Saturday, November 17, 2012

I'm From Driftwood by Nathan Manske (REVIEW)

The worst part about having your e-reader die is losing access to your carefully managed queue of review titles. While I'm (barely) managing to muddle through with a cheap tablet, trying to reconstruct that queue from titles scattered across email, my laptop, my PC, and my cloud drive has proven to be a challenge. As a result, I am woefully behind with some titles . . . but persevering. :)

With I'm From Driftwood, Nathan Manske collects 50-plus Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer Stories From All Over The World. It's an admirable effort, with some really interesting stories to enjoy, but I have to be honest in that I found it rather heavily weighed on the 'gay' side, with few 'transgender' stories, and even fewer 'bisexual' stories, and somewhat uneven in terms of quality.

I know, life stories are just that - life stories, and not literature - and Manske is limited by those stories the community care to share. In terms of demographics, he may very well represent an accurate cross-section here, but I simply would have liked to see more balance. That's probably a personal complaint, coming as it does from one of the under-represented demographics, but it's a complaint all the same.

Some of the stories here were quite fascinating, containing moments of humour, sorrow, and anger. If there's a common them to them, it's this - while words and actions do indeed have power, even a quiet form of acceptance can be stronger than the most vocal rejection. There were a few stories in which I could see myself, moments and confrontations I too have shared, but for the most part I felt like a sympathetic ally, standing outside the story.

I don't mean for this to sound like a negative review, because this is an important collection, and I think it's wonderful that so many people have shared their stories with the i'm from driftwood project. It does reflect the individuality within our shared circumstances, and there's an authenticity to the words that you wouldn't otherwise find in a memoir that lifts, borrows, and edits the tale to fit a larger theme.

[Reviewed by Sally]

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