Audacious Book Club Book Reviews

March 29, 2021 Uncategorized 8 ★★★★

I’ve been enjoying Roxane Gay’s Audacious Book Club author discussions a lot. However, it’s led me to read books outside my comfort zone, which are harder to review. Roxane Gay’s brilliant discussions with the authors have only made me feel less competent to discuss these books properly. I am going to attempt some reviews, however, both because I think these are fascinating books that deserve to be discussed and because I’m finding it easier to parse my own thoughts after letting some time pass.

Audacious Book Club Book ReviewsTitle: Black Futures
Author: Kimberly Drew, Jenna Wortham
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

This collection of forward-looking, introspective work by Black creatives is the only nonfiction the book club has read so far. It’s also the book closest to something I’d have picked up on my own. With the large pages and full-color images, it felt a little too much like a coffee table book to make my list. I’ve found that many coffee-table books don’t have enough text to hold my interest. They’re also often awkward to read because they’re so large. This book only suffered from the second of those problems. At 500+ pages, it was a real handful! The contents were incredible though. I felt like I was walking though a museum with a knowledgeable curator. The book was divided into thematic sections, with different artworks and essays building on one another to make me think more deeply on a given topic. Each entry was then linked to two or three other entries, often from other sections. This cross-talk added even more depth, bringing together ideas I’d only ever considered separately, if at all. This is one of those special books that can make you see the world in a new way and reading it was a unique, enjoyable experience.

Audacious Book Club Book ReviewsTitle: Detransition, Baby
Author: Torrey Peters
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

This book didn’t appeal to me because it sounded too contemporary and messy and that’s how I feel about it after reading it too. The premise is that Ames, who has detransitioned to live as a man, has just found out that his boss/lover is pregnant. He’s nervous about being a father and wants to raise the baby with both his lover and his ex, a trans woman who cut him off when he detransistioned. As you can see from the description – messy! These are some complicated relationships with a lot of baggage. The writing was wonderful. The characters had a ton of depth and their back stories were masterfully blended with the current events of their lives. I admire the author for using fiction to explore some topics that are hard to discuss, either among trans women, with cis people, or both. I certainly agree that trans characters shouldn’t have to be perfect and like that the author let her characters be messily human. There should be enough stories about trans people that one story doesn’t carry the weight of representing all trans people to the world and therefore having to only show trans people as perfect. However, take all mention of being trans from this book description, and it still would feel too messy to me. I’m someone who likes to live a well-ordered life myself and I just don’t love reading a plot driven by people not having their shit together. It makes the drama feel contrived. I also don’t love reading contemporary stories that aren’t romance. If I’m going to read something that’s not escapist, but about people facing difficult challenges in their lives, I prefer to do that through nonfiction. Long story short, I think this was a great book that just didn’t work for me.

Audacious Book Club Book ReviewsTitle: The Removed
Author: Brandon Hobson
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

This last book club book wouldn’t have made my list because it begins with the death of a teenager, Ray-Ray, in a police shooting, then picks up with the family to show how they’re still affected by their grief 15 years later. That’s pretty dark for me! And, as I mentioned above, I prefer to tackle tough topics in nonfiction. In this case, though, I’m particularly glad I stepped out of my comfort zone. As with the previous book, we get to know the characters well. We live with them for several days, learning about the life-altering events, daily routines, and relationships that shape who they are. There were also some supernatural elements I loved. There’s a light hint of something ghostly and hopeful happening as Ray-Ray’s mother takes in a foster child who bears an uncanny resemblance to Ray-Ray. I’m surprised to find that a second supernatural storyline, bordering on horror, was my favorite part. I don’t typically like horror – I can’t handle graphic violence, but often find that horror without it isn’t scary. This book got the psychological horror element just right. One story line depicted an incredibly creepy locale, rooted in Cherokee myths about the afterlife. It kept me turning pages, sitting on the edge of my seat. The whole book felt like it was on the edge of violence or tragedy, but what actually happened was more unexpected and so much creepier. The chilling atmosphere I experienced reading this book was top notch. I’m not sure the author or other readers are thinking of this as horror, but it really delivered the creepiness I’ve always wanted from that genre.

8 Responses to “Audacious Book Club Book Reviews”

  1. Helen Murdoch

    Sounds like you’re really doing some interesting reading with the Roxanne Gay book club, that’s great! I am also currently reading outside my comfort zone with a book recommended by my daughter. So far so good though.

    • DoingDewey

      I have really enjoyed the experience, both of trying something new and hearing the great discussions other people have around these books. I’m terrible at actually picking up books recommended by other people, but it sounds like a great way to be able to have some fun conversations with your daughter. It’s something I’d like to do more of πŸ™‚

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Liz! I really admire Roxane Gay’s ability to analyze pop culture and current events that intersect with tough topics, so I’m willing to read pretty much any book she suggests when I can then hear her discuss them with the author πŸ™‚

  2. Heather

    Very cool. I’ve been wanting to jump into Roxane Gay’s book club. Great reviews. And I’m very excited about The Removed! I love horror and knowing now there’s a bit in that one makes me wanna dive on in. Thank you.
    Heather recently posted…Spring Into Horror 2021My Profile

    • DoingDewey

      I definitely recommend the book club! I think she’s just switched to where you can only attend the author events if you’re paying the $5 subscription fee, but I think it’s well worth it. I hope you enjoy The Removed at least as much as I did if you pick it up πŸ™‚

  3. Jenna @ Falling Letters

    I’ve just caught up on reading your recent posts, though I don’t have anything particular to say so I thought I would just leave a wee comment saying I enjoyed your gardening memoirs reviews and this post as well. Lots of new-to-me books!
    Jenna @ Falling Letters recently posted…March 2021 Month In ReviewMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks so much! I’ve been terribly behind on reading posts and responding to comments and it’s really nice to come across your comment as I’m getting caught up. I hope you’re doing well πŸ™‚

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