Culture Consumption: August 2021

Hi, lovelies. Coming in late again, but here’s my month in books, movies, games, and podcasts.

Books

Sorrowland by Rivers SolomonTwo of the books I loved this month focus on women finding power through transformation. In Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon, a heavily pregnant Vern escapes from a religious compound into the woods, where she gives birth to twins. For a while she lives wild, raising her children as she pleases — all the while they are being hunted. As time passes, Vern begins to grow in strength, experiencing a physical transformation she doesn’t understand.

Sorrowland was described to me as gothic horror, though considering the extent of Vern’s physical changes, it could almost be described as body horror. The book definitely carried some dark elements to it, some terrible and terrifying things — but throughout the darkness, there was also a light showing through in the way Vern grows and learns to claim her own identity and space in the world, finding pleasure in the ways her body changed. The love she has for her children and they for her is wonderful, complex, and beautiful. And her family grows when she finds people with whom she can connect can care for, while receiving the same in return. That carries with it such a powerful light of hope through all the dark times she experiences.

Goddess of Filth by V CastroThe second book was Goddess of Filth by V. Castro, in which a group of friends perform a play seance, laughing and drinking — until their friend Fernanda begins chanting in Nahuatl and appearing to be possessed. As time passes, Fernanda continues to act strangely, “smearing herself in black makeup, shredding her hands on rose thorns, sucking sin out of the mouths of the guilty.” With her mother in a moral panic over the changes, Fernanda’s friends try to find a way to help her in any way they can.

I love so many things about this book — first and foremost the way these five friends are wonderful. They support each other, look out for each other, and do what that can for each other.  Another aspect that I loved about is that Fernanda’s possession is not an assault, but more symbiotic. The goddess within her offers wisdom and strength, and Fernanda begins to change, finding strength and confidence in the presence of the goddess. When her friend Lourdes begins to realize this, she works to help Fernanda face this new reality. The story has its terrors, but it is also so beautiful. I’m so glad I read it.

And finally, I also read another great cosmic horror tale from Junji Ito, Remina. When a scientist discovers a new planet that pops into existence from another dimension, he names the world after his daughter, Remina. The naming brings his daughter instant fame — followed by infamy when humanity begins to realize that this strange planet is moving towards the Earth at a rapid speed.  With impending doom drawing down on them, humanity begins to panic and turn feral in the face of their own potential destruction. Definitely a nihilistic, brutal story with graphic violence — but one that is well told and gorgeously illustrated in Ito’s classic, highly detailed artistic style.

Books Finished This Month:
1. Remina by Junji Ito
2. Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
3. Goddess of Filth by V. Castro

Total Books for the Year:  28

Still in Progress at the End of the Month: The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix and The Mothman Prophecies by John A. Keel

Short Stories & Poetry

My Sister is a Scorpion” by Isabel Cañas (Lightspeed) — “My baby sister didn’t used to be a scorpion, but she is one now.”

By nightfall” by Batnadiv HaKarmi (SWWIM) —

“the sink is rancid.
A column of ants plunges in,

crawls out. The counter
roils. I wipe it with a damp cloth.

Spray vinegar. Sprinkle poison.
Once I said I wouldn’t damage a nest.

But there is no room.”

Dandelions” by Sarah Wetzel (SWWIM) —

“A web full of baby spiders, each the size of a tear
drop, vibrating in place until blown on and then

falling down toward the end of threads
spun from their own tiny bodies, each crossing

over that of its siblings’. Yellow sac, brown
recluse, golden, it’s almost impossible

to identify what they will become—
poison or not. Hunters or gatherers.”

Movies

The Green Knight is a retelling of a classic Arthurian epic poem. It’s beautiful, earthy, and uncanny. Dev Patel is phenomenal, bringing such a humanity to teh role — and I love it all so much. My thoughts on this gorgeous movie can be found on Once Weird.

The Green Knight
Gawain (played by Dev Patel) begins his journey to face the green knight.

Terminator: Judgement Day was one of my favorite movies as a teen — not in a small part to Linda Hamilton’s portrayal as Sarah Connor, being a total badass. So, I was thrilled when I learned that Hamilton would be reprising her role in Terminator: Dark Fate. I absolutely meant to see this in theaters when it first came out, and yet, somehow, never managed to get around to it.

I honestly can’t believe it took me this long, because dang! It was everything I hoped it would be, with not only Connor being kick ass, but two other women doing so as well. Was it a perfect movie? Nah, but it was a ton of fun.

Linda Hamilton returns to her iconic role as Sarah Connor in Terminator: Dark Fate.
Linda Hamilton returns to her iconic role as Sarah Connor in Terminator: Dark Fate.

New-to-Me Movies Watched Last Month:
1. The Green Knight (2021)
2. Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Games

I had been playing Next Stop Nowhere on my iPhone, enjoying the space opera space adventure story and interactive storytelling, but somehow got distracted. During a recent plane flight (on a trip for work), I opened up the game again and continued to enjoy it for its characters and vibrant art work. If and when I’ve finished it, I’ll share more.

Podcasts

What’s Good Games is back! After a maternity break, my favorite ladies have returned presenting their weekly roundup of gaming industry news, hands-on reviews, and other fun stuff. I love listening to them discuss and banter so much.

Slums of Film History is also back with their historical perspective on taboo movie subjects. One of my favorites from the past month was the episode on Brucesploitation, a sub-genre of movies following the death of Bruce Lee that tried to capitalize on his memory.

Writing Excuses continues to do phenomenal work this year. A month or two ago, the hosts completed an eight episode intensive course on game writing, which I found to be incredibly helpful, such as the concept surrounding the illusion of choice in gameplay.

I’m still working through the Switchblade Sisters backlist. An episode I found particularly compelling was the discussion of Ghost with between critic Katie Walsh and Tara Miele (writer and director of Wander Darkly). Their discussion explores how both films examine the space between life and death.


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

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