currently reading

Ulysses by James Joyce

book reviews

fresh on my mind:

Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)

Brutal, sweeping, stunning. The death of the frontier mythology. The blood staining american history. Evil cowboys are a necessary read. An essential book if you're into literature, dark history, or the truth of the american frontier. 10/10

Beloved (Toni Morrison)

Also brutal. Deeply human. A beautiful novel about terrible things. Toni remains a legend, I love seeing her masterclassing black trauma but wish she didn't have to do so. Beloved is about how people cling to love. 10/10

Heretics of Dune (Frank Herbert)

Although far from his best, I love the Bene Gesserit in this novel. It's interesting watching the Duniverse operate without the narrative black-hole-ish force of a Kwisatz Haderach. Dune remains some of my favorite commentary on saviorism and colonialism ever. Still a fun time. 6/10

Dracula (Bram Stoker)

I could talk about the gothic forever. I could talk about victorian vampires as cultural fears of that era for another few forevers. Camp, dark, fun, bloody, and now a tumblr phenomenon. 8/10

The Postmoderns (Poetry, various)

I love love love postmodern everything and sometimes I even love poetry. The Beat poets are my Hannigram: so enrapturing I almost forget they're terrible. Some favorites: Howl, America, anything Frank O'Hara. 9/10

Kafka on the Shore (Haruki Murakami)

It took me a long time to understand why people love Murakami. I finally realized that it's his brutality. There's something in the way he writes like a keystroke or a guillotine. (In prose, that's a good thing.) This is a strange enrapturing novel about cats and a boy who wants to screw his mom and sister. Bizarrely enchanting despite Murakami's famed inability to write women. I love novels about teenage boys running away, but hate un-self-aware misogyny. the result? 8/10. this book would have scored higher if it had more to say.

Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller)

Greek mythology is my childhood. Queer yearning is also my childhood. A fun ride through an alternative history that doesn't take itself too seriously and knows its popular niche. Did it change my life? No. Do i still want a queer rendition of Achilles and Patrocles with all the gritty blood and sweat and complexity of Ancient Greek warfare? Yes. Do i think this book did anything wrong? No. It hit its target audience just right: I'm just not that. 6.5/10

old favorites:

American Gods (Neil Gaiman)

The greatest american novel written by a non-american. The darkest of Neil Gaiman's work and shines because of it. A masterpiece of urban paranormal mythology. Is there anything more heatbreaking than personifying american history through the broken gods it left behind? I really think this book is a masterclass. The dysfuction in it runs deep. 9/10 but a 10/10 in my heart.

Children of Dune (Frank Herbert)

My favorite of the Dune books. Chock full of fascinating concepts ahead of their time. The problems with external cultural white saviorism, political desire for power, and being a weird amalgamation of all your ancestors in a literal incarnation of generational trauma are on full display. Leto II is my favorite horrifying protag in all of fiction. The plot twists in this book keep you in existential horror and the book itself reads like a spice trip in the best way. 9/10

Night (Elie Wiesel)

I read this book way too young: I needed that. The sole reason I'll never fall for any holocaust denial narrative. Possibly the most fucked up, sickening book on the planet earth because everything in it is real. However bad you think the holocaust was, it was worse. The novel form of a scream in the night. Forever horrible, forever essential. 10/10 vital reading

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

I love love love love pride and prejudice. Romance is generally my genre ick but this book leaves me so in love. Elizabeth is an icon and Darcy is a horrible mess of a man. Obsessed with them both, and the social satire here. Jane Austen was pulling no punches. 9/10 but 100000/10 for the sheer seratonin it gives me.

House of Leaves (Mark Danielewski)

The postmodern horror that ushered in a new age of weird experimental fiction. Is it profound? Not so much. Is it deeply disturbing, crazy inventive, and so captivating that I spent months in high school sitting with a highlighter and a pencil adding my own madness to the margins? Yes. This book is something special. Undeniably a huge innovation in the written word. 9/10

In the Dream House (Carmen Maria Machado)

Machado singlehandedly rekindled my love for literature when I read this piece. She's a literary powerhouse and I've loved everything she's ever written. A meditation on domestic violence, queerness, and being othered. Inventive as if she was born to play with structure. She makes it look easy. An indescribable book with some deep truths to speak. 10/10

The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath)

First things first: the racism. Plath fascinates me because her internalized misogyny and prejudice always seem one step away from being self-aware. Is this book some of the most gorgeous, ahead-of-its-time prose in literature? Yes. Is it also the ramblings of a deeply flawed, troubled, and angry-at-the-world woman? Yes. Something about that fascinates me. Like a lot of american fiction at the time, there's something deeply guttural about the way people displace their anger at society onto marginalized groups. 9/10

on my radar:

Orange World and Other Stories (Karen Russell)

Dark Tales (Shirley Jackson)

Cat's Cradle (Kurt Vonnegut)

Naked Lunch (William S Burroughs)

The Year of Magical Thinking (Joan Didion)