Monday, December 30, 2013

Get Ready For: I Can't Feel My Face by Kris Kidd

I Can't Feel My Face by Kris Kidd
Publisher:  Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Date Available: January 9, 2014
Page Count: 68
Genre: Memoir
Buy your copy on the Createspace website.

**I received a free copy of I Can't Feel My Face from the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my thoughts and opinions on this book.**

When I recently read Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block, a fairytale-esque story about disillusioned youth leading their own over-the-top lives in Los Angeles, I felt like I was looking at LA through rose-colored glasses. If Weetzie Bat made me look at LA in a pink haze, Kris Kidd makes me look at LA through glasses that don't match my prescription.
This is a cycle. This is routine now. I am the product of a painfully adequate home--picket fences and red doors, and all that shit. I don't need you to show me any ink blotches because I know exactly what I am, and I did this to myself.
In this short collection of personal essays, available in paperback on January 9, 2014 and presented by The Altar Collective, Kidd strips away the glamour, beauty, and dreams that most people think about when they hear 'Los Angeles,' and 'Hollywood,' and instead injects it with drug-addicted youth, feelings of imperfection, and the sense of being displaced in a group of people who are supposed to be your friend.
See, that's the thing about L.A.--When you've mastered the art of feeling lonely in a room full of people, that's when you know. When you have to excuse yourself from polite conversation with people who are two, maybe three, times your age just to hide in a bathroom stall for hours at a time, that's when it really hits you. Once you've snorted a line off of just about every reflective surface in West Hollywood, you just get it. 
Kidd drags us through his life of pool parties and misadventure. He doesn't shy away from sharing snippets of his therapy sessions, where his therapist is always trying to leech out his feelings about his father's suicide. His essays, such as 'Fruit Roll-Ups,' are also relatable to just about everyone, even if they've never snorted a line or been to a Hollywood pool party. In 'Fruit Roll-Ups,' Kidd finds himself with a group of thugs, looking for his next fix. There's a lot we learn about Kidd in this essay. He was a child actor. His first claim-to-fame: a fruit roll-ups commercial. His addictions. No one trusts him. I've never ridden around in a car with drug-slinging men, but the revelation Kidd has about being in a place with people you should not be with is universal. Seeing clearly the lines that divide you from other people is universal. Learning that a vice does not immediately connect you to others is universal.

Each essay is raw, personal, and lays his life out bare in a way that begs for appreciation. I always think there is something to be said about authors who can scrape some of their darkest moments out of themselves and lay them on the page with full honesty. It takes a lot to be as vulnerable as Kidd has made himself in this collection.
"Naw, I call bullshit. This lil' bitch don't look like he could be in a commercial for fruit snacks, or some shit. He's all cracked out."
"Well, I was nine so I was doing a little less coke then."
Phase laughed, and everyone followed suit, including Knight, who reached his fist out for me to pound it. Self-awareness is key.
In memoirs and collections that deal with addiction such as I Can't Feel My Face, I like to see some form of an upswing, or something positive the author has learned from their struggles. This sort of revelation isn't here yet, though I think this book itself stands as a monument of what Kidd has been through. At twenty years old, he's got a lot of time to figure it out, and I'm anxious to read more of his work as time goes by to see how he grows.

Kris Kidd will be reading excerpts from I Can't Feel My Face and signing copies at Gatsby Books in Long Beach, CA on January 9, 2014 at 7-10pm. Stay tuned for an interview with Kris Kidd on this blog closer to the release date!

'Get Ready For' is a new feature on The Lit Girl where I share with you books that have yet to be released...and that you should get ready for!


  1. This sounds like a hard but interesting read.

    1. Addiction can be a hard (and triggering!) thing to read about, but i think in this particular collection, it is handled in a way that gives us the raw emotion without the graphics!

  2. I love the relatable, raw truths. Facing your own truths is often hardest though. Applause for Kidd doing just that.

    1. Indeed! It is always remarkable when a writer is able to look their own demons and struggles in the eye and then share them with the world.

  3. Call me the cynic's cynic, but just as the free verse revolution was over 100 years ago, I find authenticity of modern confessional poetry to be just as much a cliche. People have been whining about their demons since before Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. So, what's new under the sun? Show me some verse that is as profound as Don McLean's lyrics to his song, "Sister Fatima" and I'll wake up from my literary stupor. Misery doesn't equal insight. I would love to see this poet, but I'll have to eschew for fear of harassing him after the reading, asking him if he's ever seen a Billy Wilder movie. Cynical honesty was ground-breaking in those days, but those days were over a half-century ago. Instead of wagging one's tongue across a canvass to paint the latest version of Plato's model of the pity party, how about something more original, if not profound? Painting the Mona Lisa is a brilliant endeavor, but with each new generation to stroke a counterfeit copy, it yields less and less satisfaction for being less and less novel. I understand that a completely original idea is a rare thing, given that the Greeks, Shakespeare and Quentin Tarantino (kidding) have covered the whole human condition. But where's the special angle on the universal? Clockwork Orange, Eyes Wide Shut or currently The Wolf of Wallstreet offer up a glimpse of the ugly underbelly of humanity's lapse into confusion, waywardness, perversity and degeneracy and the dust bowl of hopelessness that rambles like a tumbleweed across the pallid, gray expanse that is the collective heart of the post-modern hollow men, that has been savagely scraped out like the inside of a jack o' lantern. The excepts featured smack too much of threatening to take the reader on (to quote the movie Ordinary People) a "merry-go-round" instead of a "roller coaster." As Leonard Cohen's tepidly received early novel and poetic work testifies, important subject matter isn't inherently important in literature and won't survive a discursive pen primarily guided by a stream of consciousness--a voyeur's ticket to someone's diary only bears currency if it makes one envious enough to be willing to have suffered the same just to have been able to claim the adventure as one's own.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Jeff. I appreciate your analysis that went into this small review of a book and author that I believe in and chose to recommend to my readers. As you might notice by looking around my other posts, this is a blog written by a 'new' adult with a primarily young adult audience. Kris Kidd, the author, is also a young adult with an atypical world view and experience that is rare for many kids of his upbringing to go through, let alone put it out into the world without any shame. I'm sorry if you don't think it's to the classic literary standards of Leonard Cohen and Anthony Burgess, but it is still worth commending an author's bravery to put their demons in the light.

      Again, thank you for your comment, but I think audience is a very important factor in this discussion and your analysis of what I am recommending.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I'm not sure what you meant in your last graph, i.e., "... I think audience is a very important factor..." but all the same, if you want to champion Kidd's book that's just great. It's certainly your prerogative, given that this is your site. (I don't think too many people tell Oprah what to publish in her magazine.) That said, I think I should add that my rant wasn't a bash-fest as much as it was a clarification that for the reasons I used to support my perspective on Kidd's reprinted excerpts, I'm just not impressed by a writer's nakedness, because, regardless of age or circumstance, that's just standard equipment in respectable writing. When Sean Ono recorded a single while a second-grader, it was amazing work for a second-grader, but it was still awful; and I didn't buy a copy of it. (In the same token, why would anyone buy a book published by someone who's merely trying to be a literateur? If something's been published, I take it for granted that it's literature--why else would a press risk its money on distributing it?) Sorry if you feel I'm being too hard on the boy for not being more seasoned in his exposition, but I don't give anyone a handicap for any reason--not unless he's giving the book away for free. Either a piece of writing is good or it wants for greater development, depth or other necessary qualities to achieve legitimacy. Essayist/poet/scholar John Ciardi once wrote a poignant essay about the difference between the intent versus the actual result where writing is concerned. Kidd's work is juvenilia, which is okay--but as such, mostly represents burgeoning talent and the ability to be self-analytical. It is a good start, and I'm sorry if you take any of my comments personally. (I sense that your defensiveness of his work, e.g., "...that I believe in and recommend to my readers...." points toward believing I somehow attack your taste in vetoing the featured passages from I Can't Feel My Face. Please do not take my commentary personally, as my opinions are strictly between me and the author, not anyone in his readership. Perhaps I'm just the party pooper's party pooper, but I think your site would be a total waste of time for everyone if all it amounted to was a kissy-kissy mutual admiration society. Even if you choose to write me off as a crabby curmudgeon, my primary purpose in laying the pen to the paper is to make people think, even if it's to think I'm full of crap. That's fine--but I don't make a claim without supplying support for it. Furthermore, art is artless unless it can cultivate a reevaluation of one's sensibilities. This refines the patron and can offer advancement to the artist; so, even a negative response can boast a nurturing dimension if it's relevant. H.L. Mencken once said that the greatest service most writers can offer the world is to write as little as possible. I've always thought that was pretty funny, even though it's as exaggerated as many of Oscar Wilde's jaunty aphorisms. But there's a grain of truth to it. Although being good at being honest is a virtue, I suppose I also had trouble with Kidd's work because I find confessional poetry to be dated and hackneyed at this point in history (no differently than how I find free verse poetry to be passe, and not a rebellious literary movement anymore). You nonetheless feel there's accomplishment in Kidd's brand of confessional expression--and that's just great. But, hey, some people prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate. As for me, I'll take an In-N-Out burger. (It's hard to get a consensus on anything, really). Nonetheless, I hope his reading went well and you enjoyed yourself. All my best.