With 404 Ink’s Inklings series we are promised ‘Big ideas, pocket-sized books’. On the evidence of those reviewed here they are that, but so much more. Each one takes a subject not just close to the writers’ heart but central to their being.
Casci Ritchie’s On His Royal Badness has the writer applying her expertise as a fashion historian to Prince, the pop star for whom music and fashion were always the passion. Ritchie balances her fandom with a wider discussion of why the ‘art of dressing’ can be transgressive, and just what Prince was transgressing against. In doing she so offers fresh insight into the man and not simply the legend.
Emily Garside’s Love That Journey For Me: The Queer Revolution of Schitt’s Creek puts forward the thesis that sometimes a TV show comes along at just the right time to change your life, and even save it. Garside believes the show ‘reshapes LGBTQ+ narratives’ and goes on to detail not only the ways this is achieved, but the personal, almost familial, relationship she developed with the characters on show.
Liam Konemann’s The Appendix: Transmasculine Joy in a Transphobic Culture follows on from Liam’s original The Appendix which adduced examples of transphobia. This time around he turns this narrative on its head to consider the positive rather than the negative, finding a sense of peace which previously seemed unlikely, and joy in the acceptance of self.
The feeling of joy runs through all three books - in art, in life, in being, offering visions of a better world through acceptance and understanding. These are intensely personal publications yet they offer up universal truths. To borrow an idea from The Appendix, they concentrate on ‘who’ rather than ‘what’, each considering those they write about as individuals with all that entails.
A version of this review first appeared in SNACK Magazine.