Two authors with back-to-back readings at Women & Children First bookstore next week both explore womanhood and sexuality in very different ways.
“Action: A Book about Sex”
By Amy Rose Spiegel
On Tuesday, July 26 at 7 p.m., Amy Rose Spiegel will read from “Action: A Book about Sex,” which The Guardian has called “a candid guide to 21st-century sexual politics.”
Spiegel is a confident sexual being who acts like a caring, explicit older friend
who wants you to succeed in all the things. She gives her readers ample reason to trust her, dutifully and entertainingly recalling past flings and relationships, what worked well, what didn’t. Some of her advice—fill your schedule with things you love, make eye contact—she admits, “I know, I sound like a horny women’s magazine—just go with it.” But she strays far from typical “Cosmo”-land in her book full of queer acceptance, praises for consent talks and STI testing, and seeing sexual encounters as much more than a fantasy or a way of “keeping your man.”
Spiegel is funny, straightforward (albeit wordy), and deep. Yes, deep. In “Action: A Book About Sex,” the main topic is scrutinized as it should be—not only as an intricate part of our personal lives, but also a powerful part of our cultural identities.
by Deborah Levy
On Wednesday July 27, Deborah Levy will read from her sixth novel, “Hot Milk.”
From a picture of the galaxy on a cracked laptop screen, Sofia Papastergiadis’s world contracts and expands, and we get clued in piece by piece. The novel unfolds in first person from the perspective of Sofia, an anthropologist with an unfinished thesis who’s working at a coffee shop and taking care of her sick mother, Rose.
“Hot Milk” is set in Spain, where the two women have traveled from their home in Britain to visit a bone clinic in hopes that a specialist can explain why Rose has trouble walking.
The narrative seems like it ought to revolve around the mother/daughter relationship, but instead that becomes just a component of the story. Sofia lacks ambition and observes life instead of tasting it. The book ambles along through Sofia’s inquisitive observations, building speed with sentences full of desire and burning questions, then whispering something thoughtful that works like a pause. It’s easy to get lost in Sofia’s head. And Sofia gets lost trying to figure out others. Of her mother, she asks, “What is her body supposed to want and who is it supposed to please and is it ugly or is it something else?”
Just as Sofia seems stuck, she “gets bolder.” She changes the rhythm of her own life and, with it, other’s lives. Levy’s side characters—including doctors and nurses, Sofia’s possible lovers, and her father’s new family—are quirky and surprising. They’re odd enough to feel real. They’re important to Sofia in ways the reader won’t expect. Just like people in our own lives, these characters refused to be boxed in.