Lives of the Monster Dogs: Well, That Happened

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I don’t know what, exactly, I was expecting when I got my copy of Lives of the Monster Dogs, but hell if there’s a universe where I wasn’t going to read it. Canine Prussian science experiments turned aristocrats trying to make it in modern-day New York? Coupled with such lines as “the first child in the world (I proudly believe) to be blessed with having a Samoyed for a godmother”? I’m so in.

Also, I love dogs.

Continue reading “Lives of the Monster Dogs: Well, That Happened”

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue: Sounds Gay, I’m In

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(if you don’t get the joke, click here)

Two books came to mind while I was reading The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue: Meddling Kids and the Gemma Doyle trilogy (okay, that’s technically three books, but whatever). Meddling Kids I’ve talked at length about, mostly about how fantastically trope-y yet earnest it was as a pastiche/affectionate parody; there’s a similar vibe to that in TGGVV, which takes a decidedly Hitchhiker’s Guide/Monty Python attitude to genre conventions. Gemma Doyle I haven’t talked about, mostly because I read it way before I started this blog, but in essence it’s a YA series about secret magical societies and all-girls boarding schools in fin-de-siècle England. The Gemma Doyle connection is partially stylistic, but it’s also more thematic: both are YA period fiction, both have magic, both discuss how the past was real cool aesthetically but also awful for people who weren’t straight white cismen.

Mostly, though? The vibe I got was fanfiction. Continue reading “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue: Sounds Gay, I’m In”

Meddling Kids: The (Eldritch, Pop-Culture Saturated) Beach Read of 2017

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There are any number of personal anecdotes/mini personal revelations I could use to ease into a discussion of this book, but I’m going to cold open with this: I like weird stuff. I don’t know if it’s been a consistent thing, my attraction to bizarro shit, or it’s a more recent and mildly alarming development in my personality, but it’s one that I’ve pretty much embraced. It’s confused people, the weirdness generally tends to confuse people, but I stand by my Eraserhead enthusiasm and unironic love of pigeon dating games. Weird is great, okay? Weird is playful, the ability to step back and go yes, but what if, an impulse that puts it catty-corner to surreal and experimental on the avenue of delighted surprise. Weird doesn’t always mean well-conceived or even ultimately all that interesting—think of any of the failed start-ups that litter college campuses—but it does mean a willingness to do things differently, and that is something I can admire.

So then. Personal anecdote over. Meddling Kids.

(cw for discussions of mental health, suicide, and general trauma) Continue reading “Meddling Kids: The (Eldritch, Pop-Culture Saturated) Beach Read of 2017”

Swing Time: A Shamelessly Biased Review

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I have a complicated relationship with Zadie Smith. By which I mean I read White Teeth when I was nineteen/twenty and, like basically every other collegiate female of that age, loved it with a fervor and intensity makes it nigh-impossible to fairly judge anything else by Smith. Not that I dislike Smith’s other books or that I’ve been particularly vigilant about reading them; outside of Swing Time, the first few chapters of The Autograph Man (I liked the first chapter/prologue, but could not get past the rest), and a few scattered essays, I haven’t strayed far beyond White Teeth. Because, you see, when I finished White Teeth I was exhilarated, filled with the kind of lit nerd high that comes from discovery of something really, really fucking good. There’s a particular image I have of Zadie Smith the author, and it’s an one I’m reluctant to tarnish by exposing to reality.

Swing Time, though…Swing Time was interesting. Swing Time looked promising and more than that, everyone was talking about—couldn’t pass a bookstore without seeing it at a display table, browse a book blog without finding it somewhere on the ledge. And the marketing worked: I was curious. I bit.  

Continue reading “Swing Time: A Shamelessly Biased Review”

Horrorstör: And Then The Real Monster was Capitalism

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For those who’ve always wanted a novel about a haunted Ikea knockoff, well then, Horrorstör is the long-awaited answer to your prayers. Taking place in Orsk, a faux Scandinavian furniture store in the heart of America, Horrorstör provides everything you would expect from a horror novel packaged as an Ikea catalogue: umlaut abuse, likeable but flawed protagonists, and none-too-subtle critiques of capitalism. What else could you want, really?

Let’s be real, though. This is a book about a haunted Ikea; there’s no way I wouldn’t be there for that shit. Continue reading “Horrorstör: And Then The Real Monster was Capitalism”

Boy Meets Boy: The Literary Equivalent of Eating Honey Out of the Jar

(Yes, I’ve sat in the kitchen and eaten straight honey from a spoon. Don’t judge.)

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The last few months, I’ve been really getting into queer YA. So far, it’s been a good ride: while (as with any genre) there’s been some meh stuff (mostly due to writers either not understanding how teenagers act or letting characters be defined by their queerness), as a whole, it’s delivered on the promise of fun, decently well-written fiction that’s thoughtful without being too self-indulgently navel-gaze-y. Plus, as someone who (as a teenager) got most of her queer representation through fan projects or the internet, I can’t help but get excited about books that feature non-straight people, even moreso when they’re YA—it’s fucking difficult to be a teenager even without the queer thing in the mix, and anything that tries to alleviate that I am 100% behind.

All that said then, Boy Meets Boy. BMB is a book from David Leviathan, an author who’s contributed a lot to the rather niche queer YA genre—he’s written twenty-three books and worked with multiple YA authors, including John Green, with whom he co-wrote Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Boy Meets Boy was Leviathan’s first novel, in 2003, and its premise is as simple as its title: a boy (Paul) meets another boy (Noah). They fall in love. Their parents and the small town they live in are incredibly accepting of their non-straightness (background characters include a drag queen star quarterback and the straight football player still bitter over getting rejected by her), and yet high school has a way of getting in the way of even the best of romances go awry.

Continue reading “Boy Meets Boy: The Literary Equivalent of Eating Honey Out of the Jar”