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.

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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.

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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.
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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.)

Continue reading “Culture Consumption: February 2021”