Books, Thoughts

Hooray for Free Comic Book Day!

You GUYS!  Another FCBD has come & gone, but I’m still super happy with my finds this year.  I unfortunately had to work most of the day, but once I was off of work, I headed down to Velocity Comics to see if they had anything special this year.  Unfortunately, having gotten there late in the day, the two freebies I really wanted were already gone: Brian K. Vaughn’s Barrier & the Fantagraphics sampler.  But we can’t dwell on sadness—not on Rex Manning D—I mean, Free Comic Book Day!

Despite missing out on the freebies, I was SO EXCITED to find that my wonderful little store had FINALLY gotten in the first issue of local comic, Innsmouth by Megan James.  This comic has been in such high demand that reprints of the first issue has been back-ordered since earlier this year.  I’d been waiting patiently, collecting the other issues as they came out, waiting for that first issue so I could finally start reading it.  And now, here it was!  Binge-reading time!

innsmouth_james
Innsmouth Comic by Megan James; issues 1-4

I looked around a little bit more & also found that Hard Case Crime is putting out comics as well.  So I picked up Normandy Gold, a comic done in the style of exploitation films from the 70s.  I practically bounced up to Patrick at the counter & told him breathlessly that I’d been looking forward to visiting all day & finding cool stuff.  I think I made him a little nervous with my enthusiasm, but then again, the store was still pretty busy despite the late hour, so maybe he just thought I was another weirdo.

All in all, a pretty fantastic FCBD.  Soooo, if you’ll excuse me, I have a bunch of stuff to go read now. . .

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Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State KillerI’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 instead of 4. Like many other readers, I picked this book up looking forward to seeing the passion project that McNamara had been working on at the time of her death & to support those who were determined to see her work in print. This book is an amazing testament to the friends & loved ones who wanted to do right by McNamara & preserve her legacy as a writer. With that said, this is also a manuscript that is still very much in draft stage & is not easy to read on its own. The placeholder text & McNamara’s thorough research give clues as to what could have been a phenomenal work of true crime reporting. The fact that interest in the case has helped lead to a suspect finally being taken into custody after these many years is also cathartic & I’m sure helps being closure to many. But without this context, the book is not a good standalone read. Instead, it is a poignant monument not just to a compelling writer who is gone, but also to cases that are forgotten & our own vested interest in some sort of justice.

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Thoughts

Visualization Time

Seasons change; focus changes. With spring’s arrival, there has been a lot of shifts and opportunities coming, not just for me but for many people that I know. One thing that has been coming to the forefront of my mind is my writing. I’m no longer as content to sit & let myself while away the hours with needle & thread. That doesn’t mean that crocheting or sewing or any other craft isn’t as important to my peace of mind; it just means that my attention has moved on.

Some of this is seasonal. When the weather is cold, my impulse is to be still & passive; to fill the hours in a warm place with someone familiar doing not much more than focusing on the work between my hands. Quiet activity in a quiet season. Writing is lonely & it’s hard to imagine sitting at a desk under a single lamp with the dark on the other side of the curtain, much less stare down the inner critic with pages in hand while my husband is in his kitchen making cookies & humming along to the radio.

But some of this is self-criticism too. After long years of not believing that I could make a “proper” living from writing, that I wasn’t worth listening too, that making something physical was practical, but that no one “needed” to read my words, my head is clearing. & while the idea of making writing my job (which has been my not-so-secret wish since childhood) is still scary, last week I decided to stop separating the things I create onto utilitarian & esoteric categories.

I decided to picture my writing career as a fiber work in progress. Each step, each choice, each class I take or group I run or commission I get is all built on top of each other.

Work In Progress
Thinking Cap


I’m sure that the idea sounds really obvious & it is hard to admit that the realization took me this long. But, when I believed that I couldn’t actually succeed as a writer before, my perception was that I just kept chasing goals or stumbling into chances & every good thing that happened was just chance. I couldn’t control whether or not an editor would like my piece & if things went my way, there was no way to reproduce that success. If they went badly, then clearly it was proof that I was wrong & didn’t deserve anything anyway.

But I don’t believe that any more. I don’t want to believe it any more. & I can see where one choice leads to another & I’m free to make a way for myself just as I’m free to make something out of a needle and thread. At the very least, my writer’s brain is eager to run with the metaphor & find the foundation chain & trace the progress forward. Seasons change; focus changes.

Thoughts

Not Without My Decor

Curtains Have I Made
A set of curtains I’ve made

I’m feeling possessive of my curtains.  Paranoid might actually be a more accurate descriptor.  We’re getting ready to move again in a few months & my anxiety has decided to fixate on whether or not we’ll be taking them with us to the new place.

I’m sure that sounds like a small petty thing; maybe it is.  Let me explain it a little better.  We moved around a lot when I was a kid—not military-family a lot but as my parents’ jobs & finances changed, we inevitably found a new place every 3-5 years.  We never took the curtains with us & to this day, I don’t know why.  Maybe they didn’t want to deal with the hassle of taking down the rods & hardware & putting it up at another place.  Maybe there are super secret real estate arrangements that hinge on whether or not a family willingly gives up their window dressings.  Maybe my parents have some heretofore unknown superstition about carrying draperies (& by extension bad luck) from one dwelling to another.

I don’t know & for the most part, it was just a thing I didn’t get to have a say in, like the moving.  It didn’t really bother me until I got older, had a job, & was able to spend my own meager income on decorative things.  We moved into one house where the owner had left behind her own drapes in some of the rooms.  (Why?!  What is the reasoning?)  These were blackout drapes that were coated in cat fur near the top.  I was working at a linens store at the time & I spent a couple of weeks looking at what I liked & comparing prices, before finally settling on green panels & long gauzy white swags.  It would hardly make House Beautiful but I had ambitious dreams & a minimum wage budget, so I made it work.

A few years later, it was time to move again.  And when I brought up how I was trying to figure out how to pack the curtains, my mom told me I couldn’t take them because, they weren’t included in the contract.  HUGE fight followed: I’m screaming that I bought them with my own money & my mom yelling back that she’s not going back to the realtor to dicker over curtains.

When I finally moved out on my own, I didn’t take any curtains & lived in different rented places for seven years with just blinds & nothing else.  And then, my husband & I moved to our current place & I loosened up a bit.  There were no pre-existing blinds, the Target curtains we bought were flimsy & we had some drafts coming in through the windows, & I was learning how to sew. . . so I made curtains.  Nothing too fancy, just repurposed sheets that were on sale but they made me happy & they were pretty. . . & now we’re getting ready to move again.  And I don’t want to leave these behind too.

So I guess it’s time to grow up & ask why we always left the curtains behind.  At the very least, I still have the cheapie Target curtains; I’d have no problem leaving those for strangers.

Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Sorry To Disrupt the Peace

Sorry to Disrupt the PeaceSorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A gift from a friend who saw the recommendation as “Kafka crossed with David Foster Wallace” & thought of me. I have to commend her instincts; this novel definitely kept me reading & left me pondering the human mysteries it brought up. Helen Moran has received a phone call that her adopted brother has committed suicide & she decides to travel home to mourn him as well as uncover what happened to him. Told from her point-of-view, Helen’s interior monologue eerily conveys a character teetering on an edge, although readers may deduce that this is not an uncommon state for her.

First, Helen’s voice & skewed perspective is compelling & while she purposefully sets out to “solve” her brother’s suicide, she often seems to contribute to the mystery of her family’s difficult relationships as well. She’s not unlike Jesse in Suicide Blonde, where the world & its workings have completely confounded her & she’s determined to figure out her own way through the chaos. But where Jesse is chasing her fragmented dreams from her past, Helen appears to have never been comfortable in this world & creates entire structures for herself out of her own self-justification & whatever is at hand.

There are some great moments of pitch-black humor & her increasing desperation at proving her good intentions despite her erratic behavior humanized her for me. Ultimately, Cottrell seems to be shooting for a Pynchon-esque ending, where nothing is really answered & I can appreciate that. I just don’t know if all the narrative strings are wrapped up as satisfactorily as they could be. I wanted to know more about this character & how she could even get through a day with these experiences weighing on her, but had to settle for where the book ended.

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