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[personal profile] yatima posting in [community profile] 50books_poc
Ian McEwan's acclaimed novels On Chesil Beach and Saturday both take place over the course of a single day, in an improbably lily-white version of England. Race-bending this formula is the fundamentally good idea beneath Black Bread White Beer. When we meet Amal and his white wife Claud, they have just lost a pregnancy in the first trimester, but they go ahead and visit Claud's parents in East Sussex as planned.

The novel is at its sharpest and funniest when Amal is reporting his Pakistani parents' reactions to his horrible in-laws:
‘What she means is, we wish you all the luck in the world, Amal, but you must watch your back. Her people look like a bunch of backstabbers. Never trust them for an instant.’

There are also some moving passages where Amal imagines what he and Claud would be like as parents:
Theirs would not be paraded about like Sussex show ponies. There were plenty of cool, funky children they could take as their template.

or what their lives would be like child-free:
They could buy a holiday home abroad. Two. One on each hemisphere if that is what would make her happy. He racks his mind to think of the childless couples they know – not the kids from the office; guys their age and older – but cannot dredge any up. In their immediate circle, there are no trailblazers, only conformists. No matter. They are taste makers, she and him. They can set the precedent.

As with McEwan, though, I found these characters difficult to warm to. Amal and Claud both struck me as joyless corporate drones, preoccupied with status, their world devoid of beauty and pleasure. A technically adroit book, but not for me.

Aziz Ansari, Modern Romance, 2015

Aug. 17th, 2017 10:01 am
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[personal profile] yatima posting in [community profile] 50books_poc
I loved Aziz Ansari in Parks and Recreation and I revere his own series, Master of None. The "Thanksgiving" episode of Master of None is one of the best things I have ever seen on television. So I picked up Modern Romance with some enthusiasm.

In a classic Tom Haverford move, rather than just write the obligatory you-have-succeeded-as-a-comedian-on-TV book (Bossypants, Girl Walks Into a Bar, I'm Just a Person, Paddle Your Own Canoe, Self-Inflicted Wounds, The Bedwetter, Yes Please... yeah, it's a genre), Ansari teamed up with Stanford sociologist Eric Klinenberg to figure out both why technologically-mediated dating is such an unrelieved horror show and, reading between the lines, why Ansari was finding it difficult to meet a nice woman.

The resulting book reminded me a bit of Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything in that it's as curious and interesting as it is funny. Ansari's quizzical sweetness shines especially in his reporting on the specific dating scenes in Buenos Aires, Doha, Paris and Tokyo.
In Japan, posting any pictures of yourself, especially selfie-style photos, comes off as really douchey. Kana, an attractive, single twenty-nine-year-old, remarked: “All the foreign people who use selfies on their profile pic? The Japanese feel like that’s so narcissistic.” In her experience, pictures on dating sites would generally include more than two people. Sometimes the person wouldn’t be in the photo at all. I asked what they would post instead.

“A lot of Japanese use their cats,” she said.

“They’re not in the photo with the cat?” I asked.

“Nope. Just the cat. Or their rice cooker.”

“I once saw a guy posted a funny street sign,” volunteered Rinko, thirty-three. “I felt like I could tell a lot about the guy from looking at it.”

This kind of made sense to me. If you post a photo of something interesting, maybe it gives some sense of your personality? I showed a photo of a bowl of ramen I had taken earlier in the day and asked what she thought of that as a profile picture. She just shook her head. OH, I GUESS I CAN’T HOLD A CANDLE TO THAT STREET SIGN DUDE, HUH?

For me, the most engaging part of the book was seeing insights that later ended up as jokes in Master of None. I endorse and seek to emulate this kind of creative reuse! As for meeting a nice woman, the gossip rags tell me that Ansari was in a relationship with pastrychef Courtney McBloom for a while, but they parted amicably last year. So it goes.

5 things (various)

Aug. 17th, 2017 10:17 am
glass_icarus: (rolly bird)
[personal profile] glass_icarus
From [personal profile] magnetic_pole, since I'm failing at posting anything else.

5 things you’ll find in my bag: lip balm, headphones, pencil case, glasses, ballet shoes

5 things you’ll find in my bedroom: photos from friends, whiteboard, A:TLA DVDs, yarn bag, way fewer books than expected (our bookcase is in our living room & I left my SF/F collection in the US)

5 things I’ve always wanted to do: visit more places on my travel wishlist (Brazil, Greece, Istanbul, Prague, New Zealand...), try scuba diving, develop a yoga/pilates habit (unsuccessful so far), get a dog (someday when I have more time/$?), create my dream home library

5 things that make me happy: ♥ tea ♥, delicious food, music, guilt-free free time, THIS NEWS FROM NK JEMISIN!!!!!

5 things I’m currently into: zouk, choreographing with S, Agatha Christie film adaptations (I'm on a huge Miss Marple and Poirot kick), Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge, Otayuri (recs appreciated!)

5 things on my to-do list: finish exam prep, batch cook, clean house, schedule a massage, contact subletter

(no subject)

Aug. 17th, 2017 10:53 am
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[personal profile] marina
So, I've had to tell local friends to stop sending me anti-fascist memes related to what's going on in the U.S. right now because I've just... reached the end of my cope? I've had to get off twitter for a while, because my mental health just can't keep up. But at the same time it feels like the world is burning and I desperately want to do something, and well.

I've decided what I'm going to do is just try to help people in whatever way I can, which always feels like a good course of action to me.

So, I have this Russian friend on twitter. She's fannish, her name is Sasha, her twitter account is locked. We met in Black Sails fandom earlier this year. She's very delightful and funny and lives in St. Petersburg.

This year she'd really like to get married. She and her girlfriend have been together for about 5 years. Needless to say, a marriage is not possible in Russia (or Ukraine, where her girlfriend is from). So, they've thought up a plan to travel to Denmark to get married later this year, and they've been raising money mostly through their Russian fandom friends, to make the trip possible. Russian fandom doesn't really do paypal (other money transfer methods are easier), so when I asked how I could help they basically opened an account with PP just for me.

There's no public post about this fundraiser, no kickstarter page. I honestly don't even want to link their account names on twitter to this public post, although I of course asked them what details I could share before writing about this on DW.

Anyway, if you're looking for the usual safeguards to make sure this isn't a scam - they're not really available in this case. I can only tell you that I know this person and trust them and I've helped their marriage fund and have no regrets.

So, if you'd like to throw some money their way, or signal boost this to your friends, their paypal address is: blindpilot at yandex dot ru

(Also, Sasha has pointed out that if you'd like more details about what the money is for, you're welcome to email her at that address.)

reading, writing, no 'rithmatic

Aug. 16th, 2017 04:59 pm
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[personal profile] isis
What I've recently finished reading:

Finished: Will Save the Galaxy for Food by Yahtzee Croshaw. An entertaining pastiche of Golden Age of Sci-Fi novels, about what happens after the Golden Age of Star Pilots is brought to an end by the invention of quantum tunneling space travel which eliminates the need for spaceships and pilots. It's a light, easy read, gently funny, though there are a few plotholes big enough to sail a spaceship through. I originally chose it to read because the cover and the tone of the blurb made me think of Keith Laumer's Retief books; it's not quite as full of weird aliens and odd customs, but there's a definite Retiefishness about it.

Abandoned: Terraforming Earth - Phase 1: "The Plagues Era" (FutureScape, #1) by Dean C. Moore, an Instafreebie book. Technically better than a lot of the other self-pubbed books I've tried to read (though it still has its share of typos and incorrect words), but ultimately I found it boring. Not enough depth to the characters for me to care about them. Abandoned 15% in.

What I'm currently reading:

The Girl in the Tower (The Bear and the Nightingale #2) by Katherine Arden. I really liked the old-Rus fairytail world of the first book, and it's a delight to return to. This time, Vasilisa is dressed as, and masquerading as, a boy (♥), while bandits and Tatars menace the countryside. (You see, [livejournal.com profile] hamsterwoman, being nicknamed Vasya has proven prophetic!) So far I'm about halfway in and particularly enjoying the gentle fantasy aspects of the story.

What I'm reading next:

I'm planning to hit the library for the Beth Cato books I mentioned last week, though actually I'll probably finish my current read while we're in Wyoming eclipse-hunting, so I'll likely be reading something already on my phone first.

What I'm currently watching:

Game of Thrones. We're about a week behind but may catch up tonight. The special effects are very cool, but honestly the thing that impresses me the most is the geology of Dragonstone. What amazing tilted rocks! (Unless they're CGI...)

What I'm currently playing:

I picked up Dragon Age: Origins for $5 from a GOG sale a while ago, and although I usually spend most of my time outdoors and active in the summer, I'm unable to do so at the moment for injury reasons, so I started playing. It's fun so far though unsurprisingly I die a lot.

What I'm currently writing:

[community profile] crossovering: Well into my assignment, which is a lot of fun.
[community profile] remixrevival: Um. Still dithering about which story to remix.
[community profile] femslashex: MUST WRITE LETTER AND SIGN UP.

(no subject)

Aug. 16th, 2017 05:42 pm
skygiants: the princes from Into the Woods, singing (agony)
[personal profile] skygiants
It's hard for me not to unfavorably compare every Isabelle Hollington Gothic to Trelawny, the one with the identical non-identical constantly-swapping twins, but The Marchington Inheritance runs a reasonable second for batshit plot resolutions.

Our Heroine is a children's book illustrator named Avril, which would be fine if she were not ALSO notable for her family reputation as a Strung-Out Sulky Counter-Culture Fight-The-Power Teen Rebel with constant Rage Against the Preppy machine, which meant that I had "Complicated" and "Sk8er Boi" stuck on rotate in my head for the entire duration of this novel. THANKS, ISABELLE HOLLAND.

spoilers are full of hilariously plausibly annoying children )

News from New South Wales

Aug. 16th, 2017 08:48 am
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[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Dearest Lucy

It was the most delightful of pleasures to receive your letter and to hear that you had been safely delivered of a fine baby boy, that I daresay will be walking and talking by the time you receive this. What a very fine man Mr Lowndes sounds to be, I am most greatly sorry I never met him. It is immensely reassuring to me to think that you have the companionship of such an excellent lady with such wisdom in matters of maternity as Mrs Ferraby. I only hope that you do not go about to overdo, betwixt motherhood, your responsibilities towards your pupils, and your writing for Mr Lowndes’ paper.

But, indeed, I am not one to preach upon the matter, for I am quite constantly kept busy here: not only do I begin the Thornes’ dear children on the rudiments, but I continue to find a great desire for education among the convicts of our community, and a wish to have letters written by those that do not yet feel confident in writing them themselves, although there are now some few that have come on to be able to instruct their fellows. I also assist the Thornes with their observations.

And besides that, Abby Mrs Thorne and I find ourselves assisting Mr Carter in matters of nursing the sick. I do not recollect whether I wrote to you before about Mr Carter? – he came to this land in the capacity of surgeon to the scientific expedition, but has fallen so in love with the country that he has determined to stay, to collaborate with the Thornes in their scientific enterprizes, and also to run a dispensary for our people. But I daresay even I had not mentioned this to you, you would have heard somewhat of the matter from Lady Bexbury, for we have applied to her for the provision of surgical instruments, drugs, &C, that are very hard to come by here. There is not a deal of injury and disease, for we practice sound measures of hygiene, but there will always be some accidents and ailments.

Mr Carter is a most excellent man, a most adept surgeon – oh, Lucy, I try to write of him in a sober fashion, but I must tell you, that we find ourselves in a most happy condition of mutual admiration, and purpose to marry very shortly. He is the dearest of fellows, and it is no wonder that he is so greatly esteemed by Mr and Mrs Thorne. Sure I have found myself, to my astonishment and sometimes embarrassment, courted by several gentlemen in this place, from government officers to free settlers, some of whom grow exceeding wealthy on the backs of sheep: but I have found none that I could like as much as Mr Carter.

He is the finest of men, has a most humane spirit – there is very bad treatment goes on of the aboriginal peoples of the land, that he has a great admiration for, saying that when he was with the scientific expedition all were most prepossessed with their abilities in tracking and hunting and finding sustenance in what appeared a barren wilderness, where the products of civilization would have wandered in circles, or sat down and waited for death. He is writing up a memorandum on the subject, and wondered if, did we send it to you when completed, Mr Lowndes might publish it?

Indeed those years with the Duggetts seem like some nightmare from which I have now awakened. I am sure you would laugh and teaze me unmercifully did I tell you how wonderful I find the Thornes; they are quite the finest companions one could have.

But I mind that there was a thing I meant to ask you, about whether there was any in your circles that might pursue the matter. There has lately come about these parts two gentlemen – I say gentlemen because although they show the effect of hardships and are burnt very brown by the sun, they are clearly well-bred educated fellows does one speak to them – Mr Perry and Mr Derringe, that have some intention to set up a school for boys, for there is a considerable desire among the settlers &C to have their sons educated as gentlemen. While they go about to raise interest for this enterprize, they undertake some private tutoring. And one day came to us Mr Perry, half-carrying Mr Derringe that had some fever or other about him, seeking Mr Carter’s aid in this extremity.

We have a few beds attached to the dispensary, and he was laid in one of them, and examined by Mr Carter, who determined that ‘twas some fever very like unto the mala aria: most fortunate he keeps some fever bark about the dispensary, so quite immediate went about preparing a tincture. Meanwhile, he desired me to sponge the fellow to cool his fever.

So I went about this, and Mr Carter managed to convey him some of the tincture, and he seemed a little better, but then Mr Carter was called away, and said to me, dear Miss Netherne, would you greatly mind sitting by Mr Derringe and continuing to sponge him and keep him quiet, giving him a little of the tincture every few hours? Why, said I, I was about to ask was there anything I might do, so he left me with careful instructions.

I sat by Mr Derringe for some hours, and it seemed to me that he was troubled in his mind, and it did not seem entire delirium, and in due course he disclosed to me very halting and in between shivering fits, that he had on his conscience that he had allowed a young lady to whom he was affianced to suppose that he was dead of a fever in the South Seas, and it would have been a better and more honourable course to communicate to her that he had found that he was such a fellow as would not make her a good husband and thus set her at liberty with no obligation to mourn. She was, he said, a Miss Fenster, her father was the vicar of Upper Stobbing.

So to reassure him I said that the Thornes and I had numerous connexions in England that might be able to go about to find the present condition of the lady, but was it not like that she had by now married another? Very like, he said, she was a quite excellent young woman. So, dear Lucy, I write to you to ask are there any in your circles might go about with discretion to discover the present whereabouts of this lady, for it is clear that the business continues to prey upon Mr Derringe’s mind even though he has recovered from his fever, and Mr Carter fears 'twill bring about some relapse.

Oh, my dear Lucy, the only spot upon my happiness is that you may not be present at my wedding, that Mr Thorne will perform, and that I cannot see you and little Andrew and your excellent husband. Please convey my very greatest respects to Mr and Mrs Ferraby and to Lady Bexbury, that great patroness of our enterprize here: oh what a foolish misguided narrow-minded creature I was to so misjudge her fine qualities.

With every affection, your loving sister, Ellie

[syndicated profile] shadesofa_feed

Posted by Tab

Things are going to get a bit forceful over the next couple of pages but I hope it’s obvious that Jefferson is totally into that.

Remember kids, if you choke someone you’re not aiming to cut off their air supply completely (and risk damaging their throat) but squeezing their neck to cut off blood to the brain and make them a bit light headed. The danger is what tends to get people off but you can reduce risk of harm by being careful.

This is why some places describe it as RACK- Risk Aware Consensual Kink as opposed to Safe Sane and Consensual. Some things are inherently dangerous but you can take steps to ensure they’re not damaging.

I’m off to Kitacon this friday for some Cabaret fun, as well as taking part in a panel on Tailoring and a gameshow called the Yaoi is Right. It’s going to be a blast- say hi on my table if you’re about!

spindizzy: A close-up of Yuna's face while she's wearing her wedding dress. (And this is where it all falls down)
[personal profile] spindizzy
I promised that I’d be back with the bullet points and yelling, and look! Fate/Apocrypha is back! Oh my beautiful darling show, it’s been too long! *dreamy sigh*

So let’s get this rolling by yelling about Fate Apocrypha Episode Six! )

And this episode of Princess Principal was really fucking bleak in an entirely obvious way, but it was still bleak, as a fair warning. Caution warning for physically abusive parents and alchoholism! Let's go and yell about episode six. )
spindizzy: Sherlock Holmes as played by Jeremy Brett, laughing with a hand covering his face. (You do make me laugh)
[personal profile] spindizzy
So, funny story. Back in 2012, Lex and I went to Manchester Comicon because it was there and we were there. And while we're there, I spot a guy with Queen & Country books on his table. I love Queen & Country, so I forget not to make eye contact with people trying to sell you things, and end up buying a different spy thriller with a female lead off him. And just the other week, I spotted a book by him set in the same universe at work, so I grab it!

Fastforward to tonight. Lex and I are in the pictures, the opening credits are rolling. "Oh hey, Executive Producer Antony Johnston! I've read his books!"

Credits keep rolling. "Based on the Oni Press graphic novel The Coldest City? WAIT, NO, I'VE READ THAT ONE, I DIDN'T KNOW THIS WAS BASED OFF A GRAPHIC NOVEL!"

... And that is how one of my most anticipated films of the year managed to spoil the twist for me with its opening credits.

returning with a bang

Aug. 15th, 2017 10:34 am
marina: (murder is the answer)
[personal profile] marina
So, London was wonderful (WONDERFUL) but obviously pretty busy. On the days I wasn't at Nine Worlds, I walked about 11 kilometers a day, on average, according to my phone (there was a day when I walked 17,500 steps). Consider I have herniated disks in my back and am still recovering - it was A Lot.

the last few days )
isis: (squid etching)
[personal profile] isis
Three links make a post.

Hamilton (but with sharks) - Four pages of artwork for the musical, if the characters were sharks. This is freakin' adorable, and I want to see the rest!

Romance novel titles generated by a neural network trained on Harlequin books - These are hilarious, and I could not make it all the way through without laughing out loud. Christmas Pregnant Paradise! The Sheikh’s Marriage Sheriff! Virgin Viking! Some of these have been photoshopped into book-cover images, for extra fun.

What is Skyr? - This is a year old, but I found it following a link from a current WaPo article about Greek yogurt, which mentioned skyr (calling it 'Icelandic yogurt') and then added, with the link, that it is technically cheese. As I have Siggi's skyr with fruit and my homemade granola for breakfast most days, I found this fascinating. (Siggi's doesn't use rennet.)

And have a bonus Lucy, helping to make the bed (as cats do): under the cut )
marina: (Default)
[personal profile] marina
Out of the billion posts I want to make about London, let's start with a somewhat random topic. Accents. And the weirdness of my brain.

accents )
[syndicated profile] shadesofa_feed

Posted by Tab

I feel bad that I’m keeping backgrounds simple for this one, but I also love the black circles and how striking it makes the panels. It helps bring a bit of gravitas to how intense that first panel is…

spindizzy: (Be happy!)
[personal profile] spindizzy
I keep trying and failing, because I don't know what to say apart from we won a Hugo!

(Anxiety keeps trying to make this not a big deal and something that I shouldn't talk about? But also hello, it is the biggest award in the field, no, this is exciting.)

Like, sometimes Lady Business is an odd experience, because it takes up so much of my mental bandwidth (in a good way), but also it's not something that I get to acknowledge in my offline life that much? So going to Helsinki, getting introduced as part of Lady Business and having people go "Oh, I've heard of you!" was just... That, on its own, that was amazing. And there were people who specifically went out of their way to tell me they were huge fans, and I can only hope I said something articulate, because they like our stuff, and they were excited about us, and we made them happy and I have no idea how to express how much that meant to me.

... I crack a lot of jokes about how I'm writing for six people and a shoelace, but I think this might be the first time I ever really took in that I'm not. It's a little bit terrifying, but it's also... I'm grateful. A handful of strangers went "Oh, you guys!" and now I've got happy tears running down my face.

So, uh, I guess what I'm trying to say is thank you. Thank you to everyone who nominated us and voted for us, thank you everyone who reads us whether you care about the Hugos or not, thank you to all of the other finalists in our category who were just so lovely and kind and gracious (again, god, I hope I was half as articulate back because I was so flustered at the time!) and just... Thank you. Everyone's been so kind, and I just needed you all to know I appreciate it.

...

... That's enough painful sincerity for now, I think. I'll be back to your regularly scheduled bullet points and yelling tomorrow, promise.

The Summer Prince

Aug. 13th, 2017 11:38 am
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[personal profile] wild_irises posting in [community profile] 50books_poc
[personal profile] yatima has been carrying all the water around here, and shouldn't have to.

Earlier this week, I finished Alaya Dawn Johnson's The Summer Prince. I have had this book by my bed for months and months and months. I would pick it up, read some, like it, and then get distracted. Finally, I decided it was too good for that kind of treatment and got serious about moving through it.

It is an excellent and fascinating book, even though it never really grabbed me. The worldbuilding is awesome and the depiction of the inner lives of teenagers, affected by the different world they live in and nonetheless completely recognizable as the teenagers of our times, is especially well done. The The prose is beautiful and the evocation of the city is outstanding. The setting is a post-apocalyptic Brazil and effectively everyone is (from our perspective) PoC; Johnson explores class divisions and to some extent national divisions, but the key cultural rift she explores is age.

I can't quite figure out why it didn't have momentum for me, and I expect that will be different for other people. I found it well worth the comparatively slow going, and will probably re-read it at some point. 



sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
[personal profile] sophia_sol
content note: discussion of nazis and antisemitism

This is a book about the history of nationalism (and attending fascism/racism/nazism) within the Mennonite confession. A good book, but a hard read - both because of the academic writing style and because of the uncomfortable contents.

Too much of Mennonite history is presented kind of as a hagiography: look at all the ways our ancestors have nobly suffered over the years for their morals and their faith! I think this is an important reminder that we are not exempt from sometimes being really terrible too, just because we also have a history of having been persecuted.

Mennonites like to think we have always been separate from the world, but during the general rise in nationalist sentiments in the 19th and 20th centuries, many Mennonites went right along with it. Of course, what nation we were being nationalist for varied: are we German, or are we Dutch, or are we Russian, or are we our own Mennonite nation? The answer to this question swung in various directions depending on political expedience.

And along with the rise in nationalism came a decreased commitment to pacifism within the Mennonite community (at least in Europe), which was really surprising to me, but perhaps shouldn't have been. I've always been taught that pacifism is one of the doctrines that sets the Mennonite denomination apart from other denominations. We're one of the Historic Peace Churches and all! But among some groups there was all sorts of frantic back-pedalling from the historic association of Mennonites with nonresistance, arguing that if one is really committed to being part of your country then of course you must be willing to defend it (which means fight in your country's army, whatever that army happens to be doing, even if it isn't technically defense). Including one suggestion that doing so doesn't break with what the original Anabaptists meant by their pacifism, because defending your country isn't the same thing as spreading your faith by the sword. Wow.

And then we get to the Nazi era and the political expedient of what to be nationalist for swung more firmly towards being German. After all, we were held up as the Aryan ideal! More pure than most Germans, maintaining this purity even when living in diaspora! There's even this whole alarming discussion about how we were seen as the anti-Jew: a wandering people, but the good ones.

I've noticed some parallels between Jewish identity and Mennonite identity before, and it was kind of awful to see that the parallels were brought up historically by Nazis to support antisemitism, when that is the opposite of how I would personally use the parallels.

Of course not all Mennonites - not even all Mennonites who lived in Germany - repudiated pacifism or supported Nazism, but a really disheartening number did. I have a Nazi relative namechecked in this book, even. And Mennonites personally materially benefited from the genocide of the Jews, with land and other possessions. We were complicit in the atrocities perpetrated, and in some cases actively participated in the atrocities.

And then of course in the post-war period there was a whole bunch of denial of germanness (we're not German, because that would mean being stuck in post-war Germany and being held accountable, and we're not Russian, because that would mean repatriation to the Soviet Union and that doesn't sound like a good idea, so let's try out claiming being Dutch! And if that doesn't work then obviously we are our own Mennonite nationality!) as well as denial of any culpability. And Mennonites did a pretty good job of distancing our reputation from both of these things - I mean, the popular conception of Mennonites these days is of technology-avoidant North American farmers. And we did a great job of denying it internally too. Even now if you check out GAMEO (the online Mennonite encyclopedia), the article about one strongly pro-Nazi Mennonite I looked up says nothing about all his Nazi-supporting activities and instead talks about the many ways in which he was a wonderful person who did wonderful things. Gross.

It's interesting to me, the way that this book demonstrates a link between nationalism and the sense of being part of a global Mennonite church body. I've always seen the latter as a positive thing: instead of being insularly focused on other Mennonites who are Like Us, we are reminded of our connection with many different kinds of Mennonites all around the world. And I think it is a positive thing these days when we're actually willing to admit people of colour as being equal coreligionists instead of only counting the white people, but it definitely did not start with a goal I would personally find laudable.

Anyway, the book does manage to end on a positive note, which is impressive given the general tenor of most of the content of the book. It ends by reminding us that, as Mennonitism has had a multiplicity of shifting identities and priorities in the past, so it continues to change now and can continue to do so into the future, and we are not bound by the awful things Mennonites have been and done in the past - we can be better.

Which is a timely reminder, given that we are living in an era when Nazism is rising again. It's time to be better than our past!
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[personal profile] yatima posting in [community profile] 50books_poc
Australians of my generation have a particular reason to be fond of Journey to the West and it is the gloriously daft Japanese adaptation that was replayed endlessly on after-school TV. (For many queer Australians of my generation, myself included, Masako Natsume, the woman who played Tripitaka, is a pivotal figure in our secret lives.) The Monkey King resurfaces in Gene Luen Yang's graphic novel American Born Chinese, one of the books that taught my younger kid to read. (I was especially touched when in Yang's book, the three wise men who attended the birth of Jesus turned out to be Monkey and his friends Sandy and Pigsy. I'm a sucker for good crossover fanfic.)

All this to say that The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is yet another delightful take on Journey to the West, this time set in the hyper-competitive high schools of the Bay Area. Monkey is now Quentin, a handsome, short, brilliant and very annoying teenager who kept reminding me of Miles Vorkosigan, in a good way. Genie herself has a surprising connection with him, but is a three-dimensional character in her own right, with a sense of honor and complicated relationships with her parents and friends. Her efforts to balance college applications with supernatural obligations had a Buffy-ish resonance, and the various Gods and demons showing up in modern America will please Neil Gaiman fans. I found this a quick and enjoyable read.
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[personal profile] yatima posting in [community profile] 50books_poc
"Welcome to the Middle-Aged Orphans Club," writes Sherman Alexie, and as a middle-aged orphan myself, I did feel welcome, and seen, and understood. In July, Alexie cancelled part of his book tour because of complicated grief and being haunted by his late mother: "I don’t believe in ghosts," he writes. "But I see them all the time." Me too, brother.

Like Bad Indians, this is an intricate quilt of a book, part memoir, part poem, part dream. It's hard to imagine how it could be otherwise. The loss of a parent is a loss of meaning. For indigenous people, this is doubly true. Lillian Alexie was one of the last fluent speakers of Salish. Her death robs her son, and the world, of an entire universe.

This book, like Hawking radiation, is an almost-undetectable glow of meaning escaping from a black hole. If you haven't lost a parent yet it might be too much to bear, but if you have, it might feel like joining a group of survivors around a campfire after a catastrophe.

IN AUGUST 2015, as a huge forest fire burned on my reservation, as it burned within feet of the abandoned uranium mine, the United States government sent a representative to conduct a town hall to address the growing concerns and fears. My sister texted me the play-by-play of the meeting. “OMG!” she texted. “The government guy just said the USA doesn’t believe the forest fire presents a serious danger to the Spokane Indian community, even if the fire burns right through the uranium mine.”

...“Is the air okay?” I texted. “It hurts a little to breathe,” my sister texted back. “But we’re okay.” Jesus, I thought, is there a better and more succinct definition of grief than It hurts a little to breathe, but we’re okay?

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