Not to be confused with the other Sam, this Sam was born and raised in the Seattle area. This Sam loves Frank Ocean and the western shore of San Juan Island. He's convinced that everything is political, and will do just about anything for a scoop of Jersey Cream from Kurt Farm Shop.
Reviews & Recommendations
Cruising Utopia is an urgent intervention in contemporary thought, a call for reclaiming the utopian in this historical moment that has purportedly lost all conception of the future. Part manifesto, part criticism, part philosophical meditation, the essays in this book trace the queer utopian impulse of numerous works and aesthetic traditions that are ultimately engaged with the task of imagining another world and realizing that world in the now.
The Argonauts is a stunning meditation on a number of things: the politics of family making, the tyranny of the normal, the many, many ways in which language can both work for and fail us. Transgressive to its core, The Argonauts is a perfect marriage of form and content, as it blends theory, memoir, and criticism with lucidity and lyricality to create a book that investigates how we might lead lives of both/and rather than either/or. It’s all this and also the most beautiful book I’ve ever read.
Dawn is complex, deeply compelling, and endlessly thought-provoking in its meditations on what it means to be human, who gets to be considered human, and what’s at stake in these categorical distinctions. Set in a dystopian future, Dawn’s chilling, unsettling narrative reminds us how the words we use and distinctions we make so urgently matter in shaping the world around us and the futures to come.
Race and America's Long War is simply the best US history and politics book I read in 2018. Singh's project here, which is rigorous but still readable, is to show the long-term historical precedent of the current neofascist crisis and seemingly permanent wars, both domestic and abroad, as well as to rework theorizations about the connections between race, war, and capitalism. Though sobering, Singh presents his analyses with a cogency and urgency that show the fissures in which any true opposition must be built. Not to mention, no book answers the question on everyone's mind, namely "What happened in 2016?" quite like this one.
Anne Boyer's masterful, genre-defying collection Handbook of Disappointed Fate is a shot in the arm, a theorization of and experimentation in a more vibrant sociality, an interrogation of the age-old question "What Is To Be Done?" and an investigation of whether art and literature can do at least some of it. Boyer's observations and articulations of how it feels to live in late-late-the-globe-is-warming-capitalism, her contributions to the ever-shifting, always exciting lyric essay tradition, her topographies of better social worlds, are vital. For fans of Maggie Nelson, for those who continue despite fate's incorrigible disappointments, for communists with feelings.
Stolen Life, the second volume in Fred Moten's momentous consent not to be a single being trilogy, is an entire universe unto itself. Moten, the eminent scholar, poet, and philosopher of black studies and performance studies, is perhaps our greatest living critical theorist. The essays collected here are an attempt to think rigorously (which is to say, in Moten's universe, lovingly) toward an understanding of the aesthetics of fugitivity, through and with an ensemble of performers, musicians, writers, and thinkers who refuse the social death that constitutes Western modernity. The language, the form, the ideas are all difficult, but well worth the struggle.
Saidiya Hartman's Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments contains some of the most imaginative, inventive, and radical history writing I've ever encountered. Taking as her subjects the black women excluded from the US historical archive, Hartman challenges and unsettles dominant understandings of who "makes" history. In vibrant and ecstatic prose, Hartman tells the story of how the wayward, the queer, the fugitive, the poor, and the dispossessed imagined and practiced care, love, and freedom in the face of the violence of racial capitalism and white supremacy. My favorite book of 2019.