mixed feelings in the spring; 4.25.18

Friends and folks, today begins with some happy yelling.

First, because this accursed Minnesota winter has F  I  N  A  L  L  Y  sputtered out and the weather is PERFECT “laying-on-a-blanket-outside-and-reading” weather.

Second, because on Monday a FULL TRAILER dropped for the movie Crazy Rich Asiansbased on the book by Kevin Kwan, and releasing August 17.

Y’ALL. IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THIS BOOK YET, I’M GETTING SO NERVOUS FOR YOU.

Yes, the movie looks absolutely amazing whether or not you’ve read the book, but if you think even for a moment “eh why bother I’ll just skip it and see the movie”, you will be missing out on a REAL DELIGHT. The book, and its followups, China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems, are some of my favorites that I’ve read in the last year, packed with the most fun kinds of drama and glitz and brilliantly drawn characters. Everyone from the main protagonist to the smallest “extra” is immediately identifiable. And look, I don’t usually go in for descriptions, but every single description in these books is a five course meal and I LOVE IT.

The Power – Naomi AldermanImage result for the power naomi alderman

Holy. Moly.

This book has been on the minds and tongues of people such as Margaret Atwood and Barack Obama, and for GOOD FUCKING REASON.

As we’ve already established, speculative fiction is very much my jam, and speculative fiction that examines gender is even BETTER. This book is specifically interested in–how did you guess?–POWER. What would the world look like if, quite suddenly, women were the more physically powerful gender? How would things change, and how quickly?

Alderman examines these questions from dozens of fascinating angles, and even more fascinating was how I felt myself pushing back against the narrative at times, asking questions, resisting outcomes, mulling over whether or not I bought Alderman’s premises. It’s a decently hefty book, but a page turner, and–is anyone shocked? [lol you’ll get this joke once you’ve read the book]–is currently on its way to being adapted into a TV show. I’m excited for the show and hope it goes into some of the areas of the worldbuilding that seemed absent to me (for example, there wasn’t even a nod in the narrative to trans and nonbinary people, who would certainly be affected by the societal changes in gender power dynamics).

Oh also — I want to give a heads-up/trigger warning: there are a couple of pretty intense sexual assault descriptions, so be aware of that as you proceed and make sure you have a good support system in place if you want to read this book but are concerned about potential triggers. [There are also many excellent 24/7 crisis support lines–as a former volunteer I will always plug the Sexual Violence Center of Hennepin County (which you can call from anywhere in the world, you do not have to be in Hennepin County or the Twin Cities to use the crisis line) but calling the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline (also known as RAINN) will also route you to a service provider in your area.]

The Turn of the Screw – Henry JamesImage result for the turn of the screw henry james

So I’ve kind been on a Henry James kick,  by which I mean I’m halfway through The Portrait of a Lady and am loving it but also it’s quite long and so to get more of him + also some spook factor, I read his novella The Turn of the Screw.

Do yourselves a favor and read this book on a gloomy November evening when you have the chance to properly sink into it and be spooked by the creepy children and atmosphere, and not as I did, which was under fluorescent lights in short spurts over a number of spring weeks. Additionally, James’ writing often requires a great deal of patience, which can be rewarding, but can also be frustrating as you find yourself attempting to untangle the same paragraph multiple times. It’s a short book, but feel free to take your time with it. As I’ve discovered in my own life: pretty much no one is impressed by how fast you can read James. So just settle in with a warm drink and enjoy the journey!

Cat’s Cradle – Kurt VonnegutImage result for cat's cradle kurt vonnegut

I feel no shame in admitting that I’m probably not Deep Enough to be into Vonnegut, and I don’t care to be. Reading this honestly felt like a slog, and I’m not totally sure why. I read Breakfast of Champions in college and really enjoyed it, but while reading CC…I don’t really remember why? I know that Vonnegut Says A Lot about war, religion, the human condition, etc, etc, but I couldn’t really make out what it was, and in this book it was mingled in with a lot of gross colonialist and ableist stuff that distracted me.

There were a couple of lines that made me laugh out loud and think “oh Kurt, you clever old sport,” but on the whole, I just wasn’t into it, and when I found out that apparently this too will be adapted into a mini-series, I whimpered “whyyy…” in my office.

 

Until next week, dear ones! Now I must go and watch the first two episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, Season 2, likely while sobbing into a pile of un-folded laundry!

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