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

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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

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

All Due Respect Issue 6 Edited by Mike Monson and Chris Rhatigan

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Pages: 90

Genre: Noir, short stories, Anthology, Literary Zine

Format: E-book

Published by All Due Respect Books

So I happened to be reading this literary zine and that’s why I posted about literary zines awhile ago. I highly suggest this zine to genre fiction fans, especially those into noir or crime fiction. This zine is dedicated more to the crime scene or is noir all about crimes? I will admit that I like literary zines, I like finding them, and downloading them, but I do merely a skim over and read what catches my eyes. Which is sad, because then what the hell is the point of killing trees or compiling PDFs of these zines if no one will read them?

Here’s my reason: Some are too long, I’m not always in the mood for short stories, some of them aren’t that good, and sometimes they are hard to read depending on the medium. Physical is fine, Kindle is fine, but WordPress or Blogger or any other website  is difficult if it’s not on mobile. Most of the time, I discover them when I’m browsing. Poetry literary zines are the only literary zines I have ever read from start to finish. And so why am I rambling so much about literary zines? Because this is the last copy of All Due Respect Zine. I’m not mourning, because there’s tons of other noir literary zines out there that have some gems to read.  It’s just that it’s the first time I have ever enjoyed a literary zine that consists of only fiction.

If you’re familiar with noir at all, you will already know what most of this zine is about. Guns, drugs, drama, revenge, conniving personalities, bad cops, thieves, and detectives. What makes a good noir story for me is not only the entertainment factor, but also giving me the feeling of empathy or maybe even hatred for the vile main character, a fear for the main character, or an apprehension of what’s to come for that them. It’s a weird thing I have, I like to feel for the character but at the same time I want to get that rush of adrenaline. There’s very few novels like that, where it touches you emotionally, but also scares the shiz out of you or haunts you, sticking to your memories.

This zine is pretty short for a literary zine. There are only six short stories, which is good enough for me. But I can say I only enjoyed four of the six short stories. Lang, Chen, Queally, and Sanders. The one I liked the most, the one that stuck with me most was Sarah M. Chen. She stood out because the main character of her story was young and he was the least deviant noir character I have read, I know he’s not the main character, but he is the lead of the story (it’s in third person, but it’s main focus is him.) Instead he is the victim of noir, he is the “What the hell did I just see?” of noir. Does that make sense? The only bad boy thing he does is sell drugs and he does it to support his mother and her business. He doesn’t kill anybody, he’s not a triad, he’s just a young Asian American dude trying to get by, who lives with his grandmother that doesn’t appear to be your typical harmless old lady. Oh the ending is pretty cool. And so of course, I’m anticipating her full length that’s also coming out from All Due Respect. I will also probably read their previous issues too, in case I get the craving for short stories and noir.

Rating: 4/5

The Woman from Cheshire Avenue by Ankhesen Mié

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Pages: 86

Genre: Romance, Paranormal, Psychological Thriller, Novella

Format: E-book

Published by Middle Child Press

Borrowed from Kindle Prime Library

The funny thing about this novella is that during the time I was reading this I watched a movie called Supremacy. It was filled with tension and kept you at the edge of the seat, it was nasty, but it was that I-can’t-look-away type of movie.  That’s what this novella is like. The only bad thing about the movie was that Danny Glover, I always confuse him with Donald Glover for some odd reason, was playing this old father and was talking really low and raspy like Christian Bale’s growling lion interpretation of Batman’s soft mysterious voice. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, but I partly blame this on my hearing and the lack of subtitles that Mom forgot to put on. Supremacy was a Hollywood movie though, the good guys win. It’s not like The Woman from Cheshire Avenue where there are no good guys and it sort of rubs you the wrong way since Neo-Nazis are involved in this novella.

Lilith Wells doesn’t know what the hell she wants and one day out of spite, she kisses a Neo-Nazi. She comes from a family of Black excellence, She has a successful career, and is the daughter of a successful politician. So of course this could lead to disaster especially since her father and the Neo-Nazis are all playing buddies with the Hirosawa family, a Japanese mobster family.

This novella seems to be a sort of indirect sequel to the novella, Folklore, from Folklore and Other StoriesThe Hirosawa family seems to be continuing their blood-soaked legacy into this novella and based on the ending, there just might be a sequel.

I don’t know, this one was quirky. I kind of already got a feeling of what Mié writes from her novella trilogy and it’s dark and uncomfortable, but yet you just keep reaching for more to wallow in it. Although this one was a little more hopeful I guess. The Neo-Nazi, Eric, who hated everyone and took pride in it, soon changes after that magical kiss and decides to clean up his act. He was the Snow White and Lillith Wells was the prince.  And of course, as Lilith Wells and Eric get closer, you will find that this love is forbidden, because obviously she’s Black and Eric is a White nazi, that isn’t actually German, he’s Norwegian. Remember Neo-Nazis are racist and hate eveything that is darker than them.

It’s a very thought-provoking novel that seems to ask if it is possible for a person to be completely changed and forgiven. But in this case, in this novella, there wasn’t enough time for that happen. It does raise the question of whether or not a person can stop being a Neo-Nazi, a piece of trash, and become clean. Can a person stop being terrible? Can they stop what they started and practiced from birth?

This off beat novella, especially that goth girl with the pink and black cornrows, raised some questions in my head about people and the ways they think, but it also left me thoroughly entertained. There are no heroes and there are no happy endings, everyone gets their own punishment for any of their actions, whether if they were right or wrong. After reading the ending, there was a point where I wondered if this was some sort of satire written with the most nonsatirical prose or maybe I’m just overthinking. This is definitely the anti-romance novel. The foolish don’t always remain foolish, and the deviant don’t only have deviant ways and remain that way. Something like that.

Rating: 4.5/5

Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg by Kate Evans

You know, when I saw the monthly archives of my blog and clicked on that “show amount of posts per month,” I was honestly surprised at the low amount of blog posts I’ve written. I only have over 280 blog posts. I’ve been doing this book blogging for almost two and a half years? I can’t count to save my life. I’m sorry. I cringe at the older blog posts, I wish I can delete them, but that would be silly to do.

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Pages: 224

Genre: Graphic Novel, Historical, Biography

Format: E-book

Published by Verso

Received from Netgalley for an honest review

I don’t really read a lot of historical fiction or historical non-fiction books about the World Wars anymore. But what lead me into reading this graphic novel was the cover. Long hair with a trail of tanks and soldiers marching and  exploding, almost forming some sort of loose braid, there is a style like this but I can’t name it, I will put a link to a picture here.  I wondered what was this was about and who is Rosa Luxemburg.

She was a charismatic and brilliant woman who wanted to dismantle the system of capitalism that oppressed her people and other minorities, during the early 1900s, when World War I and World War II would bring about a destruction that would take her with it. She led the German Revolution and was part of a Communist party. She was a communist leader that set her foot out in an arena that would soon persecute  her for her Jewish background.

I will admit that I still didn’t understand the whole concept of socialism, so I guess I should pick up that Karl Marx book if I ever get interested in it for whatever reason. But the whole graphic novel was built around her teaching and conceptions of capitalism, how it controls the universe, and how it brings about poverty and societal restrictions due to the poverty. The funny thing is that socialism and capitalism have their pros and cons, despite that one might sound better than the other, there’s always some sort of oppressive con that will make people change their minds. Like, for example, look at China. I don’t really like to talk about this because I don’t know much, I only know from articles and blog posts written by Chinese people who live there and know better than someone like me and most Americans. A lot of the Western media’s protrayel of China is kind of influenced by Yellow Peril and the racist idea of “All communist countries are opressed desert wastelands that must be saved by me White saviour.” No I’m not denying that these things happen, a lot of screwed up things happen there, it’s a communist, imperialist country, much like us, except we’re not communist. But China is a perfect example of communism gone wrong. Which is why I say that there is a pro and a con to communism and it shouldn’t be romanticized.

It’s a saddening how after Rosa Luxemburg died, the communism that she was trying to build turned out to be something worse, as the people who took over became dictators and inflicted just as much harm than the government before them. But her influence has lived on, her outspoken actions and feisty attitude definitely lives on in many of today’s feminist activists. Yes, I actually consider her a feminist figure since what she had done was rare for a woman at that time, especially since Jewish people were constantly in hiding from persecution.

I wasn’t a fan of the artwork I will admit, some of it was beautiful in its accurately bleak and sort of scratched in look, I don’t know how to explain art, but anything looks better than Attack on Titan. The flow of the story was a little odd sometimes, the way the scenes ended and then changed were a bit abrupt to me. But the writing was engaging, the tale of her life, switching from her political side to her dysfunctional love life, was utilized in a way to portray a political figure in their highest and lowest. Rosa’s writings were also melded into the text to form two narratives, the personal and the outer. I recommend this as a light read for those who like to read World War I and II non-fictions.

Rating: 3.5/5