Tag Archives: book review

It’s not just fashion, it’s visual activism | Instant News

Closet Cases: Queers on What We Wear

Megan Volpert, editor

Et Alia Press

March 2020


Center for Cabinet Box: Queers on What We Wear is that we are what we wear. The identity we project and the identity we aspire to be communicated to others through our choices in self-presentation. Each of the 75 people featured on Cabinet Box consciously deciding what to wear because their clothes, jewelry, scarves and shoes – oh, especially shoes – make a statement.

With a perfect 8.5 “x 8.5” square design and dynamic quality art photographs, it’s easy to consider Cabinet Box as a coffee table book. But coffee table books are fun to flip through just for their visual appeal, and usually don’t include interesting personal essays like those that complement every photo on Cabinet Box.

In “A Brief History of My Underwear”, Gerard Wozek reflecting her mother’s belief that she must always wear impeccably clean white underwear made in a washing machine as chemically as possible. His devotion to the traditional boy’s pants was so serious that six packs of Fruit of the Loom underpants were standard gifts, from birthdays to Christmas.

Going out for Wozek means admitting his desire for something bolder than ordinary boy’s pants. Wozek described many phases in trying the color and style of underwear as he became more comfortable with his sexuality. Finally, and happily, he admitted “his obsession was identified as strange” with men’s underwear. “No one will find bleach in my laundry basket,” Wozek concluded. “I’d rather wear a rainbow.”

Max Voltage, a genderqueer musician, wrote “My Gender Is”, a long-winded list of clothes, accessories and identities. Like Wozek, Voltage enjoys expressive and extreme expressions, “boxes in boxes” and “infinity scarves made from recycled sweaters”. Gender binaries were destroyed with Max’s “nail polish and bow tie” and “eyeliner and glitter beard”.

Voltage biography statement said that they are members of “Turnback Boyz, a strange time traveler boy band, where they play ‘Peter Pansy’, the fiddle violinist of the future.” Max is a classically trained violinist, combining their “artistic sensitivity and radical politics” in the fusion of music and fashion. The photo accompanying Max’s writing shows them wearing bright floral shirts and traditional striped pants with suspenders, leaning on the violin.

Likewise, Ben Pechey described how dressing as someone who is not binary “makes you feel light and happy”, as can be seen clearly in the accompanying photos. Pechey wore a swaying black dress with pink flowers and pink heels that matched the pointy toe. Their faces showed the joy they were describing, being captured with full laughter, their mouths open. Noteworthy is Pechy’s statement that their intention is not to make a political statement or to cause a reaction but rather to just have fun. Their biography notes that “growing up, they never saw or knew anyone like themselves. Now they are very comfortable with who they are and are actually present in the community.”

Indeed, strong threads that stretch Cabinet Box is the level of comfort and self-celebration that Pechey explained. Being able to inspire others who don’t adhere to gender to wear what they want and enjoy their self-presentation is another theme that echoes throughout.

The youngest of the individuals featured was 12-year-old Desmond Napoles, also known by his stage name Desmond is extraordinary. He was inspired by RuPaul Drag Race before he started kindergarten, and according to his website, appeared on the show when he was seven years old. “I believe there is no wrong way to drag,” he said, noting that “there is potentially a really great outfit.” In his photo, Desmond’s excessive eyelashes and excessive facial paint reminded Twiggy of the 1960s.

Tig Kashala writes that “as a costume designer, I am always interested in fabric as a way to create characters and portraits – playing with contrast and unity.” This sensibility informs their own fad, saying that although their style is not meant to be a statement, it seems to make a statement anyway. “I carry queer on the soles of my feet and I walk with purpose.”

Mindy Dawn Friedman writes about his love for bow ties, which he considers subverting the gender paradigm in fashion. He remembers his admiration for seeing a picture of Marlene Dietrich in a bow tie and hat, a clear image functioning as inspiration.

Although Cabinet Box Not necessarily a fashion book, many of the people featured, such as Tig Kashala, have some relationship with the fashion industry. “Fashion violations by Friedman have graced the runway at New York Fashion Week.” He considers himself a “visual activist”, a term that tends to be adopted by many of those included in it Cabinet Box.

Uzo Ejikeme writes that “strange communities thrive in authenticity; therefore, it is equally important for us to use fashion to express our identities, which we deeply value.”

Like all individuals in Cabinet BoxEjkeme points out that fashion is a verb for the LGBTQ + community, using style and artifacts to build a self-image that is a statement and truth. This book celebrates that sensibility, creating a happy feeling in self-expression.

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Manawatu won the New Zealand Book Award for fiction | Instant News

The winner of the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2020 has been announced. Debut novelist, Becky Manawatu, received the Jann Medicott Acorn Prize for NZ $ 55,000 ($ A51,700) for Fiction, New Zealand’s richest literary prize, and the Hubert Church Prize for the best first fiction book for Auē (Mākaro Press).

The judges said Manawatu’s debut – the story of Arama’s orphans, which was kept in the Kaikōura countryside with relatives, and his brother Taukiri, a young man who fought alone in the big smoke – had a ‘unique New Zealand voice’ and ‘thrifty and often beautiful language ‘.

“There is violence, sadness and defilement in this book, but also overflowing humor, extraordinary insights into the minds of children and young men, extraordinary forgiveness and massive sufusion of love,” the judges said.

Musician and writer Shayne Carter also took home two awards, both the general nonfiction award of NZ $ 10,000 (A $ 9,400) and the E H McCormick Prize for the first best public nonfiction work, for his memoirs. The Dead I Know (Victoria University Press).

Two other award categories were also announced, with each category winner also receiving NZ $ 10,000. The category winners are:


  • How to live (Helen Rickerby, Auckland University Press)

Nonfiction illustration

  • Tautohetohe Protest: Objects of resistance, perseverance and rejection (edited by Stephanie Gordon, Matariki Williams & Puawai Cairns, Te Papa Press)

The Best Book First Award in the poetry and illustrated nonfiction categories was also presented. The winners of the first book prize are:


  • Coward (Jane Arthur, Victoria University Press)

Nonfiction illustration

  • We Are Here: An Aotearoa atlas (Chris McDowall & Tim Denee, Massey University Press)

In addition to receiving a NZ $ 2500 prize money (A $ 2350), each Best First Book Award winner receives a 12-month membership subscription for the New Zealand Writers Society.

Winner in 2020, chosen from Short list was announced in March, announced during a virtual ceremony on the night of Tuesday, May 12, which was broadcast live on the YouTube Awards channel and Facebook page.

Paula Morris, trustee of the New Zealand Book Awards Trust, who organized the award said: ‘This is a very competitive year, with an incredible variety of books, which reflect the creativity and passion of our local publishing. It was also a surprise year, with two debut writers bringing home big prizes. ‘

To find out more about awards, judges and winning books, visit NZ Book Awards website.

Category: appreciation Local News


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A Book Researching German Mass Suicide After World War II | Instant News

Promise Me You’ll Shoot Yourself: Ordinary German Mass Suicide in 1945, by Florian Huber (Little, Brown Spark, 304 pp., $ 29.00)

WWhat happened to Germany immediately after World War II? This question was often overshadowed by the liberation of concentration camps and the beginning of the Cold War. In Promise Me You’ll Shoot Yourself: Ordinary German Mass Suicide in 1945, German historian, Florian Huber, explains about a very interesting period. His book, which received its first American print last month, offers a gripping tale about the “suicide epidemic” that struck the Third Reich in its final days. Huber also gave a look that expressed the minds and souls of ordinary Germans who were forced to face the reality of Nazism.

Through diaries, memoirs and public records, Huber followed ordinary Germans through the last days of the Reich, which, for many, were the last days of their lives. We met an old couple who hanged themselves together, fathers who shot their families before taking their own lives, and mothers who marched to their fate in the glacial river, dragging their children behind them. After elaborating on this grim scene, Huber looks back to 1926, tracing the Nazi revival and analyzing how ordinary Germans came under their spell. He showed how even those who joined the Nazi Party for reasons of benefit or ignorance of young people were corrupted by the crooked morality of the Reich.

Huber finally played down the importance of German mass suicide. For him, the Germans who committed suicide in 1945 did so to avoid the fate that awaited them at the hands of the Allies – like citizens who feared the brutality of the Russian army, like Hitler himself – or to avoid the mistakes that would overwhelm them once defeat soon revived return the conscience of those who are not active. Whatever the reason, the large number of Germans who choose to take their own lives is extraordinary. As Huber noted, the Christian prohibition on suicide still has great power in Germany. In a sermon in March of that year, a Berlin vicar tried to prevent his congregation – many of whom claimed to be suicidal – from ending their lives.

Huber noted, however, that “the power of this taboo” faded “against a background of physical, emotional, and mental horrors from the fall of Germany.” When the Red Army advanced, “social conventions. . . it seems no longer valid, “when suicide changes from sin to” last resort before giving up completely [and] consolation for the hopeless. “

Linking suicide to a change in norms misses to be subtle, but crucial. To the extent that social norms change, they do so as a result of the moral collapse caused by Nazism in Germany. One influential explanation for this collapse was given by Hannah Arendt, a German-Jewish political theorist. Huber relied on the 1950 Arendt report Aftermath of the Nazi Rule to capture the inability or unwillingness of Germans who survived through 1945 to wrestle with the actions of their country. But the key to understanding German suicide actually lies in Arendt’s controversial 1963 work, Eichmann In Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, where he explores the “totality of moral collapse” delivered by Nazism. He observed that “just as the law in civilized countries assumes that conscience tells everyone” Don’t kill “… so Hitler’s land law demands that a voice of conscience tells everyone: ‘You must kill.’ “

Mass suicide arises from the inversion of a similar moral imperative, which turns self-evil from sin into necessity. In a certain sense, it is a logical conclusion from the twisted morality that Arendt described: standing face to face with an abyss, thousands of Germans followed Nazism’s command to kill – for the last time. Promise me you will shoot yourself offers important historical insights for every theoretical analysis of Nazism. By cataloging self-inflicted massacres in 1945, Huber offered another way to understand the human costs of political crime.

Photo by Fred Ramage / Keystone / Getty Images


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