For my first media roundup, I have nine links to share! I’ll be scheduling these to post on Sundays at 8:00 pm, Eastern U.S. time. Media roundups will feature poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and they’ll likely trend toward speculative fiction.
Glaciers Made You by Nicasio Andres Reed, credited as Gabby Reed (Strange Horizons)
September 2015; 3,200 words. Via Twitter. Beautiful, haunting, devastatingly quiet. I love stories that don’t fit into the classical conflict-driven Western story framework, but I never find very many of them. “Glaciers Made You” is one of the few that hits that note for me—it’s not so much conflict that drives the narrator as it is yearning and the pain of grief and loss. Poetry-like glimpses punctuate the narration, and even the prose sings with poetry in a way that doesn’t feel purple: I’ve never seen mountains, but I’ve laid on my belly in a gulch in the Badlands and crooked my neck back to see the sun eyelash over the ridge. […] Light acts differently here in the deep forest, it drops solid gold blossoms like tiger-lilies onto my path. You won’t find all the mysteries tied up in a pretty bow at the end, but there’s still a sense of catharsis. I love this story so much.
The Honey Month by Amal El-Mohtar (Papaveria Press)
August 2010; 80 pages. Lovely and wonderful, a collection steeped in an ethereal fairytale shimmer. Even the tasting notes that head each day are evocative. Days after reading this tiny book, images still linger in my mind. My favorite line has to be from Day 4, Raspberry Rose Honey: …she will come with a lick of honey on her lips, press them against yours, and draw you back to wakefulness like water from a well. Something about that juxtaposition flows so well; I paused over the phrase and just thought, “Wow.” The rest of the collection is similar; El-Mohtar chooses the perfect words to conjure magical images. A treat to read—especially with a spoonful of honey.
Memory Eraser by Peter Y. Chuang (Medium)
August 2015; 900 words. Linked by Kat, who discovered Chuang through Oxford Dictionaries’ tweet. I love seeing what kinds of stories people can tell in flash fiction, and part of me always finds memory modification a fascinating concept—in many representations, memory modification becomes a trauma, and I identify strongly with people rediscovering who they are after such an event. Often, when the memory modification is involuntary, you get anger, as with Natasha Romanova and Mike from American Ultra—but when it’s voluntary memory modification, you get bliss or unawareness instead, as with “Gridlock” from Doctor Who. Chuang takes a different approach that feels like one I haven’t read very often. Although some of the prose could be tightened up, the strength of “Memory Eraser” is in how Chuang masterfully captures resonant emotions. The ending hits hard in the best way.
The Monster’s Million Faces by Rachel Swirsky (Tor)
September 2010; 2,600 words. Another recommendation from Kat, also about memory modification. Heavy, so heavy, and at times difficult to read, but all the horror in the setup makes the ending that much more cathartic. This is one of those few stories that made me react physically, like my heart skipped a beat. I realized only after I finished the story that I’d been holding my breath. The science may be speculative, but the recovery from trauma is real. I didn’t know how much I wanted a story like this until I read it.
Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon by Ken Liu (Tor reprint)
August 2014; 6,100 words. A fun story deeply steeped in Chinese folklore. It’s Jing’s last night in China, and she and her girlfriend Yuan are glum and tetchy as their impending separation looms before them—that is, until a flock of magpies takes them up to the heavens to meet the legendary lovers Zhinü and Niulang. What I adore about “Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon” is that it’s a story about all kinds of love, not just romantic—not that it downplays romantic love, but rather expands what romantic love means and simultaneously uplifts platonic love. Prescribed notions of romantic love have trapped me in the past too, and I wish I’d had more stories like “Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon” when I was struggling with understanding relationships. This story is very much welcome now too; it affirms my love for all loves. 💓 Watch for my podcast of this story, coming soon to Glittership!
Speak Up!: A Graphic Account of Roxane Gay and Erica Jong’s Uncomfortable Conversation by MariNaomi (Electric Literature)
September 2015; 500 words. Via Twitter. I love this article so much. I’m also conflict-averse and submit instead of finding a more productive, but more uncomfortable, solution. I’ve been working on these feelings, and “Speak Up!” inspires me to be more courageous and remember the greater good. 💗
Writing Begins With Forgiveness: Why One of the Most Common Pieces of Writing Advice Is Wrong by Daniel José Older (Seven Scribes)
September 2015; 1,000 words. Via Twitter. It’s not often that an article on writing advice brings me close to tears. “Write every day” may work for some people, but I’ve tried it, and, combined with my anxiety and perfectionism, it’s a perfect storm for shame that leaves me upset and unable to do a thing. Self-forgiveness and self-acceptance have been a huge part of my recovery from depression, and it’s wonderful to see that echoed and encouraged in this essay.
Ahas, Tala by M Sereno (Interfictions)
November 2014; 84 lines. Recommended by Kat. An intricate, multilayered poem that deserves a close reading. Sereno paints lush imagery that depicts the visceral after/effects of colonization. Close to my heart is losing mother tongues to assimilation, and that experience echoes throughout the poem: You unfurl my veins and curl my fingers into your tongue:/press into my skin: words for terror, beauty, suffocation, forgetting,/monsters, sinking,/the dark. I find that it’s often difficult for colonized and diasporic people to express the loss that permeates our collective histories—how do you even begin to describe such vastness?—yet Sereno evocatively captures that pain and violence. Furthermore, what was monstrous and suppressed at the beginning of “Ahas, Tala” becomes joyous in the end as the narrator dreams of reveling “with all the aswang and slithering cursed creatures[.]” There’s hope, a message of reinvention, rebirth: we are still here, and we are still true, even after colonization. We are enough.
alternate names for black boys by Danez Smith (Poetry)
March 2014; 18 lines. Recommended by Kat. What I love about poetry is its compactness. In just a handful of phrases, Smith captures so much emotion. Some names are heartbreaking—monster until proven ghost—and others are majestic—brilliant, shadow hued coral. This is not a singular story, but a multifaceted poem teeming with voices, even as just one speaks.