Mel Staten's Reviews > Drawing Blood

Drawing Blood by Molly Crabapple
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2016, audiobooks, audible-library

Listening to this book was a journey for me, in a way that I'm unused to. Molly Crabapple is a wonderfully outspoken artist and activist, with an illustrative art style and an eviscerating writing style.

When I started listening, I thought I hated her. She writes about her teen years in a painfully arrogant way. Crabapple does not deal judgment on herself for the way she thought, felt, or acted in her past--she does not analyze, or excuse, or apologize for who she was, except with a few poignant lines once in a while. When speaking of wearing her visits to Morocco as a sort of badge of honor, she says that she was using "other people’s homes as a proving ground." It took me a while to realize that this was a painfully honest way to represent her past self, and creates an authentic story of growth.

Crabapple is in her early thirties now, which means she grew up in the 90s. This is the first piece of writing I know of that treats this time period with the same nostalgia that others now ascribe to days long past. She romanticizes the past like her greatest writer heroes, creating a gritty world, as distant as it is memorable, as real as a fading photograph. Its a strange and fascinating lens with which to look at the world only twenty years past.

She talks about art as a lifeline, as real to her as her own blood. Linearly, she talks about her lovers, abortion, botched friendships, and sorry attempts at gallery openings. She's an angry and avid feminist, and treats the way women are undervalued as fact rather than speculation. It is fact, of course, but it's so rare to have someone speak about our struggles so blatantly. "When I thought of every proposition or threat that I got just walking down the street in my girl body, I decided I might as well get paid for the trouble," she says of her entry into sex work.

Over the course of the narrative Crabapple evolves from an arrogant and unhappy teenage traveler, to a struggling artist working in the sex industry, to an activist in her own right. She extols and admires her journalist friends, and in so doing, she becomes one, and makes that identity her own, becoming the inspiration that she found in others.

I listened to the audiobook, and Jorjeana Marie does an admirable job of translating the gravitas of the memoir to her narration style. I found her imperfect, however, and it was difficult to get used to her voice. Her nose sounds largely blocked and it stilts the words. If I ever return to Drawing Blood, it will probably be to physically read it, not listen this version again.
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Reading Progress

November 29, 2015 – Shelved
November 29, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
Started Reading
April 25, 2016 – Finished Reading
April 27, 2016 – Shelved as: 2016
April 27, 2016 – Shelved as: audiobooks
August 13, 2018 – Shelved as: audible-library

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