by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Arsenal Pulp Press. 256 pages, $17.95
NOSTALGIA for the ’90s seems to be in the air. Troye Sivan and Charli XCX have a pop hit with their song “1999,” while the protagonist of Andrea Lawlor’s 2017 novel Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is an omnisexual shape-shifter sleeping his way across 1990s America. Not all the 90s nostalgia is lighthearted, though. Ryan Murphy’s TV show The Assassination of Gianni Versace focused on AIDS and the oppression of the closet as much as it did on fashion, while two gay men are stalked by murderers at a gay cruising area in The Devil’s Path, a horror film shown at film festivals in 2018. Maybe the 1990s weren’t so great after all?
Both the highs and the lows of that decade are featured in Sketchtasy, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s third novel. The narrator is Alexa, a college-age genderqueer person living in Boston in the 1990s.
Peter Muise writes about New England folklore and legends.