Culture Consumption: October 2020

Hi, lovelies. Coming in a little late this month, here are the books, television, games, and podcasts I consumed.

Books

Catrachos, poems by Roy G. GuzmánI read two fantastic poetry books this month. The first was Catrachos by Roy G. Guzmán, whose work always makes me feel awash in rich, vibrant language. Described as being “part immigration narrative, part elegy, and part queer coming-of-age story,” this stunning book blends pop culture and humor with cultural experience to provide a powerful and riveting collection of poems. I recently interviewed Guzmán about their new book, which will appear on the New Books in Poetry podcast soon.

Sarah J. Sloat’s Hotel Almighty is a gorgeous collection of erasure poetry, using the pages of Stephen King’s Misery.  Each of the pages combines evocative poetry with the visual treat of vibrant collage art. Some examples of her can be found at Tupelo Quarterly.

Venus in the Blind Spot-Junji Ito - horror mangaYes, I read more Junji Ito. My brother is as obsessed with his work as I am and is constantly feeding me new books. Venus in the Blind Spot is another fantastically disturbing collection of short stories with gorgeous artwork — including my favorite Ito story, “The Enigma of Amigara Fault,” in which mysterious human-shaped holes appear in the side of a mountain, drawing people to them.

Another interesting story is “Master Umezz and Me,” an autombiographical account of Ito’s love for Kazuo Umezz’s work as a manga artist and filmmaker. It’s cool to learn about the things loved by the artists you love. On the whole, the stories in this book are fantastic.

Books Finished This Month:
1. Catrachos: Poems by Roy G. Guzmán
2. Hotel Almighty: Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
3. Venus in the Blind Spot by Junji Ito

Total Books for the Year: 34

Still in Progress at the End of the Month: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and The Mothman Prophecies by John A. Keel

Short Stories & Poetry

Divergent and Rotten to the Core by Holly Lyn Walrath (Liminality) —

“Sometimes I think we’re just drunk on impulse-whimsy.
She’s sleeping on Esplanade with the muse.
This place is a smoke railway.
Her voice is an arrow
pulled from the quiver”

A place to stand, a lever by Ankh Spice (Trampset) —

“On the beach, three children have conjured
a world. The castle survived an afternoon

century of siege, and is ancient now, shadow
longing toward the water.”

a brief meditation on breath by Yesenia Montilla (The Slowdown) —

“i have diver’s lungs from holding my
breath for so long. i promise you
i am not trying to break a record
sometimes i just forget to
exhale. my shoulders held tightly
near my neck,”

Reports of the Dream You’re Not Likely to Recover From by Jay Deshpanda (The Slowdown) —

“You know how it goes. You love something dearly,
something that you make with your own two hands,
lovingly, molding the skull, the back of the neck.
That heat only you can feel beneath the chin.”

Television

The Haunting of Bly Manor completely absorbed me. Set in the ’80s, the story focuses on an American au pair who agrees to educate and care for two children at an isolated manor. As she settles into her routine, she begins to discover that the house has deep and dangerous secrets. With an assemblage of great characters, solid creeps, and emotional weight, Bly Manor was fantastic.

the house at bly manor - horror TV shows

I’ve rewatching been rewatching several seasons of Fringe as a form of comfort watching. Funny to consider the dark, gory scientific horrors comforting, but really, it’s returning to the characters I love that does it for me.

Games

I’ve become addicted to AFK Arena, a mobile adventure card game. The story revolves around a fantasy world, in which the goddess of life and the god of death are at war (though honestly, I haven’t paid that much attention to the lore). You have an assemblage of heroes to choose from (each with their own unique abilities) that you can select to go into battles, gathering experience and rewards along the way. It’s extremely casual, as the battles are automated and your heroes will continue their own background battle even when you’re not in the game, reducing some of the grinding required to level up. However, there are also a bunch of side adventures that can also be done to keep things interesting. I’m just having a lot of fun with it.

AFK Arena - mobile adventure card game - culture consumption

Podcasts

Writing Excuses had two great episodes focusing on research. Researching the FCK Out of Things, with guest Cory Doctorow, looks at ways to fact check (FCK being a note to remind yourself to look into it later) during and after writing.  Researching for Writing the Other looks into how to do the research in order to respectfully write about different cultures or experiences from your own.

Imaginary Worlds provided a fascinating episode discussing Fantasy and Fascism, namely how fascism can show up and be accepted in stories without consumers being aware of it. Superheroes is one of the types of stories under discussion and the show definitely made me consider the kinds of media I consume from a new point of view.


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


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