Book Review: We Eat Our Own by Kea Wilson

Note: I received a copy of this book from Scribner (via Netgalley) for review purposes, which did not affect the content of my review in any way.

Reasons to stay alive

Reality and fiction shade into one another in We Eat Our Own—but not in the way you expect. Told through rotating viewpoints and interspersed with court testimony, Kea Wilson’s debut novel is the story of a kitschy Italian horror movie being shot in the Amazon rainforest. The story within a story? A news crew bent on tracking down a pair of anthropologists and their daughter, who have not-so-mysteriously vanished while studying a cannibalistic tribe. This kitschy movie has two twists, though: a found footage framing device, and a disappeared trio of lead actors whose on-screen murders might have been a little too realistic. Surrounding all this is a real-life backdrop equally saturated with violence, this time in the form of drug cartels and political instability. Continue reading


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Literary Depression

In my last post, I talked a bit about Matt Haig’s literature-heavy antidote to depression, and mentioned that his own book had helped me immensely during some of my most despairing moments. That was true.

I also said that reading a book tipped me into the first quasi-depressive episode I ever experienced. That was true, as well.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about that contradiction, lately. I think that Haig is right when he says that reading is a pathway out of ourselves, and out of minds that are turning on us. But I also think that that outward journey can have devastating effects when we crash back into ourselves too suddenly. Continue reading

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Book Review(ish): Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Reasons to stay alive

This isn’t a book review in the usual sense. It can’t be—the subject matter is just too personal. I’m an emotional reader anyway—the kind who projects herself into books and uses books to understand herself—but I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything where the identification was so immediate. This wasn’t reading a story I could empathize with; this was reading my own story. Continue reading

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Things That are More Victorian than Victorian Literature: Crimson Peak

I’m back! Though I can’t make any promises about when my next post will be, due to a combination of overwork and my frankly hellish mental state these days.

Speaking of hellish, though: I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write about something as obviously Victorian as Guillermo del Torro’s thriller/romance Crimson Peak. I also couldn’t write about it effectively without giving away major plot points, however, so read at your own peril…

I was going to begin this post with something like “I came to Crimson Peak for the incest and stayed for the class commentary,” but then it hit me just how thoroughly the Shmoop writing style has permeated my consciousness, and I began to feel a little bad about the extreme glibness of my writing these days. Though—as you see—not bad enough to resist throwing the line in anyway. Continue reading

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Book Review: The Glittering World by Robert Levy

The Glittering World‘s promotional blurb pitches author Robert Levy’s debut novel as a kind of Lovecraftian In the Woods—a story of trauma and origins that ratchets up to eleven the blink-and-miss-it, ambivalent uncanniness of Tana French’s novel. Forty pages in, it seems as if something even better is in store. A series of bizarre and kaleidoscopic murals—”frolicking manticores, a nude woman with a red star on her back, the flowering roots of swollen tubers”—grace the walls of an abandoned mill, with only one sentence written in explanation: “Borealis the Mother was sent up from the Heavens of the Faraway World to bring comfort to the children of the Screaming Places.”

Purple prose, definitely—but effective in its weird blend of heavenly and hellish imagery. There’s something primal about it. Continue reading


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Book Review: Euphoria by Lily King

Love triangles just don’t seem to have the literary currency they once did. It’s tempting to attribute their decline to one too many bloated and overwrought YA romances, but the fall off likely has more to do with the fact that adultery just isn’t as taboo—or, inevitably, as titillating—as it once was. It’s a shame, though. The best literary love triangles were never really about illicit love affairs. They were about the explosive combination of three personalities—not just two. They verged on ménage à trois territory without veering wholesale into domesticity; they still retained an edge of dangerousness. Think Sophie’s Choice, or perhaps some iterations of the Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot triangle. Or, simply think of Lily King’s fourth and latest novel: Euphoria. Continue reading


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Jerry A. Coyne’s New Republic Piece, and Why Science Professors Should Stick to Science

In a recent article posted to both his blog and The New Republic, University of Chicago professor Jerry A. Coyne finds himself reluctantly siding with conservatives over the proposed use of “trigger warnings” in literature classes. Life is triggering he says, and literature prepares you for that.

Thank heavens we have a science professor to tell us how to teach literature, right?

Or, rather, what to teach (the canon, as well as newly canonical, formerly marginalized women, blacks, LGBT individuals, etc.). The how, though, is somewhat lacking. Coyne tells us that literature is meant to challenge us and expand our minds, which sounds excellent, right up until the moment you realize he doesn’t really mean anything by that. Continue reading

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A Tale of Two Cities Clutch

I was hoping my next post would be a review of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant. Unfortunately, there was a call on the book and I had to return it to the library before I had the chance to finish it. No word yet on when I may get it back. All I can really say at the moment is so far so good, and I truly hope I haven’t forgotten the beginning by the time I have a chance to read the ending.

In the meantime, though, it gives me an excuse to post these pictures of the new clutch I got a few months ago (technically a belated Christmas present from my mom). I’ve talked in the past about my fondness for literary accouterments, and this one is pretty unique. Continue reading

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Characters Who Self-Destruct

Since I recently wrote a post on tragedy, and am currently in the middle of writing another lesson on tragedy (Things Fall Apart), I felt it was high time to compile a list of my favorite characters who self-destruct. And this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish, gave me the perfect excuse to do so. I ran out of time and didn’t quite make it to ten, but that just gives me more room to play in the future. Continue reading


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Book Review: The Plover by Brian Doyle

“That could be. That could most certainly be.”

This is the constant refrain—and perhaps the core philosophy—of Brian Doyle’s latest novel The Plover, a loose sequel to his debut Mink River. No doubt it’s reductive to mine such a freewheeling novel for a single “message,” but in this case, at least, the message readers arrive at will likely be one of expansive possibility.

The Plover picks up where Mink River left off: with Declan O Donnell casting off from Oregon in his beloved boat, heading “west and then west” on the “Impacific” Ocean. Continue reading


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