God Loves Hair – Vivek Shraya

Buy it now direct from the author at God Loves Hair.

I think there is a spot in all of us that stores our not so pleasant memories from childhood this is especially true when you are different from everyone else around you. Whether the difference is skin color, religion, language, gender or sexuality, we’ve all felt that pang of sadness, isolation and fear.

Vivek Shraya dedicates his book to “the boy that was almost lost” and each richly told poetic story touched me, remembering my own childhood and the little boy inside who fought so hard to not get lost as well.
Shraya writes from his heart, and within each of the stories his devotion to faith and his culture is evident.  It’s what drives his words, bringing with it such a heartfelt experience of growing up different in Toronto.  But it’s not just Toronto it could be anywhere and any one of us.  The beautiful stories will surely touch you in that hidden spot just like they touched me. His flowing verse rings with honesty and memories of trying to understand who he is in a not so understanding world.
Selections from Gaylord!
“Maybe if I laugh to, Will and I could be friends.  He kicks me and I say Sorry.  He is puzzled.  He kicks me again, this time timidly, like a child unsure of his own strength and I apologize again…I am bound to sorry, as though it’s my only defense, as though each sorry holds a tiny spark of dignity.”

The same jocks surround me by my locker later and warn me of impending dangers.  Are you sure no one has beaten you up?  You are definitely going to get beaten up in high school…”

“He stands wide at the stall right next to me, making his presence known.  I pee as fast as I can focusing my eyes straight down, thinking about how our matching skin doesn’t protect me and how that feels like a betrayal.”

So I learn which hallways to avoid (faggot!) and which faces to avoid (if you ever look at me again, I will pound the shit out of you, you fucking fag.)  How to walk a little firmer, talk a little deeper, be a little smaller.  But I can’t make it stop.”
Along with each story there is a wonderful illustration by Juliana Nuefeld.  Together it’s a beautiful example of how to make something breathtaking and beautiful out of something ugly and all too familiar to us all.
Reviewed by William Holden

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