With a personal viewpoint, writing about the arts stops sounding like Newspeak. Here is the best gift I can give an artist—a flash of my impressions of the work as open as I can divine them, uncluttered by social and historical baggage, and free of plot-spoilers.

Photographs were taken of or from Point Richmond, California and Champaign, Illinois.

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COMING OUT CAN BE MURDER is a mind-blowing story. Whatever your feelings about transgenders at the beginning, you will come to care for Bobbi and root for her survival. Author Renee James weaves such a great story, I’m fascinated to learn about this community. Bobbi has some odd friends, some sweet ones, and some acquaintances who are downright horrific. The writing is tight and clean. The pace of the story keeps the tension high.

A VINE IN THE BLOOD by Leighton Gage

I’ve just finished Leighton Gage’s A VINE IN THE BLOOD which is a marvelous crime story which takes place in Brazil. Sometimes in stories told in locations with cultures with which I’m not familiar, I end up feeling disoriented—I have no sense of what should be familiar—and so I lose the immediate connection with the story, but there was no such feeling with A VINE IN THE BLOOD. Not being interested in spectator sports, I noticed the populace in Brazil loves futebol (known to Americans and Canadians as soccer) with about the same interest I have for American sports events. It’s awkward describing a story by what it is not, but both of these characteristics would presuppose my negative response to the story, but I loved it!