- Lara Durback — A LIZARD, A SMASHED SAFE, AND A PILLOW
Originally published in 2015 by Publication Studio Oakland, Lara Durback’s A LIZARD, A SMASHED SAFE, AND A PILLOW feels augural. Anticipating the blatant, chameleonic evolution of gentrification in the Bay Area—from garish luxury condos to global finance—it collates the travails and small joys adjacent to liberatory struggle (“the blissful hope of loves past and simultaneously failures”) and asserts the antiracist spirit that makes such struggle possible.
Combining processed writing and handwritten journal entries, scans, found images, collages, and other ephemera, Durback transposes the precarity and dream of communal living against the alienating engines of capitalism, attempting to recover from the market’s corrosive excess an assemblage of strange objects—the stuff of life and resilience, flotsam forgotten in the swirl of resistance.
In the “Credits” section: “This book is a naively hopeful sci-fi as a last resort at the moment.” Though artist Melanie Gilligan’s multi-episode drama Popular Unrest (2011) is posited as a guiding light herein, the various components that stem from Durback’s peregrinations feel distinctly her/their own, situating local dramas and tensions in the context of Occupy and other upheavals.
A LIZARD, A SMASHED SAFE, AND A PILLOW opens with a caveat: “Dear Reader, Just so you know what’s coming in this book will be outdated.” Lately, flailing urban developers put it differently: Now Leasing.
– J. Gordon Faylor