Culture Consumption: July 2022

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

Books

If you’re not into horror, or specifically slashers, then this book is not for you. Stephen Graham Jones’ My Heart Is a Chainsaw is a love song to slasher films, with its main character Jude being entirely enamored with them. Slasher films, for her, were an escape from her sh*thole of a life, and there is a part of her that longs for a slasher event to occur, so that the people of her community can get their comeuppance.

When a young woman moves to town — beautiful, smart, and charming — Jude thinks that this young woman is the type who would be become a Final Girl. After Jude start seeing a number of signs that a series of killing is soon to occur (according to the rules of the movies she watches), she tries to convince the new girl of her destiny.

Jude is angry and acidic and all sharp edges — and I love her so much, because she is also vulnerable, lonely, and (deep down) caring. Her passion for slasher films swims off the page, as does her underlying desire for companionship. Her journey in this book is brutal and terrifying and somehow, in the end, manages to find a sense of hope. And it’s beautiful.

Odessa by Jonathan Hill is a graphic novel about an apocalyptic future following an earthquake that tore apart most of civilization. The Crane family scratches by through scavenging and other odd tasks, which the barter for their food and needs. When Virginia Crane suddenly receives a letter and gift from her mother (whom the family has long assumed was dead), she begins a journey traveling across the Western U.S. looking for her — along with her two younger brothers. The siblings face violence, but also find support and kindness — and they face the dangers of the world together. It’s a beautiful story with gorgeous two-tone artwork. I’m definitely going to be continuing the series.

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Culture Consumption: May & June 2022

Hi, lovelies. Once again, I’ve let the task slip by me (mostly because of the amount of creative work I’ve been doing), so I’m blending once again two months together. This time, I’m keeping everything in one place, regardless of the length. So…, this is going to be a long post.

Without further adieu, here are my two months in books, movies, television, and games.

Books

The City We Became is another masterpiece from N.K. Jemisin. I love the concept, in which the city of New York changes a group of ordinary humans into avatars for its various boroughs (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island) in order to combat a great and ancient enemy that would destroy it.

I’ve never been to New York, but I could feel the love Jemisin has for the city in every line and description. I’ve never longed to live in New York more than after reading this book. I cannot freaking wait for the sequel.

Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher is a gorgeous dark fantasy about Marra, a shy princess turned nun, who begins a quest to save her sister from her abusive husband, a man protected from retribution by his status as a prince. The story begins with Marra in a desolate region attempting an impossible task, which she accomplishes through sheer perseverance. This done, she begins gathering companions to accomplish the final impossible task — murdering a prince.

I’m in love with this book and its assemblage of wonderfully quirky characters, from grave witches to former soldiers to bone dogs to fairy godmothers. Somehow they bring a light to what otherwise would be a grimly dark tale — which is really a testament to Kingfisher’s phenomenal skill as a writer.

Gwendolyn Kiste is a fantastic horror writer and her latest book, Reluctant Immortals, is another fantastic entry. The book a beautifully creepy sequel to Dracula and Jane Eyre, telling the stories of two forgotten women. Set in the ’60s, Lucy Westenra (turned vampire) and Bertha Mason (turned immortal by Rochester via some other arcane means). Facing eternity while fighting off the men who changed them, the two women band together in sisterhood to take a stand for themselves against the dark. A great read.

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Culture Consumption: March & April 2022

Hoo, boy. Time slipped right by me. I was planning to do my Culture Consumption for March on time, but then the next thing I knew it was April. In addition to putting two months together, I’ve done a lot media consumption over the past two months — which means I’ve got a huge stack of things to talk about.

I’ll try to move through it all as quickly as I can. If I have the wherewithal, I’ll try to expand on a few of these later on.

Anyway, here I am at last with all the books books, movies, television, games, and podcasts I enjoyed over the past two months.

Books

The Smallest of Bones by Holly Lyn WalrathLet’s kick things off with a couple of fantastic poetry collections.

First, The Smallest of Bones by Holly Lyn Walwrath uses the skeletal structure of the body as a means of structurally shaping the collection. Each section begins with a poetic description of various bones, from the cranium to the sternum and beyond. The poems that follow beautifully explore love, sexuality, gender, religion, and death, among other  aspects of humanity and the supernatural. It’s a gorgeous collection with crisp, clear, and lyrical language.

This is How the Bone Sings by W Todd KanekoSecond, This is How the Bone Sings by W. Todd Kaneko is a stunning collection of poems focus on Minidoka, a concentration camp for Japanese Americans built in Idaho during World War II. The author blends history with myth and folklore to explore how the scars of the past carry through generations — from grandparents through to their grandchildren. The wounds caused by racism and hate are continue on through memory and story. These poems are evocative and beautiful, providing an important memorial for an aspect of American history that should never be forgotten.

Noor by Nnedi OkoraforDelving into fiction, Nnedi Okorafor’s Noor is the story of Anwuli Okwudili, a woman who prefers to be called AO, who has a number of necessary body augmentations on her arm and legs — a fact that that makes some superstitious people in Africa believe she is evil or wicked. When she is attacked by men in her local community, she fights back with incredible power and flees into the desert. On her journey, she finds new companions, faces off against an powerful corporation, and finds hope filled utopian community finding safety within the winds of a man-made natural disaster. I loved the characters and communities portrayed with Okorafor’s Africanfuturist vision of a future. It’s a great read.

Cosmobiological-Stories by Jilly DreadfulCosmobiological: Stories by Jilly Dreadful is a collection of hopepunk short stories that explore love, relationships, passion, the resilience of the human spirit, and the possibilities of hope through myth, fantasy, and science fiction.”5×5″ (which you can read at LightSpeed) is an epistolary story about two young people who connect with and find strength through each other at an advanced science camp.

Another gorgeous tale is “Even the Simulacrum Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” which is about a woman who has been genetically engineered for increased empathy. In the story, she has to deal with the impact that this increased empathy has on her live and reckons with her relationship with her father. It totally made me cry by the end.

And these are just two of many of the fantastic tales in this collection.

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Culture Consumption: December 2021

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

For those interested, here are my favorite books, movies and shows, and games for the last year.

Books

Character Development and Storytelling For Games by Lee SheldonI recently finished Character Development and Storytelling For Games by Lee Sheldon. It was an interesting read and the author draws on his experience in both games and television to discuss ways of approaching character and story development.

Note that what I read was the 1st edition from 2004, so while the book’s talk of characters and story are everlasting, some of the discussions about the future of games felt a little outdated. Apparently, a 2nd edition was published in 2013, which likely provides a more modern perspective

One section in particular presented me with a new way of thinking about story — namely, modular storytelling and how it can help blend gameplay and story into interactive narratives. I wrote a bit about what I learned over here.

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Culture Consumption: November 2021

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

Books

Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra KhawIn Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw, a group of old thrill-seeking friends decide to host a wedding at haunted Heian-era mansion in Japan. As the night of drinking, food, and old memories and rivalries are consumed, events slowly start to go terribly, terribly wrong. The house is more haunted than they realized, having been built on the bones of a dead bride, who wanders faceless through its halls. KI love the way Khaw draws on historical Japanese folklore to present a wonderfully creepy and unsettling take on the haunted house genre.  A great read for horror fans.

What drew me into Brenna Thummler’s graphic novel Sheets was the gorgeously detailed pastel art work, which is combined with a charming story about a young woman trying to hold it together, going to school and running her family’s laundromat. Meanwhile, on the other side of the reality, a young ghosts slips away from the afterlife to explore the human world, leaving a uncleaned sheets and other havoc in his wake. I love that the author leans into the idea of ghosts wearing sheets because it gives them form. It’s adorable all around.

Sheets by Brenna Thummler

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