Things I Read Aug. Through Dec. 2019

Books. Novellas. Short Stories. Scholarly Articles.

Fifteen Hours: Mitchel Scanlon

Knee Deep: Mitchel Scanlon

Death World: Steve Lyons

The Thing About Shapes to Come: Adam-Troy Castro

Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World: Caroline M. Yoachim

Ruby Slippers: Susan Wade

The Naturalist: Maureen F. McHugh

Serious Moonlight #2: The Razor Thin Edge: JG Cain

Broken: Maya Goode

Redemption Through Sacrifice: Justin Woolley

Made in Abyss vol. 1-6: Akihito Tsukushi

Dark Son: Gav Thorpe

Void Crossed: JC Stearns

The Curse of Shaa-dom: Gav Thorpe

Left for Dead: Steve Lyons

The Strong Among Us: Steve Lyons

Phoenix Rising: The Gift of Hope: Andy Clark

Sabriel: Garth Nix

Half a King: Joe Abercrombie

Pretty Pretty Boys: Gregory Ashe

Transposition: Gregory Ashe

Paternity Case: Gregory Ashe

Off Duty: Gregory Ashe

Battle Angel Alita: Last Order vol 1-2: Yukito Kishiro

Red Lanterns vol. 1-3: Peter Milligan, Miguel Sepulveda, Ed Benes, Rob Hunter

Daughter of the White River: Depression-Era Treachery & Vengeance in the Arkansas Delta: Denise White Parkinson

Favorites

Novella: Fifteen Hours: Mitchel Scanlon

Manga: Made in Abyss: Akihito Tsukushi (seriously cried for HOURS)

Short Story: The Naturalist: Maureen F. McHugh

Miscellaneous Comments

I didn’t read a lot of “deep” literary masterpieces this half of the year (or maybe I did depending on your point of view). My brain wasn’t in it. I needed my comfort literature. Which is Warhammer 40K. Because.

But I have to say my favorite novel of this half of the year is Pretty Pretty Boys by Gregory Ashe, and not just because it’s fresh on my mind because I just finished reading it. This is a self-published book and it is phenomenal. The writing is excellent, the characters are extremely tangible and well developed. The plot pacing and mystery execution are very well done (I’m not an expert by any means in the genre and I can’t tell “good” device formula from a hole in the ground).

But most importantly, this book grabbed me by the collar and shook me very hard. I had to stop and take a break for a minute. I think I even had a nightmare. Because this book also deals with very heavy themes. Bullying, suicide, hate crimes, persecution. It takes serious skill to blend real-world issues with a genre and not have them come together superficially or tacky. I love it when books can grab me in these visceral ways when I’m not expecting it. Ashe is well worth your time. Seriously. Good stuff.

And to the amazing Maureen F. McHugh: a friend of mine and I agree, there needs to be more of The Naturalist. What’s his story? What happened to him? He needs a book all to himself. Thanks.

Gatekeeping in Anglo-Saxon Literature, Musical Traditions, and Lots and LOTS of Poems

Here’s a really captivating article about J.R.R. Tolkein’s scholarship on the Old English epic poem Beowulf and how the white gaze predominates medieval literature.

Book Recommendation: The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations by Toni Morrison. Includes her essay “Grendel and His Mother.”

Margaret Atwood on The Testaments, the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale.

And now…lots of poems…

The Gardner by Nancy Botta at Rusted Honey

Close Reading by Brandon Som

You Say You Said by Marianne Moore

“An Apocryphal History of the Discovery of Migration, or The Sacrifice of the Pfeilstörchen” by Alba Cid, translated by Jacob Rogers

Ideology by Aria Aber

Cloth Birds by Dorothy Tse

The Convert Wants Wounds, Not Scars by Melody S. Gee

River to River by Hai-Dang Phan

A gorgeous haiku from Lize Bard of Haiku out of Africa

Getting a little Biblical now: a poem to Noah’s wife by Maya C. Popa

And my poem for Noah’s wife…

After the Flood

While Noah’s sighs polluted the ruddy beach

littered with the bones of heretics,

their livestock and their predators;

while he thanked God for the early warning,

the strong timber, and exclusion

from the slaughtered multitude

his women walked around him like he was just another corpse,

bobbing and rooting around piles of driftwood and soggy cloth,

picking out the useful things.

I wrote this way back in 2009 after visiting an art exhibition depicting a life sized Noah, drawn in charcoal, assessing the damage of God’s Wrath while looking picturesquely helpless and out of sorts while women scavenged through the rubble behind him. I can’t remember who the artist was.

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Photo by Jessica Furtney on Unsplash