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Blake Nemec. The Operating System, $18 trade paper (78p) ISBN 978-1-946031-20-4
Nemec illuminates the lives of underprotected and underpaid workers, particularly domestic laborers and sex workers, in a sharp debut devoted to the “sounds, and sonic histories, of supposed liminal spaces, of flash intimacies.” There are no bosses here; rather, Nemec snatches bits of conversation that convey the everyday joys and struggles of these workers, capturing their musicality, humor, resilience, and heat. The work seeks to convey to the privileged how they often appear to the eyes of those whose labor makes their lives possible: “ -look at all their trash in only one week -yeah you got bags from both/ kitchens? -uh-huh -and bathrooms? -yeah a lot of/ waste from one run -this family -and we gotta take care of/ these people.” Formally heterogenous, the book features an array of speakers and mixes narrative, verse, and visual elements such as drawings, collages, stamps, and lipstick traces. The collection coheres through Nemec’s firm political and aesthetic purpose. Nemec, a sex worker rights activist, former sex worker, ESL teacher, and performer, speaks from a place of community and commonality. Nemec’s work studiously avoids condescension or pity in speaking against dehumanization and exploitation of vulnerable people, and his language champions those of “all grey pronouns.” (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2018
Release date: 01/01/2018
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