New America


Honest to God, I intend to talk about Taichi Keaton, but like many people, I was sidelined last week by the US voting Donald Trump as president. So, instead of moving forward with our first female president, we now have a president who in past political time frames would have been asked to step down. Sixteen women came forward about being molested, and he was elected. So, a bit of shock here, of course. White America, even white women, didn't care enough. Well. Well, indeed.

Once the final analysis came in, Clinton won the popular vote. The Electoral college gave voice to parts of the country that wanted something different than the diverse America that is naturally emerging. They sent the message, loud and clear, that they wanted to be in charge because...well, white people should be in charge. Should I have been surprised? No. Was I surprised? Yes.

Hate crime has gone up. It's like opening Pandora's box, giving the KKK and extremists a voice and a license to move forward. If only it were them, because Trump's election has seemed to give people I assumed didn't possess these -isms a chance to be MUCH more public about the -isms.

In my real life, I am a teacher of immigrants and refugees. Most of these folks are followers of Islam. They are real people, like you and me who also have hopes and dreams. They don't want to blow up your city hall or take your jobs. These people are my students and my responsibility. I have been busy trying to explain this turn of events to them. I have been busy trying to understand this turn of events myself.

Alternatingly, I have been distraught, angry, disgusted, and grief-stricken. I have a political list of to-dos each week. Make phone calls. Protest. Get some real news. Stay off Facebook and the silos there. Work hard and stand up for those who are now considered less than, more so than it has seemed for the last several years. This problem has always been there. I thought there were fewer of you than there were, racists. Misogynists. Homophobes. Forgive me if I don't celebrate you coming out of the closet.

And those of you who are getting back to "the new normal." Nice invocation of white privilege there. I can't do that. My responsibility as an American is to defend all of us. I like the constitution. I dig religious freedom. I like liberty and justice for all. Sorry you can't be bothered.

I know many of you feel the same as I do, and I know there is nothing we can do to change these results. But we can hold this new American accountable every inch of the way. I know we are not alone. I know conscientious legislators have our backs. Let's let them know we have theirs.

And for those of you who think I might be engaging in histrionics, that's really sexist, but hey, check back with me next year. I would be very happy to be wrong. I did, however, grow up abused by my family and bullied in a small town. I recognize this feeling. Only this time, I'm not a kid and I have people to protect. I'm going to leave you with my favorite bit of advice from that guy a lot of you pretend to worship. Jesus advises, "Love your neighbor as you would yourself." Would you like a swastika pinned to your door? Or a balloon full of pee thrown on you even though you are indigenous and were here first? Maybe you'd like a cross burned in your yard?

I am deeply, deeply disturbed. Next time, I'm gonna talk about why doing art in the new America Trumpland is more important than ever. See you in a couple of weeks.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.


Unreliable Narrators Posts Through 10-27-16


J.Kathleen Cheney New Short Fiction

You might remember J. Kathleen Cheney from several reviews on this blog, and a podcast over at Unreliable Narrators. Recently, she has decided to begin self-publishing on her own. She made an interesting decision to mostly self-publish, and I believe as a reader it's paying off.

I've been lucky enough to receive two of Cheney's recent publications. Whatever Else explores the boundaries of trust in a relationship. It is lyrical and beautiful rendered, typical of Cheney's romantic prose.

The revelation for me was Cheney's interconnected series of short stories collected in The Dragon's Child. An interesting mix of Russian and Chinese culture, the story is different in mood and tone from anything I've read of Cheney's yet, but it is still very good. I would recommend it if you would like your fantasy to be a bit more off the beaten path.

One of the benefits of writing novellas is that the writer can create faster, and Cheney's fans must be pleased with more available stories. I of course look forward to future novels, but encourage you to visit her website to check out her new offerings.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.


Unreliable Narrators Links through 10-20-16


Characters Who Breathe: Amy Dorrit

I didn't come across Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens until later in my life, I liked to read more Dickens than the average teen, but this was not a book I ran across until I saw the film that featured Derek Jacobi in the 1990s. Then I went and hunted down the book. The BBC recently did an adaption of the book that was more accurate, with excellent leads.

There are so many ways in which I identify with Amy Dorrit that I was bound to pick her as a character I felt was alive. I could also write a similar post about Arthur Clennam, the male lead in the book, as I grow older, but Amy's particular circumstances, while not an exact mirror of my own, bore enough similarities that I was riveted by her.

Amy grew up in a debtor's prison with an extremely dysfunctional family, one so rich that it had no idea how to be poor. Amy was born in the Marshallsea Prison and took care of them all, until, through the ouevres of a large Dickensian support cast, the family fortune was reacquired. Then Amy becomes an embarrassment to them all. Of course, in true Dickensian fashion, Amy is almost saintly as she takes care of her family, but there are these glimpses underneath of anger, exasperation, and confusion as she deals with a family who suddenly sees her many virtues as flaws. Unrequited love echoes through the novel as well, and Amy is made more interesting by the complex emotions she feels for the hero of the novel that she cannot realize, at first because she is in the lowest class, and then in the highest.

I would love to talk about Little Dorrit deep into the night with anyone. Such a good protrayal of some of the issues of its time is worth my time. That said, there are flaws. There's some deeply Dickensian...coincidence that dates the novel, so you want to watch out.

Full disclosure: Octavia and Lucia Klaereon are the mirror universe versions of Fanny and Amy Dorrit. The best work you read influences your writing.

Next up: Taichi Keaton

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.


Unreliable Narrators Links through 10-10-16

George is doing Halloween movies this month, so it's a longer list. We have our latest podcast at the top, our first group Halloween movie watch, and George's reviews. Also my review of the comic Animosity.

Author Spotlight: Carol Anne Douglas

The Unreliable Narrators Watch...The Exorcist

Animosity #1 by Maguerite Bennet and Rafael de LaTorre

Halloween Day One: Lips of Blood!

Helloween Day Two: Across the River

Helloween Day Five: Ghostwatch

Helloween Day Seven: It Follows

Helloween Day Eight: The Conjuring

Helloween Day Nine: Event Horizon

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.


Characters Who Breathe: Enola Holmes

Happy October, everyone! This week has been fraught with peril. Okay, not really fraught, mind, but I had a sick day and a thing that lasted for about four days, and I am beginning to have trouble with my eyes from working all day with the computer, and then working a great deal at night on the computer. Mostly, I blame my cell phone, which has tiny characters, and upon which I will be spending LESS time.

Interesting trivia fact about me. I have brain damage. When I was young, my left eye developed the wrong focal point. Back in the 70s, we didn't prevent this from happening by putting the pirate patch over the weaker eye until it straightened itself out. So I have one good, full time eye that does all the work, and one part time eye, which does what it damn well feels like. The freeloader. Both eyes are pretty and look healthy, but my right eye is really feeling the strain of an office career AND a writer career. Add in the stress of focus shift as we age, and it's not too hard to understand why my eyes hurt.

Liberal amounts of eye drops aside, I've been doing some research. Every year in the spring, my vision insurance allows me basic new lenses. This year I will be looking into blue light reduction lenses. Meanwhile, I'm dimming the lights, the computer screens, and trying to spend less time on computers, and the time I do spend with bigger print. I am going to try to more or less abandon my cellphone back to once a day checks. Because ouch.


But here's why you are here today. Let's talk about Enola Holmes from the Enola Holmes mysteries by Nancy Springers. Many of you may not have read about Enola, because she is a middle-grade character. Her books are delightful. The basic story of Enola is that she is Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes' little sister. Lest that turn you off as too derivative, let me assure you that your middle grade child (or you) will find her genuine and sincere. There are also many puzzles and codes in the books to maintain the air of mystery.

Enola runs away from home early in the series, due to a very peculiar circumstance, in order to save herself from the fate of young Victorian women. She has been raised by an unconventional mother and decides she would be better to strike off on her own after her mother leaves her. No points for Mom, mind, but it is the catalyst for the story. Enola proves as successful as her brothers at deduction and daring-do, but she does not fall into many of the adventure cliches. She disguises herself as an adult, but does not decide to masquerade as a boy. She hides behind many disguises and invents people to legitimize the businesses she runs. Of course, as the books progress, we discover that she hasn't fooled as many people as she thinks she has, but she develops a loyal cadre of friends, and in the end proves herself.

Like many books with living characters, Enola narrates her own story, so we see the insides of her, her doubts and feelings about her situation. She is very genuine and multi-faceted. The books are short, and I would recommend you read the whole series if you can, but the first and the last are good bookends to capture the breadth of the character. So, go read them.

Next up in a couple of weeks: Little Dorrit

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.