Her Body and Other Parties, by Carmen Maria Machado

It’s not often (or ever) that I come across a new writer I love this much.

This collection of short (and not so short) stories wowed me at every turn, and overwhelmed me with the uniqueness and fresh beauty of the prose.  Her use of language is so creative and lovely, I couldn’t put it down and found myself highlighting sections constantly in my Kindle.

The stories vary in tone and content, but all feature lesbian or bi women as protagonists, and are poignantly powerful at showing the world from a woman’s POV. But even if you’re not particularly interested in feminist writing, the stories are amazing in their own right. AMAZING. One of them, you can (and should) read right here. This story is a list of Law and Order: SVU episode titles, and their descriptions. Yes, you read that right. It is a story told through short episode descriptions that slowly coalesce into a story featuring Benson and Stabler. It is dark, surreal, sad, strange and I couldn’t stop reading it.

That one in particular stuck with me because I’d never considered writing a story in that format. It’s not quite fan fiction, but uses the oppressively violent world of SVU as a backdrop. You get the feeling as episode after episode is listed, that human cruelty is so endless, that they could keep making SVU episodes forever, and never repeat themselves. And you feel the gross, evil of it, and identify with the helplessness as the characters are overwhelmed, and driven mad by their own city.

The other seven stories are just as evocative and memorable, each in their own unique way. I really can’t recommend this collection enough.

I don’t know the last time I’ve been this struck by a new writer. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

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The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

Reading this was a bit of a wake-up call to how vapid and soulless(hehe) vampire movies and books are today.

Dorian Gray, in a fit of youthful exuberance, trades his soul for endless youth, and gets more than he expected.

Not only does time not affect him in any noticeable way on the exterior, nothing seems to affect him in any way on the inside either. At the start, he frets that the death of his love, Sybil, is not affecting him as much as it should. Later, all his possessions and pleasures do nothing to make him feel complete. The vampires and immortal beings of modern storytelling have no drawbacks (sun doesn’t even hurt them!) making them boring and un intriguing.

This is a great story about how we obsess over youth and beauty at all costs, and an interesting look at the costs of a life without feeling or soul. What is it that causes aging, anyway, besides the scars of our experiences? If none of our experiences affected us, life would be an empty, perfect, shell…

Enjoyable and thoughtful read.

Sense 8

I finished this gorgeous series by the Wachowskis a couple days ago and am still a bit stunned by how great it was.

Eight different people spread across the globe are all psychically connected and experience each others lives in flashes, at first, becoming stronger and more connected as the story progresses.

The diversity of the characters is what really makes the show, I think. There’s a trans woman hacker in San Francisco, a closeted gay Mexican actor in Mexico city, a bus driver in Nairobi, a cop in Chicago, a business woman in Seoul, Korea who is also a cage-fighter in her off time, a safe-cracker in Berlin, a DJ in London, and a bride-to-be in Mumbai. All of these people, from such different lives, all become close companions due to their psychic connection.

The show is shot on-sight in every one of these cities, which has a powerful effect for the show. The world feels so real, because it is real. The crowds and events happening during the show are for the most part actual events that were going on during filming. The whole series is beautifully shot and most every frame is a joy to look at.

The over-all plot is a bit thin, and at times confusing, but that’s not where the gold in this show is. It’s in the characters, and their individual stories, and how they help each other through troubling times with their unique experience from their own lives. There are so many heartfelt and powerful scenes, and yes, some of them may seem sappy or cliche to some folks, but that doesn’t make them any less impactful. Life is sappy sometimes.

If you are going to have problems seeing gay and trans people showing their love to their partners on screen, then this show may make you uncomfortable, and you probably need to grow up.

I’ve heard that some people found the first couple episodes to be slow. I was sucked right in, but if you find your self wanting more to happen, give it till the third episode, and if you’re not enjoying it by then, then it’s probably not for you.

I really enjoyed this one, more than I have any show in quite a while, and I am excited to see these characters again in season two! Netflix has done it again, and keeps doing it. I really hope this one continues to do well enough to keep getting made!

Check it out!

Marriage

I know I’m a couple days late, but what a great day for America! We are now one step closer to having equal rights for all humans. It’s still a long way off, but getting it set in law is a huge step toward changing the attitudes of the populace.

This news, in combination with the confederate flag news, and I think we’re going to see a lot of secret bigots coming out of the woodwork to expose their hatred for everyone. Politicians and regular folk alike.

What an exciting time to be an American!