Hello, it’s August now and I’m hopped up on jitters.
Let’s wrap up July, shall we?
Portland is on their 65th day of protests. Protestors spent the month of July being battered by federal agents, because fuck free speech, am I right?
Last week, arrested protestors were banned from attending more protests as a condition of their release. ProPublica has since reported that this requirement has been waived, but here’s a thought: said requirement was RIDICULOUSLY unconstitutional in the first place.
Federal agents also arrived in Seattle and Chicago, prompting rage and panic from citizens.
Thankfully, the agents were sent packing from Seattle just a few days ago, no thanks to the incredibly useless Mayor Jenny Durkan.
(Once again, her phone number is 206-684-4000 and her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)
(At the moment, federal agents remain in Chicago.)
Seattle City Council votes on police funding on August 5th.
While I wait on that news, it’s time to SAVE THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE.
TO MY U.S. READERS: Shutting down the USPS WILL impact the November election, small businesses, medication delivery, and other services we take for granted.
Time is of the essence. Buy stamps, yes, but more importantly? GET IN CONTACT WITH YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS. (You can find yours here.)
Calling is your best option; call and leave a voicemail this weekend.
This helpful thread lists the things you can tell officials in support of the USPS.
Let’s hop to it.
Okay. Now on to math.
In July, I read a total of 17 books. Of these books,
- 88% were new books
- 22% were rereads
- 88% were Adult
- 22% were Young Adult
- 24% were fiction
- 47% were non-fiction
- 24% were graphic novels
- 5% were poetry
My average rating for the month was 4.12, significantly lower than last month.
I fully blame Tony Evans and one half of a YA writer duo for this dip in quality.
For my rating breakdown:
- 2-star reads: 1 book
- 3-star reads: 1 book
- 4-star reads: 8 books
- 5-star reads: 6 books
- Unrated reads: 1 book
Wait a minute…I didn’t rate Tony Evans’ book, so I can’t blame him.
No, this month’s low score was the fault of Sam Humphries. More on that in a second.
Here’s my genre breakdown:
See that big fantasy slice?
Most of the fantasy books I read last month received 4 or 5 stars.
Sam Humphries’ Blackbird was the exception.
Maybe men shouldn’t write comics
I have been looking forward to the first volume of Blackbird since its release in 2019.
Jen Bartel is one of my favorite artists – I plastered ONE WHOLE WALL of my apartment with her artwork, INCLUDING a print from this VERY COMIC.
Bartel’s art is the only reason I gave this book two stars instead of one star.
…fine, there was also one really good twist. The rest of the book was a trash fire.
A question: who decided the best person to write a nonwhite female protagonist was a white guy?
Protagonist Nina Rodriguez could have been replaced by anyone and the story wouldn’t change. Her race and gender played no part in her experiences, which is not how EITHER OF THOSE THINGS WORK.
Worse yet, Sam Humphries displayed ignorance about
- the threat of rape
- relationships between sisters
- heterosexual romance
It’s like he thought painting his lead with the broad strokes of Bad Girl + Hard Living would be enough to make his fantasy-noir “authentic.”
I couldn’t help comparing this book to the first season of Netflix’s Jessica Jones. Jessica’s emotions felt real because the show’s writers understood trauma; never did it feel like they were trying on tragedy for size.
Additional research into Humphries’ bibliography reveals a long-running Harley Quinn series.
I just want him to stop writing female leads.
Watch Us Rise misunderstands intersectional feminism
Hey, so I hated Watch Us Rise.
I also gave it three stars.
Watch Us Rise is a dual-perspective YA novel about two high school girls who create a feminist club at their school.
I really enjoyed Jasmine’s chapters. She dissected her parents’ marriage while grieving her terminally ill father, confronted her self-worth as a fat Black girl while navigating a romance with her friend Isaac, and called out misogynoir in her school’s acting club.
With so much material covered in Jasmine’s chapters, I couldn’t figure out why Chelsea needed to be there.
I did remind myself (multiple times) that Chelsea was only seventeen. My feminist views were equally malformed and narrow at that age.
Chelsea focused on the beauty industry for almost the entire book. She had several “WAKE UP, SHEEPLE” moments where she called out women’s magazines for pushing a thin, blonde aesthetic.
Yes, fine, this is Feminism 101.
Chelsea, though, never moved on from this very narrow slice of feminism.
Her views leaned PRETTY HARD into second-wave feminism with more concern for challenging (white) beauty standards and (heterosexual) relationship expectations than for uplifting marginalized voices.
Black Lives Matter and #SayHerName were mentioned, yet Chelsea remained firmly focused on questions like, “Can I be a feminist and still wear makeup?”
I thought it was weird that a book claiming to be intersectional could be so shallow.
Hey, do you know who tends to identify with radical second-wave feminism? TERFS.
In other words, the very OPPOSITE of intersectionality.
In the year of our Lord 2020, the year of renewed Black Lives Matter protests, this felt pretty goddamn egregious.
(Final note: Chelsea, you can’t be a “womanist” and you can’t celebrate Kwanzaa. Appropriation is not support.)
Literal demons everywhere
(CW: suicidal ideation)
I didn’t feel comfortable rating Tony Evans’ Warfare.
I went into the book knowing I didn’t agree with the basic premise. I’m not going to trash the book on Goodreads because I didn’t fit the target demographic.
On my blog, however, I have no such compunctions.
Our friend Tony takes the view that misfortune is the result of:
- participation in “worldly” culture
- a sin you refuse to acknowledge
- a personal attack from Satan
Whatever the reason behind them, all the problems in your life are the DIRECT RESULT of demonic interference.
In most cases, your suffering is probably your fault and you should repent of your sins lest the devil win.
In some cases, though, you’re being attacked through no fault of your own. In these cases, succumbing to sin lets the devil win.
We can’t fight off the devil without God’s help, BUT we have to resist the devil lest we succumb and lose the war, BUT we actually don’t need to try so hard because God already won the war, BUT we need to stay vigilant lest the devil rip us to shreds (which will be our fault.)
If all of that sounds contradictory…that’s because it is!
I chucked ideas about spiritual warfare in the bin awhile ago. I now subscribe to the Ecclesiastes view: sometimes life is shit because the world is bad.
I bring it up because, unlike Evans’ dizzying ideas about spiritual warfare, this view keeps me from collapsing in despair.
I used to believe much of what Tony Evans preaches. Said stew of dissonant beliefs heightened my already-present anxiety and sent me into a tailspin of guilt and shame.
Eventually, I stopped wanting to live. What was the point if I was going to keep failing?
Y’all, sometimes life is shit because the world is bad. Sometimes bad things happen regardless of what I do. Not everything is my fault.
What a fucking relief.
Yes, I did have positive feelings about books
I read books that I liked last month! A lot of them, in fact!
Sure, I can take a few moments to say some nice things about some of them!
This is What I Know About Art gave me hope for my career. Not all of us take a traditional path to art and that’s okay! IT’S NEVER TOO LATE.
No Man of Woman Born made me cry and cry. I loved the themes: people are who they say they are and we’re allowed to keep learning about ourselves.
In GOOD comic news, Heathen is the fantastical queer Viking story I never knew I wanted. Volume 3 just came out and I can’t wait to see how the plot (and all the ships!) resolve.
I bought two essay collections about bisexuality from Scottish publisher Monstrous Regiment. Volume one was fantastic; I’m saving the second volume for a special occasion. I hear it contains an essay on Janelle Monáe, so THAT’S EXCITING.
Portland author Timothy Arliss Obrien developed a queer-friendly Portland-themed tarot deck. I read and enjoyed his explanation of the imagery in The Gazing Ball Tarot. Timothy has several books out – buy one today!
Mikki Kendall reframed every important societal issue as a feminist issue in Hood Feminism. I will never look at the world the same way again. The chapter on food insecurity was especially eye-opening during a time where many kids don’t have access to food.
How to Be Less Stupid About Race destroyed the optimism I apparently had buried deep inside. Yes, Trump is abominable. Consider, though, something I didn’t want to believe: our country has always been this racist. Yeah, it sucks. Let’s make things right.
I don’t know how to talk about You Should See Me in a Crown yet, but I will say it’s joyful. I want this joy for all queer Black kids.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I don’t know. I’ve been working a lot. I’m very tired. Writing has been difficult. I’m still waiting on unemployment to be paid out.
Overall, July was pretty rough.
I did FINALLY get my long-awaited plague doctor plush and I made some good connections with people.
I’m hoping August will have some good moments in spite of everything going on.
Please stay safe and don’t forget to support the USPS, at the very least because it will make Trump so mad.