“Avidly Reads Making Out” by Kathryn Bond Stockton— How Culture Makes Us Feel

Stockton, Kathryn Bond. “Avidly Reads Making Out”, NYU Press, 2019.

How Culture Makes Us Feel

Amos Lassen

Avidly Reads is a series of short books about how culture makes us feel. “Avidly” was founded in 2012 as an online magazine by Sarah Blackwood and Sarah Mesle. It basically is made up of short-form critical essays devoted to thinking and feeling. Coming out of the magazine, “Avidly Reads” is an exciting new series of books that are part memoir, part cultural criticism. Each book “brings to life the author’s emotional relationship to a cultural artifact or experience.” With them we explore the pleasures and obstacles of everyday life.

This volume by Kathryn Bond Stockton explores making out and she looks at it through the cultural and political forces of today’s world: race, economics, childhood, books, and movies.  In effect, it is Stockton’s memoir about a non-binary childhood before that idea ever really existed in her world. Stockton writes about kissing in all of its forms.

Stockton’s brings together personal narrative, historical context, new ideas and the application of popular fictions. Her premise is simple and she gives the reader the chance to try on her ideas from different vantage points.

Stockton shows the variety of colors in the world and looks at important questions about gender, race and identity and we see who we are as sexual and social beings. Her views are personal and we see things as Stockton does. Kissing and making out here are interchangeable. Much of the book is about gender choices and lives

The idea of making out has many meanings and it is both physical and mental and what there is of a narrative is non-linear. It is well written and thought provoking throughout.

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