reunited and it feels so good!; 3.20.19

And by that I mean, my jean jacket and I are at last equipped to face the weather together again!! Minnesota has cut us a break, and the following is my face upon leaving my apartment yesterday morning, at which time I’m pretty sure I also tried to full-on hug the sky, so great was my joy:

This face is also pretty representative of my feelings about the new Hulu show Shrill, based on the Lindy West book [which is excellent!!] and starring Aidy Bryant. I am frequently grumpy about streaming shows having too many episodes per season, but at 6 delightful half-hours, this comes in WELL BEFORE my grumpiness event horizon, and in fact I am grumpy that I don’t have more of it. It’s a very ‘spring-y’ show, whatever that means, and I feel pretty certain that I could watch it…forever?

Speaking of shows I could watch forever, I’ve talked here before about One Day at a Time and I regret to inform you [through gritted teeth] that as of last Thursday, Netflix announced that they are cancelling this PERFECT, EXTREMELY WELL-REVIEWED AND CHEAP TO PRODUCE show. I’m going to copy over what Hannah Evans and I said about it in our April preview newsletter (found here) because I’ll get too worked up if I start trying to talk about it again:

This is absolutely a long shot, but if there is any chance that Netflix would reverse their decision, now is the time to get in on this show if you’ve been waiting. And if you watch it, watch it fast! The very, very little that Netflix has revealed about their decision-making metrics is that they’re keeping close track of how many people start and finish a season in under a month. We’re pretty certain that watching it quickly is not going to present too much of a challenge if you have the time/capacity, because this show is a GEM. And if you want to rewatch, consider using your partner/family member/roommate’s profile on the shared account we know you have (with their permission, of course *raises eyebrows suggestively) because Netflix also tracks “new viewers.”

It’s really gross that such an amazing show keeps being put in a position of having to beg for its life, but we promise that once you start you’re going to want to talk about it to everyone anyways, so why not start now?

Also, because I’m salty af not just about the fact of the cancellation, but Netflix’s weird tone on Twitter when doing so, I would like to take this moment to remind you that NETFLIX! IS! NOT! YOUR! FRIEND!!! No matter how horny they pretend to be on Twitter!! They are a COMPANY!! And Kathryn VanArendonk has written a great piece on this exact topic.

[also no I did not finish Lost yet I was BUSY feeling HAPPINESS about TV’s most best-est pool party]

felt in the jaw – Kristen Arnett

Image result for felt in the jaw kristen arnett book cover

Kristen Arnett is possibly one of my favorite people on Twitter. While her Twitter tends to be largely joyous jokes about dogs, 7-Elevens, beers, raviolis, and librarianship, her writing tends towards the creepy. I’ve linked before to one of her more recent short stories, and I’ll link now to a recent essay of hers that really effed me up. This might just be a “Kristen Arnett PSA,” because I really really enjoy all of her work and I’m very excited both for her upcoming novel Mostly Dead Things [pre-order it!!] and to hopefully see her at an upcoming literary festival in my city!!

felt in the jaw [lowercase intentional] is her first book, a collection of short stories. Admittedly, I don’t reeeeeally know how to talk about short stories. Sometimes I’m really into them and sometimes I’m not, and sometimes I really like them as part of an author’s body of work but am not really sure if I’m into them on their own. These stories aren’t quite ‘horror,’ but they are almost all disturbing in one way or another. Arnett writes about the grotesque and the beautiful (and the places those intersect) in a really visceral way, and these stories all approach their subjects in that way as well. I have a feeling her novel will be more my jam, but I’m still glad I read these and was able to really steep myself in her mastery of mood and her fantastic details.

The Ensemble – Aja Gabel

Image result for the ensemble aja gabel

Buckle up friends, because I’m about to say something very out of character here:

I think this character-driven book would have better if it was longer.

I really wanted to love this story about the members of a string quartet that follows them from early in their career through stress and success and relationships and breakups and children and moves. The narrative is structured around significant points in their joint career, which I think was a cool choice, but I found myself frustrated in a lot of the sections because I didn’t feel like I had enough information to really feel the impact of the big emotions they felt around those points. I wanted more of the mundane, more context and build-up for the boil-overs that happened in the parts the narrative covered. I truly would have read more of these characters in their day to day interactions with each other–the book’s emotional core is built on this mysterious, inspiring, and occasionally brutal connection between these four musicians, and while I found them interesting, I think I would have cared about them more if I’d been able to see more of the way that connection actually played out.

Not being a person who knows much about chamber music, there are probably things about that aspect that I didn’t quite get, but Gabel does a very good job of showing the significance of the music the characters are playing and interacting without being over-explain-y [it helps that she also created a Spotify playlist that includes that music].

So I actually finished one other book this week: the academic tome Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Imagination, but I’m actually going to talk about it next week, when we’ll have a bit of a theme and also a bit of a life update, so I’ll see you then!

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