From Publishers Weekly
Thirty-seven writers, ranging from veterans to neophytes, followed one rule for this anthology: each story had to be told in the first person. Aiming to offer "insight into the life of the outsider," these pieces reveal idiosyncratic and often disaffected worldviews; the main characters are struggling, troubled, intelligent observers of life's darker sides. In Charles Anders's "I Am So Smart," the lovelorn narrator thinks of his female crush, "You're all the genders I want to be naked with." In the comic "Love Boat and Lingerie" by Cara Bruce, the eponymous narrator recalls a bra-shopping (or shoplifting, rather) expedition when she was 14, high as a kite and questioning her sexuality: "I was now convinced that PCP made you gay." One of the collection's more shocking pieces is "The Shitty Schoolgirl" by Lisa Archer, in which a Ph.D. student blithely recounts defecating on blissful clients for fistfuls of cash. There are numerous short takes: Bee Lavender's haunting "The Theory of Maternal Impression," about a terrible and rare cancer and the historical implications of being considered a freak; Shawna Kennedy's cursory "Shiny Baubles," about bulimia and an abusive relationship; and Eileen Myles's potent "Liquid Sky," concerning the devastating effects of alcoholism. J.T. Leroy's "When to Be a Girl" is quick and rough, full of sharply portrayed angst and the palpable fear of not fitting in. Though wildly uneven, the collection is bound to make a splash with readers seeking edgy fiction.
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Life on the fringe, up close and perhaps too personal--that's what this compilation offers: 37 first-person fictional testimonies, edited by gothy, punkish Catalyst, a self-described degenerate, and Tea, author of the Lambda Award-winning dyke drama, Valencia
(2000). Laurie Stone constructs flash-fiction from listing what she likes, including tension, shoplifting, cruelty, fear, the smell of semen, and mother's milk. Horehound Stillpoint writes of fear, dropping acid, and unlikely connection. Dennis Cooper reverts to 1970s glam-scene drugs and clubs, especially the one he calls Rodney's English Disco, frequented by the famous, the soon-to-be-famous, and their groupies, who all treated it as rather a brothel. Uniting these earnest, energetic stories is loosely knit, coming-of-age reverence toward experience for its own sake and the ephemeral, married to in-your-face arrogance and a zest for life that's hard to resist. Readers will, of course, inevitably like some selections more than others. Whitney ScottCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved