Keep the Lore Wild: Why I Love MONGRELS by Stephen Graham Jones (2016)

Books build worlds by making rules, but what turns me off so much fantasy/supernatural fiction is that even after eschewing "real life rules" for their own shiny new ones, these books seem to think that they're then obligated to follow those rules all the time, to the letter. No diverging, no slippage, no chaos. And that's the part that's just not realistic about fantasy, frankly. In what world are the rules infallible?

A bison friend I made at the Western Literature Association Annual Conference in Big Sky, Montana.

So… What’s an Academic Conference, Anyway?

If you've ever been an English major, you've probably had family members who haven't the slightest clue what that means. And if you're an English PhD student, this confusion increases exponentially. If you're an English PhD, you've also probably had complete strangers snidely remark about your being "one of those eternal students" who "doesn't go … Continue reading So… What’s an Academic Conference, Anyway?

When I’m Critical It’s Only Because I Love You: Growing Up in California and Pixar’s INSIDE OUT

I'd read a review that found the film disturbingly existential, even nihilistic, because--according to the reviewer--the film told its viewers that the happiness of childhood would eventually fade away and in adulthood we were all destined to be sad. If you've seen the film, you'll know that this is a complete misreading. Its message isn't that we're all destined to be sad and increasingly so as we become adults--it's that it's okay to be sad; you shouldn't have to (and indeed, shouldn't, period) banish sadness; sadness is a part of the human condition and it is the part of you that can ask for help when you need it. To be sad is to welcome the idea that life holds troubles, and to open oneself to assistance from those around you. The film is a destigmatization of sadness, not a harrowing picture that that's all we're destined for as we age, or that it is something to be championed at all times.

Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them

I just finished reading Elif Batuman's The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, on the recommendation of several of my Russian literature teachers/professors several years ago. Now that I've finally read it, I'd like to recommend it to everyone I know, in the hope that in the next several years, … Continue reading Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them