Another Long Absence, And More to Come (Probably)

Heya!

So I started writing this apology for having been absentee for such a long time (again), but as I was tip tapping my way through it I realized a few things:

  1. I’m actually not sorry. I love you gals for reading this, and thank you for the support and the messages and the likes, but also this is just a hobby. It’s a hobby I love, but it it’s also one of many. Sometimes my other hobbies are going to take precedence for a while or I’m going to lose interest in this a little. Or maybe I’ll get wrapped up in something in my social or romantic life and a few weeks will go by where I just don’t feel the urge or desire to post. I know they say that’s a bad thing for creating a following, you’re supposed to be “creating content all the time!” but, I dunno…fuck that. That sounds like it sucks.
  2. This is just the type of creator I am and have always been. I go through short bursts of creativity with long fallow periods in between. It’s always been this way, and when I try and push through it and create anyways, I just end up writing a bunch of lackluster stuff that’s as hard and boring for you to read as it is for me to produce.

Alright! Enough self-centered navel gazing. I’ve read a bunch of really, really good books over the last couple of weeks, so I’m gonna get to writing about them. Speak to ya soon!

VBR

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Using the F Word

Heya! It’s that time of the year again, where instead of reviewing a book, I review something in the real world (and I was going to pretend that sometimes I talk about real world things that I like, but really these posts are a way for me to vent about something that pisses me off). Today I’m going after the F word.

No, not fuck. That curse is great and good. It’s sharp and punchy and satisfying. I’ve actually got nothing against swearing in general. Some people say that it shows a lack of intelligence (can’t you think of anything else to say!) and other people say it actually indicates that you might be more intelligent (there’s a study out there somewhere, which a lot of people have been posting with captions like “see grandma! I fucking told you!” But it came at me through Facebook so I’m not marking anything down as solved just yet). I stand a little more firmly in the middle. Some dumb people swear a lot, some smart people swear a lot, and swearing is fun and who cares. The word shit isn’t, on its own, any worse or more offensive than the word poop, but it feels a lot better to say it when you’ve stubbed your toe.

However.

There are a few words out there that I’m definitely not here for. There’s about a handful of them and they all suck for the same reason. Words that are, because of their history, attached not to anger, but to hate. To people’s attempts to belittle other human beings, to treat them with disgust, to categorize them as less than human. One of them, the most prominent and vile of them all, the one that I won’t even refer to in its watered down form, is the one you’re thinking of right now. But there’s a few others out there. Retard. Bitch. Tranny.

Faggot.

I’ve been lucky enough in my life (at least once I moved out of small-town Alberta) not to have to encounter it very often. I live in a big, wonderful, gay as hell bubble and it’s the best. But recently I was watching a show on the recommendation of a friend (we’re both super into the comedians that created it, and she wasn’t wrong that the humor of the show, filthy and crass, was right up my alley) and in one of the episodes a character uses the word faggot. Not once, but twice. And I get what they were doing, sort of. It was an older brother talking to his younger brother and I guess that’s just the way that older brother’s talk (Is it though? Maybe it’s different because all I have are sisters and I’m a raging homosexual, but even when I was teasing or fighting with them I don’t remember ever talking to them like that), but…I dunno, I found it really jarring and unnecessary. It knocked me right out of the show. I watched the rest of the episode, but I didn’t enjoy it. I’d been in the middle of a big binge and after it was done I turned it off and I haven’t been back. Worst of all, it had no purpose. They weren’t using it to say anything, it wasn’t highlighting their relationship or as an indicator of a particularly vile character. They could’ve swapped it out and the story and jokes wouldn’t have changed a bit.

Now I know that it doesn’t make sense to demand that anybody make anything specifically for you or to expect the creators of art to respond to your criticisms. The only thing you can really do is bow out. Even then, it’s a pretty feeble form of protest. The creators, the ones responsible, won’t notice. If they did, they probably wouldn’t care.

But you know what? Fuck it, I’m going to do it anyways. Stop using the word faggot! It sucks. Especially in such a throw-off, unnecessary way. It reminds me, and everyone like me, that people still think that comparing someone to me is the worst insult they can sling. That people think of us as less than. And yes, those people are dumb and their opinions don’t matter, but when artists I like and respect use it…I dunno, it just sucks. So cut it out. If it doesn’t have something to do with the story itself, take the extra minute to think of something else. It won’t take long and the time that it does take, is time well spent.

Try something with the word fuck in it. It’s very satisfying.

VBR

 

 

 

It’s Too Hot To Write And I Have A Wedding To Go To

Hey there errybody! Just to let you know, the write-up for this week (which I’ve already started!) is probably going to be a little on the late side. One of my best friends in the world is getting married in a few days, and I’m in the bridal party, and there’s…just so much work that goes into that. Not, obviously, as much as the person actually getting married, but still. Just a ton of stuff to do. And also it’s like forty fucking degrees Celsius where I’m at and all I can really manage to think in my brain hole is “hot. need water. so hot.” Again, I have an idea already that I’ve started on, and maybe I’ll take another crack at it tonight when it cools down a bit, but don’t hold your breath.

I also realize that I’ve been writing a lot of these “sorry for the delay!” posts over the last few months but…it’s been a really busy summer you guys. So much going on. I haven’t had time to do nearly the amount of writing that I wanted to, and a good portion of the time I have devoted has been to my fiction writing, but I promise it will even out a little when the summer calms down a bit. Writing this blog is one of the most fulfilling and fun things that I’ve done and most of that has to do with you gals and your kind messages and support. You’re the best! And I can’t wait to get back to talking to ya’ll about books a little more regularly. Anywhoodle, I’m going to go sit in a bathtub full of cold water. Bye!

Love,

VBR

Oh, Canada

Hello my lovelies!

So yesterday was Canada Day, the celebration of our country’s 150th year in its current iteration, and it was a huuuuge party. Everybody was out in red and white, laughing and drinking and wearing those funny little hats with the maple leaves on them. And I was…uncomfortable, a little.

I’m not going to give a huge lecture or anything, because people like to celebrate and everybody needs to blow off steam (also because there are a lot of indigenous leaders that are making these speeches and they’re better thought out, better written and come from a more personal place than anything that I have to say on the subject), but I do think it bears mentioning.

Our country prides itself on our multiculturalism and inclusivity (which, I know, is not a word. But it’s a series of marks that represent sounds which convey a meaning, so I think it’s probably close enough), which is one of the things that most people are celebrating when they don their red and whites and crack their beers on July 1st. But…Canada is not a 150 years old. It was here for a long time before we got here and it wasn’t empty when we arrived. What you’re celebrating is not the birth of the land itself, but the country in it’s current form. And I get that you love it, I love my home too, but you have to understand where it came from.

We built this country on the broken backs of, not one, but dozens of other cultures. We butchered them, ground them into the dirt, and then parceled out small spaces of their own land where we’d allow them to live, keeping the best bits for ourselves. That seems like a kind of shitty thing to celebrate, don’t you think? At least with beer and red hats and douchebuckets named Dave-o or Bry-Bry chanting “Go Canada! Go Canada!” in the streets. I don’t see anything wrong with marking the occasion, but maybe we should note it with a little more quiet reflection. How did we get here, what have we done since we arrived, why do we have all the things we have? How can we change? And yes, that doesn’t sound like as much fun as pounding twelve beers with your dude-bros and waking up in the drunk tank (haha, that jail cell was littttt), but I think the Canadian spirit would be better served spending the day coming together as a community and trying to solve the problems of colonialism that are still, shamefully, all over the fucking place. Maybe then we could finally, finally start the process of reconciliation and collaboration that we’ve been pretending at for so long. We could make this a country really, truly worth being proud of, one that reflects the principles that it preaches.

VBR

 

PS. Please, please, pleeeaaase don’t send me messages with the “don’t say we. I didn’t do anything, and neither did you!” comments. I grew up in small town Alberta, and have heard the arguments a hundred times before. We’re living amidst the wreckage that our ancestors created and we can’t just ignore that. It may not be fair, exactly, but you’re an adult. The world isn’t always fair. If you’re doing nothing about the problem, then you’re a part of it.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

I have such a crush on this lady.

Roxane Gay was another one of those authors who I’ve been hearing about for years, but never really got around to reading. Then she had a couple of big media moments over the last little bit that kept floating her name to the top of the book news world and eventually bumped her up on my list. One, her book Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body just recently came out to some rave reviews (which, despite my staggering, towering, unconquerable TBR pile, I just bought a copy of yesterday, partly because I enjoyed reading Bad Feminist so much, mostly because I have no self control) and two, when S&S inexplicably gave that vile, slime-ball, shockjock Milo whateverhisnameis a book deal, Roxane Gay pulled out of some stuff with them (because she’s a fucking boss). It’s not like I wouldn’t have read her without these things, but they definitely pushed me to dig her up from the depths of my bookshelves a little sooner than I might have.

I’m soooooo happy that I did.

Gay is a smart as fuck, take no shit woman with a keen eye and a savage writing talent. She tears apart our culture (some pop, some not) with her bare hands, peeling back the skin to expose the layers of misogyny, sexism, racism and homophobia that lay beneath. Most of the time she doesn’t have to dig deep. Sometimes she doesn’t have to dig at all. And that may sound a little…lecturey, or finger waggy, but it’s really not. It’s educational, but it’s also filled with hope and humor. There’s a lot wrong with the world, and she knows it, but she’s not beat down by it, can still find things to laugh about. She’s got such a sharp, wicked sense of humor that even when she was talking about some really bleak shit I found myself laughing along with her.

Gay also has a lot of empathy and understanding (most of the time) for people and their fears, the things that stop them from being their best selves. She even admits to it readily when she does the same (she likes hip hop and acknowledges that it’s a complicated love, that you can nod your head along to a catchy song while hating the lyrics that degrade your entire gender). She may get angry sometimes, and rightfully so, but she’s never mean, never unfair. She just wants us all to be better, herself included.

This is, without a doubt, one of the best collections of essays I’ve ever read. I normally don’t read them all in one go, usually I split them up with short story collections or read them alongside a novel, bit by bit. But I read this one front to back and almost entirely in one sitting. I’d get done with one essay, be about to put it down and do something else, and I’d think “just one more”, over and over again, until eventually I had no more “one more”s to go. I didn’t agree with her one hundred percent of the time (though I did a lot), but she’s got such a sharp insight, such a unique mind, that there was something to be learned in each and every one of these pieces. And the writing! Uggghhhhh. This woman is the writer that I want to be, that I’m trying to be, that I fear I’ll never live up to.

I’d recommend this book for people who identify as feminist, for people who identify as definitely not feminist or anti-feminist (which I’m a little bit less forgiving of then she is. I mean…come on, anti-feminist? If gender quality is something that you’re actively against then you can do me the kindness of unfollowing my blog, and do us all the kindness of fucking off to live in a monastery somewhere. The kind where they don’t let you access the internet. Or talk. Or have kids), and for people who are on the fence about their feminism. So…everybody. Go out and buy it!

Anywhoodle, that’s all for now! Speak to ya soon 🙂

VBR

 

I’m Back, Baby!

Hey there friends!

So I’m officially back in action now! Hurray!

Even though I haven’t really been posting much over the last few weeks (although I did get a few out that I was pretty proud of), what I have been doing is reading. A bunch. Too much, even (I brought like eight books with me on my trip, read them all, had to buy more books, read them too, and then made one last trip to the book store for something to read on the flight home). And all of them were great! The wild, improbable, incredibly amazing hot streak I’ve been on over the last month or two continues! Woohoo! I’ve also been keeping notes on what I thought of the books that I was reading while I was away, so hopefully over the next few days (once my brain gets right. Jet lag is a such a dick. I’m even having trouble with this tiny, conversational post. My brain is all mixed up and mushy and my thought bubbles are nothing but zs) I’m going to be able to power house through some posts and get us back up to speed.

Anyways, as always, thanks for your patience and for even bothering to read this in the first place. Ya’ll are the best.

VBR

Savage Season by Joe R Lansdale

Despite my love of Lansdale, before I’d picked this book up a few weeks ago I hadn’t read any of his Hap and Leonard series (which is now a TV show that’s pretty good! Some parts of it are a little on the goofy side, but most of those are actually from the book itself, so I can’t fault the TV show for that. And the performances are really good. I didn’t love it, but it’s definitely worth a watch). They’re his most popular books and they make up a huge chunk of his bibliography (which is…just wow. The dude is seriously prolific. Like a couple books a year prolific. And yeah, some of them are novellas, but still. His poor fingers. And social life) which is probably why I’ve been avoiding them. I know how much I love his stuff, and I know myself and my tendency to need to consume series in one big gulp, and I just haven’t had the time to commit to a huge, fifteen to twenty novel series. But I saw this one sitting on the shelf at my local used bookstore (Pulpfiction in Vancouver! You should go there!) and just decided to go for it.
Aaaaaaaaaand now I’ve got like the next six books in the series queued up to order for when I get back home. It was a lightning quick, engaging read, with likeable characters (I’m partial to Leonard myself, but mostly because you don’t get to see too many gay dudes who are tough guys without being caricatures. I’m a gay man, but not a tough guy, so it doesn’t reflect any experience of my life or anything like that. It’s just nice to see more than the one type of gay person portrayed in media. Especially for it’s time, it’s way a head of the game. A similar pop culture example that springs to mind is Omar from the wire, played by the always awesome Michael K Williams, the same guy they’ve got playing Leonard in the show) and Lansdale’s characteristic sharp wit and twisty writing.
If you’ve got the time and the money to fall into a huge book series, penned by an author that can write them almost faster than you can read them, without it getting in the way of your life (or if you just don’t care), you should check this one out. It’s great.

VBR

Brief Little Explanation

Heyo!
This is just a wee explanation for the billions of you out there who aren’t reading this. As you may have noticed, the material reviewed in this blog is pretty anachronistic, and I think that’s probably going to continue for the foreseeable future. There’s a couple of reasons for that.

The most important of those reasons is that this is my blog, made by me for me, and I’m just going to be reading whatever I feel like, regardless of when it came out. Another is that it’s pretty rare that I grab a book it’s first few days on the shelf. That’s partly because I read waaaay too many books for brand new book prices, and partly because I already have a queue of books waiting to be read that could, used as bricks, build an apartment that’s bigger than the one I actually live in. So it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll be tackling new releases, unless it’s a literary event that I’m really excited about, or when I occasionally shift over to movies and television shows. Even then, there will likely be a little lag. If you’re one of those immediately up to date people:

1. How do you do it?

2. Can I have some money?

and 3. Seriously though, can I have some money?

All joking aside, if what you’re looking for is reviews of up to date stuff, this might not be the place for you. BUT! If you’re the type of person who doesn’t care when something was made, as long as it’s good, you and me are gonna get on just fine.

Love,

VeryBiasedCritic

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