Thrilling adventure story? Unexpected coming-of-age? Near irresistable siren song of restlessness and the bittersweet pleasures of solitute? Whatever Rough Magic is, I tore through it in an afternoon. So will you.
Zami is an achingly beautiful autobiography that explores poet, essayist, and activist Audre Lorde's childhood and early adulthood, growing up as a Black lesbian poet in New York City in the 30s and finishing before her rise to fame in the 60s. Her language is sensual and frank as she writes of the smell of pounding garlic in her mother's mortar and pestle, the sound of her sisters whispering stories to each other late at night, the taste of the apricot brandy passed among friends at a New Years' Eve party in a cold-water walk-up. Lorde's experiences in the Greenwich Village lesbian bars of the 1950s are fascinating, as is reading about how relentlessly many of the women in even those spaces try to define her by whatever part of her identity is most comfortable for them. Ultimately, the book is a tender and unflinching homage to the women who've shaped Lorde's life.