Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for Halloween

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish.

1) The Uninvited by Liz Jensen - I just finished reading this on Sunday and it scared the daylights out of me. The perfect blend of realistic, literary fiction with a heavy dose of superstition-focused cultural anthropology, Jensen's well researched novel is a frightening portrait of a paradigm shift stemming from our culture's impending self-destruction.

2) House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski - This book made me sleep with the lights on for a week. I read it about 10 years ago and its multi-genre creepiness has stayed with me ever since. Figuring out how to read this one is a trick, but it's a fun mystery to untangle and one of the most unique reading experiences I've had.

3) Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn - Serial killers close to home. Munchausen by proxy syndrome. Self mutilation in the form of poetic scarification. Read this book. The brilliant, emotionally wrecked protagonist is one of my all-time favorites.

4) The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits - Don't be fooled by the cheery cover. This novel is an eerie look into "psychic attacks," astral projection via time travel, and possession. Brilliant prosody makes Julavits' darkness sexy and impossible to escape unscathed.

5) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - You won't need any ideas for Halloween costumes after you read this book. That being said, it's got one of the most aesthetically pleasing takes on The Creep Factor I've read in a long while. In a magical, late-night liminal space where ice gardens full of paper animals are the norm, things become increasingly unhinged.  The circus performers become pawns in a secret game that has the capacity to destroy them all.

6) City of Bohane by Kevin Barry - Futuristic urban grit. Warring gangs of dressed-to-the-nines twenty-somethings.  Drug-running, killer vixen, days of endless fog.  (Shockingly, this is not actually about San Francisco.) 

7) Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - Spooky kids + old-school orphanages = done.

8)Ugly Man by Dennis Cooper - This book of short stories has the distinct honor of being the only literature that has ever made me physically ill. Horrifying doesn't even begin to cut it. Not recommended for the weak of stomach.

9)The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich - While I'm not entirely certain what this image-driven, experimental thing is "about," there are nonstop horrifying, visceral goings-on that will make you read with your back up against a wall. These are not your "Twilight" vampires. 

10)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness - This is on my TBD list so I have no real insight other than that it sounds fantastic, it's part of a trilogy and everyone seems to freaking love it. 

Happy (literary) Halloween!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: "Love, In Theory" by E.J. Levy

Title: Love, In Theory
E.J. Levy
The University of Georgia Press
Date Published: 
September 15, 2012

How I Heard About It: The wonderful women of TLC Book Tours.

Two Sentence Summary:  In ten short stories, E.J. Levy's complicated characters explore love and its many [per]mutations over time.  Each piece is exploration within a new frame, guided by a shifting intellectual lens and also by the characters' quirky interests-made-metaphor: expensive woven rugs, creative writing prompts, philosophy courses.

"Desire confounds categories." (pg 69)

Things I Think: This book was challenging for me because of the immediate breadth of topic that lives in the title. Calling a book (essentially) "LOVE" is quite a tall order, and (unless it is magnificently executed) a potentially fatal misstep for an artist.  So I approached warily.  

The first story ("The Best Way Not to Freeze") employed a metaphor that made my writerly self shudder: a shattered plate glued back together, with obligatory reference to the irreparable cracks.  I felt (and still feel) shocked that this egregious cliche cropped up so immediately, because as I forged on, Levy's writing overflowed with unique imagery and beautifully crafted sentences. 

"Did you hear it?" he asked.
"Someone screaming?"
"Night hawk," he said.
"In the city?"
"They nest on rooftops and cliffs."
She still wonders if he wasn't mistaken, if the sound wasn't a seagull or someone being mugged, which in his longing Gil mistook for something rare and loved and absent. (pg 43)

author E.J. Levy
So many of Levy's images have stayed with me: an apartment overtaken by oriental rugs; index cards carrying secrets and regret, floating whitely down a highway at night; hypothermia survival tips arbitrarily tacked to a suburban fridge. While the basic situations are not unfamiliar (cheating spouses, abandonment by a lover, etc.) the characters are so infused with life and legitimacy.  It is from them that the book gains its gusto. 

There is a brisk trade in divination these days - astrological columns, palm readings - people seem less interested in preparatory contemplation than in foreknowledge, which seems to me to have it backward.

After all, what good is knowing what's to come if you're ill prepared to cope with it? (page 62)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Works In Progress: Ragdoll Love

The fog and rain have descended on San Francisco this week, so I've been holed up in The Stude getting my sew back on.  Not quite ready to start on a dress or other big project, I decided to make some snuggly little dolls (which will make good gifts for new tiny humans that are on their way!)

I found a perfect pattern from Simplicity and am waiting (im)patiently for it to arrive in the mail.
Simplicity 1900

Beth over at The Modern Lady recently made this sweet little lady using the pattern. I'm so smitten with the fabric choices for her dress, and the little flower headband is so perfect.
Bows. Flowers. Pigtails. Win.
I couldn't wait to get started, so I ordered another pattern from Sarah of Dolls and Daydreams. The 3d bangs, glasses, and braids made this pattern irresistible; and it's so customizable. 
Removable glasses! With hearts!
My version of this girl is fresh off the cutting board and ready to get pieced together. I ran out of black felt for her braids, so she's currently sporting a bob (like me) but will soon have some longer locks. 
I've been waiting for the perfect moment to use this cherry fabric.
Sarah's pattern is so straight-forward and easy to use.  I will definitely be frequenting her etsy shop (and the craft store) during my hibernatory season in The Stude.

What are you working on? Or am I the only one hiding from the cold? ;)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hitch In My Giddy-Up

The universe threw a mega curveball my way two weeks ago, and the days since have been occupied with trying to crazy-glue a lot of bits and pieces back together.  I think Fortuna's Wheel** is cranking back around though, so hope to be back to my bloggery self in the next few shakes.

**If you know what this references sans Google, I'll take you on a date. 

In the meantime, here are some things that are true:

  • Brian Bahouth interviewed me for his podcast about electronic literature. I talk about some things that I love a lot and sometimes giggle.

  • Apogee Press signed me on as their new Associate Editor.  I work with poets I adore, make brand new books go into the world, and encourage people to talk about them.  #glorious
  • Adam and Ginger came to visit. I hadn't seen these beautiful people since undergrad.  I hugged them extremely hard before taking them on hot dates to St. Francis and the Folsom Street Fair.   

  • I temporarily reinstated my acting career by playing Eve in a Fringe Festival show.  That's enough about that.

  • Two humans I love more than Velveeta are having a tiny human together. I am making it all of the things. In pink.

And there you have the highlights, minus the subtly aforementioned ruckus, which have made this fall what it is.  I'll be back soon with more book-obsessing, sewing, and poeming.