Feb. 16th, 2017

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I think I forgot to mention that I read Maggie Nelson's The Red Parts a couple weeks ago, because a) I seem to really like Maggie Nelson these days and b) it is relevant to that thing I've been working on for a while. I liked it a lot. The Red Parts, for those who don't know, is a memoir of Maggie Nelson's experiences while attending the cold case trial of the murderer of her aunt, whom she never met but wrote an earlier book of poetry about. Her aunt Jane was assumed for a long time to be the victim of a mildly notorious serial killer in Michigan, but the cold case investigation pointed to a different suspect, who was in the end convicted. The book is an excellent meditation on issues of justice and crime and memory, and in it I discovered that Nelson is something of an anti-death-penalty activist, at least in that she's stood in vigils at executions.

I just finished Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, which was a lot of fun. The premise here is that Western esoteric magick is the real stuff and occult knowledge is held by rival lodges filled with old, privileged white men who periodically attempt to take over the world for real, when they're not fighting each other that is. Thanks to a black maid pregnant with her boss's child, who slipped off the estate just before a major magical accident obliterated a bunch of practitioners, a black family in Chicago gets enmeshed in these machinations. They get to come out on top. I like Ruff's sense of humor, and I think he struck the correct balance between terror and humor here, and also with the way that not all the horror comes from occult machinations but from merely living in 1950s America while black. That fact is critical to the ending, too, and part of what made it so satisfying.

Not sure what's next.

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