MWD62 - On [Exact/Drastic/Time/Structural] Change
Or why I have been trying to write this newsletter for weeks
Summer is finally fading where I live, and with the change of weather, I’m sitting with my compulsion to change, a piece of me that is usually generative but always threatens to tear down the castle brick by brick. I’ve been wrestling with this edition of the newsletter for weeks now (did you miss me?), considering changing the name, the schedule, the format, everything. Still unsure, I’ll put a few things out here now and see where the season takes me.
Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi (YA/New Adult)
The Strange Birds of Flannery O’Connor by Amy Alznauer and Ping Zhu (Children)
Me(Moth) by Amber McBride (YA Novel-in-Verse)
Grendel’s Guide to Love & War by A. E. Kaplan (YA)
The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor by Shaenon K. Garrity and Christopher Baldwin (hilarious Graphic Novel)
a math equation
“Everything Under the Sun” - by Sophie Haigney via The Believer2
“Wellness Mommy Bloggers and the Cultish Language They Use” - by Sara Petersen via Harper’s (which made me want to read Amanda Montell’s book Cultish)3
Lulu Miller’s Why Fish Don’t Exist4
a riot of rhetoric, classification, categories, and consequences (aka: my brain’s home address).
a few tasty links (like really good sausage but not)
maybe you have to have two dogs to appreciate these two dogs, but I do, so . . . I do.
I did not expect this overview of supermarkets to take me where it did in the end, but writer Bianca Bosker made it so human and lived in, I almost cried.
a few things i’m quite proud of
Getting to interview an admired writer is always a thrill. Getting to interview Jess Walter (persistently in my personal top ten; his The Zero just may be the 9/11 novel) about his latest (The Cold Millions) and also War and Peace and rivers and writing and so much more has been a highlight of my year. Getting to talk to him almost exactly 10 years after our first exchange back in my book blogging days is truly something remarkable. Emailing Jess all those years ago was the first time I’d ever reached out to an author, the first time I realized authors were just ordinary geniuses like the rest of us. A door opened just a bit that day, and I’m ever so glad I tiptoed through it.
Unexpected Joy Department
I’m almost certainly going to have to write more about this podcast at some point. If you are interested in the ways power and celebrity and religion and identity work in people and communities — or if you (like myself) have had experiences with this type of evangelical megachurch, I highly recommend giving it a listen. Parts of it made me physically ill. Most of it prompted sturdy, reflective thinking about myself and my faith experiences.
“The act of putting language to our experience of the world we encounter, thereby dividing it into parts and categories, becomes our basis for understanding it.”
“Language is the medium through which ideology is created and disseminated in the first place. … Language makes up the very fabric of how we perceive, and indeed create reality.” (Petersen quoting Montell)
on the idea of giving up the idea of fish as a classification
When I give up the fish, I get a skeleton key. A fish-shaped skeleton key that pops the grid of rules off this world and lets you step through to a wilder place. … To turn the key all you have to do . . . is stay wary of words.