“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

HAKURI MURAKAMI

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me screaming about "Jane Eyre"

March 19, 2020

me screaming about "The First Bad Man"

March 18, 2020

Kevin Wilson, My Long Time Literary Love, Has Grown Up.

August 14, 2018

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March 19, 2020

Obviously Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is an incredible novel. People have thought it’s an incredible novel for more than a hundred and fifty years! That’s just a given. Also it’s not like I can review Bronte’s writing style or anything because I’m writing this, again, more than a hundred and fifty years from when she wrote this. 

So you might be thinking, this book is super old and super long (mine was 521 pages), I am never going to read this unless a class makes me and even then I’m not going to read it. But the plot is absolutely crazy, the characters are crazy, and the whole of its being is crazy and that is my very strong endorsement! There are a few super cool things about it though that might get lost in the shuffle of it being Very Old and Very Famous.

I am obsessed with the plot. I go into extreme detail in my video summary here, but a brief summary is that it follows Jane Eyre’s life from when she was ten years old to her early twenties. She’s a ward of a wealthy family, sent...

March 17, 2020

Miranda July’s novel The First Bad Man is weird. I definitely liked it, but it’s really weird. There’s not really a single normal character in the entirety of the book. But maybe it’s not that characters are so weird, but it’s that the characters are so open about their peculiarities. The world that July presents, much like the worlds that she presents in her acclaimed shorter works of fiction and her films, is one where people are shockingly willing to disclose the intimate details of their private lives.

The story takes place in Los Angeles and the reader is given the perspective of Cheryl Glickman, a forty year old woman who lives alone and works for a nonprofit. The nonprofit is called Open Palm, an organization that mostly makes self-defense fitness videos. Cheryl is infatuated with Phillip, a sixty year old board member of Open Palm; she believes that she and Phillip have been in love in all of their past lives. She starts to, in her words, “show him some heat,” and when he seemin...

August 14, 2018

Kevin Wilson’s new short fiction collection, Baby, You’re Gonna Be Mine is pretty good; it showcases his talent and imagination. The stories feel more finished than his previous ones, but I am slightly sad about it.

I met Kevin Wilson when I was fifteen at my creative writing camp at Sewanee, University of the South. One of the books we were supposed to read before camp was his debut short story collection Tunneling to the Center of the Earth. Wilson was young and extremely awkward. When he read, it seemed like no one expected his voice to sound the way it did, least of all him. 

I thought he was brilliant and under appreciated, but by that time he had already published his debut novel, The Family Fang, and Tunneling to the Center of the Earth had been decently well reviewed, so he wasn’t quite the unrecognized genius that I thought he was. I think it was how anxious and totally bizarre he seemed that made me love his equally anxious and totally bizarre writing even more.

Tunneling to the...

August 8, 2018

REVIEW: SORRY TO DISRUPT THE PEACE BY PATTY YUMI COTTRELL

This is one of the few books that I’ve purchased in a long time. I bought it because Patty Yumi Cottrell won a 2018 Whiting Award for fiction, which is basically a fancy grant telling her and everyone else that she’s talented. And she definitely is.

This book is really cool. Really intense. Strangely funny. Depressing. Disgusting. Awesome.

When I started this book, only a hundred pages in, someone asked me if my book was good and I said “Yes, it’s very good, but I think I might hate it.” But despite the fact that I thought that I hated it, I kept wanting to read more.

Here’s the thing: this is not a book for everyone. It is a spectacular piece of writing for people that can really relish in that part of it— the writing. This is not a book that you would buy for your Catholic grandmother, for your new neighbor, for your fragile-hearted best friend. They will probably not like it and they will tell you so and then once again your Engl...

July 23, 2018

I’ve never been a “nature person.” Yeah, I went to camp, yeah I’m from the Midwest, yeah, I’ve seen and been in a lot of nature, but I’m definitely not outdoorsy or the first pick for a camping trip or anything like that. And yet, Peter Rock’s beautiful, heart-breaking, disturbing novel My Abandonment makes me want to go out into the woods and experience it the way his thirteen year old protagonist, Caroline, does.

The book came out in 2009, which makes it old news by review standards. However, a film adaptation called Leave No Trace (dir. Debra Granik) had a very successful premiere at Sundance. Knowing Granik’s history with Winter’s Bone, I’m sure that this will be the next movie that everyone is talking about. And so, why not start by talking about the source text?

The story is based off of a true one-- in 2004 a father and daughter were found living in Forest Park, a wooded state park near Portland, Oregon. Rock’s fictional account of that story is told through Caroline’s intelligent...

July 23, 2018

TL,DR; a bunch of different characters (you’re bound to like one of them) trying to be happy, and also lightly sci-fi. get it at your local bookstore. it’s awesome.

Describing this book as soft sci-fi isn't quite right, but it’s as close as I can get to giving it a genre. It certainly is science fiction — it takes place in the future with all kinds of fancy technology— but it doesn’t read like a science fiction novel. As much as Katie Williams’s novel Tell the Machine Goodnight is about technology, the technology also has very little to do with it. Soft is right too; the prose is relaxed, rounded off, spoon-feeding the reader surrealism. It has the slow burn of magical realism. But putting the two words together “soft sci-fi,” in an attempt to define a genre, is not correct. Reading it is like going down a Youtube wormhole of indie movie trailers, which to some sounds like a criticism, but think about how fun that is— constantly held interest, a multitude of emotional arcs and character...

July 19, 2018

When Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One came out in 2011, it was received with lukewarm reviews. It was a fun, sci-fi, YA sort of jam. But since the announcement and, now release, of Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation, eyes are back on the novel and they are far more critical.

The story, for those of you who haven’t read it (it’s on the Amazon Top 10 List, so I assume a lot of you have) or seen the film, takes place decades into the future when the Earth is overpopulated and people are poor and starving. A believable enough premise, as it is already somewhat our reality. And while the majority of the world doesn’t have adequate housing or nutrition, what they do have is the OASIS, a virtual reality world where they can be any avatar they can create and essentially do whatever they want. The story follows Wade Watts, who goes by the alias of Parzival; he’s a typical white bread, self conscious, awkward, outsider-who-is-clearly-superior kind of high school nerd. Wade is a “gunter,” meaning t...

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