Writers in Glasses Reading Books

Reporting from Radar LAB, a retreat for writers wearing chic eyewear and reading heady beach reads in between working on their books.

TAMARA LLOSA-SANDOR
Eyewear:
I found a pair of these at a store called Alter in Greenpoint on Franklin Street last summer. My girlfriend convinced me to get them. We were looking for something with a good shape, something interesting. (Later, after losing them) A lady at a new store told me these glasses were being discontinued, so I bought two pairs. They’re AJ Morgan. Get ’em while they’re hot. They’re only $15, so they’re a good deal.

Beach Read:
Four Novels by Marguerite Duras. I found this in the bathroom of our condo and decided to pick it up and read it ’cause I needed a beach read. I don’t know if this is a beach read, but it has a lot of dialogue and I’m trying to work on dialogue in my own piece. I thought I’d learn from the master.

Working On: Surfer Dreams. But everyone I tell the title to says it’s the stupidest title ever. It’s a coming of age story about seventeen-year-old girl the summer before she leaves home, and she’s trying to fulfill her adolescent dream of learning to surf, but she’s in northern California and the only places to surf are really scary and crappy. She overcomes some fears.


ANNIE SPRINKLE
Eyewear:
These are very special. My girlfriend got them for me. They’re J-Lo, my first really good pair of sunglasses. As an ecosexual, it’s important to have good polarizing so one can enjoy the full spectrum of nature’s colors.

Beach Read: King King Theory by Virginie Despentes. This is my role model for writing. It’s personal, but it’s about bigger than personal things. I love this book.

Working On: The Ecosexual Manifesto, with Elizabeth Stephens. We’re sexologists exploring where sexology and ecology intersect in our culture. Things like Isabella Rosselinni’s Green Porno, FuckforForest.com, places that combine sex and ecology. Our goal is to make the environmental movement a little more sexy and fun (according to us). We outlined what will be a little booklet that could become a book. We have charts and graphs and photos, and now just need the text. We’re also working on our wedding invitations/artist statement for our Purple Wedding to the Moon in Los Angeles on October 23rd. Everyone is invited.


ELIZABETH STEPHENS
Eyewear:
These glasses were a miracle. I was whining about wanting some new sunglasses. I rally wanted some Ray-Bans, but I wasn’t willing to pay for Ray-Bans. We had just gone to a workshop on Gaia and polyamory in Marin, and the goddess placed some Ray-Bans sunglasses on a table at a Starbucks and left them there for me! It was simply amazing.

Beach Read: Memoir of a Race Traitor by Mabs Segrest. It’s a great collection of memoir writing and essays about race and class in the south. I think it’s very related to the environmental issues I’m thinking about.

Working On: The Ecosexual Manifesto (with Annie Sprinkle). I’m working in collaboration with Annie Sprinkle on the Ecosexual Manifesto, as well as other ecosexual documents. I’m writing my ecosexual history and we’re writing out ecosexual wedding invitations.


JUSTIN CHIN
Eyewear:
I had to go get this pair after I passed out one day in front of Kinko’s. Nobody helped me, and by the time I got home I realized my glasses were gone. They were my secondary glasses, so it wasn’t that bad. I went to Lenscrafters. They steer you away from the generic section. These are cute little Ray-Bans. I wholly endorse Lenscrafters, they adjust them for you for life! I got them adjusted before I came here, and the girl working there had just been picked up by someone on BART, and he had come by to give her his number. They were all atwitter about it. You have to learn to go down on someone with your glasses on. It used to be something that got in the way, but you learn.

Beach Read: The Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, the Pleasures of Shopping, and Why Clothes Matter by Linda Grant. She was the only woman shortlisted for the Booker (for The Clothes on Their Backs). This book starts when she goes to Auschwitz and sees the pile of shoes, and sees a pair of bright red, six-inch heels, and it struck her that someone had dragged these impractical shoes to a death camp. It is a pretty interesting book. I mean, I’m not even that much of a shopper. A good book to read in conjunction with this is (cosmetics entrepreneur) Helena Rubenstein’s biography, My Life for Beauty. It’s also a beauty guide – the lessons she’s learned about beauty, the importance of moisturizing. She actually brought her beauty cream all the way to Australia. It’s also a love story, her husband followed her across two continents, and this was before airplanes. He followed her from Australia to London. And he never minded that she was the dominant personality in the relationship. He was just happy to sit back and adore.

Working On: All my projects are just sort of really scattered. Strange little scatterings and bits. You hit a point when you pull it all together and it makes sense. Zuithitsu is a Japanese form that’s formless in its form. Like The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, it’s miscellany, she collected gossip, quotes, shopping lists, stories she’d written, and the form is that it’s formless but when you pull it together it’s form. It’s so Japanese. Discovering the zuithitsu has sort of changed my writing life. I couldn’t have structured (most recent poetry collection) Gutted without it.


ELYSSA JOY KILMAN
Eyewear:
I went on a search for the perfect glasses because I had decided to stop wearing contacts because they’d been hurting me for ten years. I was walking in Noe Valley and I saw this really bougie, sparse sort of place called Spectacle for Humans, and I walked in and found these glasses. They were like a million dollars and I had to use three different credit cards to get them.

Beach Read: Lowboy by John Wray. It’s a poetic sort of novel about a young, schizophrenic lad who’s really into riding the subway system in New York City. He went off his meds and was then at this institution because he’d pushed the love of his life in front of a train. She survived and now he’s trying to find her before the world ends. He’s convinced that the world is ending by way of global warming, but like it’s going to happen tomorrow. I thought I didn’t like it, in the beginning, it was making me feel very trapped and suffocated, but now I’m very involved in it. It’s won me over. I’m a sucker for a schizophrenic.

Working On: Four Winters and Permanent Holes. I thought it was going to be a memoir and it’s rapidly turning into a novel. It’s kind of just about this girl who’s in a really horrible relationship with her girlfriend and moves to New York City, a journey of early adulthood. Battling with existential dread and trying to find some sort of meaning.


ELIZABETH PICKENS
Eyewear:
I got these at Buffalo Exchange on Valencia for $10. I can never spend more than $20 on sunglasses because it’s the only accessory I lose all the time, or break. I love the shape, and the faux chain at the top.

Beach Read: Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink by David Remnick. It’s fabulous. It’s like the best of the best of food writing. And it makes me even more obsessed and insecure about the world of gastronomy.

Working On: A Prophet for Girls. It’s about a twelve-year-old girl sublimating her family’s dysfunction into an obsession with Kahlil Gibran.


ALI LIEBEGOTT
Eyewear:
These sunglasses I saw in a Hayes Valley boutique while shopping with a friend. I loved them very much but could not afford their hefty price tag (they were gifts). They’re Dita, and the style is E=MC2. I was attracted to their spectacle quality, as someone who’s always wanted glasses but whose eyes aren’t bad enough to need the glasses yet.

Beach Read: Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida. I like it very much. It’s very nice for me to read a book that has an obvious plot, which I don’t really do. So I’m enjoying watching how the plot line is developing. And I enjoy a book that all of a sudden tells a joke. I like that as a literary tactic.

Working On: Cha-ching! A broke lesbian’s guide to get-rich-quick schemes.


MAGGIE NELSON
Eyewear:
They too could be yours for $6.32 at Forever 21, the cheapest place I learned to buy sunglasses in New York City. What could be better?

Beach Read: The Neutral by Roland Barthes. It’s revelatory.

Working On: The Art of Cruelty. The uses and abuses of cruelty in contemporary art, culture and literature.

That’s it you guys. Time to put on my Wayfarers and get back to Wind Bell: Teaching From the San Francisco Zen Center 1968-2001, edited by Michael Wegner.


About Michelle Tea

I chanted "I am a fashion magnet" in the shower and subsequently found a Gianni Versace - era Versace skirt at Buffalo Exchange for $17. Once I got a beyond-my-means Fendi purse for free and sat staring at it, crying. Also cried at Olivier Theyskens' last show for Nina Ricci in Paris. Other things that make me cry: a good lip synch; my emotions. I have stolen two Jeremy Scott swag items from two Jeremy Scott events I was not quite invited to. Sometimes I want to age into Patti Smith, sometimes Baby Jane Hudson. I frequently dream I am in a magic thrift store where I can have whatever I want. I regret not buying the Alexander Wang purse when it was half price at Barney's. Like a delusional guy at a strip club, I feel special when the people who work at Barney's remember me. Having a Leo rising gives me big hair and a need for attention. My favorite designers right now are Alexander Wang, Philip Lim, Proenza Schouler, Vivienne Westwood, Viktor Rolf, Rick Owens, Rodarte, Helmut Lang and Surface to Air. I was once shamed by an employee of a high-end department store for pronouncing 'Rodarte' incorrectly.

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