Thursday, March 24, 2011
The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive by Vanessa Libertad Garcia
Reviewed by Alan Chin
Published by Fiat Libertad Co.
This slim book (about 60 pages) is a collection of twenty-three vignettes. Most of these pieces are poems, some are micro-stories, and others seem to be simply ramblings and gibberish. Each entry illustrates a few moments or hours in some person’s rather miserable life.
It took me almost half the book to begin liking the images that popped out at me like a Warhol painting. These are a gritty and unapologizing glimpse of the underbelly of a society gone mad. These characters are desperate, disenchanted, alcoholic, drug addicted, and some are suicidal. Yet, woven within this fabric of stark wretchedness is a glimmering hope for finding love, or a successful job, or simply being able to pay the bills or show up for work on time. It is a reminder that even so close to the gutter, there is always hope, that we strive to be good. That seems to be the human condition, striving against the overwhelming tide.
This book is not for everyone. No one here is finding love, or even comfort. Yet there is a certain honesty to the characters who struggle to find meaning in a world that is moving too fast for them. They are filled with raw tormenting emotions, but seem to lack self-pity. They accept their sexuality, yet can’t seem to navigate to a place of comfort with it. Reading this book was like watching a drunken bag lady passed out on a doorstep; I wanted to look away, but found myself fascinated by the descriptions thrown at me.
Let me leave you with some of my favorite images:
“Celebrities. Human beings turned deities by a society of sleep walking spectators. From the alarm to the car to the office to happy hour and back home to a bottle of wine and TIVO. Bought images engulfing us in a web of stories passed off as convictions that turn religion. So forms the pattern of an American mind”
“it was gonna be a fun night. It was Wednesday and I was unemployed. Last 20 bucks in the bank, but it doesn’t matter because life will work out. Life is working out. I should go work out. Life’s not the problem, I a . . . FUN! We gonna have fun tonight, baby! I should be reading a book about Georgia O’Keeffe and how much she liked pussy. Pussy inspired her success, maybe I’ll be cultured after that book. Really cultured, not half cultured the way being raised in LA makes--- Tonight is going to be fun, I can feel it.”
And my personal favorite:
“Today, November 4th, 2008, dawns a different morning.
The North American continent, excluding Canada, Mexico, and the others, decides the 44th president of The United States. Conservative Republican John McCain vs. Middle of the Road Democrat Barack Obama. The marketing campaigns of a Hard Knocks Nam’ Vet and a Charismatic Black Idealist duke it out for the top spot in this nation’s hierarchy. Traditional Values climb in the ring with the Eve of Change.
Vice Presidential running mate, Joe Biden, sits back, as the other Vice Presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, sends feminism back 5 decades. California debates gay marriage as church goers reflect on the terms “inherent worth” and “equal rights.”
The suffocating economy struggles to release itself from the greedy grip of a Republican Dictatorship dropping to its knees.”