This Week’s Reads

Anna-Marie McLemore’s When the Moon was Ours
Contemporary(ish) Fantasy, In Progress
When Miel comes out of the water from the old water tower, no one knows what to do but a young boy named Sam. The two form a quick bond, wrapped up in their many secrets. They find peace in the moons Sam paints and hangs between their homes and Miel’s quiet understanding. But their little peace is threatened by the beautiful Bonner sisters.

The imagery in When the Moon was Ours is really, really beautiful. Anna-Marie uses a very clean, simple style to create beautiful, fairy-tale imagery. The opening pages are so lovely. The idea of Miel coming out of the water tower is beautiful and Sam’s calm and his immediate decision to help her by painting moons is so specific and sweet and wonderful. There are also a lot of descriptions of the Bonner sisters, but they never fail to be poignant examinations of the characters. I love the fact that the Bonner sisters stand on the line of being villains without quite crossing over. Much of the uneasiness that surrounds them comes from how much they’d rather spend time with each other than anyone else, which is a great example of how introversion gets demonized. And even when they do start pushing, their motivations are very understandable: they want to retain control of the town because that means they’re important and powerful and strong.

I also love the way secrets are handled in the book. It becomes obvious very quickly that Miel and Sam are hiding some pretty big secrets, but what exactly their hiding comes out only little by little. Yet, it never feels like the secrets are being dangled in front of us. Just as we have to with real people, we have to get to know Sam and Miel before they’ll tell us their secrets, especially because the secrets are painful and hard to admit.

Heian Japan, Centers and Peripheries edited by Mikael Adolphson, Edward Kamens, and Stacie Matsumoto
Non-fiction, In Progress
This is a collection of essays discussing Heian Japan (794–1185 AD) and how society shifted between the center and the peripheries. It discusses the issues of society, government, art, and power from a variety of perspectives.

Alas, we have come upon another rather dry piece of non-fiction. Each essay is written by a different author, so perhaps there will be something more interesting down the line. Thus far the essays I have read have focused on the specific actions of people in power and how their decisions shaped the way Japanese government functioned, both within the confines of the palace and across the rest of the country. I unfortunately don’t have more to say on the matter now, but hopefully I will find more interesting articles down the line.

Short story of the week: Rachel Swirsky’s All That Fairy Tale Crap
Urban Fantasy, Finished
Read it here.
It’s rather ironic to talk about what this story is about because it’s about a character who’s trying to avoid being read into a story. As a Cinderella character in a retelling of sorts, she wants to avoid being an archetype or labeled with a set of characteristics. Giving the story a single meaning would be to ignore one of its central ideas. Nonetheless, I will give some of my interpretations and hope you go looking for more. I would say it is about a woman who doesn’t want to be suppressed by her society, a woman who doesn’t want to fit any mold, a woman who wants to have power over herself and everything else, and also the story of a woman just trying to get by in life by whatever means she can. It’s also shucks off the ideals of a demure princess and dismisses the possibility of a fairy tale prince. It calls out the reader’s assumptions and requires you to second-guess whether the story has any meaning at all. Whatever you can find it, I recommend giving it a read because the language is crafted so amazingly and the ideas are phenomenal.

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