The First One You Expect by Adam Cesare

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Pages:
Genre: Horror, Novella, Noir

Format: E-book

Published by Broken River Books

Towards the end of Halloween, I wanted to read something that would fit the mood. I have a bunch of unread Anderson Prunty novels and there was a new C.V. Hunt novel out. I sighed to myself and instead tapped on this novella. I was somehow burned out on Anderson Prunty after reading Creep House and I just didn’t want to add a brand new book to my ever growing TBR, despite that I love Hunt’s work. And the truest thing that J. David Osborne, who runs Broken River Books, has ever said in a blog post or some other social media post I don’t remember where I read it, was that when people obtain or download a book for free, most likely they’re not going to read it right away or they might not read it at all. But I managed to get into this one though and for its length and content, in the spirit of Halloween, it’s totally worth $2.99.

Cesare is known for his horror genre novels, well, I think that’s what he mainly writes. I looked through his repertoire on Goodreads and found a exploitation genre novel much in the spirit of those cannibal exploitation films from the Italians to the recent Eli Roth. And well this one, is kind of sort of the same thing, but on a low budget scale. It’s more like a snuff film actually.

The narrator, who’s name escapes me, is an indie film maker who makes smutty and gore filled internet films that the weirdos out there enjoy. Then he meets a girl who verges onto a sort of manic pixie dream girl. she’s the girl he’s always dreamed of, beautiful, fame hungry and she’s got the sadistic streak he does. So what happens is that together they make a film with a longtime friend named Burt and his horror dream girl gets a little bit too into character. So no more Burt and the narrator is slowly getting famous off his snuff video.

It’s about ambition and being careful for what you wish for. Ever since the main dude’s manic pixie girl committed her atrocity, they begin to feel on edge and their relationships dwindles, but most people didn’t seem to separate the real blood from the watery ketchup at first. And then you question, who’s the real actual sadistic killer in this novella?

The First One You Expect is interesting because you get to read about the underlings of horror films. The ones who can’t afford the high tech supplies but yet still have the brains to make a decent horror out of home made scratch. It’s a tribute to the underground peasants of art. But it’s also a satire in a way, the novella’s got a cheap, campy feel to it. Much like what the main dude directs. It’s got the noir elements, but there isn’t much suspense since you know just from the title and the first chapter. But this would make a great indie film for the festivals. I kind of also got a “failed artist” feel from this novella. The novella is a crime novel, a noir, and a self-deprecating literary novel about a loser artist. It’s kind of like a cut-throat drama and a satirical prod to the underground artists who are just frothing at the corners of their lips to be recognized.

Rating: 4/5

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Baby Babe by Ana Carrete and pls advise by Josh Spilker

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Pages: 183

Genre: Poetry

Format: E-book

Published by Civil Coping Mechanisms

Borrowed on Kindle

I’m back, sort of. Any blog posts that come later are on books I’ve read last month. I’ve been in a book funk, but I’m slowly coming back to reading. This is going to be brief, because I didn’t really like this much because it was just too, I don’t know, shallow for me? I liked it but didn’t like it at the same time? It was so-so.

Ana Carrete is a poet and an artist. You will find some collage art that contains themes from the poems written in this collection. And well, there’s not much to say, because literally this whole book is just a girl writing her quirky sexy thoughts and I guess that’s what makes it brilliant.

Like a lot of internet poetry, her poems are much in the spirit of Tao Lin, except with a feminist tinge to it, with confessionals of sexuality and desires, which are revolutionary in the fact that there is no holding back or self-censoring and of men that disrespect and tear down womanhood. And then some of the poems are literally those weird thoughts you’ve had while being bored during lecture. Overall though, Baby Babe is amusing but also deeply personal as she reveals all of the little streams of her never ending erotic consciousness.

Rating: 3/5

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Pages: 20

Genre: Twitter

Format: E-book

Self-published with the help of Gumroad

It’s a bk of tweets. Wth cute drawings, musings abt writing ad existing in tweets. It flows lk poetry but feels like ur diary of questions

And the random shiz you think abt while showering or tryin to sleep. He constantly asks for advice that no one will hear. And honestly that feels too real.

Internet lone. Alone.

(I tried to keep this in Tweet form, but it just couldn’t happen. So this feels so superficial lol.)

Rating: 4/5

A Slow Archive by Josh Honn

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Pages: 38

Genres: Poetry, Micro poetry, chapbook

Format: Paperback

Self-published

This was received for an honest review.

A Slow Archive is a chapbook of micro poems. I had just read this after reading some Sonia Sanchez and I think Josh may have read some too.

With a backdrop of sterile minimalist prose and haiku, with sparse drawings that remind me of the brief blips of life and the music of an album called flumina by Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto, A Slow Archive is exactly what the title is, a self examination and meditation of life’s brevity. With the smallest words comes the largest loads of melancholy unveiled, losing someone or almost losing someone, is like losing a limb or having one get weakened and you never forget them or lose them entirely as they become the phantoms limbs that hang on to you.

With nature, which is one of the most common use of imagery in here, you see a repetitive cycle of life and death, wilting and sometimes recovering and becoming green. It’s a lot like our lives, we grow as a sprout and then we continue on growing with the right nutrients, but one misstep can bend our stems permanently and slowly, bit by bit, we degenerate. Our love and our care can be the cure, but it only soothes. And there’s nothing worse than realizing how temporary we are.

Rating: 4.5/5

Shakin’ Up Race and Gender: Intercultural Connections in Puerto Rican, African American, and Chicano Narratives and Culture by Marta E. Sanchez

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Pages: 202

Genre: Non-fiction

Format: E-book

Published by University of Texas Press

Borrowed

I really should be studying for my Anthropology test, but yet I’m here writing this. (I decided to hit publish like a week or two after I wrote this.)

This is a literary criticism book. I didn’t expect this to be a literary criticism book, but that’s what it is. Sanchez uses a variety of novels that come from various cultural backgrounds, which are Chicano, Puerto Rican, and African American, and uses intercultural connections to compare and understand the three cultures. The books and texts she uses are:

Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas (My mom has this book, so don’t be surprised to find this book on this blog sometime soon. Although, this non-fiction book kind of ruined it for me, since I already know what happens.)

Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown

The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo by Oscar Zeta Acosta

The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz

The Negro Family: The Case for National Action by Daniel Patrick Moynihan

La Vida: A Puerto Rican Family in the Culture of Poverty—San Juan and New York by Oscar Lewis

If I missed any, it doesn’t really matter, because I got down the main gist of what texts she used. I read non-fiction to learn about and understand myself and others, recently I’ve been doing this. But because I am African American and Puerto Rican already, a lot of this wasn’t new to me at all. The only thing that really stuck out to me and was fresh and new was the La Malinche concept. But at the same time, I’m not surprised. Our men blame all of their miseries on us women, instead of White supremacy. That’s what I learned in this book and I know that already anyway.

What was new to me was the Chicano part and learning about La Malinche. La Malinche was Doña Marina, who was a Nahua woman that was the lover and interpreter of Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conquistador that invaded and destroyed the Aztec Empire. Nahua is an indigenous people that lives in Mexico and El Salvador. The concept of La Malinche is basically the female traitor who kissed up to the racist White man and aided in the destruction of her own people. Although, I’m reading this up on Wikipedia, which gets it’s info from various Spanish sources. so I can’t read those. There are different stories and meanings for La Malinche. Some consider her the founder of Mexico and some consider her a disgusting traitor. In a sense, she’s both.

But here’s the thing that bothered me and I guess this explains the concept of this book. Despite that Puerto Ricans and Mexicans share the same oppression of Spaniard conquest, they are still vastly different. Puerto Rican and Mexican culture and experiences are also different from African Americans.

Puerto Rico experienced Spaniard colonialism and American imperialism. Most Puerto Ricans are Afro-Latinx, so the story that Piri Thomas tells resonates with a lot of us. While there are Afro-Mexican people in Mexico, Most Mexicans are Mestizos. Some are Brown and some are super White like Guillermo del Toro. A Mestizo is someone of Indigenous and European descent by the way. The Mestizo experience is talked about in Oscar Zeta Acosta’s autobiography, you learn that Chicanos constantly feel this identity rift since their Indigenous cultures were torn from them and are assimilated with both American and Spaniard culture. (You can also Afro-Mestizo, but I guess that’s already part of Afro-Latino.)

This was one of those books I read, finished, set it down, and was like “Okay, cool. So what’s the point?”

What also made me uncomfortable was how she titled some sections of the book. “The Brown Buffalo Puts on Blackface,” is one of them, where she talks about Oscar Zeta Acosta’s autobiography, she has several titles like this in the book. When Sanchez compares non-Black perspectives with Black perspectives, she writes that they’re “putting Blackface” on. Which is a totally weird way to word things and I believe she should’ve titled that in a different way. She also constantly used the N-word  when she started analyzing certain scenes in Claude Brown’s novel to the point where it was absolutely ridiculous, as if she forgot she was Chicana.

Another problem with this book is that it’s too repetitive, which I guess is something that can’t be avoided. However, despite that, this book was very accessible, since it was written in a language that wasn’t jargon heavy and was plain and simple. But most of the time, I guess this book just flew over my head and I didn’t like how she handled African American perspectives.

Rating: 3/5

Two Sonia Sanchez: Does Your House Have Lions? and Like the Singing Coming Off the Drums: Love Poems

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Pages: 70

Genre: Poetry, Haiku

Format: Paperback

Published by Beacon Press

Borrowed from the Library

Does Your House Have Lions? is a small collection of micro poetry and haiku. The collection is centered on the theme if family and loss. The little snippets are built as minimal as possible. Sonia Sanchez is known for writing in traditional Japanese poetry forms.  I don’t really have much to say about this collection other than the fact that it’s about the self-discovery and loss of an African American family. A father who isn’t always present, a son discovering that he’s gay and exploring that in the AIDS epidemic, and a sister and mother who are caught in between all of the heaviest conflicts of that time, the racism and the fluctuating changes of a generation. And then there’s death and the loss, at the end there’s this really poignant scene where the son connects with his ancestors after death. So there’s a sort magical realist influence going on here and I honestly wished it was a little longer.

Rating: 4/5

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Pages: 144

Genre: Poetry, Haiku

Format: Paperback

Published by Beacon Press

Borrowed from the Library

When I discovered Sonia Sanchez in the library I was really excited and this was the first one I wanted to read. But my break between classes is only an hour and a half long, so I decided to choose Does Your House Have Lions? because it’s shorter. But then after getting familiar with her style, I picked this one up. I enjoyed this one more than Does Your House Have Lions?, it’s less abstract and more lighthearted. It’s a self-healing type of a book, an ode to Black women and our culture. They are love songs, obviously. And because haiku and tanka are written with a certain amount of syllables, there is a very subtle rhythm and beat to it. And to be honest, I don’t really know how to read haiku or tanka, so maybe I should find a video of her readings. And I have to say, that I really like Sonia Sanchez, I can’t explain it, but I’m not a huge fan of a East Asian poetry forms, but she does it right. Every single person that writes haiku or tanka these days are pretentious White hipsters who write shallow love songs seasoned with cigarette smoke, coffee, and The Smiths. Of course, I’m not generalizing every one of them, this is just what I’ve seen so far in my life span. Sanchez isn’t like that, instead she has the soul. And it sure does come off strong with a powerful rhythm in this 144 page song.

P.S. I’m not bashing The Smiths, I actually kind of like them, despite Morrissey being a racist tea bag.

Rating: 5/5

Two Novellas: anemogram. by Rebecca Gransden and Ayiti by Roxane Gay

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Pages: 254

Genre: Novella, Magical Realism/Surrealism

Format: E-book

Self-published

This was received for an honest review

When Gransden told me about her novella, we were talking about writing stuffs, she told me or maybe Leo did, I don’t remember, that she was releasing a novella. And the novella is called anemogram. and when I saw her blog, I realized just like the short story she sent me, that she was one of those abstract writers. Abstract as in, everything is a sort of mystery that can only be solved by inconsistent dreams that have come to you during the restless nights in small visions and it will maybe take you months to piece them together. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a great thing in my opinion, if everything was linear, everything in a traditional mold, then where does the innovation go? Where does the curiosity go? Since literature is an art form, you should be able to cut up the pieces and make Picasso paintings right?

I always I love when a surrealist novel takes place in quiet suburbia, I feel like it always brews better in those conditions. Something odd pops out of the bushes and terrorizes a quiet neighborhood that usually expects nothing. In this case, it’s this little girl that doesn’t really have an official origin, she appears out of nowhere. She seems to have manifested out of nature itself, as you read the novella, there’s plenty of vibrant imagery of Mother Nature’s creations. There’s also a voice in her head that accompanies her throughout the story, telling her fairy tales that all sort of surround the same theme, where something beautiful, eventually dies and there’s no way to get it back. (If this is wrong, I read this awhile ago, so it’s fuzzy.)

The girl pretends to be the daughter of a father who abandoned her due to dying in an accident or committing suicide. She hangs around a war veteran and eventually ends up living with his buddies and here’s the thing, they’re all hiding something and it involves doing things that are out of their moral bases, for example, one of the guys is a police officer.

And yet, the main character, this whimsical little girl is still a mystery. But I have a theory, the voice in her head is maybe her dead father and her way of coping and living is to be a sort of Peter Pan. Maybe, they both died and the girl lives on as something supernatural. Nobody questions oddities too much in this book.

anemogram. does what it wants best, to be abstract and leaving the reader numb with wonder. It contains the fantastical fairy tale elements that Helen Oyeyemi is known for, except it takes place in a small British town. It’s one of those fairytales with a quirky modern twist of the Sundance movie scene.

Rating: 4/5

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Pages: 108

Genre: Short Stories, Novella, Poetry, flash fiction

Format: E-book

Published by Artistically Declined Press

I live under a rock and I never read a single Roxane Gay book until now. I’ve always followed her on social media because I liked what she said and found her essays to be mind opening. She’s a brilliant women, the type of feminist I look up to, well this is based on what I’ve read online, I’ve never actually read Bad Feminist. And one of her books was on sale in late November last year and I had already bought a load of books on Kindle, Octavia E. Butler, Miranda July, and I think Tan Twan Eng. And I will admit that when a book receives a lot of hype, I tend to get turned off until the hype dies down, most of the time I resist because hype= makes high expectations.

I had my eyes on Ayiti for quite awhile and the wait was totally worth it. This little book is the best example of short short stories that spend little time building and instead they actually spend time moving rhythmically and sensually with a poetic prose that embodies the soul and voice of her Haitian background. You can feel the heat, the graze of the sunburned concrete when you encounter the oppressive forces of the imperialism and colonialism in Haiti, and you can taste the blood and salty water. And I hate to write so little about this book, but if you have An Untamed State, then you will like this collection, one of the short stories is actually where the novel is derived from. It’s really the most underrated work in her repertoire from what I see on Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5

Two E-Chaps: Juliet (I) by Sarah Xerta and No Good by Alexis Pope

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Pages: 38

Genre: Poetry

Format: E-book

Published by H_NGM_N Books

  • A small e-chap about a girl named Juliet or maybe Juliet is a concept in its self. There’s a sort of sci-fi feel to it and from what I see in reviews of the sequel to this chapbook, the next one has a post-apocalyptic feeling. This felt like the virus going through the veins of a main character in a movie that will soon gain tremendous powers.
  • It’s punchy and feels like every tear of those times, as a female, you are constantly let down.
  • Let down by the males you follow, brothers or fathers or friends, or the times society allows you to get screwed over just because you reminded everyone that you actually have feelings as a female.
  • Juliet is the young girl inside of us all when we feel betrayed, the confessionalist with the scrapped knees and matted hair.
  • The worlds in us that end every day when we go to sleep.

Pages: 25

Genre: Poetry

Format: E-book

Published by H_NGM_N Books

  • A sort of ode to nature and deer or something.
  • Like most Alt-Lit it contains a lot of poetry about existing and hating the fact that you exist and something about living with your boyfriend or something.
  • But this also contains a lot of exploring of the self and what surrounds you.
  • Nature and senses, selfishness and the irritants from constantly being aware of what’s to come or what’s never to come.
  • General unsatisfactory and unspecific desires for unknowns.

(I honestly have no idea what to say about this chapbook, but I enjoyed it when I read it.)