I tell you what, folks. This is a wild world we live in, full of bulemics, and theatrically-minded badgers, and conspiracy theories, and goddesses of death and revenge, and young Mormon writers, and great depressions, and what have you.
Shall we dig in?
018) I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jeannette McCurdy, finished February 27
I heard of the book because she was vaguely raised Mormon and I'd heard that her comments were mostly positive. You could make that argument, I guess, but her experiences are slender and infrequent and there's not much to talk about.
I'm interested in how she represents her own reactions. Another character will say something and we'll get her reaction in the next paragraph without quotation marks. And sometimes it ends up that was something she said and sometimes it was something she repressed. It largely worked as a technique.
I will say this book gave me a lot more understanding of many things that suck but that I do not often think of, most notably eating disorders.
And it fits into the current trend of proposing therapy as the best thing a person can do. Not in a saccharine way—she fights therapy way more than even Wednesday does—but the book itself is evidence of therapy's eventual victory.
I do wish they'd cut the opening scene. Or reduced it to one page and put it behind the front cover for the mass-market paperback. Just stop doing that, editors. And I do want to blame editors because it seems to be almost conspiratorial how common starting in the middle and then skipping to the beginning and working forward has become. And it's lala great because it shows us the relevance of the title and turns her eating issues into a bookend but I'm not convinced it's great writing.
Although this appears to be marketed to adults (or, perhaps, erstwhile kids, fans of her who have become adults) and has some startling and upsetting sex, I expect if this book has a future it will be YA.
Which kinda seems like a cruel irony for her, but maybe that will turn a positive effect. Let's hope so.
(One short addendum. Although most of the Mormon stuff rings (sometimes painfully) true, I do not believe the funeral/baptism thing. That's the most bonkers unlikely thing I've read in a while. And I read Unmask Alice!)
019–21) The Abominable Charles Christopher by Karl Kershl, finished March 6
I read the first three volumes and whatever's available from the not-yet-on-paper volume four and all I can say is good on this guy for making a living in comics but dang I wish this project was taking more of his attention. It's terrific!
UPDATE: Apparently, just as I read this, weekly updates began again. That's that "whatever's avaiable from the not-yet-on-paper volume four" I mentioned. So this is a good time to join the fun.
022) Displacement by Kiku Hughes, finished March 6
I was glad to see Octavia Butler namechecked in the last sentence of the acknowledgments because this is just a middle-grade Kindred about Japanese Internment. Except it is much less interested in story and much more in teaching history. Which is fine. It's palatable. And the characters are likable and comics move quickly. I think a young audience will appreciate this book.
023) The Many Deaths of Laila Starr by Ram V and Filipe Andrade, finished March 6
Death is demoted to mortality and she keeps dying. Luckily, the god of life keeps bringing her back.
Technically, I think what I love most about this book is its pacing. For instance, one of the issues lasts the length of a single cigarette—and it's narrated by that cigarette. I love that.
The art is lovely the writing is strong and it's popstore philosophy is true enough to charm.
Plus, we should all get to spend some time in Mumbai.
024) The Homeland Directive by Robert Venditti and Mike Huddleston, finished March 7
This book came out in 2011. I know because at page fifty I wanted to know just when it came out. It was clearly post-Trump but was it also post-covid? And the answer was no. It was post-neither. It was some leftover post-9/11-slash-post-Bush paranoia that was perfectly situated for modern relevance.
And hooboy is it! You've got your evil bureaucrats looking to make America perfect by moving towards autocracy. You've got a disease of mysterious origins sweeping the nation. You've got a hefty feeling of hopelessness that the future will arrive no matter what we do to stop it.
So yeah. I'd call it pretty relevant indeed.
025) Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare, finished March 14
Holy smokes. This play is bananas. I mean—from the little I knew about it, that's what I was expecting, but it just starts out bloody and never stops. Murder and rape and human sacrifice and cannibalism and so on. It's also interesting to think about as an early play. Considered in dialogue with Coriolanus or Othello, you can see how Shakespeare went on to refine certain ideas.
Great book to finish on Pi Day though! Because he serves her her sons in a pie. Get it? get it? get it?
026) Last West: Roadsongs for Dorothea Lange by Tess Taylor, finished March 15
Tess gave me this book before it was released, prepandemic, but I've only now finally read it. In part because she gave it to me when she gave me Rift Zone and I didn't feel a need to read back to back.
I was finally motivated because she invited me to come see her staged adaptation and it seemed like I could read a slim book of poetry beforehand.
The book was commissioned by MoMA as part of a Lange show and it has a museum sort of feel to it.
Anyway, I'll come back and write some more under the line after I've seen the show tomorrow.
027) 22 Young Mormon Writers edited by Neal E. Lambert and Richard H. Cracroft, finished March 19
Excellent book. Find an in-depth look here.over eleven months but under a year
028 & 029) Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare, finished March 23 &March 27
So if you're wondering, YES, this bananas play is DELIGHTFUL to read with high-school students. It just—never stops being shocking! Which means we've a LOT to talk about. And that's what makes a pedagogically useful text.
Previously . . . . :
2014 = 2015 = 2016 = 2017 = 2018 = 2019 = 2020 = 2021 = 2022
001) The Dark Room by Gerry Duggan & Scott Buoncristiano, finished January four
002) The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander, finished January 6
003) Rose by Jeff Smith and Charles Vess, finished January 10
004) Acting Class by Nick Drnaso, finished January 10
005) Red Scare by Liam Francis Walsh, finished January 11
008) Maddy Kettle Book: The Adventure of the Thimblewitch by Eric Orchard, finished January 24
009) Fantastic Frights: A Beginner's Guide to Scary Stories, finished January 24
010) Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary, finished February 2
011) Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, finished February 3
012) The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain, finished February 4
013) Is that all there is? by Joost Swarte, finished February 6
014) Edge Case by YZ Chin, finished February 7
015) Double Indemnity by James M. Cain, finished February 10
016) Sex Educated: Letters from a Latter-day Saint therapist to her younger self by Bonnie Young, LMFT, finished February 13
017) Unmask Alice: LDS, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World's Most Notorious Diaries by Rick Emerson, finished February 20