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reading tiger

Reading Wednesday has Nothing Clever To Say

Many years ago, when I was still an intern at Girlfriends Magazine, I was assigned Hilton Als' first book to review. I remember being favorably impressed by The Women, if occasionally feeling a bit over my head. Maybe not so much the book itself as trying to sum it up (and its appeal to a lesbian audience) in a capsule review; it's hard to remember, now. I do recall thinking that I might be a bit young for his writing, which is odd now that I know I am only about 10 years younger than he is. It might have been a reaction to the book's deep queerness, including that aspect of queerness that elevates dead art forms -- opera, black-and-white (and silent) cinema, etc. -- and dead eras, and mythologizes (and de-mythologizes) the figures that make that art and inhabit those eras. But regardless, I put Als on my radar as a result of that first book, which I would probably never have stumbled across otherwise.

Now I am reading White Girls, which I've been saving for the right moment. I just got through the short Truman Capote piece this morning and moved well into the Flannery O'Connor essay. I am once again captivated. Part of what is captivating is precisely what I struggled with the first time I encountered his writing -- the difficulty of summing up Als' project in capsule form. The thematic/lyrical organization of his material and the need to read it all and read it closely for the project to make sense.

Also, I no longer feel a little bit too young for the book. Now that I am no longer a white girl (emphasis on the last word, not the first), perhaps?