Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Speed Reader

By Blake de Pastino, Tracy L. Cooley, Jessica English and Julie Birnbaum

The Bathroom, The Kitchen
by Ellen Lupton and J. Abbott Miller (Princeton Architectural Press, paper, $19.95)

AUGUST 25, 1997:  You'd be amazed how many people out there think that toilets and kitchen sinks are really interesting. And I have to admit, I'm one of them. So, apparently, are Ellen Lupton and J. Abbott Miller, who wrote this book (and curated an accompanying exhibit at MIT) about the design, style and deeper mean-
ings of bathroom and kitchens. Subtitled "A Process of Elimination," this study lambastes the spurious logic of "consumer culture"--the notion that a thing only has value if it can be used up--and it particularly targets streamlining as the ultimate "aesthetic of waste." After looking at all the shitters, refrigerators and kitchen countertops, Lupton and Miller conclude, America seems like an infant who has just discovered his feces, obsessed with his excrement but also panicky about covering it up. If Karl Marx had ever taken home ec, he might have written something a lot like this. (BdeP)

Wild Animals on the Moon
by Naomi Ayala (Curbstone Press, paper, $10.95)

Puerto Rican-born poet Naomi Ayala is fearless in her debut collection of poetry. She writes about cultural pride with succinct description and clarity. Ayala views turmoil through the eyes of the oppressed, strengthening them and offering faith with no signs of weakness. She gives an identity to the unknown immigrant, the faceless woman and the slave kept secretly. Her strong feminine voice is raised to heroism through expressive and courageous writing that takes shape in its truism and is lifted off the page. In Ayala's own words, "My song may be missing/a few fingers & its legs be bandaged up/but it's alive, loud, brave." Her poetry has a body that dances, a rhythm that flows and a voice that demands to be heard. (TLC)

XY Files
by Judith Rafaela and Nancy Fay, eds. (Sherman Asher, cloth, $15)

I took to this collection with an almost disturbing fascination--ritualizing my nightly reading with dog-eared pages, collecting stanzas like fortune cookie papers. After all, it's so rare to find a gender-related compilation that's not about being a woman. XY Files is a self-described "poetic documentary" of the male experience, culled from work by women and men--gay and straight--about love, sex, puberty, boyhood, fathers and sons, his body, myths of masculinity, desire. The collection is skillfully edited: Each chapter begins with a striking haiku or short poem, like "Bronzed Boy" by Daniel Sogen ("The bronze boy/bicycles by/my cock leaps up to look"), an abrupt turn from mostly vignettes of childhood memories into the section "Sex, Love, Oh, Baby." Now my favorite poetry collection on the shelves, XY Files leaves me envious beyond Freud's reckoning. (JE)

The Superlative Man
by Herbert Thomas (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, cloth, $22)

Mild-mannered cub reporter Harvey Gander is sent out to solve the strange set of coincidences revolving around a mysterious caped hero, with the help of his sexy secretary. Somewhere between pulp fiction and a Superman comic, Herbert Thomas' first novel creates an interesting twist on the 1930s detective story. The lighthearted brand of subversive wit evident in this novel's title permeates the story, and the reader is taken through a goofy maze with no shortage of suspense and surprises. Although there are moments when Thomas seems to want to break into heavier questions about true heroism, his characters and plot don't go much beyond cartoon figures. The Superlative Man can be clumsy at times--more a comic strip adventure than a literary adventure--but it's too clever not to be entertaining the whole way through. (JB)

--Blake de Pastino, Tracy L. Cooley, Jessica English and Julie Birnbaum

Weekly Wire Suggested Links

Page Back Last Issue Current Issue Next Issue Page Forward

Books: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Weekly Wire    © 1995-99 DesertNet, LLC . Weekly Alibi . Info Booth . Powered by Dispatch