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Sketchtasy

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4.03  ·  Rating details ·  92 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Sketchtasy takes place in that late-night moment when everything comes together, and everything falls apart—it’s an urgent, glittering, devastating novel about the perils of queer world-making in the mid-‘90s.

This is Boston in 1995, a city defined by a rabid fear of difference. Alexa, an incisive twenty-one-year-old queen, faces everyday brutality with determined nonchalan
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Published October 9th 2018 by Arsenal Pulp Press
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4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  92 ratings  ·  23 reviews


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Julie Ehlers
Early in my publishing career I read a short story by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore. If I recall, it was only a few pages long, but I never, ever forgot it. The voice! I never forgot it. I noticed over the years that Sycamore was publishing books, but my (long-subconscious) fear of no author living up to my first experience with them kicked in, and I never got around to any of them. Until now! When I won a copy of Sketchtasy in a Shelf Awareness giveaway, I was psyched! And when I read a few pages ...more
Sassafras Lowrey
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
i love being lucky enough to get to read queer fiction before it releases! eep! i feel bad that people have to wait for October for this book - Mattilda is such a queer literary treasure <3
Sarah Schulman
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So well written it is exciting to read.
Katrina Ayala
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Sketchtasy held so much promise yet fell incredibly short of my hopes for an LGBTQ book. It’s pride month and as a flaming dyke (not a butch – look it up) I am reading every gay and lesbian book I can get my queer little hands on.

Sketchtasy reads like what I can only imagine is a heavy drug haze. As someone whose never touched a hard drug, its hard to immerse myself in a story surrounded by drugs. Especially when the main character is perpetually snorting coke, ingesting K, and combating it with
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Andrea
Glowing review to come! I loved this book!
YYJE
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book almost hard to read — I remember those days, and I remember those people. A very real portrayal of the way some people lived and died.
Christopher
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my first (but definitely not last) book by this author. I was absolutely blown away by how much I enjoyed this novel. Set in 1995 and using first person stream-of-conscious writing style I was thrown into a whirling spinning drug laden world. I must be in the target demographic, because I could grasp every mid 90's references. The writing is fluid so I felt as if I were coasting through each 'trip', revelation, and self discovery seamlessly. I felt a total connection with the primary cha ...more
willowdog
Mar 18, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ah, youth. They believe they have so much to say. The trials of Alexa are written in a stream of consciousness style--long paragraphs, little content. Finding a place in the world, when you surround yourself with drugs, prostitution, bar hopping, possible incest, and other shadows of life, has been told much more successfully by others.

Thanks to Treeline for this electronic edition.
Ralph Bardsley
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review first appeared in New York Journal of Books https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book...

“Everything in Boston is about no one noticing.”

In Sketchtasy, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore attempts to take a page from Bret Easton Ellis or Chuck Palahniuk, with a fierce, glittery, fast paced romp through 1990s Boston. While not as well executed as Glamorama or Invisible Monsters, the book tries to create the dreamlike quality and thrilling pace of those novels. The story follows Alexa, a twenty-som
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Julene
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
It took me two starts to get into the book and that was after I heard Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore read from "Sketchtasy." The second round I was ready and heard her voice, but there are many characters, and the book moves so fast that I had to use a notepad and write down the names so I could track the connections. The book is truly genius, written from within action from start to finish.

Alexa, the main character has an alternate name, Tyler, that she cannot face. That boy was abused, and she h
...more
Karen Mahtin
TW for this book: drugs, incest, rape, theft, AIDS illness and deaths, and hot gay sex.

At first I was pretty annoyed at all the descriptions of different highs, but Mattilda's descriptions are so beautiful. The drug use is an important theme as it affects every aspect of her life. After a while I realized that the prominence of the descriptions reminded me of Kerouac or Kesey or someone else I read 20 years ago.

I'm from Boston and was an active member of the (sober part of the) queer youth scene
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Rob Forteath
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The author demands that you put some effort into the first half of the book, following Alexa through a revealing, dense stream of enhanced/suppressed consciousness. While charging self-destructively through sensual overload, suppressing the trauma, somehow Alexa moves into a place to confront and continue. We readers are aware of the enormous cost being paid for any eventual future closure, and fear for Alexa constantly.

Alexa's private trauma is playing out while the community is being torn into
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Kurt Ostrow
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
“I’m thinking about the shame we all carry, the shame that means we deserve to die” (188).

MBS calls her work “challenging queer literature” and I’d, uh, agree with that. The pace and prose of SKETCHTASY had me feeling at least a quarter as high as Alexa, Joey, Polly, and Avery, and it took me a good minute to realize all four characters used both she + he pronouns. This disorienting haze of gender and drugs and sex made for a wild ride. It was such a relief when the narrative slows down, and al
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Abby
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the second queer novel I've read this year set in the 1990s & it's been fun to revisit that time and place again through these talented authors. Sycamore has such an incredible voice and her characters glitter on the page. I was completely sucked into the world of Alexa and her friends -- the drugs, the tricks, the late-night club scenes. Totally captivating and frequently heartbreaking. Highly recommended for fans of Michelle Tea and Andrea Lawlor.
Kalen
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don't even know how to begin talking about this book so I'll let Julie Buntin do it for me:

"Every sentence in Sketchtasy is a living thing, fierce and funny and a little bit dangerous—a voice made of coke dust and club lights, cut with crackling insight. I was completely addicted to the story of Alexa's search for connection, set in the gritty Boston nightclub scene in the 90s. Nobody writes like Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore—most writers wouldn't dare try." —Julie Buntin, author of Marlena
Juliet Escoria
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book literally took my breath away, multiple times, with its astonishing moments of quiet beauty, in an otherwise frenetic, maximalist (in the best sense) book. This will stay with me for a long while. So many things to admire. Mattilda is a true visionary.
Sara
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The very end was surprisingly moving and put me in mind of the most affecting passages from Jean Rhys. Oh!
Vera
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Won a copy of this. Started a couple times before, but lost interest. So tried again. Guess just not to my liking, but found book a little boring.
Josephine Quealy
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, 5-star-general
Oh, Alexa, you made me love you and you broke my heart.
Rhiannon
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
an absolute masterpiece
Harebell
i went into this book thinking i wouldn't be able to get through a whole novel in the specific stream-of-consciousness writing style it's in. it took me a month to get through and i am so glad i did, even though it was so excruciating emotionally.

above all, this is (to me, in my reading) a book about surviving trauma, in the midst of trauma. it's a book about never quite being able to get away from the coping mechanisms you know best, even while knowing they're destroying you. from the beginnin
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Nine Kennedy
rated it liked it
Oct 26, 2018
Legum
rated it it was amazing
Dec 04, 2018
Tom
rated it it was amazing
Dec 11, 2018
Cass
rated it really liked it
Nov 03, 2018
polu
rated it really liked it
Jul 16, 2019
Melissa Cheresnick
rated it really liked it
Jan 03, 2019
Barry
rated it really liked it
Apr 07, 2019
Montse Meneses
rated it really liked it
Feb 15, 2019
Doug
rated it it was amazing
Sep 17, 2018
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Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is most recently the author of Sketchtasy, out in October 2018. She’s the award-winning author of a memoir and three novels, and the editor of five nonfiction anthologies. Her memoir, The End of San Francisco, won a Lambda Literary Award, and her previous title, Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to ...more
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