Chavisa Woods' Books

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Booklist Starred review of 100 Times

Woods’ (Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country, 2017) unshakable memoir is a list of 100 incidents of sexism that she’s experienced in her three decades of life. The chronologically arranged accounts are plain and profound, allowing the actions to speak for themselves, and range in length from a paragraph to a few pages.

In her introduction, Woods explains that this is just one woman’s collection of indignities, and reminds readers that all the trans, queer, and cis/straight women they know have hundreds of their own to share. Between the covers are violent little boys on the playground, predatory high-school teachers, ex-boyfriends who resort to stalking, grown men masturbating at public beaches, and repugnant male roommates who refuse to wear pants. Incredibly, a rich portrait of Woods’ life as an artist and a lover prevails through all of the horror.

Even focusing on sexism, she claims her identity as so much more than a survivor. In the haunting conclusion, Woods reminds readers that there is no such thing as reverse sexism in a world where women are so systematically oppressed, citing gender comparison statistics about rape and homicide. Brilliant and simple, this is sure to advance understanding of a topic of intense national reckoning.

— Booklist

Publisher's Weekly

"Approach all unpleasant tasks in life as a performance art piece,” declares an unnamed 16-year-old goth in Woods’s collection of eight uncompromising stories set in rural Illinois. In visceral descriptions of decay, boredom, and limited opportunities, Woods (The Albino Album) besieges her coming-of-age characters with drugs, guns, jail, pedophilia, and teen pregnancy. (...) As Woods’s characters struggle to eke out an identity, they confront the bleak difficulties of their lives and persist in surviving.
- Publisher's Weekly

Lambda Literary

"Told with and wit and gravitas, Chavisa Woods’s Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country provides humane snapshots of outsider communities often overlooked in contemporary fiction." -Lambda

Left Bank Books Saint Louis MO Wednesday, June 14th 7pm




Publisher's Weekly

 

 

Chavisa Woods’s picaresque novel-cum-LP follows Mya, the nickname of a girl with an unpronounceable name, as she romps across the landscape of sideshow America. Orphaned after accidentally feeding her mother to an albino tiger. (...) While Woods creates a sympathetic character in the wise yet feral Mya.


The Brooklyn Rail Prose Round Up on Woods' Love Does Not Make Me Gentle or Kind

 

Most gripping are stories that, like real dreams, institute close connections between reality and fantasy.

 

 In "The Bell Tower," Woods brings a deftness and lightness of touch to a situation seemingly impossible to depict. A young woman falls in love, and mates with a bull buffalo. Scene after scene that might have been ludicrous is made magical. The two "elope," taking her lover's herd with them. The narrator comments, "He was the only leader I ever fully trusted, and the only lover I have ever kept. When I became tired, he carried me on his back. When I was injured, he licked my wounds."

Not all of Woods’ stories contain fantasy. Some are straightforward, observant realism, usually telling the stories of young girls, often social-outcast lesbians, raised by abusive fathers and ineffectual mothers. Pieces such as "The Smallest Actions" chillingly describes the kind of temporary amnesia younger children experience when an abusive dad passes through a period of parental affection

In Woods' most striking manipulations of form, she presents texts that are purely realistic, until the very last paragraph, when they brutally swerve into fantasy. "Mr. Bunny," for instance, describes a man who is eagle-eye alert to evidence of disrespect. It would be classified first-rate realism if not for a sudden burst of fantasy in the denouncement.