Hummus Heaven Bagel; From California to Lebanon by way of NYC

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Hummus Heaven BagelI swear, the bagel obsession will simmer down soon. The rough draft of the e-book is complete and the photos are nearly done. This week's masterpiece is the Hummus Heaven Bagel Sandwich (Bagelwich), a plain bagel topped with homemade hummus, quinoa tabbouleh and crispy gyros strips.

Lebanon was in my head this week, after one of my co-workers shared a lovely quote from Kahlil Gilbran:

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.

A quick search of the poet's work (and Amazon purchase of his wildly popular book ) led me to the ruins of ancient Tyre and eventually, as it so often does, to perusing cookbooks of Lebanese cuisine.  

I've been making hummus on a weekly basis for six months now. It's the perfect workday snack, and you can flavor it to suit your tastes. I usually take mine in the smoky paprika direction, but this batch was straightforward, just chickpeas, tahini, lemon, garlic, olive oil and salt. The quickie quinoa tabbouleh and gyros seemed like the perfect accompaniment. Once I got the Hummus Heaven Bagel assembled (and photographed, of course), I chowed down while digging in to Kahlil GIlbran's "The Prophet" and wondering where these two things had been all my life.

Seriously heavenly stuff.

 

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore ‘s The End of San Francisco; a Review

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end of san franciscoPublished by San Francisco’s iconic City Lights and winner of a Lambda Award for Transgender Non-Fiction in 2014, The End of San Francisco is first-rate Resistance Literature.

 Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore refuses to separate the personal and political, capturing the creation (and in some cases disintegration) of radical communities in a way that will be familiar to those who were there and enlightening to those who weren’t.

At breakneck speed, the stream-of-consciousness narrative tears through a decade of personal discovery and anti-assimilation activism. It examines the intersection between pain and activism, the broken child and fearless agitator, while struggling as we all do with the desire for trust and intimacy in the communities we’ve built outside the prevailing culture.

Mattilda's critique of the mainstream LGBT movement cannot be ignored and this unmistakable, unrepentantly unique voice is one that should be amplified.

[For more trans voices, check out The Reading List]

 

Gold By The Inch; The Book That Nearly Beat Me

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gold by the inch(Please excuse me if this review gets a little heady. It's been a decade in the crafting.)

A battered borrowed copy of Lawerence Chua's Gold by the Inch resides on my shelves, a perch from where it has glared at me for nearly a decade. Every couple of years, I'd tackle it again, hoping to peel back the layers enough to finally understand the subtext's subtext. I even read a scholarly article on it, finding points of agreement but dismissing the thesis in the end. The article did focus other elements for me, on  themes of exclusion and identity within a commerce-driven global marketplace.

Yes, Chua’s novel is a critique of colonial consumerism in Southeast Asia, but it is also a rich tapestry strewn with lush imagery and an inescapable sense of loss. Moving about in time, perspective and tense, it is best described as the travel tale of a young, queer Asian-American of Thai descent. Excluded at home and abroad, his search for an authentic Thai/Malaysian identity is met with distrust and amusement, hampered by his own Western privilege.

Arriving in Thailand after the death of his estranged father, the narrator drifts from his brother’s high-rise apartment in Bangkok to the hospitality of relatives and strangers in outlying villages, eventually reaching his grandmother’s grave in Penang Malaysia. Trailed by the ghosts of estrangement and remnants of pre-colonial life, Chua evokes the homeless felt by those in diaspora.

Despite his craving for a native identity, Chua’s nameless protagonist tears through the bars and brothels of Bangkok with Western appetites. Reeling from an affair in which his own body was commodified for its otherness, he engages the affections of a prostitute, imagining them as equals in the exchange. 

In the end, the dense, often opaque prose of Gold by the Inch is the oddest mix of explicit hedonism, global commentary and passionate sorrow. It is a book that stays with you, even  when you've barely scratched its surface.

 

Scholastic Press Celebrates Trans Voices with GEORGE

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trans voicesI read Alex Gino’s middle grade book GEORGE and was overcome with both sadness for the past and hope for the future.

I still have the dog-eared copy of “Marvin K Redpost; is He a Girl?” that Ashlie stole from the Westlake school library while she was masquerading as a 10-year-old boy. I wouldn’t understand its significance until she revealed herself, but the story of a boy accidentally kissing his elbow and turning into a girl was the closest connection Ash found in her grade school library.

You see, GEORGE is the book that Ashlie needed.

And rather than the Freaky-Friday farce of Marvin Redpost, it is the book she deserved.

 “When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.”

Published by Scholastic Press, with smashing reviews (including The School Library Journal), Gino’s GEORGE brings trans voices and characters into the school library mainstream. Age appropriate for 8-12 year olds and engaging enough for a quick adult read, I’d like to shove GEORGE in every pre-teen reader’s backpack and slip it onto grade school shelves everywhere.

Books like GEORGE will pave the way for a new generation of transgender allies and ensure that the questioning kid thumbing through the school library can finding their own experiences reflected there.

(cross-posted at The Daily Kos)