Culture Consumption: May 2018

Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, television, and games.

Books

It’s been a fantastic reading month for me — both in terms of sheer numbers as well as a multitude of books that I loved. Most notably was my delve into the works of manga artist and writer Junji Ito, including Uzumaki, Gyo, and the Shiver collection of short stories. As I mentioned in a previous post, Ito is a master of weird, cosmic, and body horror (sometimes all at once). It’s beautiful, disturbing, wonderful work.

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-GarciaI was also delighted by The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Love, deception, and etiquette are a the center of this story in which a young women travels to the city of Loisail for her first Grand Season. The aim of her trip is to mingle with the Beautiful Ones who make up the wealthy high society in the city in the hopes that she’ll find a suitable husband. Unfortunately, her manner and her telekinetic abilities make her a target for gossip. When she meets telekinetic performer Hector Auvray, she thinks she’s found the kind of love one reads about in books — but learns that no one is what the seem in Loisail.

This is a charming fantasy of manners, full of polite but cruel society and wonderful explorations of the people who live in it. I have so far bought and read three of Moreno-Garcia’s books and I have loved all three of them. The Beautiful Ones was no exception, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer was another beautiful read. A team of four women — an anthropologist, a surveyor, a psychologist, and a biologist — journey into the mysterious Area X, an area contaminated with some unknown. Other teams have been sent before, each meeting disastrous ends. The biologist narrates the tale, noting the events as they unfold during the mission, while also reckoning back to her relationship with her lost husband. She gives no names, partially due to the military’s deemphasis of names and to their unimportance within the world she finds herself. As her tale continues, she becomes more fascinated by the strange, natural world of Area X. This story is layered and complex, and I’ll definitely be picking up the next book.

I also enjoyed reading Athena Dixon’s beautiful collection of poetry, No God In This Room, all the way through. I love this exploration of womanhood and sexuality. You check out her interview to learn a bit about her process of creating the collection.

Books Read Last Month:
1. No God In This Room, poetry by Athena Dixon
2. The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
3. Uzumaki: Spiral Into Horror, Vol. 1 by Junji Ito
4. Uzumaki: Spiral Into Horror, Vol. 2 by Junji Ito
5. Uzumaki: Spiral Into Horror, Vol. 3 by Junji Ito
6. Shiver: Short Stories by Junji Ito
7. Gyo Vol. 1: The Death-stench Creeps by Junji Ito
8. Gyo Vol. 2: The Death-stench Creeps by Junji Ito
9. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Total Books for the Year: 24

Still in Progress at the End of the Month: Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer; The Changeling by Victor LaValle; Slices of Flesh, edited by Stan Swanson; and The 2018 Rhysling Anthology: The Best Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Poetry, edited by Linda D. Addison

Short Stories and Poems

Reasons That I, A Teacher, Should Not Have a Gun in My Classroom,” a poem by Brendan Gillet in Glass Poetry — “1. There are children in my classroom.” — Probably one of the most powerful pieces I’ve read in a long time, especially considering current events.

John Mayer’s ‘Your Body is a Wonderland’ is Kinda Gross But,” a poem by Shay Alexi in Glass Poetry — “John says I have a bubble gum tongue & I do / she is only alive because of preservatives / only alive because of self preservation & / even at her stalest she is pink explosion / sweet & violent / all at once”

Persephone in Hades,” a poem by Theodora Goss in Uncanny Magazine — “Poppies have never been my favorite flowers. / Here they bloom all year long, if one can say / a year in Hades, where no seasons pass, / where summer never fades. ”

The Elephant’s Crematorium,” a story by Timothy Mudie in Lightspeed Magazine — In an apocalyptic in which women have become sterile and the natural world has burst into a surreal nightmare, it is still possible to find hope through compassion.

Free Balloons for All Good Children,” a story by Dirck de Lint in PsuedoPod — This incredibly horrifying little tale in which a father becomes suddenly helpless to protect his child against an unexpected threat. (Side note: This story could be stylistically paired with the works of Junji Ito, especially his story “Hanging Blimps.”)

The Woman in the Hill,” a story by Tamsyn Muir in PsuedoPod — An epistolary tale, in which a women find themselves drawn into a door in the side of a hill. Some escape…, or only seem to.

The Good Mother’s Home for Wayward Girls,” a story by Izzy Wasserstein in PsuedoPod — A kind of dark fairy tale, in which girls are brought under mysterious circumstances to a home for wayward girls run by monsters.

Movies

Unforgiven

“It’s a hell of a thing, killin’ a man.”

I’m not generally drawn to Westerns, but since I’ve heard Unforgiven described as a perfect script, I figured I needed to see it. And I’m glad I did, because the story of a former outlaw and killer who gets dragged back into for one more job is indeed a brilliantly wrought script. It’s also tightly directed, well acted, and has an assortment of interesting characters. It presents a fascinating exploration of how different people perceive the act of killing, from those who revel in it to those who see it as a necessary evil. I now totally understand why it’s received such acclaim.

I’m planning to read the script for Unforgiven next and then listen to the breakdown from John August and Craig Maizin over at Scriptnotes (Episode 314) in order to get a full screenwriting less.

New-to-me Movies Watched This Month:
1. Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)
2. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
3. Unforgiven (1992)

Television

I did very little TV watching this past month, although I did watch the first three episodes of season two of the The Handmaid’s Tale and holy heck does it just dive right in with applying the tension. Wow.

Gaming

All this month, I’ve been looking for a gaming experience that would delight me as much as Inside did. I’ve played Home (a pixel-drawn, side-scrolling thriller) all the way through, and I’ve started playing Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery (a beautifully illustrated fantasy game) and Last Day on Earth: Survival (a zombie strategy game in which you have to build up a fort in order to survive). None of these have quite hit the spot so far (although I think I’m going to really like Sword and Sworcery once I get further into it).

So, I’ve jumped back into playing Fallout: New Vegas. The Fallout series is one of my favorite RPG game franchises, and it always entertains. Although, it has been always interesting jumping back into an existing game save after months of being away, because I couldn’t remember half of the things I was doing with my character at the time.


That’s it for me! What are you reading? Watching? Loving right now?


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