Archive of ‘bookish’ category

Becoming Dangerous

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My bold, beautiful, beloved friend Meredith just shared this Kickstarter project with me, and it’s such an important thing, a vitally, crucially important thing, that I am compelled to share it with you, too.

BECOMING DANGEROUS: A book about ritual and resistance, is comprised of twenty personal essays from witchy femmes, queer conjurers, and magical rebels on summoning the power to resist.

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Some words from the creators:

“BECOMING DANGEROUS is a nonfiction book of deeply personal essays by marginalised people using the intersection of feminism, witchcraft, and resistance to summon power and become fearsome in a world that would prefer them afraid. With contributions from twenty witchy femmes, queer conjurers, and magical rebels, BECOMING DANGEROUS is a book of intelligent and challenging essays that will resonate with anyone who’s ever looked for answers outside the typical places.

The latest book from Fiction & Feeling, a new and independent UK publishing company, the book is edited by Katie West, and Jasmine Elliott. From ritualistic skincare routines to gardening; from becoming your own higher power to searching for a legendary Scottish warrior woman; from the fashion magick of brujas to cripple-witch city-magic; from shoreline rituals to psychotherapy—this book is for people who know that now is the time, now is the hour, ours is the magic, ours is the power.”

Contributors for this book write for publications like The Guardian and The Paris Review; websites like Autostraddle, The Hoodwitch, VICE, Broadly, and Nylon; and have published books and journal articles with several different publishers.

Some identify as witches; others identify as writers, musicians, or artists. All of them have developed personal rituals to summon their own power and want to share these personal experiences of resistance and survival with you.

I have already backed this project; I cannot think of any book more worthy or deserving of my money right now, and I am absolutely certain that BECOMING DANGEROUS will similarly compel so many of you, too.

Make The Most Of Your Weird Library With The Arcane Art Of Bibliomancy

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Amongst my acquaintances it would seem that we all appear to have a similar predicament with regard to the printed word: that is to say, an intense, almost obsessive acquisition of books. Whether for pleasure, research, or keeping up our nerdy/witchy Instagram appearances, we acquire stacks and piles of bound, printed matter much faster than we actually read through them.

No doubt if I were to quiz one of these friends at random they will admit, with a strange sort of embarrassed pride, that they have shelves upon shelves of unread novels–and yet there is an Amazon Prime parcel on their doorstep, a small press delivery on the way, and their virtual cart is brimming with another order ready to be placed. Oh, and they’ve just come back from a stroll through the musty, dim-lit shelves of a local used bookstore, and hey look, what a surprise–here’s a few more books.

What if I told you that you could use these mountains of books as more than doorstops and spider-squashers? What if I revealed to you a use for that collection of charming, old-timey ghost stories that has been gathering dust and cobwebs on your nightstand? Yes, yes, I know–you are going to read it eventually, and I do appreciate that sentiment: I’ve got the same book next to my bed that I’ve been too sleepy or too busy looking at my Twitter feed to actually pick up and peruse.

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You are no doubt familiar with the practice of divination, or, the seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means. One can foretell the future through cards, clouds, drops of mercury, even a pile of steaming entrails. Today, however, we are hitting the books for our divinatory purposes! Divination from books or verse is an ancient process known as bibliomancy and is sometimes used synonymously with the terms stichomancy (divination from lines) or rhapsodomancy (divination through a random passage of a poem).

There are, of course, different schools of thought as to how bibliomancy works. Originally, it was a means of seeking divine answers, and the most popular book used for this practice was American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (just kidding! It’s the Bible)–though this is not the only text that’s been used for this purpose. Other popular texts included the Aeneid of Virgil, the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer, and The I Ching has also been used in a similar manner. Seekers of illumination would meditate upon their questions and blindly select a passage in the book, which supposedly would impart to them the divine wisdom they needed for the solution to their problem. In this theory, it is believed that one is led deliberately to their answers by some sort of higher power, or perhaps an angel, spirit guide, or aliens.

Other folks see it as more of a psychological enterprise—a means of communicating with your own damn higher self. Meaning, we most likely already contain the answers to our problems, we just can’t always easily tap into them due to all of the “mental filters” that we have built up through our lives and experiences, clouding our ability to see the issues clearly. By this ideology, it’s not really the book that contains any special or wondrous answers; you already know the solutions you seek, and the chosen passage just acts as a tool to help you access them.

But back to the books– you mustn’t feel compelled to use one of those “sacred” texts to practice bibliomancy. All that’s required is a book that speaks to you at that moment. This could be from the library, a new book you’ve purchased for this inaugural divinatory occasion, or something from your own bogged-down shelves. It could be a spiritual book, fiction, nonfiction, that smutty romance novel that sits on the back of your toilet, or even your beloved, dog-eared, 30-year-old stolen library copy of Harriet The Spy. The books you adore will have had an enormous influence on who you are and your beliefs. These beloved writings will have caused you to examine your own depths, encourage you to think in new ways, and eventually become part of who you are, which is why they are great vehicles for shedding light on the questions to which you are seeking answers.

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Let’s get started, shall we? In preparation for a bibliomantic ritual, give some thought as to the kind of question you want to ask: are you seeking romantic resolution or perhaps repairing a relationship? Or maybe you’re all like,”Love? Fuck that horseshit! Where did my great-great-grandpa bury that hidden treasure?” Perhaps you just want guidance on what to make for dinner tonight, but somehow opening an actual cookbook seems too mundane. Words taken out of their larger context could trigger something deeper than you imagine is possible. This could be the most amazing Monday night supper you’ve ever made!

Focus your question and find your book. Trail your fingertips along the spines of those lonely, mostly unread books (again, no judgment) and see what calls to you. The titles themselves can often reflect how you are feeling, or coincide with a situation you have been dealing with. Maybe the embossed detailing tickles your fancy. Maybe the cracked, faded lettering on your dear copy of The Complete Grimoire of Pope Honorius makes your innards go all cozy and it just feels right. Go with it!

Sit with your chosen book in a quiet space and close your eyes. Clear your mind and try to not focus overly much on the emotions attached to the question you need help in answering. What you are aiming for is a state of “calm expectation.” When you feel comfortable, relaxed, and emotionally and spiritually in a good place, ask your question– out loud if you don’t feel too weird about it, or quietly in your mind, if you prefer. Take a few seconds to allow your question to be heard and absorbed. Then pick up the book.

Close your eyes and let your fingers meander through the book’s pages, lingering over the paper wherever you may feel compelled. At some point while doing so, you will intuitively feel the “right” place to stop (or your finger will get tired, that’s a good place to stop, too.) Place your finger on the spot you are drawn to.

Read from where you finger is resting, be it for a few words, a sentence, a paragraph, or an entire passage if you’re into it. At first glance, the words may have no bearing on your question. “What the fuck is this nonsense?” you may wonder, “I asked if my girlfriend is cheating on me and this asshole is talking about cherry blossoms. Thanks a lot, Basho!” Give it some time. Look at the words you are reading: what do they have to tell you about your situation? Do they offer any guidance or inspiration? Do you connect emotionally with what you have just read–did it leave you gleeful, frightened, peevish? Repeat the passage aloud or write it down by hand–your higher mind has deliberately selected these words to help you in some way and eventually you will understand their importance and meaning.

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Some mystics suggest for this exercise that if you’re left even more confused than when you started and you require more clarity, try it again from the start. Pick a book that seems to fit your question, and then merge your chosen answer with the last passage. It is said that sooner or later you will be able to see what the words are trying to get through to you. Or you’ll go crazy. Because I’ll be honest, at this point I am thinking of a freaky Jorge Luis Borges’ Library of Babel scenario involving infinite permutations of all these passages mashed together and it’s sort of creeping me out.

There you have it, bookworms! Since you’re clearly not ever going to read anything from those dangerously teetering, towering book stacks, why not harness the power and the magic of those beautiful, potent words contained within to get some questions answered and get your shit together?

Okay, okay, I poke fun, but I get it. I am one of you, truly! I just checked out eight books from the library but I’m still plowing through a pile of books I bought two years ago. And yet, somehow I just purchased four more books for Summer Reading 2019? How does this even happen? It’s a sickness.

So let’s do this for a start. Read through the above thoroughly, and as your first foray into the arcane art of bibliomancy, I want you to think long and hard on this question. Meditate, roll it around in your mind, choose your title from your shelf and ask aloud of the angels, aliens, your intuitive brain-meats, and who/whatever else…

“What book shall I read next?”

Photo credit: Maika Keuben / @liquidnight

(This article was originally posted at Dirge; the site is no longer active.)

Currently {7.30.17}

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I find that I increasingly dread and actively avoid putting these “currently” posts together lately. I’m not sure why that is, exactly. To be quite honest, I love talking about myself and all the stuff I’m into, so it’s not like I’ve all of a sudden gotten weird and self-conscious about it. I operate under the assumption that my friends and acquaintances are a lot like me, in that they are curious about the lives of the people who they care about in some form or another (either on the internet or in real life), so if I want to know all about you, is it so hard for me to believe that you might want to know about me? Nope! For whatever reason, as anxious and uneasy as I feel about other things, sharing without feeling uncomfortable or awkward, or precious about it, has always been a thought process that’s come naturally to me (even when someone might actively try to squash it).

So what’s the problem, then? I suspect my low level dysthymia (undiagnosed, but that’s what my counseling-for-a-career sister tells me, and I guess I can’t really sue her if she’s wrong) really amps up in the summer time; I lose all motivation and energy, I stop taking care of myself and participating in the activities and passions I love, and it’s just a vicious cycle–I haven’t got the energy and life to do the things that give me energy and life.

So, yeah, here I am. My heart isn’t in it, but I’d be cross with myself if I skipped my monthly installment of talking about myself. Also, I will take this opportunity to show you my bangs-growing-out-progress, as well as the sparking new addition to my earthly meat suit: my new nose piercing, which I have fondly dubbed “lil crusty”.

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My youngest sister has been checking in with me via email every day. I think she’s realized that for mental health checks, phone calls actually stress me out even more (although Melissa, I hope you know you should always feel free to call, I don’t mean to sound so singularly shitty about it) and so email is the way to go. This daily correspondence has been very helpful; it’s comforting to know that there’s someone out there who realizes I am going through …whatever…and who takes time to say hello every day, and shares with me little links she finds that will interest me, or maybe gives me a piece of advice that she finds helpful in her own life.  Early in the week, when I told her that it was a struggle to even get out of bed,  she urged me,  “…just do SOMETHING to break the cycle. Some activity, to get the momentum going.”

So, I took her advice. I made a list. I did not get to the big stuff. But I ate a goddamn apple, and it was a start.  I shared the imagery on instagram, and it was heartening and encouraging, all of the positive feedback I received, all the kind words and helpful sentiments. I won’t say I was surprised, because I am surrounded by thoughtful, generous, compassionate people. I always appreciate these wonderful souls, but to say I’m surprised by their reaching out to me in kindness? No way. Never surprised. That’s the kind of people they are. You all make me better for knowing you. Thank you. /end cheesiness.

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So, that’s a lie. I have some more cheesiness for you. I received some wondrous gifts in the mail this week, from two incredibly special people. I was utterly moved to tears (and finally in a good way this summer!) at their generosity and the sheer amount of talent and astoundingly hard work that went into these treasures.

My sweet friend Lisa, who I began chatting with online during (I think) the final few years of my time up North, is thoughtful and clever, and very, very funny. I remember us poking fun dumb inspirational memes, and coming up with ridiculous ones of our own, and thinking “yep, Lisa is my people for sure.” Lisa is a quilter who creates the coziest, loveliest patchwork pieces and had apparently been working on this quilt for me since 2015! Accompanying this masterpiece was a beautiful note detailing her inspirations for the project, information on the fabrics used (one was from a collection called “spellbound”!), and the pattern, which is called Storm at Sea and interestingly involves sewing the pieces of the fabric directly onto paper templates and then tearing the paper away when it’s all put together. Lisa also included a marvelous poem which she noted had provided the “narrative underpinning” for the piece, The Plantation, by Seamus Haney. I finally read it in its entirety this morning, curled under the quilt in the dim glooms of my parlour, as the rain outside pounded against the windows–while I was warm and dry and feeling very, very loved.

At any point in that wood
Was a centre, birch trunks
Ghosting your bearings,
Improvising charmed rings

Where ever you stopped.
Though you walked a straight line,
It might be circles you traveled
With toadstools and stumps

Always repeating themselves.

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Friendgift #2 came from the the inimitable jewel priestess/sorceress-solderer, sisterkin and glittering heart, Flannery Grace Good. I had placed an order for a few treasures from her shop, and she included this extraordinary moonstone spirit moth, in addition to some sage for smudging, a floral hydrosol, various stone talismans, and other things for general good juju.

This package had a bit of an adventure finding its way to me! I’m still not sure what happened, but somehow it got lost in transit, somewhere in the murky postal ether, and floated frustratingly out of reach for a week or so. When it finally arrived, I took a moment to breathe a sigh of relief and then commenced parading around in my shimmering new jewels. Flannery Grace Good, in addition to being a wonderful friend, is truly a master of her craft, and coupled with her imagination, creativity, and intense drive, she creates some of the most beautiful jewelry I have ever seen. If you’ve not peeked in her shop yet, you should certainly take a moment to do so, and say hello. 

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Summer reading! If you recall, my mini quest in my overall yearly reading challenge was to read twenty five books in the months of June, July, and August. Last month I managed six, and this month at eleven books read (one of them is not pictured, above) I’ve nearly doubled that, so I think we’re moving along at a good pace.  Six + eleven = seventeen, so by the end of August, I’ll need to have read eight more books to hit my goal of twenty five, and…uh…win? I guess? I never actually got that far in my planning, I guess.

With Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu, fans are were probably like, “what’s this heartwarming crap about pet cats? I want grotesquerie and repulsion!”…but if that’s your initial reaction, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by this fantastic read, and trust me, you’ll get your Juni Ito grossness, but just…in a different sort of way. I was finished with the book before I realized it, and was sad to see it end! He writes about having to adapt to living with his fiance’s cats over time, and it’s both adorable and creepy, and overall a fantastic addition to his body of work. Thanks for this little surprise, J-Kun!

Actually, everything I read this month was pretty good, with Gilded Needles and Monstress at the top of my list, followed by The Beguiled, The Graveyard Apartment, and Bleed (all three would make excellent beach reads, with Bleed probably being my least favorite of the three)

Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu
Bleed
Monstress Vol. 2
The Graveyard Apartment
Southern Cross
The Lottery (graphic novel adaptation)
Rachel Rising Vols. five*, six, and seven
The Beguiled
Gilded Needles

 

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And now I’ve got just enough energy left for some one-word movie & teevee reviews…!

6/29 A Dark Song : yes
6/30 The Belko Experiment: yes (except for last 5 minutes)
7/1 From A House On Willow St: ugh
7/3 What We Do In The Shadows (rewatch): ALWAYS
7/4 Kong Skull Island: meh
7/5 Attack On Titan Season 2: fun!
7/6 Lake Bodom: skip
7/17 Split: sure
7/20 Logan: yeah (but for beardy, bespectacled Wolverine reasons)
7/22 The Killing, Episodes 1-6: yes
7/22 Martin: YES
7/23 Creepshow: eh
7/26 Dawn of the Dead (original): fantastic!
7/29 Zeder (thanks Maddie!): yesyesyes

What was your July about? Wondrous things? Terrible things? Middling-meh things? What have you read or watched or seen or done that thrilled you? Or repulsed you? Let’s dish.

Ennui & Old Friends

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It is rare that I re-read a book. I used to do it frequently, in my childhood and early teens {Heidi, Harriet The Spy, Rebecca, and Dracula were among those beloved favorites} but nowadays I almost feel it’s a waste of time. I’m a little ashamed to admit feeling like that, because there are so many special stories worth spending time with, again and again, but…as I get older I feel there is less and less time to read all of the things I want to read, and so the cherished tales often stay tucked away on the shelf.

Last night I was experiencing a bit of a funk; I’m almost tempted to use the word “bored” (except I hate that word and I try to never feel that way*) so let’s say, instead, that I’m in the grips of a vague ennui. I blame the relentless summer heat and the fact that we had just had a small sun shower. It’s like, why even bother to rain? Rain and sunshine don’t belong in the same space together. If the skies aren’t dark and the clouds aren’t ponderous and you don’t feel either a little bit scared or sad when it’s happening, then the rain is doing a crappy job. Also: fuck rainbows.

When I get like this, I don’t want to read anything, look at anything, do anything. And it occurred to me that in the grips of a bit of ennui is the perfect time to re-acquaint myself with a book I’d read many years ago. Summer vacation of my 11th year, as a matter of fact. And I’d never been so scared in my life…

About fifty or one hundred pages into Cujo, I’m realizing how differently it is affecting me than it did thirty years ago. The closet-spectre of Frank Dodd is still scary as hell, but the tragic horror of Cujo himself…I mean…it’s just…he was such a good dog! This is so damn sad now. Why did I think I wanted to re-read a story about a poor, rapid pupper?

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I think when I finish this up I’ll re-visit Dracula and Rebecca and Harriet the Spy (and Heidi, if anyone wants to give me with old beat up copy! I lost mine ages ago.) I wonder if they’ll still thrill and amuse and inspire and impact me the same way? What will have changed for me, or in me, that affects my perception of the characters and the story? What details will I notice that escaped me before? What will it recall for me that has since been forgotten? I wonder.

What are your beloved favorites that you return to time and time again, for comfort, or in times of boredom? Are there some that no longer affect you the same way, or perhaps affect you on an entirely different level, now that you are an adult?

*And on the subject of boredom… are we even allowed to be bored? Louis CK says that we are not (at least I think that was him.) But maybe it is good to experience a little bit of boredom every now and then. I mean is it healthy to always be busy, busy, go – go – go? Maybe it is good to say fuck it! Everything is stupid! I don’t want to do any of the shit in this moment right now! It’s dumb and pointless and BORING! What do you think?

Forty Two Books (+ 25)

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Well and so! Every year over on Goodreads I pledge to read a certain number of books; last year, for example, I shot past my goal of 75–with a total of 91 books read! This year I was lazy and just went for 50.

I’m at 43 books read now, so I thought I’d make a mini goal (I’m sort of thinking about it like a side quest…like maybe stopping in at the Gold Saucer in FF7). At any rate, my mini goal, if you’re interested–or, if you’d like to join me– is old school summer reading, like they gave you in high school. Over the next three months, that is to say, what’s left of June, July, and August, I shall read twenty five books! And FYI, graphic novels and small books of poetry totally count.

Of the titles I’ve read so far, I’ll share several favorites with you; I loved these books so much, in fact, that I am having a hard time coming up with a few words to say about them. It’s funny, if I hated them I’d be at no loss for scathing thoughts and unkind things to share (which is  kind of shitty and I am trying to be better about such this.) But with something I truly love? Language fails me and I can’t even give you the slightest detail.  But I will tell you that there are thrilling tales of terror and adventures, and people who look like monsters and monsters who look like people, and romantic love and self love, and sadness and shame and fury, and loads to think about.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters // Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay // Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman // Borne by Jeff Vandermeer // My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris // Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples // Bird Box by Josh Malerman // and a graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Kindred by Damian Duffy

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But now…off to bet on the chocobos in Chocobo Square! Er, I mean…off to read some of my side-quest books, a few of which are pictured above. I am especially looking forward to Gilded Needles (which Kate and Jack will be talking about soon on Bad Books For Bad People), as well as Black Hole.

What are your reading goals this year, if you have any? Were there any titles you particularly enjoyed? Do you have any summer reading planned? I want a full report!

Curious about my reading challenge in previous years? 2016 // 2015

From Bibliophile To Bookbinder: An Interview With Nate McCall

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Sturdy spines enveloping stories and secrets yet untold,  gilt-embellished covers, glimmering and hinting at undiscovered worlds, the rasp of papery promises as one by one the pages turn and the tale unfolds! No one, I think, has a better understanding of how to create the perfect vessel for these mysteries and adventures, than Nate McCall of McCall Company.

In case you missed it last month, and of interest to bibliophiles, bookbinders, and lovers of beautiful things: my recent interview with Nate McCall of McCall Company from Haute Macabre.

Cheerless Beach Reads For Gloomsters And Saddies

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It’s that time of year again. “Beach Reads” lists are making the rounds, and no doubt they’ve got all the bestsellers: feel good books with inspirational titles, geopolitical tracts, pop-culture rags, and action hero stories. And you know, there’s nothing wrong with any of that. I’m not here to shit on things that other people like! But there’s also nothing wrong with you, if those books just aren’t your bag. If you are anything at all like me, you’ve a melancholic disposition and you prefer your choice of reading material to reflect your morose, sometimes maudlin mindset.

It’s June. It’s inevitable. Some of your normie friends are probably going to invite you on a picnic or to a day at the beach, and hey– having friends is great. It’s difficult to make friends and maintain friendships if you’re a weirdo introvert reader who sometimes prefers pages to people; but you understand the power and importance of human connections, and you actually like spending time with these people even if they abnormally revere the sunlight and sometimes listen to Top 40.

You know they’re going to gently poke fun at your perilously overstuffed black tote bag when you show up for the party, but you also know that no one’s going to give you a hard time when you slink off behind a shadowed sand dune for some peace and quiet to dig into that book stack that’s been calling your name for the past hour while you were catching up and eating vegan hot dogs or whatever your friends are into. You might be an anti-social weirdo, but you don’t pass up free food!

What’s in my bag this year? Well, firstly, I don’t necessarily believe that newer is better, so I may have a few titles that were released more than a few years ago. Hell, maybe the authors are even dead! That’s okay. Nothing wrong with contemplating your own mortality on a sunny, cloudless, midsummer afternoon.

Secondly, while these are all either bleak or dreary, that has nothing to do with how good they are. Each of these titles, in my opinion, are thoroughly engaging, compelling reads–they’re not merely good, they’re pretty fantastic. There’s just not going to be many chuckles of mirth while you’re reading them (okay, except maybe for Megahex). You might find that you have actually forgotten to smile after you’ve finished them (maybe especially with Megahex). That’s fine, you’re fine. Our friends are like, twenty feet away and they’ve just made a pitcher of margaritas and we can drink until we forget.

But for now, let’s wallow.

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The Late Works of Margaret Kroftis, a novella by Mark Gluth, is a series of vignettes, a chain of separate lives connected by death. Themes of loss and grief and daydreams and stories within stories within stories. It begins with a personal tragedy in the titular Margaret’s life and chronicles the heartache and sorrows that follow the other characters as the book progresses. Written in spare, atmospheric, dreamy prose that simultaneously breaks your heart and leaves you sighing wistfully the whole time, you will recommend The Late Works of Margaret Kroftis to every bookworm you know but then too late you realize your suggestion should have come with a trigger warning. Steel your sweet hearts–devastatingly beautiful and seeping with insidious sadness, this is a rough one for sensitive readers.

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In the reading of Caleb Curtiss’ A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us, you will become aware of what it means to be close to someone and to also be very far away from them. Written in the aftermath of Curtiss’ sister’s death, these are poems attempting to make sense of moments and memories, loss, and lost time. Radiant elegies that present as both revelatory and contradictory in the way that grief, when distilled and examined, can both clarify and confuse–especially when stalked at the periphery by ghosts. Hug your beloved sibling after you read this and remember that your life and everything you know in this world can change in the blink of an eye, in a heart beat, and we will never have all the time we need with those we love.

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True, The Tenant, a surrealistic, psychological nightmare by French writer, illustrator, and filmmaker Roland Torpor was originally published in 1964, but, with themes of alienation and pervasive loneliness while living in close quarters with other jerks in an urban environment, it seems astonishingly relevant today. The story follows Trelkovsky, a seemingly average guy, who moves into the recently vacated apartment of a female suicide. Hilarity ensues! Not really. With an atmosphere awash in suspicion and paranoia, we watch our protagonist travel an almost pre-determined path from obsession and existential crisis to sociopathic misanthropy and madness. Your shitty neighbors won’t seem nearly so bad after reading The Tenant, I assure you.

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Megahex by Simon Hanselmann follows the darkly humored, depressing as hell, and sometimes pretty fucking disgusting stories of ennui-infected, perpetual stoner witch Meg and her cat familiar/lover Mogg, along with their various degenerate friends. This collection of strange beings, despite their otherworldly appearances, spend their time engaging in mostly mundane rather than magical activities, consisting mainly of dopey shit and bad decisions. Intensely relatable, frequently hilarious, and surprisingly poignant–while reading it, I at one point found myself quietly weeping, without even realizing it.

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House of Psychotic Women by Kier-La Janisse is an “autobiographical topography of female neurosis in horror and exploitation films,” that, despite its title, doesn’t read at all as a dull, dense treatise on horror theory–and it is not exactly criticism so much as it is intensely enthusiastic film appreciation. An examination of neurotic, hysterical, and oftentimes bonkers bat-shit crazy women in genre film, interwoven with fascinating autobiographical elements that parallel her own, often troubled past, Kier-La Janisse’s House of Psychotic Women is an accessible, powerful, utterly unique creation, and undoubtedly the exact opposite of a fun, light-hearted beach read.

(This article was originally posted at Dirge; the site is no longer active.)

How To Wear: Your Favorite Books & Stories

Weird

I have been stricken by a sudden sickness; a miserable spring cold that arrived out of nowhere and has rendered me scratchy-throated, fuzzy-brained, and with a wretched, wracking cough. All I want to do is put on some fuzzy socks, curl up under the covers and prop myself up on a fluffy pillow, sip a lemony hot toddy, and lose myself in the restorative properties of good book. And if I’m not cured by the last page, well, at the very least, I’d like to think that from these beloved books and treasured tales, I will have been inspired in some small way.

Sometimes my mind wanders as I am reading, and I find myself wondering all kinds of ridiculous things. But things which certainly require answers, I am sure you will agree! What sorts of clothes were the tenants from the grotty apartment building wearing, in that thoroughly unsettling tale? What sort of fabulous frocks might the witches from that mystical manifesto caper and cavort in? Did that invisible wind-based demon who tormented lonely travelers wear a sweater to keep warm?

See below for the culmination of these feverish thoughts involving sartorial suggestions for selected sick-bed stories. Some of them, because my nonsense cannot be contained, even have accompanying soundtracks!

As, always, click the image for a detailed listing of the items used, and links to books and texts and music have been provided as well.

What Is A Witch by Pam Grossman and Tin Can Forest

what is a witch
Salt Is For Curing by Sonya Vatomsky
saltisforcuring
“Near Zennor” by Elizabeth Hand (in the collection Strange Errantry)
Near Zennor playlist on 8tracks
NearZennor
The Tenant by Roland Torpor
The consistency of empty space playlist on 8tracks
The Tenant
Revenants by Daniel Mills
Don’t you recognize your own daughter? playlist on 8tracks
Revenant
The Sea Priestess by Dion Fortune
The tides of all men’s souls belong to me playlist on 8tracks
Sea Priestess
“The Carrion Gods in their Heavens” by Laird Barron (in The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All.)
In a voice rusty and rugged playlist on 8tracks
Carrion
“The Birds” by Daphne du Maurier A madness seized them playlist on 8tracks
The Birds
The House On The Borderland by William Hope Hodgson
That fragment of ruin playlist on 8tracks
House on the Borderland
“Into The Woods” by Robert Aickman (in the collection The Wine Dark Sea)
It is something I have long known playlist on 8tracks
Aickman
“The Wendigo” by Algernon Blackwood
The merciless spirit of desolation playlist on 8tracks
The Wendigo

 

Wanna see some more ridiculous ensembles? Go nuts!

👁‍🗨 How To Wear: A Winter Getaway
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: Your Favorite Horror Film
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: The Arts
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: The Spring Equinox
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: The Winter Solstice
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: The Autumn Equinox
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: A Jean Rollin Film
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: A Gothic Romance Novel
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: Your Favorite Tarot Deck
👁‍🗨 What To Wear Upon Greeting Death
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: A Melancholic Holiday
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: A Date With A Monster
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: Dramatic Jewelry
👁‍🗨 How To Wear: A Tee Shirt

Monsters and Other Scary Shit: A Monster Anthology

MONSTERCOVER-RGB-small-768x566I don’t know how spooky I was as a small child. Not very, I guess. My cousin’s KISS posters scared me so badly that she would have to shut her bedroom door so that I couldn’t see her walls when I was in the house; the monsters of the week on Scooby Doo gave me nightmares (even though they were usually, like, old man McGillicuddy under a mask or something), and I had actually a fit of hysterics after a particularly upsetting episode of Benson with a dream sequence murder. Scary things and monsters were not my bag until all of a sudden they were. And then, hoo boy. It was vampires and werewolves and zombies and elder gods and Lovecraftian horrors 24/7. And I still haven’t grown out of it.

Russel Nohelty, publisher of Wannabe Press (a small press that makes “weird books for weird people”) has a similar fierce love for the monster in all of its myriad forms. You might even say he’s a bit obsessed with them — psychological monsters, horrific monsters, religious monsters, mythological monsters, fantastical monsters, and everything in between. He’s never met a monster he didn’t like.”What if,” he thought, “I went to my favorite creators, ones that I knew loved monsters as much as me, and put together an amazing monster anthology where all of us could tell our favorite monster stories? It would be a love letter to monsters.”

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Created by monster-lovers for monster-lovers, Monsters and Other Scary Shit celebrates everything awesome about monsters. And when else to present to the world your glorious ode to the things you love best in life? Valentines Day, of course!  Monsters and Other Scary Shit was launched via Kickstarter on February 14th, Valentine’s Day 2017. (The campaign has reached its goal, but runs until April 7th–so there’s still time to grab a copy for yourself, and to fill that monster-shaped hole in your own heart.)

The 224-page monster anthology is organized and edited by Russell himself, is printed on high quality, glossy art paper and bound in beautiful hardcover, with cover art by Aaron Alexovich, indie comic creator and artist for Invader Zim. The comics are “…written and illustrated by one of the thirty different professional teams who have credits ranging from Marvel, DC, Vertigo, Oni, and Image, to brands like Star Wars, The Simpsons, Transformers, Invader Zim, and more. ” As well as an entry from Unquiet Things favorite, Christie Shinn!

Even though monsters are in every form of storytelling on the planet, they are often lumped into the horror genre. But monsters are so much more than horror. They are sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, drama, and everything in between. Notes Russell, “I love monsters because they can represent ANYTHING. They can represent people, places, things, or ideas. You can use them to tell a deep story or a fun one. I love Monsters Inc as much as I love Hellraiser, and I wanted to curate and anthology that showed my love of all types of monsters.”

The monstrosities that stalk these pages range from over the hill Sesame Street type monsters to demonic robot overlords to world-swallowing beasts; humorous and unsettling and sometimes creepy as hell, there is literally something in here for everyone. In reading through the tales, there are quite a few that I would have liked to continue reading, there was a definitely feel that there was more story to be explored; some that felt just exactly right, and of course, as in all anthologies, there’s always a few that left me scratching my head, or simply ambivalent. On the whole, though, I am reminded of two other somewhat monstrous anthologies that I’ve read in the past few years and found myself enjoying–The Sleep of Reason and The Other Side: An Anthology of Queer Romance …so, if either of those titles appealed to you, you’ll probably dig Monsters And Other Scary Shit, as well!

See below for a handful of images from the book, and get on over to the Kickstarter page for more details and a closer look!
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Elsewhere: Stacked & Aural Fixation

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Stacked

 : Over at Haute Macabre you can peek to see what Samantha, Erin, Maika, Sonya and I have been reading over the past 28 days! While I thrilled to every word of one of the books I read, the other piqued my ire frequently. Curious as to my thoughts? Visit Haute Macabre to read more! And be sure to tell me what you’ve been reading, in the comments.
{image: Bill Crisafi for BloodMilk Exquisite Corpse “The Comfort of Dust”.}

AuralFixation

…and also, while we’re at it, Haute Macabre rolled out my favorite new feature this evening, in which we all blather on about the sounds we currently have on heavy rotation:

 Aural Fixation.

{art provided by Becky Munich}

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