Culture Consumption: October 2018

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

Books

Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2) by Martha WellsIt’s been a phenomenal month of reading. In addition to Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (discussed here and here), I read Artificial Condition, the second book in Martha Wells’s Murderbot Diaries. After the events of All Systems Red, Murderbot goes looking into its dark past in an attempt to remember just what happened on the day when a number of humans were killed. Of course, there are problems along the way.  I read this novella all in one sitting. I love Murderbot and all his anxieties and the way he somehow tries to do what’s right by people, even when all he wants to do is hide away somewhere and watch vids. So far, there are two more books in this series and I’m looking forward to reading them.

We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory Another fun read was Daryl Gregory’s We Are All Completely Fine. Five sole survivors of horrific events come together for group therapy in the hopes of finding some sort of resolution or solace — not so easy considering they’ve witnessed the underbelly of the world and all the dark things that crawl there. This short novel was riveting, drawing me with, first, curiosity about each of the characters and, then, increasing excitement as the group’s meetings spiraled into danger and violence. I don’t know if Gergory has any plans for a sequel, but the story has room for one and if he does put together a sequel, then I’ll definitely be picking it up.

I also adored Chase Berggrun’s poetry collection, R E D, which is comprised of erasures of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The poems transform the text from a storyline in which women have little to no agency into an exploration of abuse, violence, power dynamics, and femininity. A powerful collection of work that I’m hoping to explore more deeply.

Books Read Last Month:
1. R E D by Chase Berggrun
2. We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory
3. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
4. Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
5. Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Total Books for the Year: 50

Still in Progress at the End of the Month: Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys, Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang, and Books of Blood: Volumes One to Three by Clive Barker

Short Stories/Poems

Take a Walk In The Night, My Love” by Damien Angelica Walters and “A Little Delta of Filth” by Jon Padgett are both wonderfully disturbing stories perfect for the Halloween season.

Her Monster, Whom She Loved” by Vylar Kaftan — “Ammuya birthed five hundred gods, followed by a monster. That was her first mistake.”

undetectable” by Danez Smith —

“soundless, it crosses a line, quiets into a seed
& then whatever makes a seed. almost like gone
but not gone. the air kept its shape. not antimatter
but the memory of matter. or of it mattering.”

The Card Tables” by Jericho Brown —

“Stop playing. You do remember the card tables,
Slick stick figures like men with low-cut fades,
Short but standing straight”

Dawn of Man” by Max Ritvo —

“After the cocoon I was in a human body
instead of a butterfly’s.”

Movies

My favorite watch of the month was To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a charming teen romantic comedy about a girl who writes secret love letters to boys that she has a crush on with no intention of sending them — until suddenly they’re out in the world. On the whole, the movie handle relationships well, showing the way friendships break and come back together and how love grows out of sharing and emotional intimacy. And the family dynamics and love between the sisters and their dad is also wonderful. The movie is sweet and funny and entirely adorable.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before,
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,

The Royal Exchange was a fascinating movie, presenting an interesting slice of European history.  The young French king, Louis XV, agrees to wed a very young Spanish princess in order to secure the future of his kingdom, while a young lady from the French court is wed to the Spanish prince. This movie quietly illustrates how little royal marriages had to do with love, with one marriage occurring before the young people have even hit purity. It’s well acted and paced, with beautiful costuming and setting.

The Royal Exchange (‘L'Echange des princesses)
The Royal Exchange (‘L’Echange des princesses)

I watched A Quiet Place on plane, which was not ideal due to all the ambient noise and distractions. With the silence of the movie being key to how it builds tension, the best place to have experienced it would have been a theater — and I’m sure if I had seen it there, I would have loved it. Still, a clever concept well executed (if some of the horror elements were a bit tame for me). I enjoyed how the family struggled and found ways to survive in a world full of monsters

A Quiet Place
A Quiet Place

New-to-Me Movies Watched Last Month:
1. A Quiet Place (2018)
2. The Royal Exchange (2017)
3. Ghost Stories (2017)
4. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

Television

I read Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and loved the way it subtly infused the story with building horror at the weirdness of Hill House itself. The Netflix adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House takes a number of liberties with the storyline, changing it from a group come together to investigate ghosts to a large family residing within the house until they can repair and sell it. The storyline moves back and forth between the past and present, revealing the terrifying events that lead to tragedy when the kids were young and how the kids have dealt with the aftermath as adults. With each episode focusing on one of the family members’ perspectives, events are shown from multiple angles, providing new information each time.

The Haunting of Hill House

Much of the story focuses on grief and family dynamics, each kids handling the horrors they witnessed in their own fashion — with all the disagreements and drama that that entails. But underlying all of that is dread, a sense of something hidden in the corner of your eye, waiting.

The Haunting of Hill House

Although it’s not anywhere near a faithful adaptation of the book, I can appreciate the show for the solid haunted house story that it is (even if the ending is a little too twisty for me). It was worth my time. I’ve heard, too, that there are many more ghosts in the show than one notices at first and it may be worth a rewatch just to see about catching them all.

Games

I finally reached the end of The Last of Us — and just…, WOW, that was an amazing game. The ending is perfect — not an easy ending, not a simple ending, mind you. It’s emotionally complicated with tough choices and moral conundrums. It’s an ending that can leave you thinking for hours, or even days afterward. I’m not sure I would have made the same choices, but the important thing is that those choices were true to the bone of the characters who made them. I have no doubts about that, and so, even though I personally might not have made the same choices, I feel satisfied with the ending — which is perfect for the story that was told.

This is a game I’ll play again, just to re-experience the story and characters.

The Last of Us
The Last of Us

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


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One Reply to “Culture Consumption: October 2018”

  1. So glad you liked The Last of Us. Definitely a powerful game.

    I have a new PS4 rec for you: I just finished Unravel, a beautiful puzzle platformer. Very different kind of game than The Last of Us, and shorter, so might be a nice change of pace if you haven’t started anything else.

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