What We're Into Right Now
A roundup of what the Scolders are reading, watching, hearing, observing, judging, and coveting.
The Blue Hour, a Life of Jean Rhys (By Lilian Pizzichini)
The archetype of the brilliant but temperamental literary genius is male. Lilian Pizzichini’s creative biography of Jean Rhys goes a long way towards chipping away at that ideal. Jean Rhys is one of the finest writers of the 20th century, and she was also a difficult person, to put it mildly. Her life was sad and complex, but her writing was always beautiful, and The Blue Hour weaves those two facts together beautifully.
Ru Paul’s Drag Race
Somehow, Ru Paul has achieved the miraculous: keeping the show fresh after 8 seasons by introducing twists that don’t feel manipulative to the audience that has stuck with it. The contestants maintain a level of skill and a sweetness that is unmatched by other reality shows, despite throwing around statements like “That’s not the first time she’s gotten clap from a room full of people” and “I’m a little resentful of Ginger because she gets the part that is not only Russian, but gets to fuck a horse.” The BEST and most entertaining show on television right now.
I’m sorry to report that my reading the past two weeks has fallen into three categories:
1. Picture books. I read these to my child at the rate of 20/day. Perhaps you have seen my reviews.
2. Student papers. I’m grading a bunch of article critiques! It’s simultaneously fantastic and soul killing. I love my job but I need to read four more essays today and I’ve been up since 5 am and I already read 12 essays today and I have to grade 22 more essays before Monday and it’s already Friday . . . Reader, these are the calculations that make me think drinking TWO glasses of wine before bed is a good idea.(It is NOT a good idea. For me. You do you!)
BUT! I just read an essay where a student finished up the meta-narrative I made her turn in with her essay by saying “I need to work on toning it down . . . when rereading it I sound like a legitimate maniac.” First of all, her paper was surprisingly vehement for a student critique of a journal article. If there’s one thing that keeps grading interesting it's reading a paper thinking "wow, I wonder where this student was coming from?" and then reading a meta-narrative that is like: HERE IS WHERE I AM COMING FROM. Plus, then I can start my comments with “You have an impressive level of self knowledge, scholar!” ALSO “Legitimate maniac” is now my new favorite way of referring to myself and all my loved ones, as well as the name I will use if I ever become a famous rapper. LEGIT MANIAC IN THE HOUSE; SO MUCH BETTER THAN ALL YOU ILLEGITIMATE MANIACS, WHY DON'T YOU GO GET YOUR MANIAC PAPERWORK TAKEN CARE OF LIKE I DID?
3. Before bed I have been reading a little Elfquest to wind down. My brother got me THE FINAL QUEST Vols. I and II at Comicon! Have you always wanted to read comic books about elves who ride wolves? Because if you do you are in LUCKITY LUCK LUCK: There's a lot of Elfquest for you to catch up on, and everything published before 2014 is available to read for free online. (Like, actually free, not "you can steal it and read it for free.) Of course, after all the wine and grading, instead of being soothed by the saga of the Wolfriders, sometimes this happens:
HUSBAND: Are you still awake?
ME: I’m really stressed out
HUSBAND: About work?
ME: Scouter challenged Ember as Chief and won and now she’s been thrown out of the tribe and Scouter declared war on the humans.
HUSBAND: Are you lying awake worrying about Elfquest?
ME: . . . noooooooo . . . .
I’m taking a break from my normal diet (get it??) of Korean Dramas to branch out into Taiwanese ones. This one is about a culinary high school where two boy students love the same girl and one woman teacher loves two man teachers. It is not a good show. Like many b-grade soap operas, the creators of this show struggle to fill time. In this one, they do it mostly through the use of extended shots of the students and the adult female lead gazing in amazed adoration as the male lead does Great Things (see above photo). I have watched 10 hours of this show and will watch more.
The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime (by Judith Flanders)
This book is about the voracious Victorian appetite for stories of murder which was satiated by the production of broadsides, newspapers, plays, wax museums, and murderabilia. Capitalist demand drove the creators of true-crime narratives to exaggerate and fabricate details of actual murder cases to draw in as many consumers as possible. In turn, these phony stories affected actual outcomes of cases, leading to what, in my reading, was a pretty arbitrary application of justice.
When I read this book I feel like I’m slipping into a teeny weeny borgesian world. Flanders’ 468-page book is stuffed full of all the gory details of tons of Victorian murders as well as their retellings and, when applicable, the resulting miscarriages of justice. As I morbidly read about the morbid Victorians I realize, of course, I’m reading about myself.
Better Homes and Gardens
Because no matter how good yours are, theirs are better.