Lambda Literary

Here are two book reviews I wrote for Lambda Literary a couple of weeks ago. The first is of Radical by E.M. Kokie. It’s a dystopian novel set in the present day, and it hits a little close to home. The second was the quintessential summer slow burn, Phantom Limbs, by Paula Garner.

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I’ve had the amazing opportunity this past summer to take a writing workshop with Benjamin Alire Saenz, the author of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (among other fabulous things). (You can see the wacky glory that is a baker’s dozen of young adult literature writers above.) Ben was an incredible teacher and workshop leader, and that whole week was amazing. You can read about that experience here.

I interviewed Monica Byrne about The Girl in the Road

9780804138840_custom-2db3dd196e9404af7d78ed7129bbccff56252bf3-s1200-c15Way back in January, era of cold snowy misery, I read The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne, and it blew me away. You may remember me flailing about it here. Well, it seems I’m getting kinda good at this being-a-working-writer thing, this leaning-in, pitching-like-a-shark thing, because when I learned that one of my friends, Laura, actually grew up in the same town, instead of feeling awed and shying away, I said “Hey! I’d love to interview her.”

And, readers, I did.

Continue reading I interviewed Monica Byrne about The Girl in the Road

gyno horrorshow

Hey, look. I’m quoted in Women’s Heath Magazine!

Some other fun things that are cervix adjacent:

Continue reading gyno horrorshow

A Snow Day Recipe For People Who Would Rather Be Reading

You will need:

  • a slow cooker
  • pork loin
  • sweet potato
  • garlic (cloves)
  • okra
  • cherry tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • dried onion flakes
  • curry powder
  • cayenne pepper
  • soy sauce
  • plum wine vinegar

Pour oil into the slow cooker and season with garlic powder, onion flakes. Cube the pork loin and sweet potato (pealed). Add curry, soy sauce, plum wine vinegar to taste. Add to the slow cooker and let cook for 1-2 hours on high.

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Sure it looks like mush, but it’s TASTY mush. More importantly, it cooks itself, and you read a whole book today.

Rinse and slice the okra and cherry tomatoes. Take 4-5 garlic cloves of garlic, crush, peal. Add okra, tomatoes, and garlic cloves to the slow cooker for another 1-1.5 hours, switching to low heat in the last 45 minutes or so. Also add some cayenne pepper to taste, if you so desire.

Stir occasionally, when you remember to look up from the book you’re reading.

Serve in a bowl covered with snow men for dinner. Alternately, serve with collard greens in a tupperware.

Eat while watching Firefly.

Books I’ve Read So Far in 2015

SPOILERS AHEAD.

This is kind of a freebie, since I read most of it in 2014. My dad has been on my case about Outlander every since he started reading it a few years ago, which I think is a little funny, considering it’s pretty romance-y. BUT HEY. Shame on me for buying into gender norms. My dad can read romance novels if he damn well pleases.

Part of the reason why it took me so long to read is because my dad and I were sharing a copy. He bought it at Amazing Cheap Books in Astoria one balmy summer night. I bought about five books about vampires and ghosts and serial killers (all for fifteen bucks!) and then treated the family to gelato. But it also took me forever to read because Gabaldon is verbose. The font was TINY and the pages were thin, and there were many of them. And I’m a pretty voracious reader, so that’s sayin’ somethin’.

It wasn’t my favorite. Claire isn’t really my cuppa, to be honest — I am all about Geillis the witch, though (is she really dead? She can’t really be dead!) and Jenny Fraser (girlfriend gave birth, then went tramping about the forest to rescue her nincompoop brother. She actually, literally sat on a log and PUMPED HER OWN BREAST MILK [sans breast pump of course because its the 1700s], not to mention the fact that she was riding around on horseback DAYS after pushing out a bairn!).

One of the things that my dad said that got me to finally agree to read the book (aside from forcing me to watch the show, which is really a thing of beauty) was: “You’ll like it! There are gay characters and everything!” My dad knows me well. This was kind of a tone deaf Dad Moment on his part, though. Why? Because the only gay character in Outlander was Captain Jack Randall, sadist extraordinaire.

DAD. Daaaaaaad. That is so far from what I meant! So, yeah, my dad and I are probably going to have little chat about what representation in fiction really means. (Hint: It’s not that your gay characters are all sick and twisty, and their sick and twisty-ness is directly tied to their sexuality!)

So the first book I actually read, in its entirety, in 2015 was this memoir by Angelica Harris. I read it because my godmother brought up Angelica and her work on Christmas Day; they’ve been friends for years. Angelica, who I met last Saturday!, is also the author of a King Arthur YA series and the founder of the Excalibur Reading Program, a local tutoring organization. I visited their office in Glendale last Saturday to meet with Angelica, and I’m going to be tutoring there starting next week. I’m also working with Angelica to get a writing workshop for adults, as well as teen & young adult workshop, up and running by March!

Angelica is also the founder of the Unicorn Project/Raven’s Hope, a non-profit designed to help families in crisis because of domestic violence and sexual assault. I’ll be working with her in this capacity as well.

Far and away my favorite book I’ve read so far this year is The Girl in The Road by Monica Byrne. This book is what Firefly should have looked like if Joss Whedon hadn’t so insistently whitewashed his cast. It takes place in India and Ethiopia, and on a bridge called the Trail that crosses the Arabian Sea (and gathers wave energy.)

Things that are great about this book:

  • EVERYONE is a POC.
  • There are two protagonists, both women, both queer. Meena, one of the protagonists, is bisexual in a way that sent my whole body humming with recognition, and that has never happened to me before. I’ve always been pretty dedicated to diversity in fiction, but for the first time I’ve really felt it in my bones and it was powerful.
  • Pretty much everyone else is queer too.
  • The world is beautifully crafted. It’s set several decades in the future, and it has this sense of strangeness yet believability about it. Like, this is what the world could look like in sixty years. Also, Byrne has a BA in Biochemistry and and MA in Geochemistry, and this, I think, really shows in the extent of her worldbuilding.
  • Byrne is pretty insistently in media res the whole time (the book literally opens with Meena waking up fleeing her house in a manic state, because a terrorist organization has just attempted to assassinate her), so the story unfolds slowly, as does your understanding of the characters. Which I find pretty delicious, honestly.

HAVE YOU MET ALLISON MOON? No? Well, you should.

Allison Moon is the author of one of my favorite books I read this summer, Lunatic Fringe. It is about lesbian werewolves. That’s all you need to know. Go read it.

Bad Dyke was a joy to read. I read it in a day. It’s a short collection of personal essays about Moon’s sexual experiences, and the ways in which she has identified over the course of her life. It’s just a really joyful, celebratory account of sexuality and sex in all its forms. (And she knows Jiz Lee, which is SO COOL.) Moon is a sex educator; she’s in an awesome, healthy poly relationship; she’s a great writer…She’s basically inspiration for my entire life.

So, there you have it! Four books in two weeks! Goal is to read another four by the end of the month, because my Goodreads goal for 2015 is 63 books (up three from last year, because I was short three in 2014.)

HAPPY READING, everyone!

My 2015 Reading List

Courtesy of Roxane Gay

Most especially:

My favorite books of the year, the ones that provided me the pleasure I always seek when I sit down to read, the ones that tore my heart wide open and made me envious but simultaneously honored to be writing in the same time as such accomplished writers:

Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter
Man vs Nature by Diane Cook
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh
Cinderland by Amy Jo Burns
Citizen by Claudia Rankine
Red Rising by Piece Brown
Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce
Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng
Scarecrone by Melissa Broder

Continue reading My 2015 Reading List

All I Want for Christmas

This blog post brought to you by an e-mail I sent to mi familia. We’re doing a Secret Santa this year, ’cause we’re all broke as hell.

In Buffy We Trust

Are we sending links to give ideas for our Secret Santas? Here are mine:

Or any of these books:
  1. Black Girl Dangerous on Race, Queerness, Class and Gender
  2. From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers
  3. Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, And The Evolution Of A Fairy Tale
  4. Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War
  5. American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee
  6. The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World
  7. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name – A Biomythography
  8. The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance
  9. Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays

I know we were only supposed to list three but…I couldn’t narrow down my book wish list any more than this! (There are literally hundreds of books on my wish list.) But I’d be happy with pretty much any of these! Pick the one you most want me to lend to you, haha.

LOVE YA