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49. The Blue Dragon by Robert Le Page
Although I had read this before, I hadn’t realized what a big deal Robert Le Page is in the arts world and took it out after hearing about his latest art installation. This very adult graphic novel has three endings so you can pick what you want to happen. I think that I enjoyed the illustrations by Fred Joudain more than the actual story, which is a love triangle with twists. The three main characters are all flawed, and all have hopes that conflict with the others’ ambitions. The depiction of Chinese slums and city poverty was well done. It was a little too dark for me. While there is no violence in the story, there is an overhanging menace that I found very disturbing.

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48. CVC 2, edited by Exile Editions
This was a much better selection than the first CVC collection. More plot, less surrealism. Leon Rooke’s story was disappointing, but I recommend Sean Virgo’s Gramarye, a beautiful fairy tale. “The Night the Floor Jumped” about the aftermath of an avalanche is scary. Linda Rogers’ “Darling Boy” is especially relevant in these years of increasing Alzheimers and community service for young offenders. I felt that “Waiting (Almost a Love Story)” made the reader wait too long for too little reward. “Skin, Just” was about the search for perfection and self-mutilation. “The Last Confession” is a sad and lovely story about a refugee’s survivor guilt. A much nicer collection than the first one and I am going on to the next volume.

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47. Under Wraps by Robert Chafe
When David, an unemployed life guard, walks into a furniture store looking for a job, Mark is instantly in love. The problem is that he has been hiding his gayness, and is not sure if Mark is gay or lot. The two main characters are backed up by a 16 person chorus that is hidden under fabric that shifts to make various sets that are more imaginary than real, sings, and acts just the way a Greek chorus should. I did find Mark’s indecision and unwillingness to come out of the closet rather aggravating, but that was probably very realistic. Chafe loves doing weird things with sets, (such as the electrified stage in Afterimage), and I would like to see this staged because I think it needs the “under-wrapped” chorus to come fully alive.

Sup FB Fam! Real quick real fast

Sup FB Fam! Real quick real fast…when I invited a group of artists to join me in Figure Ground: Beyond the White Field at The Whitney Biennial, Ramiro Gomez was amongst them and his contribution is now coming to light or should I say Brown? Bae was there during the openning documenting and painting our build up of our installation, staff workers at The Whitney and maintenance/workers in NY. He made beautiful paintings sourced from his documentation on cardboard that he then began gifting to the various people he painted. My father was the first amongst those recipients. He was ecstatic to come back to LA and show off his cuadrito to his friends and family. The work Ramiro is doing at The Whitney takes presencing Brown labor to a whole other level. These folks aren’t only collecting trash they’re collecting art and that to me is an awesome gesture of generosity. This is how we show up and show out. Ramiro will continue his work at the Whitney thru tomorrow. If you’re out there stop by and say HEYYY! Gracias Ramiro!

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45. No Man’s Land by Harold Pinter
I was terribly disappointed in this after the great screenplay he did for the French Lieutenant’s Woman. This four male character play is not very engaging unless you are fond of trying to carry on a conversation in a dementia ward. Maybe it had something going for it when it was released in 1974 or maybe I expect too much (e.g., plot, action, interesting characters), none of which were evident in the script. Two old geezers, who may or may not know each, drink through a night, and reconnect in the morning, talking about their earlier lives and not very interesting regrets. They are accompanied by their servants, who might as well be keepers. There was a recent revival of the play in Britain, starring Ian MacKellan and Patrick Stewart, but I don’t think that even they could rescue the torpid script. It is said that this play explores the limbo between life and death and reading it was purgatory. This one should be no reader’s land.

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44. Dead Ground In Between by Maureen Jennings
Tom Tyler is back and worn down by the war, grief over the loss of his son, and the absence of Clare. He is stationed in Ludlow, Shropshire, which is also the site of Things are fairly quiet, with a little bit of village drunkenness, poaching, and disrespect for the law. When an old man disappears and the body is found by two young Dutch refugees who are being cared for by a Scottish widow, there are lots of suspects. Tyler’s back up crew has become more entangled in his life, and the respect and care with which they treat each other is lovely to see. Tyler becomes romantically entangled with the widow, but there is another surprise. From POWs to land girls, farm women and ladies who run introduction services, Jennings gets it right. She knows how to turn suspected villains into heroes, and vice versa.

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43. Red Star Tattoo: my Life as a Girl Revolutionary by Sonya Larsen
The author states that to have an interesting memoir you have to have a screwed up family. She most certainly did, parents who were into communes until they divorced. Then she commuted between her parents in California and Montreal until deciding to join a cell of the Communist party that her mother was in. Sonya ends up at the main house in Brooklyn, and soon becomes the leader’s mistress. But she isn’t the only one, and she begins to see the flaws in her life. Her description of being on watch is paranoia making. (I lived two blocks from that street in the 1980s and had no idea!) This cell was actually far more like a cult and her escape to normality is harrowing.