RUI: Reading Under the Influence | Sheffield's | Literary Events | Chicago Reader
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Gina Frangello

Gina Frangello

David Walthour

RUI: Reading Under the Influence Critic's Choice Recommended

When: Wed., June 2, 7:30 p.m. 2010
Price: $3
"Because everyone needs a literary hangover." This edition's theme: Sluts. The featured readers are Gina Frangello (Slut Lullabies) and Zoe Zolbrod (Currency); they'll be joined by Josh Alletto and Charlie Vlahogiannis. See book review for Currency. Some of the loose women who populate Slut Lullabies (Emergency Press)—a fierce new story collection by OV Books editor Gina Frangello—are well aware of the value of their sexual currency. But when 14-year-old Aimee is drawn into a gang bang by popular and attractive Camden in "Attila the There," her sexual self-agency isn't so clear. Frangello is fearless in exploring such unsettling moral territory. But to say that these stories are overwhelmingly dark (they are) doesn't do justice to her energetic, engaging wit. In "What You See," for example, a couple referred to only as "The Intelligent Woman" and "The Intelligent Man" justify their decision to adopt a baby from China, explaining that they "are not the type of people who get hung up on propagating their own genetics. . . . They are above bourgeois bullshit like that." After which the deadpan narrator interjects, "Are they really? Wow. Are they really? Hey, what do you want from me? This is what they say when asked." While unrelenting in her explorations of power and powerlessness and often hilariously merciless in exposing the transparency of social pretense, Frangello is distinguished from contemporaries such as Mary Gaitskill—to whom she bears comparison in style and subject—by the compassion she shows her troubled characters. The possibility of redemption is always within their reach. —Kathie Bergquist



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