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Jennifer Savran Kelly

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Endpapers (2023) 105 eksemplarer

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A bit disappointing tbh! YA vibes despite being about twentysomethings with nascent careers and clearly trying to transcend its own YA vibes. I don't know if it's the quality of the writing at a sentence level or if it's the plot: many plot threads were left artistically open-ended, but the central coincidence of the similarity between the two hate crimes still felt trite.

At least the author managed to keep from falling into the YA pit-trap of "oh hello, I the main character have discovered that I identify as X and that is defined as Y and now I feel Seen", which is (unfortunately) not nothing! A grudging extra 0.75 star for that.

Is it a historical if it takes place in 2003? Probably! Hahahaha I'm old.
… (mere)
caedocyon | 21 andre anmeldelser | Feb 21, 2024 |
Jennifer Savran Kelly’s Endpapers, out today, is a story of intimate discoveries. The first is that of Dawn, a genderqueer bookbinder living in New York in 2003: she discovers, accepts, and embodies her gender identity and how it affects her entire life, from her romantic relationships to her interactions with her colleagues. The second is a love note written from one young queer woman to another, which Dawn finds inside a book she is repairing, and her attempts to locate the writer or the intended recipient. The third is Dawn’s rediscovery of herself as an artist. These three types of discovery create the interwoven tensions of the novel, which are marked by a near-constant anxiety and uncertainty that reflects both Dawn’s inner turmoil and the book’s setting in a complex post-9/11 New York, where the atmosphere shifts between solidarity and hostility nearly by the hour. All of these different types of instability throw into sharp relief the certainty and authority of the book’s language when Dawn is immersed in her work as a bookbinder, which provides a scaffolding that makes the novel’s hopeful resolution possible. In Kelly’s adept descriptions of the work of Dawn’s hands, the reader is introduced to the possibility of Dawn establishing certainty and confidence in her own life and identity.

It is absolutely telling that Endpapers’s opening lines juxtapose Dawn’s knowledge and precision as a bookbinder with the uncertainties in her own life, positioning the workbench as a source of stability: “Because I’m not ready to go home. Home to Lukas. Because lately I get more pleasure from spreading open the covers of a book than my own legs. Because the pungent spell of ink and the soft touch of paper,” Dawn says. Already, the trouble at home exerts pressure and the environment of bookbinding is made into relief, but this opening doesn’t yet define the specific nature of the dysfunction between Dawn and Lukas—the trouble between them is in many ways as difficult for Dawn to define as it may be for the reader. Instead, the novel pushes the emphasis instead to art: Dawn is desperately trying to reignite her life as a book artist. What she is hoping for is that the project she’s stayed late to work on will be “one that’s finally worthy of exhibiting. Or even one that has anything to say.” The fear that she has nothing to say—as an artist—is intrinsically tied to the novel’s foundational tensions; over and over, Dawn experiences and enacts failures to communicate, to find legibility in her own life.

Full essay (contains spoilers for the ending) at Ploughshares blog:
… (mere)
hmwendt | 21 andre anmeldelser | Nov 27, 2023 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was given a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.) Dawn is stuck: suffering from artists' block, unsatisfied in her long-term relationship, and struggling wtih feelings about her identity that even her queer friends seem not to understand. In the midst of this low-grade personal crisis, she finds a love letter written on the inside cover of an old lesbian pulp novel and becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to the letter-writer.

Dawn is a likeable (and, for some of us, relatable) protagonist; the book does a good job getting the reader invested in her getting her life together and becoming more comfortable in her skin. Her desperation to uncover a hidden queer history certainly rings true (although, having a passionate interest in queer history myself, I would have enjoyed it even more if what she uncovered had had any connection to real historical events). It's also interesting to see a snapshot of a time in the relatively recent past and realize how immensely the world has changed for LGBTQ people, in some ways.

If the "accessible" description in the marketing copy wasn't enough of a tipoff, this is definitely more in the realm of commercial fiction, rather than literary. The prose is transparent and there aren't a lot of layers here - it's a straightforward story of a character navigating a tricky time in her life. For this reason, it's not a new favorite for me - when I step outside my usual genre fiction box I prefer books that give you a little more to chew on - but it's a solidly enjoyable read, and it's nice to see a nonbinary protagonist.
… (mere)
xenoglossy | 21 andre anmeldelser | Jun 25, 2023 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
3 1/2 stars.
As a queer archivist, I'm so glad this book exists. I loved the connection that blossomed between Dawn and Gertrude, all because of the discovery of a historical document. I think I may be in too tender of a spot currently to have been able to cope with the more heartbreaking parts of the story, and the hardships that queer folks often experience.
pattjl | 21 andre anmeldelser | Mar 30, 2023 |




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