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Drawing Blood Hardcover – December 1, 2015

4.7 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“The book reads like a notebook of New York, a cultural history of a certain set. Filtered through her eyes, we see 9/11, the aftermath of the crash, Occupy Wall Street, Hurricane Sandy and onward... [Crabapple is] a new model for this century’s young woman. (New York Times Book Review)

“Celebrated New York journalist Crabapple is also one of America’s best, most original artists. Her memoir tells the story of her remarkable life, from her days modeling for Suicide Girls to her groundbreaking Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School and her work with Occupy Wall Street.” (Men’s Journal)

“Hers is a story of art as liberation…Molly detects the bright and beautiful as well as she does the dark and fearful in the world not just because her eye is keen, but also because her eyes are so wide open.” (Alana Massey, Buzzfeed Books)

“Among the book’s delights are the frequent examples of her work, from jittery sketches to lush, colorful paintings — both words and images are the product of a keen eye and devastating pen.” (Boston Globe)

“Jaw dropping, awe inspiring, and not afraid to shock, Crabapple is a punk Joan Didion, a young Patti Smith with paint on her hands, a twenty-first century Sylvia Plath. There’s no one else like her; prepare to be blown away by both the words and pictures.” (Booklist (starred review))

Drawing Blood is packed with enough energy and edge to make Patti Smith’s Just Kids seem like a field trip to Disneyland…Candid, earthy, romantic, funny, omnivorous... A portrait of a tough woman winning (finally) in a tough profession in the toughest of cities” (Shelf Awareness)

“Crabapple is smart and wicked and wicked smart, a master of imagery and perception, and so her art always works on multiple levels. So too the book. She’s not afraid to provide contradictory thoughts and feelings. Drawing Blood might be the sexiest thing you read this year.” (Daily Beast)

“Lavishly illustrated, the book offers a candid portrayal of an artist’s journey to self-knowledge and fulfillment.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Artist, writer, and activist Crabapple was compelled from a young age by the need to draw because it gives her a sense of self worth. Her struggles as an impoverished artist are rendered here in raw, vivid prose, accompanied by her arresting illustrations.” (Publishers Weekly)

“This beautiful book, generously graced with so many illustrations, is artfully designed and fun to browse for the images alone…But Crabapple’s tight, vibrant, jabbing prose, and prescient asides are the reason to buy this work. Her narrative is well-crafted, expertly told, and completely compelling.” (Seattle Times Book Review)

“Using illustrations to bolster the written material, Drawing Blood, out now, is a more intimate memoir than we’re used to seeing, one that is blazingly honest and unafraid to offer up something real to chew on.” (Paper Magazine)

“Artist Molly Crabapple delivers a violently felt and intimately revealing memoir.” (Book Riot)

“Hands down, the best book I’ve read all year…an incredible book that has everyone talking… This raw, unrepentant memoir sheds light on Molly Crabapple’s early career, her first forays into reporting, and her tireless quest to improve as an artist. The lavish illustrations are just the icing on the cake.” (Heavy.com)

“Molly Crabapple’s pen is a scalpel, and she’s not afraid to turn the blade on herself. Beautifully excruciating.” (Patton Oswalt)

“Molly Crabapple could be this generation’s Charles Bukowski. She’s a great artist whose life is also a work of art.” (Matt Taibbi)

“In a few short years, Molly Crabapple has proved to be one of the most determined and effective political artists working in these sorry times. I wish there were a hundred or even two or three like her.” (Joe Sacco)

“Molly writes like she draws: the spare lines have a reporter’s keen accuracy, but can barely contain the boisterous, messy, soulful life splashing about within. Inspiring, intimate, and just a bit intimidating, this book is a must.” (Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and writer-director of The Avengers)

“Molly Crabapple is turn by turn irreverent, respectful, enraged and then trembling with awe, and all of this is a tender meditation on the power of art to transform a singular life into one that can be emblematic for us all: powerful and magical.” (Chris Abani, author of The Secret History of Las Vegas and GraceLand)

“Molly Crabapple writes that her ‘pen is a lockpick,’ and with it she has revealed truths about life, culture, and politics in America that are compelling, artistic, and memorable-as is this revealing new memoir. An engaging read by one of the nation’s most gifted activists.” (Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy)

From the Back Cover

“Molly Crabapple could be this generation’s Charles Bukowski. She’s a great artist whose life is also a work of art.”—Matt Taibbi

In language that is fresh, visceral, and deeply moving—and with illustrations that are irreverent and gorgeous—here is a memoir that will change the way you think about art, sex, politics, and survival in our times.

From a young age, Molly Crabapple had the eye of an artist and the spirit of a radical. After a restless childhood on New York’s Long Island, she left America to see Europe and the Near East, a young artist plunging into unfamiliar cultures, notebook always in hand, drawing what she observed.

Returning to New York City just before 9/11 to study art, she posed nude for sketch artists and sketchy photographers, danced burlesque, and modeled for the world-famous Suicide Girls. Frustrated with the academy and the conventional art world, she eventually landed a post as house artist at Simon Hammerstein’s legendary nightclub the Box, the epicenter of decadent Manhattan nightlife before the financial crisis of 2008. There she had a ringside seat for the pitched battle between the bankers of Wall Street and the entertainers who walked among them—a scandalous, drug-fueled circus of mutual exploitation that she captured in her tart and knowing illustrations. Then, after the crash, a wave of protest movements—from student demonstrations in London to Occupy Wall Street in her own backyard—led Molly to turn her talents to a new form of witness journalism, reporting from places such as Guantánamo, Syria, Rikers Island, and the labor camps of Abu Dhabi. Using both words and artwork to shed light on the darker corners of the American empire, she has swiftly become one of the most original and galvanizing voices on the cultural stage.

Now, with the same blend of honesty, fierce insight, and indelible imagery that is her signature, Molly offers her own story: an unforgettable memoir of artistic exploration, political awakening, and personal transformation.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (December 1, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062323644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062323644
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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“Art was a stranger making eyes through the smoke of a foreign dive bar”

Drawing Blood is such an engaging read that I couldn’t put the book down until I had devoured all of its contents and yet, there were so many lines and passages to savor and to reread, so many artworks by Molly to let your eyes linger over. This may not be an art catalogue but it’s probably the most beautifully illustrated memoir I’ve ever read. Some passages I had read in the reviews or articles by Molly over the past week but they were even more enjoyable the second time around placed in context and elaborated on more fully.

I came to Molly’s work after she was both writing and creating visual works of art. She seemed so established, so sure by the time I encountered both her writing and her artworks that it was good to get the backstory on her journey as an artist and a writer. I’ve never had the privilege of meeting Molly or attending an exhibition of her work but she and many of the characters in her book seem so familiar as part of my mental landscape that in some ways reading the book was like visiting distant friends and filling in all the gaps of what they’ve been up to between the various stories they’ve told you, you heard about, or read in their Facebook posts.
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Format: Hardcover
Over a year ago, Vanity Fair published a report from the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. Its Syrian correspondent, for fear of his life, remained anonymous. He sent photos of his city via cellphone. From these, the New York City native who goes by Molly Crabapple sketched intricate drawings, in her typical style of gracefully delineated shapes and wavering people. Out of digital images, Crabapple evoked illustrations hearkening back to a Victorian era when artists filled the news with detailed, lively depictions. Yet, Crabapple also infuses her increasingly activist art with innovation.

In Drawing Blood, she narrates, in "sentences at taut as garrotes," her first three decades. For an artist not yet thirty, a memoir may appear precocious. However, she infuses much of her coming-of-age story with fresh insights into the century, so far, from the perspective of a scrappy woman who confronts disorienting scenarios with mixed detachment and sensitivity. "It's a strange blend of disassociation, to stare into another's eyes only to make those eyes into shapes on paper." From an early age, she sketched to escape and to enlighten herself. Born to a Puerto Rican Marxist professor and a Jewish illustrator for children's books and products, she inherited her father's combativeness and her mother's talent. The child of their early divorce, Crabapple found solace in a few friends.

Of one, a Russian immigrant teenager, she recalls their brief bond. "We clung to each other, as bookish young people often do, while waiting out the years until our real life could begin." Schooled more by her self-taught reading in anarchism and the fin-de-siècle and her listening to Kurt Cobain, punk, and Trent Reznor, she soon fled abroad.
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I'm joining the chorus of raves here for Molly Crabapple. I have followed her on Twitter where she writes about peace, civil liberties, and other important issues. I was floored when I first saw her lively drawings of pictures from Guantanamo and of Muslim women. The big debate one can have -- is she a better writer or a better artist? She is superb at both.

Molly was a rebel in school, and as she details that I think the reader will experience sympathy because we all wanted to run out of the building at times even if we were basically obedient. She was not, however. Now she is grown up and still making waves -- and beautiful art.
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DRAWING BLOOD: A MEMOIR by Molly Crabapple, Harper Collins publishers, 2015, 338 pages.

This book was reviewed by The Economist. I bought it on their recommendation. As I started reading I was rather appalled but the more I read the more fascinated I became.
If George Orwell (Eric Blair) had been an adolescent and free-spirited girl who was also extremely candid about her sexuality, he could have written this book. The book reminded me of Orwell’s DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON.
Molly Crabtree is the name the author adopted. It was not her given name. She came from an eccentric but interesting family. Her maternal grandfather was born in a Shetl in Belarus and after arriving in America became a militant Marxist and an artist. He lived his life his way and was not concerned about poverty or convention. Molly’s mother was an artist and a rebel. She married a Puerto Rican, much to the annoyance of her parents. Her father was a rebel and was stuck, most of his life, in menial work. Eventually he became a professor of political science. He loved to argue and taught Molly to argue as well.
As you might expect Molly was a free spirit, artistic and defiant. She hated childhood and never fit in. Her salvation was drawing. It was the one place where she could have some peace of mind and some sense of worth. As an adolescent she traveled the world and was extremely adventurous in her travels and her sexuality. If you want to get an honest look at the dark side of New York, the world and sexuality you will find it here.
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