Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, games, and podcasts.
My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite was my favorite read of the month. Set in Nigeria, the story focuses on two sisters — one is who alluringly beautiful and has a tendency to kill her boyfriends, and the other who is a nurse and is often left with cleaning up the mess. At the heart of this novel and what makes it so compelling — is how it addresses the complexities of sisterhood, with its blend of frustration, jealousy, anger, compassion, and love. Sisters, I just want you to know, I’d help you clean up your messes, too.
Another great read this month was Rivers Solomon’s The Deep, which has a fascinating genesis, as it is based on a song called “The Deep” from experimental hip-hop group Clipping. The story is about a community of mermaids living at the bottom of the ocean. A young mermaid, Yetu, carries all of the memories of her people so that they don’t have to be burdened by their weight. Among these memories is the knowledge that their people are the children of African slaves thrown overboard from the ships that were transporting them to America. The horrors of these memories are tearing Yetu apart, driving her to try to find a way to escape them. It’s a powerful novella, which looks into how our history defines us and considers its value if it’s so heavy.
I also read two stunning poetry collections last month. Soft Science by Franny Choi is a gorgeous book-length collection, which explores queer, Asian American femininity through the lens of robots, cyborgs, and artificial intelligence. Kerrin McCadden’s chapbook, Keep This to Yourself, is a stunning examination of addiction, reflecting the mix of emotions — compassion, frustration, anger, and sorrow — of watching someone go through it.
Nasty Women Poets presents a “timely collection of poems speaks not just to the current political climate and the man who is responsible for its title, but to the stereotypes and expectations women have faced dating back to Eve, and to the long history of women resisting those limitations. The nasty women poets included here talk back to the men who created those limitations, honor foremothers who offered models of resistance and survival, rewrite myths, celebrate their own sexuality and bodies, and the girlhoods they survived. They sing, swear, swagger, and celebrate, and stake claim to life and art on their own terms.”
Honored to have have a collaborative poem with Laura Madeline Wiseman included in the Nasty Women Poets anthology from Lost Horse Press.
Drunk Monkeys published my short story, “Missed Connections / Red Head at the House of Needles,” in their August issue. This is (I believe), the second actual short story that I’ve evern published, and I’m so happy to have it appear in a great publication like Drunk Monkeys. Here’s the story opening:
i am normally not the kind of dog who whistles at women on the street or stalks them with my eyes. i figure ladies have enough to worry about without some creeper giving them a hard time
“We need to stop thinking of poems as poems, but as art pieces that weave together different techniques from other disciplines, in a way to expand the line, the beat, the image,” writes Joanna C. Valente.
Oh, how people love to whisper. The rumors of my husband were rampant as gnats in summer. They speak loathingly of his ugly blue-black beard and how he towers over everyone in a room, thick and tall as an evergreen tree. They say he goes through wives the way wolves tear through rabbits, one after the other. No one knows what becomes of these fine young, innocent ladies, they say. And they wonder at what great wealth he must possess to draw so many new brides into his home.
The crows were in the trees again, crowding the branches with ruffled feathers. Mara watched them watching her. She plucked a blueberry from the unfinished pie filling in front of her and popped the berry in her mouth, then sucked the purple juice from her fingers.
After wiping her hands on her apron, she dusted flour over the rolling pin and cutting board and slammed a fresh ball of pie dough down. It flattened under her rolling pin, bit by bit. When became sticky and clung to the rolling pin, she breathed slowly and dusted the pin with more flour just as her mother had taught her. It had taken her twenty-four tries roll out the bottom layer of crust alone and fit it neatly into the pan. She thought if she screwed this one up, she might scream.
“The trick is in the crust,” Mara’s mother used to say. “Pie filling is great, but the crust is where the magic is.”
Warning; This is a piece of fiction that has been written in a ridiculously short amount of time. Therefore, there are likely errors and mistakes, so read at your own risk. (~_^)
The clouds released just enough moisture to dampen the cement and make it slick, while cars inched by caught in the snails pace traffic that lead downtown. As soon as the streetlight turned green a car back down the line honked, causing a number of other cars to release a litany of honks in reply.
Fay Fairburn looked up at the sound of the honking, her eyes trailing something that moved over the cars chasing the sound of the honks. What ever this something was, it went unseen to passersby, but Fay noticed and she shook her head with a smirk and went back to weaving together strips of cloth, plastic, and strands of her own hair. The end of the weaving held a coke tab, a small stone, and other objects tied into a ball like charm.
Despite all the dirt under her nails, despite the unbrushed and fading blue hair that has begun to dread, despite the torn jeans and ratty tee shirt and mismatched socks and man’s pin stripe suit jacket five sizes too large, Fay did not give the impression of being homeless or lost. Her entire appearance seemed to be deliberately accidental. She didn’t even seem to remember the battered top hat was sitting in front of her until someone dropped a bit of change into it.
Each time a bit of change clattered into the hat and rattled with the other dimes, quarters, and pennies as though it had at last found its way home, Fay looked up from the charm she was weaving and smiled. It was the kind of smile that made the people suck in their breaths linger for just a moment, as though the mist had broken to reveal a ray of sunny warmth. Even those who tried to deposit money in the hat without actually seeing her somehow found themselves struck by the illumination of that smile.
Her papa shuffled around the corner wringing his hands, not so much from the chill in the air, but from the worry that hovered around him like gnats. His clothing was as rumpled and dirty and torn as Fay’s, but while she encapsulated certainty in herself, her papa looked perpetually and unutterably lost. Even if her were scrubbed clean and placed in the finest clothing and the shiniest shoes, he would never release that sense of displacement, of not belonging to the place or time in which he existed.
Seeing his daughter, he shambled over. “Have you seen my Queen?” he asked. “I’ve been looking for my Queen.”
Fay shook her head. “No, papa, I’m sorry. She’s very far away, remember? We left her in the Otherlands.”
“I miss my Queen.” The people walking by ignored the old man with proper New York zeal.
“I know, papa.” Seeing his hand tightly balled in a fist, she asked. “What did you find?”
Fay held out her hand and her papa stared at her open palm, as thought trying to read the map of its creases outlined with dirt. Slowly he uncurled his own hand and gave her a small silver key.
“I didn’t find it,” he finally said. “It found me. Jumped from someplace high to reach me. Almost landed on my head, which wasn’t nice. But now we’re friends.”
Fay nodded. The key was small and shiny and plain and seemed to belong to nothing and no one. It did not look old, but it also did not look particularly new either.
“It’s a very pretty key,” she said and offered it back to him. Her papa didn’t take it. His expression drooped with sadness.
“I don’t know where it lives.”
Fay looked at the key again, considering. “Well, it’s a key, so likely its home is a lock. Do you want to try to find its home?”
Her papa nodded his head, looking like one of those toys she saw the windows, the ones who’s heads jumped and bobbed up and down in a way that always made her laugh.
“Alright, then.” Fay smiled at her papa and for a moment he didn’t look like a piece of brown paper that had landed in the gutter. He looked like he were home.
* * *
This post comes to you from The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge prompt Characters that Haunt You. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish the tale as I intended to today, but upon request I’ll try to finish it up in Saturday’s post.
I’ve kind of burned out a bit over the past week between my day job and writing at home (this has happened past Novembers), so I’ve been avoiding NaNoWriMo. Thus and therefore, this snippet has nothing at all to do with Under the Midday Moon.
The sprite-like Fay Fairburn first appeared as part of a blogging challenge for LiveJournal, called LJ Idol, which involved writing a new post each week based on a specific prompt. For my challenge, I decided to write a fiction piece each week, each one centered around a single character, Fay Fairburn. She came flipping, jumping, and brightly colored into my world and hasn’t left me since. You could definitely say she haunts me, or at least playfully prods me with riddles from time to time, always reminding me that I have more of her stories to tell.