Books: 731

Fat Off Fat On: A Big Bitch Manifesto
Clarkisha Kent
Feminist Press

Clarkisha Kent is angry. Very angry–with good reason. This memoir details her journey to date, an Olympian marathon melding humor, rage, pain, in frank, fraught language, all wielded with a fencer’s keen, cutting edge. A first-generation American of Nigerian parents, Kent was bound by their relentless “fatphobia, femmephobia, colorism, homophobia” overshadowed by her abusive father’s attentions to her sister–“The Thing That No One Talked About,” forced Kent to plot her final escape. Once carried out, Kent was launched into the world of academe only to discover it, too, had its own baroque set of rules and expectations. Lose weight, gain weight; how to please? The ultimate question is, she discovered, is how to love and accept oneself–only then can one be free.

Anthony Bidulka
Stonehouse Publishers

Merry Bell, leaving pricey Vancouver for hometown Livingsky, Saskatchewan, seeks former boss Nathan Sharpe’s permission to affiliate his firm’s name with her own detective agency. Sharpe’s OK, but conflicted: earlier, he’d heard Merry killed local MD Elliott Vanstone. Reaching Livingsky, Merry finds she’s too broke for either home or office. Bidulka’s knack for character-creation ensures Merry encounters plenty of netherside dwellers before scoring a landlord (Gerald Drover), rents, for $70, Drover’s junkyard house (“not fit for rats on crack”) and a case–Drover’s arson charge. Anonymous notes, lethal attention from Livingsky’s power-elite, accusation by Det. Sgt Greyeyes of murder. Of Vanstone; Merry’s surgeon for her transition. Merely the tip of what awaits you in this first of Bidulka’s proposed trilogy concerning Miss Merry Bell. Enjoy!

Abstract Expressionists: The Women
Ellen G. Landau / Joan M. Marter

This volume is drawn from the Levett Collection, housed in Florence in 2013 when Christian Levett narrowed his focus to postwar masterpieces. Not initially concerned with an artist’s gender, Levett perceived that abstraction was a major theme for many women artists, further learning while researching, how women “managed to elbow their way through extreme social and financial headwinds.” This volume presents more than 50 paintings, collages and sculptures by Perle Fine, Helen Frankenthaler, Sonia Gechtoff, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, and others, highlighted by quotes from each artist. Only recently have these women–like women in many other fields–received the recognition they deserve. An illustrated timeline, biographies of each artist represented, and essays by Landau and Marter add further enrichment to this splendidly illustrated history.

The Last Drop of Hemlock
Katherine Schellman
Minotaur Books

Return to Prohibition New York and Schellman’s labyrinthine speakeasy, Nightingale. Vivian Kelley’s new job there helps ease the gnawing financial anxieties for herself and sister Florence, but when friend Bea’s uncle, a bouncer at the club, dies, and is determined “suicide,” Bea thinks otherwise, and calls on Vivian. The uncle, she discovers, had a secret mob payoff guaranteeing his ticket to a better life. Now he’s dead and the money’s missing, while mixed into the general misery is a blackmailer, extorting valuables from the poor, threatening to poison them for any non-compliance. Vivian can’t help but help, sifting through the uncle’s past, while the evidence filtering down threatens her life and the lives of neighbors. Dialogue, atmosphere, unbridled passions and greed–Schellman nails it again.

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