LIVE THROUGH THIS: ON CREATIVITY AND SELF-DESTRUCTION edited By Sabrina Chapadjiev (Seven Stories), 240 pages, $17.95 paper. Rating: NNNN
"We smoke too much, we drink too much, we drive sobbing in the rain. Our hearts break and we do not eat." So says the preface to Live Through This, a familiar style of anthology, with Fly's art adorning the cover and illustrations by Cristy Road on the inside.
Small U.S. presses like Soft Skull and Seal have been putting out similar post-zine-era bibles for years. Kudos to Seven Stories for getting on the bandwagon, because there is something about these declarations, testimonials and manifestos that makes you want to crack spines, dog-ear corners, spill coffee on pages and keep them close in your army surplus side bag.
Nineteen artists from various forms (comic books, rap, burlesque, music, photography, poetry, playwriting, performance art) take on the title theme in essays or visual art. Contributors include top-notch artists Nan Goldin, bell hooks, Annie Sprinkle, Eileen Myles and Kate Bornstein as well as poet Daphne Gottlieb, Tribe 8's Silas Howard and Icarus Project co-founder Bonfire Madigan. Each is brave enough to name her vices: sex, blow, suicidal tendencies, depression, assimilation, isolation, drinking, mania, eating disorders and meds. Self-hatred apparently comes in many forms.
The contributors are honest and articulate in admitting that not all therapeutic art is quality and sometimes distance is needed for objectivity. The entries in Live Through This have had that.
Praised already by a wide variety of in-your-face celebs ranging from Lydia Lunch to Dorothy Allison, Janeane Garofalo to Sara Quin, Live Through This answers the age-old question tortured, complex artists wrestle with: "Why don't you write about it?" These writers do. They take centre stage and take up the space they've learned they deserve. Women's and cultural studies students, take note.