Culture Consumption: July 2019

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

Books

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira GrantIf you’ve been longing for a book about murderous mermaids, then Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant is the book for you.

Seven years after the tragedy that befell the scientists, actors, and crew of Atargatis when they were traveling  the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” on mermaids (events that were phenomenally portrayed in Rolling in the Deep), a new team has been put together to find answers. Although they are geared up more thoroughly this time, none of them are fully prepared for the dangers they find.

There were moments in this book that legitimately terrified me, moments where I was to scared to keep reading, where I shouted at the characters as if I was watching a horror movie, where I couldn’t put the book down. Into the Drowing Deep is an altogether phenomenal science fiction horror story, one that makes me even more uncertain of the ocean than I already was.

I also finished up with Song of Susannah, book six of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King and wrote a somewhat lengthy post about my thoughts on the book. The series continues to be excellent and I’m looking forward to wrapping things up.

Books Read Last Month:
1. Song of Susannah, Part VI of The Dark Tower by Stephen King
2. Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Total Books for the Year: 29

Still in Progress at the End of the Month: The Houseguest and Other Stories by Amparo Dávila, Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, The Gates of Never, poetry by Deborah L. Davitt, and Books of Blood by Clive Barker

Short Stories & Poetry

The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny Magazine) — “It was a nice enough cabin, if Zanna ignored the dead wasps. Their bodies were in the bedroom, all over the quilt and the floor, so she’d sleep in the living room until they ascertained whether there was a live wasp problem as well as a dead one. If she ignored the wasps, it was lovely.”

Everything Must Go” by Imani Davis (The Adroit Journal) –

as is tradition for the women / of my blood, / I shop too much. will sacrifice / a paycheck like a lamb for the chance to conjure up / a fresh silhouette. & i am supposed to hate / this about us. the nerve: to wrap our bodies in myths / we can’t afford

Song Beneath the City” by Micah Dean Hicks (LightSpeed) — “For decades, the four plumbers had answered the call of old widows who’d dropped jewelry down their drains. Sometimes, the plumbers unscrewed the U-shaped trap under the sink, knocked out its splat of tobacco-colored crud, and fished out a golden ring. But other times, there was no reclaiming the lost diamonds and gold. They tumbled blind through the maze of pipes below the city, never to see the sun again.”

Black Matter” by Vivian Shaw (Pseudopod) — “It’s easier if you use a finger. If you have a finger to use. I don’t have fingers, on this one. What I have is a case full of samples, in tubes, and I can already tell this is a complete shitshow: they’re hopelessly garbled, mixed up together in a cacophony of terror and pain that gives me the kind of headache that will last for days. I need to get out to the site.”

Waxworks” by W.L. George (Pseudopod) — “Henry Badger rapidly paced the City churchyard; his air of anxiety seemed to overweigh his small, though not unpleasing, features.”

Before Bed I Read One of the More Recent HuffPost Headlines” by Devon Ward (Ghost City Press) –

I fell asleep thinking of all the daughters that
will puff into clouds of gun shots

The echo that reverberates throughout the
skeletons of all the women who lay in the
unmarked graves of shell casings

Movies

Personal Shopper provides a perfect set up for a horror movie — the woman alone in the house, the strange sounds, the ghost — and yet, Personal Shopper confounds the viewer by breaking with the expected tropes. Yes, there are ghosts (or something resembling them), but they are mostly harmless, just whispering figures in the dark. Instead we receive an intimate exploration of grief (which I explain in more detail in my full review).

 

New-to-Me Movies Watched Last Month:
1. Personal Shopper (2016)

Television

Russian Doll is a nearly fantastic show, with a beautiful story perfectly encapsulated within its eight episodes. Nadia (played by Natasha Lyonne), is a cynical woman in New York City who keeps dying and returning to her birthday party. The tale is darkly humorous in a distinctly dry New York fashion and slowly builds to reveal how we deal with loss and the impact we have on the lives of others. Lyonne is phenomenal, charming and witty and emotionally honest. I loved the series so much that I’m almost disappointed that there’s going to be a season two — since I cannot conceive of how the show could grow any better from here.

Stranger Things is currently one of my favorite shows and the third season was killer. Although the first episode was a bit rough going for me, going full tilt with the teenage/parenting awkwardness, the show grew increasingly good from there. The season provides the usual setup, in which our characters are all drawn different directions, following different threads of the threat before finally coming together in the final fight.

Steve Harrington has become one of my favorite characters in the show and I love his ongoing friendship with Dustin. When you throw his sassy coworker Robin and smart-mouthed kid Erica into the mix as they track down Russian conspiracies, it makes for pure delight.

Robin, Steve, and Dustin at the ice cream shop, hunting down Russians.

I also really enjoyed seeing Eleven and Max come together in this season, ignoring the boys and having fun for it’s own sake. Elle has always been a little lost. For all her strength, she’s a kid who has been locked up as an experiment of years and has been slowly trying to figure herself out. In a way, this self exploration has been conflicted by her relationships with others — Mike, her sister Kali (in season two), Hopper. She takes on aspects of them and what they want from her in a need to fit in. But Max encourages her to choose for herself, to determine what she wants.

Max and Eleven.

Season three of Stranger Things is far from perfect (it would be hard for any subsequent season to live up to the first), but it has a strong dark story. It’s also significantly more brutal and gory than previous seasons. I enjoyed it.

Podcasts

In Better Sex with Rachel Bloom, the Scriptnotes team discuss how sex and sexuality are portrayed on both the big and small screen with Rachel Bloom (co-creator and star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend).

Writing Excuses continues to offer great advice for writers — Natural Setting as Conflict is about just what it sounds like, how to introduce your setting as an obstacle or antagonist. Field Research looks at how writers can get out into the real world to bring added life to their stories.

Slums of Film History offers a fun and informative look at Bad Computers, presenting information about computer history and how, in movies, computers intelligence can sometimes go terribly, terribly wrong.

Imaginary Worlds offers a look at the life and work of one of the most popular pro-wrestlers of all time, The Undertaker.

In Switchblade Sisters, April Wolfe has a fantastic conversation with “Braid” director Mitzi Peirone about the cult classic “Donnie Darko” and the process behind movies that are not considered to be marketable.


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


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