Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Wednesday, January 23, 2019, 7:00 p.m., City Lights Booksellers, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco
reading from her new novel
from Arsenal Pulp Press
Sketchtasy takes place in that late-night moment when everything comes together, and everything falls apart: it's an urgent, glittering, devastating novel about the perils of queer world-making in the mid-'90s.
This is Boston in 1995, a city defined by a rabid fear of difference. Alexa, an incisive twenty-one-year-old queen, faces everyday brutality with determined nonchalance. Rejecting middle-class pretensions, she negotiates past and present traumas with a scathing critique of the world. Drawn to the ecstasy of drugged-out escapades, Alexa searches for nourishment in a gay culture bonded by clubs and conformity, willful apathy, and the spectre of AIDS. Is there any hope for communal care?
Sketchtasy brings 1990s gay culture startlingly back to life, as Alexa and her friends grapple with the impact of growing up at a time when desire and death are intertwined. With an intoxicating voice and unruly cadence, this is a shattering, incandescent novel that conjures the pain and pageantry of struggling to imagine a future.
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is the award-winning author of a memoir and three novels, and the editor of five non-fiction anthologies. Her memoir The End of San Francisco won a Lambda Literary Award, and Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? was an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book. Her latest book is the novel Sketchtasy. Mattilda lives in Seattle.
Praise for Sketchtasy
If Sketchtasy doesn't become a classic, we are doomed. Mattilda has such complete command of craft here that she is able to evoke experience rather than simply describe it. Whether or not we identify with her characters, she lets us into their hearts and perceptions through sheer talent, raw honesty, and the sophisticated ability to handle word order, duration, pacing, and soul. The form of this novel is determined organically from the emotions at their core. A lesson in how to write, how to remember, how to grapple with history. -Sarah Schulman, author of Conflict Is Not Abuse