Book Review: And I Do Not Forgive You

The Review

And I Do Not Forgive You is a 2020 release, and the short story collection from Amber Sparks with the subtitle “and other revenges.” Boy does it live up to that subtitle. At its heart, the collection shows modern people in the quasi-fantastic, mostly-all-too-real world of technology, familial betrayal, and city life. The princesses, kings, and queens which people some of the most fairy-tale-esque of the stories don’t reside in some 1400s Europe that never was– they live now, here, and struggle as we do now, here. A stand-out in that department was “The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines,” where the magical-realist elements meshed so nicely with the themes that I found myself bookmarking it again to read later.

While I didn’t love every story in the collection, I could find myself wanting to read them all again to find new depths. My absolute favorite story was “A Short and Slightly Speculative History of the Lavoisier’s Wife,” which was honestly one of the best short stories I’ve read in a while in terms of form and voice.

In general, the stories have distinct tones and themes, but each shine with a lush mixture of gritty vernacular (“#Bullshit, I said, and you said the #endtimes was no place for #haters”) and taut phrasing.

And I Do Not Forgive You is a collection you’ll want to share and discuss, both for its feminist themes and commentary on modern life as well as for its prose. Brava to Sparks.

The Details

And I Do Not Forgive You: Stories and Other Revenges by Amber Sparks

Publisher: Liveright (February 11, 2020)

Find it on Goodreads, or order on Indiebound or Amazon

Thank you to NetGalley who gave me a free advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

Review: So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo

The Review:

Part memoir and part handbook, Ijeoma Oluo’s new book is not just about talking: it’s about action. Oluo addresses two distinct audiences: people of color and white people who hope to engage in dialogue about race. She makes it clear early on that her book is not some magic cure for white supremacy, but is instead a tool to open doors. Using chapter titles which focus in on key terms in the discussion about race in America (like tone-policing, the school-to-prison pipeline, and intersectionality), she creates an easy to engage with collection of short essays.

Each chapter balances some amount of personal experience with tips for both of her communities. For instance, in her chapter about about natural hair, she not only discusses stories where her personal space was invaded, she explains ways for white people to support black beauty without feeling the need to touch it. Every chapter reinforces the experiences of communities of color facing daily microaggressions while also giving questions to consider for how to improve dialogue.

I read Oluo’s book in less than twenty-four hours. Her direct prose will not apologize and doesn’t want your apologies either (at least if they are just empty words). The chapters are brief enough for a single sitting, or for later reference, but long enough to reflect fully on the topic at hand.

Readers hoping for hand-holding or reassurances that their good intentions are enough should look elsewhere. This book is for today. It recognizes that we all fail, that we are often blind to our privilege, and it suggests a path forward in the final chapter in real and tangible ways that move beyond performative allyship.

Pick up Oluo’s book if you’re looking for ways to steer conversation inside or outside of your racial community, engaging on the internet or in person.

The Details:

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Release date: January 16, 2018 from Seal Press

Add it on Goodreads, or find it on Amazon or Indiebound

Thank you NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Litsy App Review

New social media tool for book discovery and review? Instagram meets Goodreads? Yes, please. Litsy is a book ranking and discovery app (for iOS only at this point) which lets you create ongoing discussions about books you’re reading with other users as well as share bookish pictures.

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Buttons on top decoded: The list button: your timeline— The open book button: your currently reading shelf — The closed book button: your reviewed books

The buttons allow you to see a timeline of the users whose reviews you follow (the house icon), a notifications lightning bolt, a magnifying glass to search for books to add to your shelves, and a fast action button to add a blurb, review, or quote.

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I’ve had the app for, oh, three days? So far, I love it. Going to the page of a book you’re reading and seeing cool pictures, quotes, and status updates all in a single timeline really adds to the fun of reading a book (especially if you’re trying to read Infinite Jest for the first time like I am— and a lot of other people, I discovered!) The blurb and quote feature are much more stylized and in focus than on Goodreads and you can create Instagram-like pictures to go along with them, including frames and filters and all of that fun nonsense.

And really, all that extra noise is a bit of nonsense, as fun as it is. The main point of this app is the connection between users and the incentive to help other readers find good books and to read as much good literature as you can. This number is gamified into a Litfluence total. This total starts at the number 42 (thank you Douglas Adams fans who get the reference and thank you to Litsy for the homage– side note that it is #TowelDay.)

My biggest complaints so far about the app:

  1. No tags. If you’re looking for suggestions for #scifi or #debut or want to read some #ARC reviews, no such luck– you’ve got to know what you’re looking for.
  2. No way (yet) to import your Goodreads reviews (I swear I’ve read more than 26 books…)

Otherwise, it’s good fun. If you’re on there, find me and I’d love to see the reviews you’ve added so far. User name: rachelm. You can leave yours in the comments if you want to connect with others!

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