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Florence + the Machine
Fall Out Boy
Lana del Rey
The Mountain Goats
Carly Rae Jepsen
Big three months for many of the usual suspects! I have been very into Folie à Deux by Fall Out Boy and then of course their most recent album . . . meanwhile there is the Lana album and I also finally listened to Blue Banisters. I think my Lana album ranking is Born to Die > NFR > Lust for Life > Blue Banisters > Did you know… > Ultraviolence > Chemtrails = Honeymoon. And then I keep slipping into times when I can only really listen to The National, it happens. Songs!
Asking for a Friend - Chvrches
Ribs - Lorde
Triptych - Samia
Yes I’m Changing - Tame Impala
You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me - Alex Lahey
I Need My Girl - The National
Dog Days Are Over - Live at Madison Square Garden - Florence + the Machine
Dancing On My Own - Robyn
my tears ricochet - Taylor Swift
Buzzcut Season - Lorde
ahhhh certainly three months of life. About half of these have fictional implications (as well as me being a huge fan) and the rest are just how life goes.
I did not read a whole lot — makes my skin feel tight to think about how little I read in March specifically — but here is a list:
Cold Enough for Snow, Jessica Au. Mixed opinions! I’m still thinking about it, so that’s a win for the book, I guess. I had been planning to go into it and someday still might do this in the forum of this substack. Technically a novella and lacks a lot of the formal features expected from a novel, lots of the sentences were nice but not quite enough to make up for a feeling of emptiness, like the book is a container waiting for rain (or indeed snow) and that just never gets filled. Wish it had been about anything concrete and also not utterly apolitical for a book about migrants from HK who grew up in Melbourne now travelling Japan. I don’t think a novel needs a ‘plot’ necessarily but I do think it needs some kind of substance. Bold take.
The Piper’s Son, Melina Marchetta (reread). Ohhhh a book of all time ohhhh I love you. What happened here is I got one Tom/Tara exchange stuck in my head and went with it. Every time I reread a Marchetta Inner West book I pay careful attention to the threads and it does hit every time!
A Thousand Crimson Blooms, Eileen Chong. Lovely! Quite imagistic, which made it easy to get drawn in and hang suspended in each scene. I did enjoy the triadic stanzas as well just as a visual motif. Poems would often end with an enigmatic observation, some of which are quite effective and others of which fell short/hollow. I liked ‘Float’, ‘After’ and ‘Turning the Bend’ a lot.
The Cruel Prince / The Wicked King / The Queen of Nothing, Holly Black. Collapsing the trilogy into one because I read them all at once and do you know how rare this is when I do pick up a series these days. Anyway, actually crazy times? Wholly respect and appreciate how wholeheartedly HB was committed to playing with the enemies-to-lovers trope, which isn’t even an all-time favourite but if you sell it well then I will take it! SUCH a fun series. Jude is the murderous deluded girl protagonist that YA fantasy needs. I was naturally very compelled by the discussion of cycles and the way that people are shaped by their upbringing; I was less compelled by the betrayals and courtly intrigues, but that’s okay! Jude and Taryn are sisters . . . when Taryn said ‘I’m the mirror you don’t want to look at’. That went crazy. Also, I saw a quote about Jude included in a Kendall Roy parallel post on tumblr which I think is exactly how we should be making posts. I was going to rank the three books of the main trilogy but realised I would have no clue how to given that each book was its own unique brand of insanity. Real. Though shoutout to how many times something in Queen of Nothing happened in Buffy — magic snow, giant snake, breathless ‘I love you’ and ‘no you don’t but thanks for saying it’. It really was great to have fun! I love to have fun.
How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories, Holly Black. Okay this one. Being a companion anthology, this felt pretty indulgent for HB and fans and I did love it. Cardan Greenbriar in situations Cardan reacting to scenarios what more could I ask for. This guy would have had a grip on me when I was thirteen. Also he IS kind of convenience store faerie king spike btvs but with a neglectful childhood (so like spike btvs x fanon draco malfoy) like this is not delusion Holly Black I Am Looking Directly At You. Shoutout as well to the Cardan letters too which are not a book but I read them and they were insane. I heart insanity.
Dropbear, Evelyn Araluen. I did go into this fully trusting the book would live up to some fairly high expectations and STILL I was blown away. Incredible incredible use of language whilst often also engaging with historical and literary tropes from colonial history. Just like incredible writing and thought and demonstration of what poetry can do. I marked out almost half the collection as highlights but top top favourites may be ‘Breath’ and ‘decolonial poetics’.
The Rules of Attraction, Bret Easton Ellis. I find the concept genuinely fascinating — all these people making themselves the protagonists of their own lives to the point of presenting accounts that conflict with one another, BEE threading these together for us without comment. It’s like the concept of TikTok as a novel. Pretty funny to me that BEE takes a moment in American Psycho to pretty much summarise TROA:
“Oh god,” Timothy moans. “I am so sick of hearing Camden-girl problems. Oh my boyfriend, I love him but he loves someone else and oh how I longed for him and he ignored me and blahblah blahblahblah — god, how boring. College kids. It matters, you know? It’s sad, right Bateman?”
An Oresteia, Aeschylus / Sophocles / Euripides, trans. Anne Carson (reread). Yeah good stuff. Kind of foundational to me in the way I think about narrative cycles of abuse/violence. This being my second readthrough I had more appreciation for each author’s style and concerns, which was cool and fun! And of course much love for Elektra and Cassandra always. <3
Lemon, Kwon Yeo-sun, trans. Janet Hong. Picked this one up from the student union library based on the cover and I was a bit floored. Truly some masterful storytelling and the translation flows well. Lemon is about a murder the murder of a teenage girl in early 2002, where the novel itself unfurls across a few short chapters which shift across three perspectives and seventeen years. It’s about the crime but it’s also not about the crime at all. It’s about these three women all caught on the edges of the crime; in spending time with these women, Kwon touches on so many things about society — the privileges we afford, the way we frame/discuss/sensationalise crime — in a way that never feels shallow to me. Highly encourage you to read.
Currently reading: American Psycho. Nona the Ninth. rereading Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi, ish. Brideshead Revisited. Am meant to write an essay including Autobiography of Red so I should probably open it. Oh and I’ve read about two-thirds of a canon-compliant anthology of Buffy comics set before and in the early seasons of the show which I would like to finish.
Heartbreak High (2022-?). Watched this overnight sometime in January? And I mostly watched because I heard it was filmed near where I grew up — I looooved seeing the beach scenes in particular. I love the beach. Fun show! So dramatic but in a fun way. Deals with some heavy issues in a sensitive way whilst knowing how to remain light/humourous at other points. The lesbians in this were particularly fantastic. And some brilliant needle drops (‘Let it Happen’ by Tame Impala in the very last scene . . . iconic).
Angel (1999-2004). Ah. I have reached the end of Angel, though I haven’t watched every episode and don’t know that I will ever do that. But I like the bits I watched and don’t want to watch the plots I don’t like. Still, what a time. The way the writers weaved the Angel - Darla - Connor storylines makes me feel insane. Like the Angel and Darla of it and then the Angel and Connor of it? Insane? And they literally put vampire yaoi in the last season sorry but that’s romance. Everybody should watch this show. If You Like: The Myth Of Sisyphus, You Might Like: Angel. Disregard anything I have said about the show bad. I still wish it were just unequivocally good but please watch it. Gave us the line ‘I guess I really am your son because I’m dead too’. Disaster lead-up but what a moment. I think an Angel renaissance could alter some brains and also Angel (vampire) deserves a moment in collective consciousness again. It’s true. I did lose my mind after watching the finale two-parter. Kind of a perfect finale. Generally I love it when stories do cycles of violence and the past coming back to haunt you and also hope / the choice to keep going in the face of doom. SEE? DO YOU NOT WANT TO WATCH ANGEL NOW? AND THERE’S THE UNLIKELY FOUND FAMILY IN THE CITY CONCEPT. Hi. Hello. AND CORDELIA!!! Cordelia Chase is there.
Begin Again (2013) dir. John Carney. This was a truly lovely movie, twee in the nicest possible way. A tribute to humanity and music and living in a big city what else could you ask for. Love love love. And of course Keira Knightley is brilliant.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013) dir. Harald Zwart. Rewatched for the thrill of it all. Is it good? Does the plot make any sense? Does the pacing work at all? No. Did I have fun? Was everyone in it hot? Did the music slap? Absolutely.
Succession (2018-2023). A show that is airing! Every single week there is More Succession! In lieu of thinking about that, here’s a 2Jo vision for the ending (which should be called ‘Never Let Me Go’) (I don’t want to pin too many hopes on people dying but I would LIKE some death)
the last shot of succession should be stewy looking sad on a yacht. it should end on stewy because i would like it to. and this should be a cut away from the ambiguous kendall logan funeral where you don't know whose funeral it is. because logan should be dead right before the kids can actually beat him and they shift back into distrusting each other but at this point none of them want to turn on the others first and then there should be ambiguous kendalldeath he should walk into the sea as the only way out for him but we do not see him die we only see his absence afterwards and connor shiv roman sitting together and there is no clearcut resolution and the cycle doesn't end it just eats itself. and then stewy should look sad on a yacht.
A few links to things online:
Portrait of an Ape, Jiaqi Kang
Postcard to Comparison ((& Postcard to New Love)), Emily Ahmed
Young Spells, Tegan Webb
A Circle Married to a Line, Elias Greig
That’s all! The days stop coming and they don’t stop coming x