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.

Continue reading “Culture Consumption: August 2021”

Culture Consumption: July 2021

Hi, lovelies. Coming in a little late this month, here are all the books, movies, and podcasts that I’ve enjoyed.

Books

I am a huge fan of Charlie Jane Anders and the stories she writes. Though I haven’t quite read all of her books, I’ve come close, having read her two speculative fiction novels (All the Birds in the Sky and The City in the Middle of the Night), and have already preordered her forthcoming short story collection, Even Greater Mistakes, and her book of writing advice, Never Say You Can’t Survive: How to Get Through Hard Times By Making Up Stories. Among the many things I love about her writing is how she shifts her tone and style to best suit the story, while still making it feel entirely her own.

Victories Greater Than Death by Charilie Jane AndersVictories Greater Than Death, her most recent book, represents her first foray into writing for young adults, with a science fiction space adventure. Tina Mains has known for most of her life that she was different. As the clone of a famed alien hero, she has ben disguised as a human and hidden away on Earth. She anxiously awaits the day when the the rescue beacon with

in her chest will activate, calling her back into an interplanetary conflict.

I’m tempted to say that Victories Greater Than Death is like cotton candy, because it feels like such a vibrant creation. For all the danger and destruction faced by Tina and her companions, there’s an underlying sweetness to the way the relationships within this story are built on a foundation of respect and compassion. The crew is presented as a diverse group of humans and aliens (representing a variety of genders and cultural backgrounds), who comes together as a found family.

In addition to the wonderful portrayal of found family, the novel features fast paced and exciting action, along the truly impactful consequences. It’s an excellent read and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Continue reading “Culture Consumption: July 2021”

Culture Consumption: June 2021

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

Books

Waking the Witch by Pam GrossmanSooooo many good books this month.

Let’s kick things off with Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power by Pam Grossman. Part memoir, part historical and cultural analysis, Waking the Witch examines the concept of witches and witchcraft throughout the ages, from inquisitors hunting down supposed witching across Europe to how witches are portrayed in media, to the witchy ways in which some artists engage with their work. It’s a fascinating exploration — one that makes me want to dive deeper into some of the art, history, and cultural subjects that Grossman discusses.

I read two amazing collections of poetry this month — No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay and A Camera Obscura by Carl Marcum. I spoke in detail about how much I loved Kay’s work in a previous post. So, allow me to talk briefly about A Camera Obscura. Marcum’s book is a lyrical exploration of external and internal worlds. The heavens described in these poems could be the stars glittering above our heads, the pathways of faith, or the connection between human beings. Playing with scientific understandings of the world, along with the linguistic conventions of the poetic form, A Camera Obscura is a compelling journey that simultaneously drifts through the cosmos while being rooted to the ground beneath our feet. I was fortunately to have interviewed Marcum for the New Books in Poetry podcast, the episode for which will be coming out soon.

Continue reading “Culture Consumption: June 2021”

Culture Consumption: May 2021

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

Books

Murderbot Diaries — Fugitive Telemetry by Martha WellsIt’s difficult to fully express my love for the Martha Wells’ Murderbot series without flailing my arms in the air and shouting its delights at passersby in what could be perceived as a vaguely threatening manner. Fugitive Telemetry, the sixth book in the series, once again puts our beloved, socially awkward Murderbot in the position of having to interact with (horror!) and save humans, when all it wants to do is kickback and watch serials. While this maintains the same wry tone as previous books, it adds an element of detective murder mystery that makes for a fun, intriguing read.

Continue reading “Culture Consumption: May 2021”

Culture Consumption: April 2020

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

Books

The Route of Ice & Salt by José Luis ZárateThe Route of Ice & Salt by José Luis Zárate presents a loose retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, told from the point of view of the ship captain, who carries the crates of soil from Transylvania to England. Along the way, some deadly misfortune begins to befall the crew.

Told through the captain’s journals, the novella is beautiful written, vibrantly erotic, and deeply unsettling. The captain is gay, harboring secret desires for the men of his crew. But he keeps these desires locked down inside himself in order to maintain his position and safety in the world. He’s a fascinating character, with many layers of depths and his own secret courage. It’s a powerful story.
Continue reading “Culture Consumption: April 2020”