Brown Neon

Brown Neon

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Author: Raquel Gutiérrez

Publisher: Coffee House Press (2022)

Part butch memoir, part ekphrastic travel diary, part queer family tree, Raquel Gutiérrez’s debut essay collection, Brown Neon, gleans insight from the sediment of land and relationships. For Gutiérrez, terrain is essential to understanding that no story, no matter how personal, is separate from the space where it unfolds. Whether contemplating the value of adobe as both vernacular architecture and commodified art object, highlighting the feminist wounding and transphobic apparitions haunting the multigenerational lesbian social fabric, or recalling a failed romance, Gutiérrez traverses complex questions of gender, class, identity, and citizenship with curiosity and nuance.

“In these essays by a poet, arts writer, and self-identified ‘queer brown butch,’ encounters in Los Angeles and the Southwest with aging punks, border activists, lesbian legends, and others give rise to explorations of Latinx identity, cultural resistance, and the role of art. . . . The landscape cannot be separated from its history of violence, and there is no desert vista ‘that doesn’t have the uncanny attached to it.’” 

The New Yorker