Culture Consumption: March 2021

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

Books

The Octopus Museum by Brenda Shaughnessy

In The Octopus Museum, Brenda Shaughnessy envisions a future in which cephalopods have taken over the world. The museum of note is not a museum of cephalopod history, but of human history, a record of our present moment interpreted by strange new rulers. Each poem in this collection if beautifully, richly contextualized, presenting a vibrant capsule of the human experience, like a carefully curated museum exhibit. This is a powerful and stunning collection, one I highly recommend reading.

“And there will be no other way to be, once this way’s gone. The last song on earth, the last jellybean. Last because nobody wanted it, or everybody sang it, till the end.

Once this day in November’s over never another. Each day nothing like the last except that it’s the last and that’s new too.

Each moment broken glasses, a covered mirror, foxed. The waste stays in place. The rest disappears. The unrest, too.”

— From “No Traveler Returns,” The Octopus Museum

The also read Red Velvet, the sixth issue of The Hellbore, which provides a beautiful collection of poetry, art, and a personal essay. A few of my favorite pieces from the issue are highlighted below.

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Culture Consumption: February 2021

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

Books

Network Effect-Murderbot diaries by Martha Wells

I bought Network Effect, the latest book in Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries, a while back and I’ve been meaning to read it ever since. When I picked it up this month, however, I realized that I really wanted to reconnect with the original novellas that made me fall in love with the character. So, one by one I ordered and reread each book in the series (in ebook format, because I wasn’t willing to wait) — discovering nuances to the characters I hadn’t noticed the first time around and falling in love all over again.

Network Effect is a beautiful, action packed addition, bringing back beloved characters and introducing new ones. Murderbot (aka Sec Unit) is hired on to protect the crew of a research mission. As the group is heading home after a dangerous encounter on another planet, they are suddenly attacked by a strange ship and dragged through a wormhole. Murderbot is once again faced with trying to keep it’s humans safe against insurmountable odds.

One of the things that strikes me about each of these books is the level of humanity that they bring. Though the story features threats from evil corporations and the danger of death, the focus is on a a variety of characters (both human and otherwise) who are flawed and imperfect, but nevertheless care and love each other, offering compassion and understanding for each other’s differences. They’re smart and work together to work through the dangers they all face. It’s the kind of story that gives me hope for humanity and for what we can achieve if we try to really see and understand each other.

Honestly, these books have been providing the same level of comfort as rewatching some of my favorite TV shows. Even after finishing each of the books, I’ve returned multiple times to my favorite scenes.

As I was finishing the book, I was delighted to discover that the sixth book in the series, Fugitive Telemetry, will be out in April. I immediately preordered the book and I can’t wait to read it. (I may or may not do a second reread of each of these books before reading the sixth.)

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Culture Consumption: January 2021

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

Books

Initiated Memoir of a Witch by Amanda Yates Garcia“An initiation is a beginning, a rite of passage, a ceremony that signals an advance of some kind, into adulthood or a new form of knowledge.”

In Initiated: Memoir of a Witch,  Amanda Yates Garcia shares her journey as a witch, beginning with being initiated into the tradition by her mother, which she pulls away from as a young woman. Her path takes her through abuse and hardships, through which she struggles against the expectations that society tries to place on women. In her desire for beauty and love, she find herself surprised by a number of initiations over her her lifetime that guide her back toward the practice and ritual of witchcraft. Garcia’s prose is beautifully poetic and interlaced with mythology and the stories of magical women throughout history, which I found enlightening. I really enjoyed taking this armchair journey.

I read two great poetry books this month. Meg Johnson’s Without: Body, Name, Country (Vine Leaves Press) presents poems and flash creative nonfiction that explore identity, illness, and politics. Broken into two parts, the first section offers poems that explore various personas, while the second presents memoir the author’s experience with a harrowing illness in the form of short, evocative flash pieces.

And the Whale by Sonya Vatomsky (Paper Nautilus) is a gorgeous chapbook, filled with powerful poems that weave mythology and Russian folklore into an exploration of love, sex, grief, and trauma. I was personally in love with the persona of the Widow, who features in several poems that examine the shadows of the past.

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Culture Consumption: December 2020

Hi, lovelies. Here’s my last culture consumption of 2020, with all the books, movies, television, games, and podcasts that I consumed in December.

I’ve shared my favorite books and media from the year in separate posts.

Books

The Hollow Places by T. KingfisherT. Kingfisher is a fantastic writer, taking fantasy tropes and turning them into pure horror. Portal fantasies tend to lead to wondrous worlds filled with fantastical creatures and adventures. However, in The Hollow Places, when Kara and her friend Simon (both of whom I love) discover a hole in the wall that leads to an abandoned bunker in another world, their curiosity quickly leads them into terrifying danger.

Kingfisher’s characters always seem so well wrought, with the way they dress, talk, and react to situations feeling so real. I believe that these two would make the choices and mistakes they make. In fact, I could almost see myself making the exact same mistakes, which only adds to the horror.

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Culture Consumption: November 2020

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

Books

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia - gothic horror novelThe standout read of the month was most definitely Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia — a book that has received well deserved praise since it’s publication.

When Noemi Taboada receives a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin describing some terrible doom and begging for help, she travels to High Place, a house located deep in the Mexican mountains. The site of once booming silver mining community, High Place and the surrounding community is now run down and giving in to decay. The family themselves are for the most part cold, distant, and strange — and hiding some dark secret.

Mexican Gothic is a masterfully told story, building an unsettling tension into every moment that Noemi is in the house. Noemi herself is also a new favorite heroine. As a debutant accustomed to attending glamorous parties in the city, she’s caught off guard by the remoteness of the house. In addition to the glamour, though, she brings wit, intelligence, and determination. However cold or controlling the family may try to be, she matches them with her own will, not allowing herself to be overcome by them or anything else. A genuinely fantastic book.

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