Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, television, and games.
Brom’s Slewfoot is from the start just a pretty book to look at — the cover and illustrations within (all done by Brom) being gorgeous images of the fantastical. The story itself is also richly told. Abitha is a spirited young Englishwoman balking against the constraints of the Puritan society, where she is expected to be a demure wife and do as she is told. When her husband suddenly dies under uncanny circumstances, she is left alone and without his protection. However, something else lurks in the woods, something dangerous and unsettling and beautiful — and it may be the key to either her freedom or her damnation.
Slewfoot explores the constraints and hard-fought freedoms of a woman living in Puritanical America. Abitha fights hard for what is rightly hers as she navigates the rocky waters of her reality. I love her as a characters — and I equally love the strange creatures that lurk in her woods.
I will definitely be acquiring and reading more work from Brom.
15 Ways to Stay Alive by Daphne Gottlieb uses a mixture of found and original poetry to explore “broken hearts, scattered dreams, postpunk politics.” With gritty and vivid imagery, these poems explore survival and healing on both a personal and communal level.
“A map of the ground is writing itself
on my ankle, hip, knee; gravity’s kiss
in blackening my ribs. There is nothing
broken, they say, except the ride.
We are all alive, they say,
we should all be grateful.
We should not get lawyers.”
— from “after the midway ride collapsed” by Daphne Gotlieb
Books Finished This Month:
1. The Liminal Zone by Junji Ito
2. 15 Ways to Stay Alive by Daphne Gottlieb
3. Slewfoot: A Tale of Bewitchery by Brom
4. The Intuitive Writer: Listening to Your Own Voice by Gail Sher
Total Books for the Year: 43
Still in Progress at the End of the Month: The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson, Writing for Games: Theory & Practice by Hannah Nicklin, Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games by Tracy Fullerton
Short Stories & Poetry
“Mad Honey” by Aimee Ogden (LightSpeed) — “The three wolves in the sun-smeared wood did not turn and run when Aran approached with his musket in hand. Wolves were supposed to run from men with guns. This was the way of the world.”
“Mulberry and Owl” by Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny Magazine) — “Thuỷ stood in her cabin in The Goby in the Well, her bots arrayed on her shoulders and clinging to her wrists, and watched the heart of the nebula.”
“The Only Thing Different Will Be the Body” by J.A.W. McCarthy (PseudoPod) — “Tonight’s man—Aaron, as he introduced himself upon pouring my third drink—grinned, lips parted on the edge of a laugh, when I told him. His smile twitched then flattened as I let the silence hang in the air between us.”
“I Buy a Reading from Two Witches on Etsy” by Leah Schnurr (SWWIM) —
“You will give birth in the spring when the invasive species take hold. The dandelion, the dog strangler. You will become a witch. How else to explain how your body mutated blood and ichor into new life?”
“Her Face All Teeth” by Greg Stolze (PseudoPod) — “Denny did not want to spy on the confessional, but at the same time, he did. He wanted what he did not want, or he did not want to want what he wanted. As a Catholic, he should have been well-equipped to deal with this.”
“The Honest Fox, or, A Truth Shared is Not a Truth Lost” by PH Lee (LightSpeed) — “The name I’m called is Dusty Boots, I come from the valley of Erwhile, and I am in love with a girl that I can never have. The tale I tell you now happened not so long ago, but very far away, out in the sunward forests, where golden light shines slow along golden boughs.”
“The Goatkeeper’s Harvest” by Tobi Ogundiran (PseudoPod) — “The wind shrieks its displeasure as it rattles the house, rattles it like a child in the throes of a tantrum, and we, little gnats in this container of brick and mud, tumble from our huddle by the table. The awful shriek reaches a peak of fury, and within it I hear the abominable voices of Eleran’s children.”
“Body of Song or Infertility” by Kelly Grace Thomas (SWWIM) —
“My mother-in law tells me
a baby will not come
without music. Says in Sufi
cultures, any woman
who wants to bloom
mother is sent
to dark. She must steep”
I don’t have huge feelings about either of the two movies I watched this month. Spirited is a fun, musical retelling of A Christmas Carol, in which the Ghost of Christmas (Will Ferrell) tries to convince a ruthless PR executive (Ryan Reynolds) to change his ways — only to find himself questioning his own life and choices. The comedy and music both landed well enough for me, but whether or not this become a “Christmas classic” that my family watches every year…, time will tell.
Bullet Train is about a hired snatch-and-grab guy with phenomenally bad luck, who ends up on a Japanese bullet train alongside a number of assassins, con artists, and other criminals. The movie is brimming with big name stars and the blend of comedy, high quality action, and frenetic energy makes for an entertaining experience.
New-to-Me Movies Watched Last Month:
1. Bullet Train (2022)
2. Spirited (2022)
If I didn’t know that Chernobyl was a historical drama, I would swear it was a horror movie. Relating the story of the nuclear reactor explosion at Chernobyl in 1986, the mini-series highlights the events that happened in the hours, weeks, and years after the initial explosion and how that one event affected thousands of lives.
Craig Mazin (writer) and Johan Renck (director) do a phenomenal job with the storytelling, evoking the horror of the Chernobyl incident through the careful choices of what scenes to share, which people to focus on, and the pacing of events. The acting, costume design, camerawork, and sound design are also brilliantly conceived aspects to this terrifying and unsettling historical story. While some of the facts have been compressed or altered for the sake of dramatization (one should never get their historical facts from a fictionalized TV show), I was blown away by this show and the impact that it had on me.
On the lighter side of things, Anne with an E is a lovely adaptation of L.M. Montgomery’s classic novel Anne of Green Gables. The show is bright and vibrant, sharing Anne’s joyful exuberance at life and the world around her — but it also adds a deeper element by exploring the ways her vivacity is likely a reaction to trauma, a way of surviving the hard realities of being an orphan and facing abuse at the hands of adults and other children. The show also delves deeper into the lives of each of side characters and their own challenges and past sorrows instead of solely focusing on the titular character herself. I enjoyed all three seasons and this may just become another comfort watch for me.
My roomie and I watched the first episode of White Lotus, which is about a death at a resort hotel. All we know at the start of the show is that a body is being loaded onto a plane — then, the story flashes back to before, showing the series of events that lead up to that moment. The show starts off on the slow side, but provides enough quirky characters and circumstances to leave us both interested in watching more.
I wrapped up my gaming year by finishing the main storyline of The Cult of the Lamb. The game on the whole was a great experience. I love the darkly cute art style used throughout the game (which is admittedly what drew me to it in the first place) along with the mixture of community management and rogue-like gameplay. I would say the community management aspects (gathering together your cult followers, building your village, and keeping everyone happy) was probably the more enjoyable part to me. The dungeon areas were also fun; however, the fighting mechanics were not as smooth as in other recent games I played (such as Hades, which has a similar style).
I also dipped my toes into Somerville, while I’m playing on my phone with the new Backbone controller that a friend bought me for Christmas. Thus far, I’m having a blast.
That’s it for me! What are you reading? Watching? Loving right now?