, but they persist. They keep relentlessly protesting gentrification and the war, and keep getting arrested and beaten for their actions. Mattilda seems addicted to the city. When a friend announces he might move to New York ( all pronouns are indeterminate ) , she's stunned: 'Zan says he's moving to New York, a vortex opened up after 9-11 and people finally treat each other well, all these amazing things are happening. Is she doing drugs?'

Life in Mattilda's apartment is in perpetual chaos, and she lives with mice and roaches with whom she's reached an uneasy accord. On the roaches, she writes, 'I see them crawling out of my speakers and unfurling dangerous flags, one of them grows so big it takes up half the kitchen, excuse me I need to do the dishes.' Her body keeps betraying her with pain; her migraines hurt; and the news on television and radio makes her physically sick: 'There's another anti-war demo on Saturday and I'm feeling the new P'n'P: powerless and paranoid.' Even in the midst of a perpetual meltdown, she transmits the absurdity and hope and agony of the world around her with astonishing clarity.

NPR plays constantly here, its innocuous bits and pieces forming the soundtrack to these strange times: 'On NPR they're interviewing the woman who invented new ways to slaughter cows. She knows how they feel, which … means they're happy. She's autistic, once she was incapacitated but now she's a success story: every day she gets up to perfect the methods of murder.' This is the ( neo ) liberal world where understanding and knowing how it must feel to die makes up for the killing.

Can Mattilda survive? Are things reaching a breaking point? Her friend Ralowe calls about what feels like the end of a friendship: 'I used to feel like Benjamin and I could have these conversations about race and identity and living in the world. I felt like we had this closeness because we've experienced trauma and alienation in similar ways and now she's telling me that never happened … ' This is personal, yes, but it's also about the possible death of political connection. So Many Ways could be a preachy tome about San Francisco but it's instead an effortless and very funny sashay into the depths of a city that doesn't bother reconciling its contradictions.

This is neither a hopeful book nor a pessimistic one; it's an exhilarating one. You could leave feeling frightened by the vision of a sexy gay world that pays no heed to the destruction around it. Or you could exult, as I do, in the revelations offered here.

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore will appear in Chicago Tuesday, Oct. 28, 7:30 p.m., at the Bookslut Reading Series at Hopleaf ( second floor ) at 5148 N. Clark; and Wed., Oct. 29, at 7:30 p.m. at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark.


facebook twitter del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

NUNN ON ONE MOVIES David Levithan brings 'A' game in new movie 2018-02-21
BOOK REVIEW Every Day 2018-02-21
BOOKS Jerry Miller talks abuse, addiction in 'The Day the Rain Came Down' 2018-02-18
BOOK REVIEW Juliet Takes a Breath 2018-02-14
BOOKS Salman Rushdie on 'The Golden House,' LGBT subplot, global issues 2018-02-13
Woodward, Bernstein talk about Nixon, Trump and Watergate at NEIU 2018-02-13
2018 Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature Award winners named 2018-02-13
NEW REPORT A Path to Victory in 2018, HRC and the Power of the Equality Voter 2018-02-02
Gerber/Hart seeks new board members as board prez steps down 2018-01-31
NUNN ON ONE: BOOKS Gregory Kramer unveils drag reel 2018-01-31
BOOKS Patrisse Khan-Cullors reflects on helping to start Black Lives Matter 2018-01-31
Vatican removes images of same-sex couples from resource booklet 2018-01-30
Local drag revue benefits Gerber/Hart 2018-01-23
Norman Sandfield to speak on book "Awa Tsireh: Pueblo Painter & Metalsmith" 2018-01-19
Black Lives Matter co-founder Cullors in Chicago Jan. 23 2018-01-15
Public Newsroom Workshop to share findings on Chicagoans' media perceptions 2018-01-10
BOOK REVIEW Tell: Love, Defiance, and the Military... 2018-01-10
BOOK REVIEW Seven Suspects 2018-01-03
Sessions to put trans stories in spotlight 2018-01-03
BOOKS Best readings of 2017 2018-01-02
BOOK REVIEW Conversations with Edmund White 2017-12-20
BOOK REVIEW Tarantella 2017-12-20
BOOK REVIEW Hunger by Roxane Gay 2017-12-13
BOOK REVIEW Surpassing Certainty By Janet Mock 2017-12-13
BOOK REVIEW Transitioning Together 2017-12-06
BOOKS The random history of Judy Wieder 2017-12-05
Vibrators and Vino: Feminist Evening with Vibrator Nation author Lynn Comella 2017-11-30
MOMBIAN 2017 gift guide to books for LGBTQ families 2017-11-29
THEATER REVIEW The Book of Will 2017-11-29
BOOK REVIEW The Hope Store 2017-11-29
BOOK REVIEW The Vampire's Protege 2017-11-29
The Reindeer Conundrum Part Five 2017-11-22
The Reindeer Conundrum Part Four 2017-11-22
The Reindeer Conundrum Part Three 2017-11-22
The Reindeer Conundrum Part Two 2017-11-22
The Reindeer Conundrum: Part One 2017-11-22
World news: Olympic resolution, 'LGBTQ Poland' book, Canada's apology 2017-11-20
Engaging Prospective Transgender, Non-Binary Foster and Adoptive Parents, a new guide 2017-11-16
World news: Theologian, Gaydar co-founder die, crocodile hunter 2017-11-14
Change Over Time Journal calls for LGBTQ papers 2017-11-14
 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.