Tag Archives: reading recommendation

The Folkloresque

I’m happy to say I recently had an academic essay published in The Folkloresque: Reframing Folklore in a Popular Culture World, co-edited by my good friend Jeff and our former IU professor Michael Dylan Foster.

Jeff and I first started working on our essay in this volume, about how Harry Potter treats folklore, several years ago, and I was delighted to be invited to contribute to the book, especially in such good company.

If you’re interested in the intersection of folklore and pop culture, it’s worth checking out. It’s available from University Press of Colorado, or from Amazon.

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Reading Recommendation: “If You Cannot Go To Sleep,” Emily Mitchell

Today I read:

The numbers move sluggishly through her head in single file, like people in a line at the post office or at the bank or at the discount supermarket where you can only pay with cash so the line is always long and she is always frustrated by the time she reaches the counter, and so, to compensate, she always tries to be extra- friendly to the cashier, to be sure to instruct him or her to have a nice day after she gets her change back, because it seems worse, somehow, to be a cashier in a discount supermarket than it would be to do the same job at a place that sold expensive gourmet foods, although when she thinks about this now, so late at night that she doesn’t even want to look at the clock to find out the time, she thinks, Why would it make a difference whether you ran a cash register at a place where people buy brie and figs and Ethiopian fair-trade coffee, instead of at a place where people buy Pampers and Wonder Bread?

— Emily Mitchell, “If You Cannot Go To Sleep

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Reading Recommendation: “Madeleine,” Amal El-Mohtar

In honor of yesterday’s Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality, today’s reading recommendation comes from Lightspeed‘s Queers Destroy Science Fiction! special issue:

Now: she is home, and leaning her head against her living room window at twilight, and something in the thrill of that blue and the cold of the glass against her scalp sends her tumbling —

— into her body at fourteen, looking into the blue deepening above the tree line near her home as if it were another country, longing for it, aware of the picture she makes as a young girl leaning her wondering head against a window while hungry for the future, for the distance, for the person she will grow to be — and starts to reach within her self, her future/present self, for a phrase that only her future/present self knows, to untangle herself from her past head. She has just about settled on Kristeva — abjection is above all ambiguity — when she feels, strangely, a tug on her field of vision, something at its periphery demanding attention. She looks away from the sky, looks down, at the street she grew up on, the street she knows like the inside of her mouth.

She sees a girl of about her own age, brown-skinned and dark-haired, grinning at her and waving.

She has never seen her before in her life.

— Amal El-Mohtar, “Madeleine

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Reading Recommendation: “The Visit to the Museum,” Vladimir Nabokov

Today I read:

Everything was as it should be: gray tints, the sleep of substance, matter dematerialized. There was the usual case of old, worn coins resting in the inclined velvet of their compartments. There was, on top of the case, a pair of owls, Eagle Owl and Long-eared, with their French names reading “Grand Duke” and “Middle Duke” if translated. Venerable minerals lay in their open graves of dusty papier mache; a photograph of an astonished gentleman with a pointed beard dominated an assortment of strange black lumps of various sizes. They bore a great resemblance to frozen frass, and I paused involuntarily over them, for I was quite at a loss to guess their nature, composition, and function. The custodian had been following me with felted steps, always keeping a respectful distance; now, however, he came up, with one hand behind his back and the ghost of the other in his pocket, and gulping, if one judged by his Adam’s apple.

“What are they?” I asked.

“Science has not yet determined,” he replied, undoubtedly having learned the phrase by rote. “They were found,” he continued in the same phony tone, “in 1895, by Louis Pradier, Municipal Councillor and Knight of the Legion of Honor,” and his trembling finger indicated the photograph.

“Well and good,” I said, “but who decided, and why, that they merited a place in the museum?”

“And now I call your attention to this skull!” the old man cried energetically, obviously changing the subject.

“Still, I would be interested to know what they are made of,” I interrupted.

“Science…” he began anew, but stopped short and looked crossly at his fingers, which were soiled with dust from the glass.

— Vladimir Nabokov, “The Visit to the Museum”

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Reading Recommendation: “The Price of Salt,” Patricia Highsmith

Today I read:

“Therese ate nervously, with the “Welcome to Frankenberg” booklet propped up in front of her against a sugar container. She had read the thick booklet through last week, in the first day of training, but she had nothing else with her to read, and in the coworkers’ cafeteria, she felt it necessary to concentrate on something. So she read again about vacation benefits, the three weeks’ vacation given to people who had worked fifteen years at Frankenberg’s, she ate the hot plate special of the day–a grayish slice of roast beef with a ball of mashed potatoes covered with brown gravy, a heap of peas, a tiny paper cup of horseradish. She tried to image what it would be like to have worked fifteen years in Frankenberg’s department store, and she found she was unable to. “Twenty-five Yearers” got four weeks’ vacation, the booklet said. Frankenberg’s also provided a camp fro summer and winter vacationers. They should have a church, too, she thought, and a hospital for the birth of babies. The store was organized so much like a prison, it frightened her now and then to realize she was a part of it.”

— Patricia Highsmith, The Price of Salt

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Reading Recommendation: “The Lady and the Dragon,” Lydia Millet

Today I read:

“Sharon Stone wondered what else to say. Until now she had thought the billionaire highly eccentric, true; but she had not worried too much about it, for extreme wealth was known to distort. The fact that he wore an unsheathed dagger tucked into his trousers at all times, the fact that he allowed no plants, vegetables or fruit to touch his skin and bathed in a solution of isopropyl alcohol, the fact that he kissed a laminated picture of Roy Orbison every night before bed and liked to pretend to be a mewling infant during sexual intercourse–all these had struck her as essentially harmless. She saw now that she had misjudged.”

— Lydia Millet, “The Lady and the Dragon”

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The Golden Key No. 4

I’m a bit late in announcing this, but The Golden Key recently released its fourth issue, and it’s full of amazing writing about hungry things! Go check it out!

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