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Hey besties! Another short and sweet one this week. A three-quarters of the year reading round-up, if you will. I noticed that I only talk about things once I’ve finished them and as someone who famously struggles to finish anything, I thought I’d dabble in the long-forgotten art of tracking down progress and process. So, here are some books that have taken me ages to finish, but in a good way:
Foe by Iain Reid
I’m a huge fan of I’m Thinking of Ending Things, both the film and the book, so Foe was right up my alley. And considering that Paul Mescal, Saoirse Ronan, and Lakeith Stanfield are all going to be in the film adaptation of Foe, I have been reading the book in my head in Paul Mescal’s voice. It’s easier than I thought it would be, I watched a lot of Normal People in the first season of the pandemic.
So far, Foe has been about a couple—Junior and Hen—and Terrance, a mysterious visitor that informs them that Junior has been selected for a space travel programme, to be one of the first people to settle in an Installation in outer space. Junior continues to be suspicious of Terrance, unnerved by the effect his visits have on Hen.
I’m enjoying the book so far. It’s been cool to read something that’s so entrenched in a character’s paranoia that you forget that the Unreliable Narrator is, well, unreliable. I’m having a lot of fun with it. I hear that some fucked up shit goes down later on. Lookin’ forward to it.
Ugly Feelings by Sianne Ngai
I’ve been doing a bit of research on affect theory to inform some of the things I’ve been working on. Ngai’s book covering “ugly” and non-cathartic feelings like envy, paranoia, disgust, or something she calls “stuplimity”—a combination of boredom and awe—is a fresh (it was fresh in 2005, when the book was first released) look at aesthetics, criticism, and post-modernism. It’s a long one, but it’s been a really interesting read so far. And I’m not even that far along.
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
I’ve put Bluets in my To Read queue on the recommendation of one of my best friends, but The Argonauts caught my eye simply because I thought it would be a breeze. Length-wise, anyway. Boy, was I wrong. What’s really jumped out at me is the half-biographical, half-study voice in Nelson’s meditations on love, family, parenthood, desire, and queerness among other themes. Nelson covers a lot more ground and weaves in techniques you’d see more commonly in fiction into her own memoir. It’s gripping, it’s profound, and it’s hard for me to reckon with because I have a hard time reading when I have tears in my eyes.
Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash by Eka Kurniawan
I know my besties at London Film Festival will have the utter privilege of seeing this book’s film adaptation this year, and to you, I say a sincere congratulations. I am 100% incredibly jealous. However, this is more of a re-read than a new read. This is the first time I’m reading an English translation of the novel. It follows a young fighter, Ajo Kawir, who struggles with erectile dysfunction and falls in love with a beautiful local bodyguard, Iteung. The book is a really incredible lesson, to me, in balancing tone. Kurniawan manages to keep the stakes high, the relationships tense, and everything around it funny when it needs to be, and painful when it has to be.
Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez
I found a copy of all the collected issues of Crisis on Infinite Earths sitting on my dad’s shelf the other week and was aghast that he never told me he had one before. I’m not even sure if he’s read it himself. I’ve always wanted to read the whole arc and now I get the chance to. I’m still in the beginning, right around the time Harbinger starts recruiting everyone and bringing them back into Monitor’s satellite thingy. I’m a big fan of multiverses. Shit’s about to get real.
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
This one I’ve been reading for a while, for more or less 12 weeks because that’s what it requires of you. It’s a program Cameron still teaches to students—artists to be more precise—that are looking to unblock their creativity. It’s a little more than that, honestly. It comes with exercises, tools, and essays to try and make the reader/student reconnect their spirituality with their art as part of their creative recovery. I think this was recommended to me by an old roommate, but I was skeptical and lazy at the time to really follow through with it. Another friend recommended this to me in the summer after I confided in them about being lost—you know, typical annoying early 20s stuff—and this time I’ve really tried. And it’s been really good. It’s a process. And I think I’ve let the world around us get under my skin so much to the point that I forgot about process.
What are you reading right now? I’d like to talk about books. Let me know!
That’s all for this week!