There are three types of people in the world right now:
Little Fish follows a young couple (Olivia Cook, Jack O'Connell) as they navigate the world while a memory loss virus is spreading through society, threatening their relationship and the history they share with one another.
Overall, Little Fish, was a great movie. While there were some scenes and sequences that didn't jive with me, these were far and few between. Both Cook and O'Connell showed vivid emotion in their character portrayals and the relationship between them was what really hit home - though I'm a sucker for tears and slow burn tragedy. Give me millennial heartbreak and we'll be best friends.
While the story may have begun as an examination of Alzheimers or dementia, being released in 2020/2021, the content takes on another layer for those in the audience. While watching, it isn't difficult to see the parallels with the current state of the global health crisis, however I think it's important to note that memory loss is a real plague on families and loved ones, and I think Little Fish does a great job of respectfully illustrating that struggle. If you can stomach pandemic-esque media, I definitely recommend giving this one a watch. As of this post, it's available to stream on Hulu.
Cheers and be safe out there!
That wasn't the news or social media... That's the important question. I'm scared to look at how much time I wasted on either of those two black holes, but I digress. As far as reading actual books go, while I was able to hit my initial goal of 24 (yay!) I fell short of reaching the stretch goal of 36. Ironically, I wound up right in between them at 30 so I guess that's something.
Now, in terms of non-fiction... Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe was a phenomenal examination of the Troubles and the continued political and cultural fallout surrounding Belfast, London, and independence. Coming in close behind, was Alexi Pappas's memoir Bravey. Being in the head of a former olympian was enlightening to say the least. Definitely recommend it for anyone who has a competitive bone in their body.
I hope your reads were as entertaining and enjoyable as the ones I finally moved from TBR to my Read pile. And here's to 2022 (not 20-20-too)...
Be safe. Have fun. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
If there's one thing the pandemic has shown us, for those fortunate enough to have the opportunity, it's that we are in the golden age of media. Between books, music, movies, games... the supply is endless. Compounded by the high-stakes competition between streaming services, the push to bring quality entertainment to the masses is purely on fire. And we reap the benefits. While there are always shows, books, and the like we constantly return to (I should be an honorary cast member of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), the amount of new material thrust into the world is remarkable. In books alone the number is staggering. According to a UNESCO study (data from 2013) it is estimated that 2.2 million books are published world wide. It goes on to break down that number by country and by self/traditional publishing but holy shit, right? If you can't find something you love in that pool then, well, I don't know what to tell you. If you are looking for something new to read, here's a few suggestions from my favorite books so far this year.
Current recommendations all said and done, here's one more in a slightly different light: I'm thrilled to say I've had a short story accepted into Redwood-Press's horror anthology: The Lost Librarian's Grave. The story, Valhalla is a Lie, follows a trio of mercenaries as they make their way from Buffalo to Boston while being hunted by Valkyries. Little bit of Norse-inspired horror before Halloween. Can't go wrong there. I'm excited to see other acceptances roll in and the project taking off. More to come as it becomes available.
Until next time, cheers and all the best. Stay safe and well!
I'd like to say that I'm a consistent reader. *Like to say*. Unfortunately, because I have the attention span of a toddler looking at jangling keys in someone's hand, my personal reading periods are more of intense spurts rather than a consistent trend. That being said, hell it's been a great start to the year. I've managed, somehow, to slam down seven books so far this year. Part of the reason being I've shifted away from podcasts and back into audiobooks. Again, the attention span of ADD coke head who was slipped a not-so-small hit of meth... Right, anyway, carry on. In the spirit of the Halloween Horror marathon, let's strap in for some one-sentence reviews.
0/5 = did not finish
1/5 = didn't like
2/5 = meh
3/5 = pretty good - would recommend with a disclaimer
4/5 = really good - would definitely recommend - no disclaimers
5/5 = book hangover. don't talk to me for a few days
And that's the books so far! A couple other pieces I'd like to highlight that don't fall into the full blown novel or collection category. First, I'd like to highlight After Dinner Conversation, a monthly short story magazine that inspects the intersection of philosophy and ethics in often tragic settings and narratives. Browse their site, read something, and maybe spark a conversation or two.
Speaking of short stories... I feel compelled to highlight one in particular: Halloween by Marian Crotty. Originally published in Crazyhorse and then reprinted in The Best American Short Stories 2020, this piece follows the summer fling of a high-school student and a college kid who's home for the summer. The emotion in the piece is real. It's visceral. And it's goddamn good.
Till next time folks. Be well.
Fucks you up.
Everyone talks about the romanticized notion that great art comes from tortured souls. It’s an idea that’s existed since Plato, and has been examined through several scientific studies. The results? Mixed. But I’m not interested in whether or not to produce truly good art across any of the endless mediums that exist in this ever-evolving world, someone has to be plagued by deep emotional or physical turmoil. I want the after effect: what truly good art (a subjective determination) does to us.
Most review columns, including ones I’ve written, follow a pretty generic formula of examination and analysis. This then leads to either recommendation or suggested avoidance. These ratings normally place the piece in question on a scalable table, usually running from 1 – 5 or 1 – 10 or something along those lines. When we watch or read or experience something, we usually know right away where on this scale the experience will land. Sometimes, maybe not.
When I review something, I always look at two big umbrella questions: how did I feel while I was experiencing it? And how did I feel about it in the time that followed? Sometimes I’ll burn through a book in a day because it was such a good read, but then forget the details only a day or two later because it didn’t stick with me. Despite how good it was, and how much I enjoyed it at the time, there was no lasting effect (Feed; Mira Grant). Other times, a book will be eh while I’m reading it, but afterwards it lingers. I start thinking about lines or scenes when I'm done reading it (Last Night in Nuuk; Niviaq Korneliussen). Art in either of these areas usually garners a 4 on those review scales we talked about. Maybe, if the reviewer is feeling generous, a five (or if they’re feeling the opposite – a three).
Then there’s the stuff that you truly enjoy while you’re experiencing it and are still talking about for a few days after. These are the five-star reviews. (Fight Club (the movie); Milkman, Anna Burns; Control (PS4)). This is the stuff we look for, the good art. Now again, good is subjective, especially in the realm of entertainment. Good books to you probably suck for me, and vice versa. I once mentioned Requiem for a Dream in a meeting and a director looked at me with her lip curled and asked how I could ever like something like that. But that’s the beauty of there being so much out there. There’s some for you and him and her and me and them.
So, we all look for the five-star stuff that’ll make for a great weekend on the couch reading with whiskey or wine and the dogs at our feet, or provide for a perfect movie night with popcorn and boxed candy we bought at the grocery store to make it feel like we're at the cinema.
But what about the better stuff?
The trouble with finding the truly great art, the art that fucks us up afterward, is we never know it’s going to happen until it does. It could be while we’re watching it or right after or even a few days later when it creeps back into our subconscious and we realize we’ve been existing in this odd haze of going through the motions but our minds have been completely elsewhere. Everything outside the world we just left is simply kind of muted.
I consider myself lucky; I’ll usually have this happen maybe three or four times a year – sometimes less, sometimes more. It’s never frequent enough to reduce the impact, and rarely so distant from one another that I’m afraid it won’t happen again. It’s come from video games (The Last of Us Part I & II), books (Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro), and movies (Burn, Burn, Burn). Most recently, it happened with a show: Undone.
Undone is an animated comedy-drama series created by Kate Purdy and Raphael Bob-Waksberg, and starring Rosa Salazar. It follows Alma (Salazar) after she gets into a nearly fatal car accident. Through the accident and its aftermath, Undone, explores the idea of reality through Alma’s new relationship with time and how she uses this to try and find out how her father really died.
The show is done through a style of animation called rotoscoping, where animators trace over motion picture footage to produce realistic action. It’s trippy to say the least, and takes a little bit of getting used to, but after half-an episode, the characters seem realer than most of the ones on non-animated shows.
I don’t want to go too far into Undone’s story (I actually do, but I really don’t want to spoil anything for anyone because it should be experienced as blindly as possible), but the creators and writers of this show should be commended for the way they handled certain topics, and the way they ended the season. Alma’s story is tragic and yet hopeful at the same time. And I think it’s this balance that the creators strike—similar balances seen in The Last of Us series, and other great art like Fleabag—that acts as the sledge hammer shattering our state of mind. Because let’s face it, all of our lives are tragic in some way or another. Whether it’s incessant, periodic, self-inflicted, circumstantial or random, tragedy is there. But it’s also the hopefulness that we look for. Hopeful that the storm will pass, the waves will calm, and the clouds will part. Calm seas may not make skilled sailors, but we can all appreciate safe harbor every now and then.
I strongly recommend Undone. And, while I can feel the fog starting to lift, it was great to find that all-enveloping experience again, and I’m looking forward to the next one. I hope every one of you finds the same.