Punk Love Foucault by Gabe Riggs

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Punk Love Foucault by Gabe Riggs

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Category: Biography
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: Raw emotion is matched by raw talent in this excellent debut from author Gabe Riggs. A memoir of survival, of trans youth and of strength, it's immensely well-crafted and worth your time. Gabe Riggs popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 187 Date: September 2017
Publisher: Village Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780692918326

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Punk Love Foucault – a coming-of-age story of a transgender youth, who rebels against everything – even the very definitions of transgender. Examining a troubled past through a critical, intelligent eye, this is an intense, emotional and visceral read that illuminates and educates with a strong voice and clear, capable prose.

Michel Foucault was a trailblazer – a philosopher, historian, theorist and critic whose modern ideas shaped western ways of teaching, healthcare, and society. Complex and fiercely intelligent, he covered many topics – from his History of Sexuality through to his history of Discipline, and stumbling across his work has become a memorable turning point for many people in the world – I distinctly remember coming across his work at University and being staggered by how modern and accurate I found his words – and his combination of history with philosophy made it a lot easier for someone like me who, as a rule, had always rushed for facts and avoided philosophy.

Author Gabe Riggs had a similar discovery of Foucault, and it's a bright moment in a life that is filled with difficulty - struggles with claiming identity, a difficult family, and a fierce intelligence. Memoirs of difficult childhood can often veer into a Woe is Me attitude which, perhaps unfairly, can often make the book overall rather hard to read. No such issue here though – Gabe has a voice that can, quite rightfully, turn to anger easily – but that passion ensures that the reader doesn't become disheartened by the experiences that Riggs faces – and instead can look forward in the knowledge that the author survives to write this book. Framing is important – and Riggs separates their story into several parts, which serves as an effective way to break up both the narrative and the overall tone of the book. Starting with college before flashing back to childhood works for several reasons – not only are the scenes of a difficult childhood made all the more affecting by the intimacy that the reader has experienced with the older Riggs, but the more difficult moments in childhood are, whilst uncomfortable, generally easier to read in the knowledge that the author will make it past them with strength and humanity intact.

None of this would matter all that much were the book not written well, but Riggs writes with great skill – the prose is direct and immediate, with the anger and passion subsiding on occasion to allow glimpses of a warm personality and a wry sense of humour. I can't deny that moments in Punk Love Foucault are difficult to read, but Riggs has a strong sense of self and clear, unique voice that make this an individual and immediately affecting read. Considering the ever-encroaching creep of the Far Right in the world at the moment, it's important to be reminded that LGBTQ youth are still massively under supported throughout the world – with rough estimates of the percentage of homeless youth in the US who identify as LGBTQ to be between 11 and 40 percent – rising to around 25-40 percent in Los Angeles. In addition, around 40% of people who identify as transgender are reported to have attempted suicide – a huge increase compared to the rate amongst youth who don't identify as transgender. New voices with these experiences have to be valued in order to educate and inform going forward – and Punk Love Foucault is a fantastic example of that – an eye-opening, educational and emotional read from an author who happens to be both a fantastic author and a remarkable person.

You can read more about Gabe Riggs here.

Bookinterviews.jpg Gabe Riggs was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.

You can buy the book from www.villagebooks.com/book/9780692918326.

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