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Amy Gentry

Amy Gentry is an Austin-based novelist and critic. Good as Gone, her debut psychological suspense novel dealing with themes of gendered trauma and abuse, was published in 2016 in more than 20 countries. Since obtaining a doctorate in English from the University of Chicago in 2011, she has contributed book reviews and cultural criticism to the Chicago Tribune, the Paris Review, LA Review of Books, The Rumpus, Salon, and the Austin Chronicle, among others.
"Y Kant Tori Kant? Tori Amos’s Boys for Pele and the Aesthetics of Disgust"
Tori Anus can suck a dark chocolate rice crispy treat out of my blown-out-in-buffalo hole while lactating her boosoms [sic] in a mason jar full of mice turds.
—Anuses with Feet: Tori Anus Haters’ Journal

It’s hard to think of a solo female recording artist who has inspired as much disgust over the course of her career as Tori Amos. As a critic whose first ever review was a pan of Boys for Pele for my high school newspaper, I can’t claim immunity from that reaction. Yet I would argue that understanding the reflexive ambivalence of disgust at queer and female bodies, including our own, is integral to understanding what has always been so compelling about Amos. My forthcoming entry in the 33 1/3 series (Fall 2018) explores the aesthetics of disgust in Amos’s oeuvre, focusing on Boys for Pele, the 1996 album that represents the height of her willingness to explore the “disgusting” qualities that make all of her music so uncomfortably, and so wonderfully, strange.

Drawing inspiration from perhaps the most famous (and infamous!) entry in the 33 1/3 series, Carl Wilson’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste, this presentation will give a guided tour of the way post-Kantian aesthetic theory breaks down in the face of female and queer bodies. I’ll ask not only “Y Kant Tori Kant?”, but also what an aesthetics of disgust can do to unravel and unnerve rock masculinities. What if disgust were something every woman had to navigate in order to access the idea of taste—in music, in art, and in life? And what if an aesthetics of disgust could show us that what we despise in others is something within ourselves—and, with the dreadful, frightening persistance of the disgusting, teach us to love it?