2018 Book Memories Challenge

January 2nd, 2019 2:00 pm by Kelly Garbato


 

I don’t think this challenge is still technically a thing, but I enjoy it, so here we go! Caution: thar may be spoilers ahead.

P.S. Wasn’t Mags something? I sure am gonna miss photographing you with appropriately-named books, old gal. BFFs 5EVER.

 

  1. Wayward (Wayward Pines #2) by Blake Crouch (2013)

    “I think he’s trying to preserve our way of life.”
    “For who? Us or him?”

    A millennium without air or light pollution made for pitch-black skies. The stars didn’t just appear anymore. They exploded. Diamonds on black velvet. You couldn’t tear your eyes away.

  2. My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf (2012)

  3. The Last Town (Wayward Pines #3) by Blake Crouch (2014)

    “It’s strange,” Ethan said. “The world belongs to them now, but we still possess something they don’t have.”
    “What?”
    “Kindness. Decency. That’s what it is to be human. At our best at least.”
    Ben looked confused.
    “I think this abby is different,” Ethan said.
    “What do you mean?”
    “She has an intelligence, a gentleness I haven’t seen in any of the others. Maybe she has a family she wants to see again.”
    “We should shoot her and burn her with all the rest.”
    “And what would that accomplish? Feed our anger for a few minutes? What if we did the opposite? What if we sent her out into her world with a message about the species that once lived in this valley? I know it’s crazy, but I’m holding tight to the idea that a small act of kindness can have real resonance.”

    “The funny thing is, as bad as I am, I don’t have it in me to murder her husband. Is there a fate worse than being halfway evil?”

  4. Kim Reaper, Volume 1: Grim Beginnings (Kim Reaper #1-4) by Sarah Graley (2018)

  5. The New Hunger (Warm Bodies #1.5) by Isaac Marion (2015)

    Hours pass. Then his eyes remember how to focus, and the world sharpens. He thinks that he liked the world better before he could see it.

    It’s a strange feeling, being judged by a child. He’s seven years old; where the hell did he get a moral compass? Certainly not from his parents. Not even from her. She supposes there must be people in the world who stick to their principles, who always do the right thing, but they are few and far between, especially now. Where does a child get an idea as unnatural as goodness?

    Everyone living in these times knows the most important rule of conservation: if you have to kill someone, make sure they stay dead. It may be a losing battle, the math may be against the Living, but diligence in this one area will at least slow down the spread of the plague. Responsible murder is the new recycling.

    He finds a riot helmet and crams it down over his springy hair. “Halt!” he orders in cop-voice, and Nora smiles through a sudden rush of bittersweet sadness that takes her a moment to understand. She feels ashamed when she realizes it’s nostalgia. She has already begun missing him.

    Thirty-four miles north of the police station, a young girl who recently killed a young boy is watching beige houses flicker through the headlights of her family’s SUV. Her father’s eyes are tight on the road, her mother’s on everything around the road, pistol at the ready should anything incongruous emerge from this idyllic suburban scene. They are traveling later than they usually do, later than is safe, and the girl is glad. She hates sleeping. Not just because of the nightmares, but because everything is urgent. Because life is short. Because she feels a thousand fractures running through her, and she knows they run through the world. She is racing to find the glue.
    Thirty-four miles south of this girl, a man who recently learned he is a monster is following two other monsters up a steep hill in an empty city, because he can smell life in the distance and his purpose now is to take it. A brutish thing inside him is giggling and slavering and clutching its many hands in anticipation, overjoyed to finally be obeyed, but the man himself feels none of this. Only a coldness deep in his chest, in the organ that once pumped blood and feeling and now pumps nothing. A dull ache like a severed stump numbed in ice – what was there is gone, but it hurts. It still hurts.
    And three hundred feet north of these monsters are a girl and boy who are looking for new parents. Or perhaps becoming them. Both are strong, both are super smart and super cool, and both are tiny and alone in a vast, merciless, endlessly hungry world.
    All six are moving toward each other, some by accident, some by intent, and though their goals differ considerably, on this particular summer night, under this particular set of cold stars, all of them are sharing the same thought:
    Find people.

  6. Grrl Scouts: Magic Socks by Jim Mahfood (2017)

  7. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (2018)

  8. Black Genealogy: Poems (The Mineral Point Poetry Series, Volume 6) by Kiki Petrosino and Lauren Haldeman (2017)

    You want to know who owned us & where.
    But when you type, your searches return no results.
    Slavery was grown folks’ business, then old folks’.
    We saw no reason to hum Old Master’s name
    to our grandchildren, or point out his overgrown gates
    but you want to know who owned us & where
    we got free. You keep typing our names into oblongs
    of digital white. You plant a unicode tree & climb up
    into grown folks’ business. You know old folks
    don’t want you rummaging here, so you pile sweet jam
    in your prettiest dish. You light candles & pray:
    Tell me who owned you & where
    I might find your graves.
    Little child, we’re at rest
    in the acres we purchased. Those days of
    slavery were old folks’ business. The grown folks
    buried us deep. Only a few of our names survive.
    We left you that much, sudden glints in the grass.
    The rest is grown folks’ business we say. Yet
    you still want to know. Who owned us? Where?

    Your waiter hands you a single oyster fork, the better to pierce through your skull at any time. No one shall say a word.

  9. Black Comix Returns edited by John Jennings and Damian Duffy (2018)

    It was the Christmas season of 1999.
    I was an editor for the Batman line of titles at DC Comics in the second phase of my career in the comic book industry.
    An artist walked into my office, one whom I had given work to earlier that year.
    He gave me a Christmas gift.
    I was surprised, thankful, and appreciative. I told the artist he didn’t have to get me anything.
    He told me, “You were one of the only two editors who gave me work in this company this year.”
    Both of us looked at each other, both of us in our black skin, and we knew what that meant in its unspoken implication and disgusting truth.
    Had I not been in “The Room,” a black artist of competitive skills would have been marginalized and left out of the halls of a publisher of heroes and teams
    with words like “justice” in their names, simply because he was considered lesserthan due to his complexion and the style of his hair.
    – Joseph Illidge, “The Room”

  10. The Witch Doesn’t Burn in this One (Women are some kind of magic #2) by Amanda Lovelace (2018)

    our
    very being
    is considered
    an inconvenience,
    our bodies
    vacant homes
    wrapped in layers
    of yellow tape,
    our legs
    double doors
    for one man
    (& one man only)
    to pry open so
    he can invade us
    & set down his
    furniture,
    never once
    asking us
    how we feel
    about the curtains.
    – they love us empty, empty, empty.

    in this novel
    the woman protagonist
    claims she’s not like
    those other girls,
    not because she finds
    their femininity
    to be an insult or
    a weakness, no—
    it’s
    because
    she knows
    all women have
    their own unique
    magic
    that cannot be
    replicated by her
    or any other
    woman.
    – the plot twist we’ve all been waiting for.

    misogyny
    /m ‘säj ne/
    noun
    1: the power-driven hatred of women.
    2: just the way things are.

    misandry
    /mi ‘ sandre/
    noun
    1: the reactionary, self-preserving hatred of men.
    2: somehow this is going too far.

    & a woman’s
    wrath
    is nothing
    if not immortal.

    &
    when it
    was all over,
    we gathered
    together
    & raised
    our faces—
    eyes closed—
    towards
    the sky.
    a cry/a plead/
    a thanks
    to the woman
    who fought to
    keep our fire
    alive
    but got
    pushed into
    the pit
    instead.
    thank you
    for believing
    we could be
    more than
    fading embers.
    – for hillary.

    until
    next time:
    shine so brightly
    the men think you’re
    guiding them into
    the afterlife.

  11. We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly (2016)

    She was sick, but she was also an asshole, and I was tired of using one to excuse the other.

  12. Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery (Incognegro Graphic Novels #1) by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece (2018)

  13. In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang (2014)

  14. Pestilence, Volume 1 by Frank Tieri, Mike Marts, and Oleg Okunev (2018)

  15. Manfried the Man by Caitlin Major and Kelly Bastow (2018)

    We’re trying to get volunteers to take part in the annual man count so we can keep track of all the stray men in the neighborhood.

    If he’s only been missing a day he’s probably just holed up somewhere nearby. Men like to find small spaces and hide out.
    Not all men though. Some men like the open space.
    No not all men, obviously.

  16. Archival Quality by Ivy Noelle Weir and Steenz (2018)

  17. The Ravenous by Amy Lukavics (2017)

    She slid the glasses on her face and studied her reflection with those of her sisters, the lot of them like one long, fucked up rainbow.

  18. Sci-Fu by Yehudi Mercado (2018)

  19. All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages edited by Saundra Mitchell (2018)

    We lived. We survived to whisper our names to each other even if we could not yet confess them to anyone else.
    (“Roja” by Anna-Marie McLemore)

    “All my life, people have told me what to do or taken what’s mine. The same is true for you! We’ve been raised among pirates who call themselves gentlemen. And I’m ready to turn the tables. I’m ready to take what’s mine and maybe a few things that aren’t.”
    (“The Sweet Trade” by Natalie C. Parker)

    Clara had started this day evading a kiss she didn’t want, but she would end it with one she did.
    (“The Sweet Trade” by Natalie C. Parker)

    Ezgi Olmez does not always roll off the tongue in the outer suburbs of Boston, but my Turkish parents obviously didn’t give much thought to that. I do love that about them though. They are unapologetically foreign.
    (“The End of the World As We Know It” by Sara Farizan)

    Rosa was a summer girl, and I was a winter girl, but that fall we made magic.
    (“Healing Rosa” by Tehlor Kay Mejia)

  20. Bingo Love by Tee Franklin and Jenn St-Onge (2018)

  21. War Mother by Fred Van Lente, Stephen Segovia, and Tomás Giorello (2018)

  22. Pierce Brown’s Red Rising: Sons of Ares by Pierce Brown (2018)

  23. 30 Days of Night, Vol. 1 by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith (2007)

  24. 30 Days of Night, Vol. 2: Dark Days by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith (2007)

  25. My Boyfriend Is a Bear by Pamela Ribon and Cat Farris (2018)

  26. 30 Days of Night, Vol. 3: Return to Barrow by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith (2004)

  27. 30 Days of Night, Vol. 7: Eben and Stella by Steve Niles, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Justin Randall (2007)

  28. Spectacle, Vol. 1 by Megan Rose Gedris (2018)

  29. Petra by Marianna Coppo (2018)

    I’m an egg. A smooth and shiny egg.
    I’m not any ordinary egg.
    I am an egg of the world,
    in a world of possibility.
    Will I breathe fire?
    Will I wear a tuxedo?
    Whatever I become, I’m bound to be amazing!

  30. 30 Days of Night, Vol. 9: Beyond Barrow by Steve Niles and Bill Sienkiewicz (2008)

  31. Firebug by Johnnie Christmas and Tamra Bonvillain (2018)

  32. Jessica Jones: Alias Omnibus by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos (2006)

  33. The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish (2017)

    Once I could read, man, it was like I had a superpower! I wasn’t stupid! All them words made sense!

    The only downside to the Bar Mitzvahs was that I killed a man once. I’m not even kidding.

    So I ended up getting out of pimping, because I didn’t make much money. It’s just not a lucrative business, selling dick. Dick ain’t really all that hard to come by.

    I know other people had problems leaving Scientology, but they let me the fuck out pretty quick.

  34. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (2014)

    Ove just wants to die in peace. Is that really too much to ask?

    Death is a strange thing. People live their whole lives as if it does not exist, and yet it’s often one of the great motivations for the living. Some of us, in time, become so conscious of it that we live harder, more obstinately, with more fury. Some need its constant presence to even be aware of its antithesis. Others become so preoccupied with it that they go into the waiting room long before it has announced its arrival. We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.

    Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.

    “God took a child from me, darling Ove. But he gave me a thousand others.”

    “The great thing about scrutinizing bureaucracy when you’re a journalist, you see, is that the first people to break the laws of bureaucracy are always the bureaucrats themselves.”

  35. Jessica Jones: The Pulse: The Complete Collection (The Pulse #1-3) by Brian Michael Bendis (2014)

  36. Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism edited by Danielle Barnhart and Iris Mahan (2018)

    tell them when we discovered life on another planet
    it was a woman
    & she built a bridge, not a border
    (Denice Frohman, “A Woman’s Place”)

    I want to believe
    I’m a better woman now
    that I’m writing poems.
    that when I say, poems
    I mean another way
    to say, revenge.
    (Denice Frohman, “Hunger”)

    Tell me more, how you care about
    “this largest genocide of black people”
    when I’ve never seen you and your signs
    at a Black Lives Matter protest.
    Tell me, did you mourn Tamir & Aiyana & Jordan,
    as hard as you celebrated the shooting of a clinic in Colorado?
    (Elizabeth Acevdeo, “An Open Letter to the Protestors Outside the Planned Parenthood Near My Job”)

    My god understands how slave women plucked pearls
    from between their legs rather than see them strung up by the neck.
    (Elizabeth Acevdeo, “An Open Letter to the Protestors Outside the Planned Parenthood Near My Job”)

    This little grandmother
    was ordered to pull down her paintings
    because the Rabbi was offended
    by her version of Eve: 9 months pregnant,
    unbroken & reaching for another apple.
    (Ruth Irupe Sanabria, “On Mate & the Work”)

  37. Bald Knobber by Robert Sergel (2018)

    The book is kind of boring after that.

  38. The Ghost, The Owl by Franco and Sara Richard (2018)

  39. Flocks by L. Nichols (2018)

  40. Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye (2018)

  41. Box of Bones #1 by Ayize Jama-Everett and John Jennings (2018)

  42. Atar Gull by Fabien Nury and Brüno (2016)

  43. Jessica Jones: Avenger by Brian Michael Bendis, et al. (2016)

  44. Under Dogs by Andrius Burba (2018)

  45. Modern Loss: Candid Conversation About Grief. Beginners Welcome. edited by Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner (2018)

    Sure, this sadness still came out in strange ways. I wept on the subway when I found out Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia had died because, as I later tearfully explained to a friend, “Who will go to the opera with Ruth Bader Ginsburg now?”
    (“There Won’t Be Blood,” Ruby Dutcher)

    I was seven months pregnant when he died at home, held by his friends and family. His wife, Laura, had her arms around him. I stood beside him, with my husband’s arms wrapped around me, my hugely pregnant belly swelling into Anthony’s back, pressing my womb as close as possible to an imaginary spot where I’d decided his soul resided, trying to herd his soul into the soul of my unborn baby like a clueless parking director in a random grassy field on baseball day: no idea where the cars go, they don’t really go anywhere, they just have to park somewhere. A little to the left, back it up, whatever, a little to the right, stop.
    I don’t even really believe in a soul.
    (“A Little to the Left,” Amanda Palmer)

    If you weren’t the one who died, then you eventually have to figure out how to keep living.
    (“The Dead-Brother Code Switch,” Rachel Sklar)

  46. Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow (2016)

    “Because when everything is said and done, Charlotte, the world runs on kindness. It simply has to, or we’d never be able to bear ourselves. It might not seem so to you now, but it will when you’re older.”

    Move forward. Keep on truckin’. I’m getting tired of everyone thinking it’s so easy to live. Because it’s not. At all.

    “This heartbreak,” he says, sitting at the table, placing a napkin on his lap. “And I don’t mean what happened with that young man, because those things, they come and go, it’s one of the painful lessons we learn. I think you are having a different sort of heartbreak. Maybe a kind of heartbreak of being in the world when you don’t know how to be. If that makes any sense?”
    He takes another sip of wine. “Everyone has that moment, I think, the moment when something so … momentous happens that it rips your very being into small pieces. And then you have to stop. For a long time, you gather your pieces. And it takes such a very long time, not to fit them back together, but to assemble them in a new way, not necessarily a better way. More, a way you can live with until you know for certain that this piece should go there, and that one there.”

    Blue leans close to my ear. “What is the cereal doing, Charlie?”

    Years ago, I didn’t want to write the story of my scars, or the story of being a girl with scars, because it is hard enough being a girl in the world, but try being a girl with scars on your skin in the world. [From the Author’s Note.]

  47. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (1996)

    And Mary said, You are a woman now, which made me cry again. But she put her arms around me, and comforted me, better than my own mother could have done, for she was always too busy or tired or ill. Then she lent me her red flannel petticoat until I should get one of my own, and showed me how to fold and pin the cloths, and said that some called it Eve’s curse but she thought that was stupid, and the real curse of Eve was having to put up with the nonsense of Adam, who as soon as there was any trouble, blamed it all on her.

    “For if the world treats you well, Sir, you come to believe you are deserving of it.”

    I am afraid of falling into hopeless despair, over my wasted life, and I am still not sure how it happened.

    He doesn’t understand yet that guilt comes to you not from the things you’ve done, but from the things that others have done to you.

    This puts him in an instructive mood, and I can see he is going to teach me something, which gentlemen are fond of doing.

    It is shocking how many crimes the Bible contains. The Governor’s wife should cut them all out and paste them into her scrapbook.

    “And then she began to cry, and when I asked her why she was doing that, she said it was because I was to have a happy ending, and it was just like a book; and I wondered what books she’d been reading.”

  48. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (2015)

    Like the way you can memorize someone’s gestures but never know their thoughts. And the feeling that people are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows. The way you can feel so exposed anyway.

    And Leah’s also into slash fanfiction, which got me curious enough to poke around the internet and find some last summer. I couldn’t believe how much there was to choose from: Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy hooking up in thousands of ways in every broom closet at Hogwarts. I found the ones with decent grammar and stayed up reading all night. It was a weird couple of weeks. That was the summer I taught myself how to do laundry.

    It feels like we’re the last survivors of a zombie apocalypse. Wonder Woman and a gay dementor. It doesn’t bode well for the survival of the species.

    It’s weird, because Blue’s emails used to be this extra thing that was separate from my actual life. But now I think maybe the emails are my life. Everything else sort of feels like I’m slogging through a dream.

    I HAVE TO MEET HIM.

    If she thinks me drinking coffee is big news, it’s going to be quite a fucking morning.

    I don’t even know. I’m just so sick of straight people who can’t get their shit together.

  49. Puerto Rico Strong edited by Hazel Newlevant, Desiree Rodriguez, and Marco Lopez (2018)

  50. Coyotes, Volume 1 by Sean Lewis and Caitlin Yarsky (2018)

  51. Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson (2017)

    I’ve heard about places upstate. No trains, no buses, no cabs, no corner stores. Just a deserted jungle.

  52. Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia (2017)

    Most folks around here threw open the screen door at the first dust trail over the horizon, but Winifred took her notions. Sometimes she’d go weeks without showing her face in town, and I’d been sent more than once to see if she’d fallen over dead in her kitchen. She never answered the door until I was ready to bust it down and then it was with curlers tying up the leftover strands of gray on her scalp and Lars’s old pipe jutting out of her mouth, asking me if I knew how much doors cost and was I damn ready to buy her a new one. A few days later she’d appear on Main Street again, as friendly as you please. She’d been odd like that ever since she killed her husband.

    Dad sat up watching the bedroom TV and Mom would be reading whatever the library just got in, since she’d gone through everything else on their shelves. She never wanted to talk about her books though. She just swallowed those pages up and kept them tucked inside. Maybe that’s what made her so hard to read sometimes, all those books floating around in her.

    Nothing suicidal, the principal had said, sitting jovially in front of his glass cabinet full of model tractors, each green body carefully polished to catch the light. I don’t like putting suicide out in front of teenagers. Don’t want to give the misguided ones any ideas. He didn’t want to disturb teenagers who were learning to behead chickens on their fathers’ farms, who were guiding cows and pigs into trailers and driving them to their deaths.

    “You’ll love it. There’s witches and sword fights and severed heads. Blood everywhere.” I was being totally honest. Tommy seriously loved horror movies.
    “Are you the innocent, screaming girl?” He laughed, completely forgetting he’d run lines with me only a few weeks ago.
    “No.” I patted his hand and moved it off my waist. “I make the blood run.”

    I floated down the trail as the moonlight bounced off the water, guiding my way. The stars were out and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I’d miss this. You probably couldn’t see the stars in New York City, not even from Central Park, but here—where the only interference was the tiny glow from the parking lot behind me—I felt like I was standing on the edge of the solar system. There were thousands of lights, winking and shining, pulsing in the night. I could see satellites and planets and the only thing breaking the horizon was the barn in front of me. It was spectacular, a feast of light, the whole universe laid open, and I felt the way I’d always felt looking up at it, like I was huge and tiny at the same time. Yes, I would miss the stars.

  53. All Good Children by Dayna Ingram (2016)

    When did I become so frail and yet so dangerous?

    “I watch these soulless monsters take children from my hospital every day, every day, like it’s just another job, like picking out the best sow for the slaughter.”

    Anyone else I’d probably say something like, There is no hope, but for Taylor, four weeks ago hope was a razor blade smuggled inside her vagina, and now it’s me, so instead I said, “There’s a good chance you won’t be picked for any of the programs. One of the lucky thirty-three percent who get to go home.” She shook her head. “No, not me. I’m probably one of the few girls here who still has a fully functioning uterus.” I hadn’t thought about it before, but she was probably right. To avoid being chosen for Breeding, a lot of girls’ parents would elect to have them undergo illegal and not altogether safe hysterectomies, supposing they could find a trusted surgeon who didn’t charge too much.

    She’s lost weight but she’s gained muscle; she’s barely a girl anymore and something more than a woman. A survivor; my baby is a survivor.

    “Because they are truly monsters, the Over. They have the bodies of animals but the minds of…of us.”

  54. I Really Didn’t Think This Through: Tales from My So-Called Adult Life by Beth Evans (2018)

  55. Sweet Tooth: Deluxe Edition, Book One by Jeff Lemire, José Villarrubia, Michael Sheen, and Carlos M. Mangual (2015)

  56. Sweet Tooth: Deluxe Edition, Book Two by Jeff Lemire, José Villarrubia, and Carlos M. Mangual (2016)

  57. Sweet Tooth: Deluxe Edition, Book Three by Jeff Lemire, José Villarrubia, Carlos M. Mangual, and Matt Kindt (2016)

  58. Only Human (Themis Files #3) by Sylvain Neuvel (2018)

    I miss you so much, Kara. And I want to believe in God right now. I’ve never wanted anything so badly. I’ll be dead soon, and I want to believe you’ll be there waiting on the other side with something snarky to say. My whole life, I thought that just being a part of the universe was grand enough. I thought it was much better than my little self sticking around for eternity. I suppose I still do. I don’t care what happens to my “soul.” I don’t care if there’s still a me, but I really want for there to be a you. The world makes more sense if there’s a you.

    It’s the will to live that will kill these people.

    If you see something wrong with the world, fix it. But what if it’s the whole world that needs fixing?

    You think the world ch … changed while you were gone? It hasn’t. This is who we are.

    What does a man’s life amount to? What does the life of a thousand, a billion? What is an ant’s life worth? I see now that the answer is irrelevant. It’s the question that matters. Should the ant let itself die, crushed under the weight of its own insignificance? Or should it live, fight giants, and build magnificent cities underground? What do I choose?

    I said we’re not ready now. Not yet. That’s not pessimism. I can’t make the forest grow faster because I want it to. I can’t will it to grow. It takes time. I hoped it could happen during my lifetime, but I don’t think it can. All I can do is plant some seeds, take care of the seedlings, and hope someone else does it after I’m gone.

  59. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (2017)

    Only an hour in, and already the first temptation: the warmth of my blankets and bed, my pillows and the fake-fur throw Hannah’s mom left here after a weekend visit. They’re all saying, Climb in. No one will know if you stay in bed all day. No one will know if you wear the same sweatpants for the entire month, if you eat every meal in front of television shows and use T-shirts as napkins. Go ahead and listen to that same song on repeat until its sound turns to nothing and you sleep the winter away.
    I only have Mabel’s visit to get through, and then all this could be mine.

    It takes me a while, usually, to be able to listen. But when I do, I discover the secrets of pollination, that honeybees’ wings beat two hundred times per second. That trees shed their leaves not according to season, but according to rainfall. That before all of us there was something else. Eventually, something will take our place.
    I learn that I am a tiny piece of a miraculous world.

    I wonder if there’s a secret current that connects people who have lost something. Not in the way that everyone loses something, but in the way that undoes your life, undoes your self, so that when you look at your face it isn’t yours anymore.

    I have only just learned how to be here. Life is paper-thin and fragile. Any sudden change could rip it wide-open.

    I can’t fathom boarding a plane to San Francisco. It would be flying into ruins. But how could I begin to explain this to her? Even the good places are haunted.

    When I think of all of us then, I see how we were in danger. Not because of the drinking or the sex or the hour of the night. But because we were so innocent and we didn’t even know it. There’s no way of getting it back. The confidence. The easy laughter. The sensation of having left home only for a little while. Of having a home to return to.

    Maybe she thinks I’m being dramatic. Maybe I am. But I know that there’s a difference between how I used to understand things and how I do now. I used to cry over a story and then close the book, and it all would be over. Now everything resonates, sticks like a splinter, festers.

    I listened to the same heartbroken song the entire bus ride home, because it was still a summer when sadness was beautiful.

    She steps toward me and hugs me tight. I close my eyes. There will come a time soon—any second—when she’ll pull away and this will be over. In my mind, we keep ending, ending. I try to stay here, now, for as long as we can.

    I close my eyes. Here we are on Ocean Beach. Here’s the whiskey bottle in the sand and the sound of waves crashing and the cold wind and the darkness and Mabel’s smile against my collarbone. Here we are in that spectacular summer. We are different people now, yes, but those girls were magic.

  60. Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering (2018)

    We did too much coke at that school, don’t you think?

  61. Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy #1) by Stephen King (2014)

    That’s all history is, after all: scar tissue.

    Rich people can be generous, even the ones with bloodcurdling political views can be generous, but most believe in generosity on their own terms, and underneath (not so deep, either), they’re always afraid someone is going to steal their presents and eat their birthday cake.

    When you gaze into the abyss, Nietzsche wrote, the abyss also gazes into you.

    Hodges has read there are wells in Iceland so deep you can drop a stone down them and never hear the splash. He thinks some human souls are like that.

  62. Whose Bum? by Chris Tougas (2018)

    hamster’s bum

  63. The Secret Loves of Geeks edited by Hope Nicholson (2018)

    But what is more feminine than fighting for your humanity? Men have their humanity handed to them. It’s preordained. Women are the ones who fight to make our way and work to have our partners respect us. People praise the sweet girl but they never acknowledge the bitch who gets shit done. So here’s to Buffy, a complex and powerful woman in a world of paper-thin girls. You’re my inspiration.
    – Gwen Benaway, “Being the Slayer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Burden of Trans Girlhood”

  64. Finders Keepers (Bill Hodges Trilogy #2) by Stephen King (2015)

    For readers, one of life’s most electrifying discoveries is that they are readers—not just capable of doing it (which Morris already knew), but in love with it. Hopelessly. Head over heels. The first book that does that is never forgotten, and each page seems to bring a fresh revelation, one that burns and exalts: Yes! That’s how it is! Yes! I saw that, too! And, of course, That’s what I think! That’s what I FEEL!

    The things of the world fell by the wayside … but literature was eternal.

  65. Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters (2014)

    Where do atheists spend the afterlife? I want her to be… somewhere. I want to meet her there.

    I had fun today, she texts. I always have fun with you
    Me too
    Que tengas dulces sueños. That means sleep well
    U 2. That means you too
    LOL

    The drag show starts and people whoop and cheer. Tonight is retro: Madonna and Cher.

  66. Down from the Mountain by Elizabeth Fixmer (2015)

    “Where are those necklaces I saw here last week?” a middle-aged blond woman asks. “I’m looking for the one with lapis and crystal, but I don’t see it.”
    I recognize her. She’s back with her darling little girl and tiny dog. The dog has bows on her ears and wears a jeweled collar. She is so white that she looks like she has a bath every single day. I’ve never seen anything like it. Even when the woman studies a piece of jewelry, she continues to hold the dog or hands her over to her daughter to hold. I wonder if either of them knows that dogs can walk.

    Trevor smiles. It’s an easy, confident smile, like someone who never has to worry about going to hell.

    When I get discouraged or feel trapped in my situation, I move my leg, just so, and can feel the little spot on my thigh where I have wedged my most precious possession between my long underwear and skin. My own library card. With my real name on it.

  67. Rockabilly/Psychobilly: An Art Anthology by Jamie Kendall (2018)

    I like to think of psychobilly as what happens to the rockabilly crowd once midnight strikes.

  68. Please Don’t Grab My P#$$y by Julia Young and Matt Harkins (2018)

    This is a list of things you can grab
    And yes, I’m gonna sound pushy
    For once in your life, listen up
    DON’T EVER FUCKING GRAB MY PUSSY

  69. Scout’s Heaven by Bibi Dumon Tak (2018)

    There were dark clouds in the sky when Scout left.

  70. Zenobia by Morten Dürr and Lars Horneman (2018)

  71. Sheets by Brenna Thummler (2018)

  72. Open Earth by Sarah Mirk, Eva Cabrera, and Claudia Aguirre (2018)

  73. All the Rage by Courtney Summers (2015)

    “It’s your last year, Grey,” she says. “Make a difference for your school.”
    I’d burn this place to the ground before I’d ever willingly make a difference for it, but I’m smarter than saying that out loud and she should be smarter than tempting me.

    At the checkout, it’s just boys at the registers and I can’t stand the idea of them knowing what I wear underneath my shirt. I tell Mom I have a headache, give her my wallet, and wait in the car while she pays for it all. I wish I didn’t have a body, sometimes.

    He reaches over and squeezes my hand, startling me with his sweetness. But just because something starts out sweet doesn’t mean it won’t push itself so far past anything you could call sweet anymore. And if it all starts like this, how do you see what’s coming?

    Helen Turner hates me and the way Helen Turner hates me feels like the worst kind of betrayal. A woman who doesn’t think about daughters she doesn’t have.

    i need leon to know I’m sorry. I don’t need his forgiveness. I don’t believe in forgiveness. I think if you hurt someone, it becomes a part of you both. Each of you just has to live with it and the person you hurt gets to decide if they want to give you the chance to do it again. If they do and you’re a good person, you won’t make the same mistakes. Just whole new ones.

    I get back to work instead. I send out another order and by then, the guy is finished with his. I get him his check. He palms it off the table and says, “Hey, you know you can be professional and friendly.” Then he grabs a napkin and scribbles down some numbers on it, slides it over to me. “Give me a call, you want some advice.”
    I don’t know why I take the napkin. It’s something my body does without checking with my head first, like the obligation to be nice to him is greater than myself.

    The knives rest in a box, propped up by a plastic display stand. One knife is open across the top and I can see myself, a distorted mess, in the blade. I scan the colors and patterns laid out below. The knives on the left side are different from the ones on the right. They are steely grays, forest greens, browns, and solid reds. On the right, the colors seem softer. You wouldn’t call them for what they are, but give them names like blush, rose … there’s a pink camo pattern. I’m sure it’s the perfect knife for some girl out there, but I wonder what, if any, kind of sincerity the manufacturer made it with. If they were thinking of that girl, or if they just thought it was a joke.
    Maybe they don’t know how easily a girl could make this knife serious.

    I don’t know why he still cares. What a stupid thing it is, to care about a girl.

    My heart is heavy with the weight of my body and my body is so heavy with the weight of my heart.

  74. End of Watch (Bill Hodges Trilogy #3) by Stephen King (2016)

    Being needed is a great thing. Maybe the great thing.

  75. Spectacle (Menagerie #2) by Rachel Vincent (2017)

    Rommily only spoke in the grip of a vision, since that night in the rain, and without a human mouth, the bull couldn’t speak at all. Their connection had developed without the luxury of unnecessary words.

    Through it all, Ignis swooped and glided through the air in and around the acrobats’ limbs, dodging spinning rings and spitting small jets of fire. The music soared and the crowd stood on collapsible risers, stomping and clapping for a show they would credit to a huge staff of human handlers and trainers.

    “This one isn’t like the others,” the woman—his wife?—said, and the sharp edge in her voice could have cut glass.
    “I’m like them in every way that matters,” I insisted.

    In the menagerie, the handlers had sometimes muzzled cryptids, but that could only stop them from biting and speaking. Muzzles can’t prevent you from making sound. From hearing your own voice, as a reassurance that you do, in fact, still exist, even if only as property to be bought, sold or rented out.

    “But you really are human?”
    “I really, really am. Not that it matters.”
    Not that it should matter. Deciding who should be free and who should be locked up based on chromosomal features made no more sense than basing that decision on eye color.

  76. Chimera: Book One – The Righteous and the Lost by Tyler Ellis (2018)

  77. The Burning World (Warm Bodies #2) by Isaac Marion (2017)

    Have I missed something? What I just saw was gruesome and tragic, yes, but also beautiful. I saw a woman pull herself out of her grave and climb up to whatever’s next. I saw a woman save her own soul. What did they see?

    He thinks goodness must be more than just kindness. It must have a hard frame to hold it together. How can you stitch a wound if you faint at the sight of blood? How can you do good in a world you refuse to see?

    Embarrassment is just one of the many perils I accepted when I made the choice to live. Living is awkward. Living hurts. Did I ever expect otherwise?

    I drag my kids toward the safety of the terminal door, determined to save at least these two, and just as I’m reaching out to open it, I hear a cry. A raw, plaintive noise almost like the howl of a dog, inarticulate but trembling with emotion. I look up.
    My wife is on the control tower balcony, directly above the helicopter, leaning against the railing. Her eyes are on me, and I realize the noise I heard was her calling to me, the sound of a person trying to reach another person without words or a name. But she doesn’t need words now. She cries out again, and the anguish in it makes the meaning clear.
    Good-bye.
    She jumps off the tower. She falls facedown, arms spread wide, hair fluttering up toward the clear summer sky, and when she hits the blurring disc of the rotors, she vanishes. Lukewarm liquid sprays across my face. I hear the wet slap of heavier bits raining down all over the tarmac, but the sound is mercifully muffled by the screech of the helicopter tearing itself apart.

    The magic that confounds them is humanity. The naturally occurring, slow acting, unpredictably potent product of conscious minds connecting. These madmen want to synthesize love. They want to manufacture it, weaponize it, and use it to control people.

    The Dead are a larger army than any ever assembled, and they follow no leader, fear no threat, and accept no bribe or compromise. The Dead are the silent majority, and should they ever decide to say something, it will be the new law of the land.

    Things were so easy then. So simple and sweet. Just me and my kidnapped crush and her boyfriend’s brain in my pocket.

    I’d like to thank the 108 billion people who lived and died throughout history to make this book—and other things—possible, and the even larger number of nonhuman creatures who helped.
    (“Acknowledgements”)

  78. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (2014)

    What made something precious? Losing it and finding it.

    She understands. There is nowhere to go but on. Still, part of her longs to go back.

    He pushed her in. And then he pulled her out. All her life, Lydia would remember one thing. All his life, Nath would remember another.

    I could have done that, Marilyn thought. And the words clicked into place like puzzle pieces, shocking her in their rightness. The hypothetical past-perfect. The tense of missed chances. Tears dripped down her chin. No! She though suddenly. I could do that.

    Over the past two weeks she’s worked her way through it [the book], a little each night, savoring the words like a cherry Life Saver tucked inside her cheek.

    At last something important had occurred, something that she ought to write down. But she did not know how to explain what had happened, how everything had changed in just one day, how someone she loved so dearly could be there one minute, and the next minute: gone.

    And tomorrow, next month, next year? It will take a long time. Year from now, they will still be arranging the pieces they know, puzzling over her features, redrawing her outlines in their minds. Sure that they’ve got her right this time, positive in this moment they understand her completely, at last. They will think of her often: when Marilyn opens the curtains in Lydia’s room, opens the closet, and begins to take the clothing from the shelves. When their father, one day, enters a party for the first time does not glance, quickly, at all the blond heads in the room. When Hannah begins to stand a little straighter, when she begins to speak a bit clearer, when one day she flicks her hair behind her ear in a familiar gesture and wonders, for a moment, where she got it. And Nath. When at school people ask if he has siblings: two sisters, but one died; when one day, he looks at the small bump that will always mar the bridge of Jack’s nose and wants to trace it, gently, with his finger. When a long, long time later, he stares down at the silent blue marble of the earth and thinks of his sister, as he will at every important moment of his life. He doesn’t know this yet, but he senses it deep down in his core. So much will happen, he thinks, that I would want to tell you.

  79. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick (2013)

    My Holocaust class teacher, Herr Silverman, never rolls up his sleeves like the other male teachers at my high school, who all arrive each morning with their freshly ironed shirts rolled to the elbow. Nor does Herr Silverman ever wear the faculty polo shirt on Fridays. Even in the warmer months he keeps his arms covered, and I’ve been wondering why for a long time now.
    I think about it constantly.
    It’s maybe the greatest mystery of my life.
    Perhaps he has really hairy arms, I’ve often thought. Or prison tattoos. Or a birthmark. Or he was obscenely burned in a fire. Or maybe someone spilled acid on him during a high school science experiment. Or he was once a heroin addict and his wrists are therefore scarred with a gazillion needle-track marks. Maybe he has a blood-circulation disorder that keeps him perpetually cold.
    But I suspect the truth is more serious than that—like maybe he tried to kill himself once and there are razor-blade scars.
    Maybe.
    It’s hard for me to believe that Herr Silverman once attempted suicide, because he’s so together now; he’s really the most admirable adult I know.
    Sometimes I actually hope that he did once feel empty and hopeless and helpless enough to slash his wrists to the bone, because if he felt that horrible and survived to be such a fantastic grown-up, then maybe there’s hope for me.

    DO ANYTHING! SOMETHING! Because you start a revolution one decision at a time, with every breath you take.

    “My life will get better? You really believe that?” I ask.
    “It can. If you’re willing to do the work.”
    “What work?”
    “Not letting the world destroy you. That’s a daily battle.”

    Although once when we were talking after class, Herr Silverman told me that when someone rises up and holds himself to a higher standard, even when doing so benefits others, average people resent it, mostly because they’re not strong enough to do the same.

    “Why are you being so nice to me?” I say.
    “People should be nice to you, Leonard. You’re a human being. You should expect people to be nice.”

    He keeps whispering, “You’re okay,” and I simultaneously love him and hate him for saying that. I’m fucking not okay at all. And yet it’s exactly what I most want to be: okay. He can’t give that to me, but I love him for trying.

    Maybe if we would just picture our enemies jerking off once in a while, the world would be a better place.

    I’ve watched you sleep for over an hour, just because.
    And the whole time I wished your mind was a sea we could scuba dive in together because I’d like to see the LOVE statue that sits at the bottom of your consciousness.
    I know it’s huge and red and beautiful, because you’ve been pulling the seaweed off it for so many years. I know you weeded the waters of your mind for me, for Mom, so we could celebrate my eighteenth birthday together—and so I could go on and enjoy the life you gave me.
    Keep weeding, Dad.
    Weed your mind.
    And man the great light.
    Even when no one is looking.

  80. Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney (2018)

    So this is 2017.

    We are all just ghosts of the people we hoped that we were and counterfeit replicas of the people we wanted to be.

    Nana always said that books made better friends than people anyway. Books will take you anywhere if you let them, she used to say, and I think she was right.

    Stars cannot shine without darkness.

  81. Hasib & The Queen of Serpents: A Thousand and One Nights Tale by David B. (2018)

    Say, this is a really deep cave!

  82. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (2016)

    “I have a past, okay? And you really don’t want to get involved with it.”
    “Everybody’s got a past,” he said. “That doesn’t mean you can’t have a future.”

    I wondered if joy could ever be felt by itself without being tainted with fear and confusion, or if some level of misery was a universal constant, like the speed of light.

    I thought of that poor girl pretending to be a boy who tried to kill herself and I wanted her to see this, to feel this, so she could understand that one day she might not just be okay with her body but that she would be able to feel things, beautiful things, inside of it.

  83. Luisa: Now and Then by Carole Maurel (2018)

    Man! What a brat!

  84. I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina, John Jennings, and Stacey Robinson (2017)

    Slavery didn’t end in 1865; it evolved.
    (Bryan Stevenson, “Foreword”)

  85. SMASH: Trial by Fire by Chris A. Bolton and Kyle Bolton (2018)

  86. Ark Land by Scott A. Ford (2018)

  87. Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin (2016)

    Doc Martens—synthetic ones, no cows were harmed in the making of my shoes—round out the ensemble.

    “You don’t like malteds?” Solo says, leaning over to take a long drink from his straw. For a moment, I consider launching into the whole vegan thing, but just the thought of it exhausts me, so I shake my head instead.

    But it’s more than that. When I’m with Solo, I tend to behave more like a guy, because I think that’s how he sees me. But around Bec, I’m inclined to be more . . . I don’t know. Feminine is the word that comes to mind, but it’s too simple a word for what I feel. There aren’t words for what I feel, because all the words were made up by people who never felt like this.

    The world isn’t binary. Everything isn’t black or white, yes or no. Sometimes it’s not a switch, it’s a dial. And it’s not even a dial you can get your hands on; it turns without your permission or approval.

  88. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (2018)

    Ms. Galiano asks about the themes and presentation style
    but instead of raising my hand I press it against my heart
    and will the chills on my arms to smooth out.
    It was just a poem, Xiomara, I think.
    But it felt more like a gift.
    (“Spoken Word”)

    “Sometimes the best way to love someone
    is to let them go.”
    (“And Then He Does”)

    And I knew then what I’d known since my period came:
    my body was trouble. I had to pray the trouble out
    of the body God gave me. My body was the problem.
    And I didn’t want any of those boys to be the ones to solve it.
    I wanted to forget I had this body at all.
    (“The Last Fifteen-Year-Old”)

    Because so many of the poems tonight
    felt a little like our own stories.
    Like we saw and were seen.
    And how crazy would it be
    if I did that for someone else?
    (“Invitation”)

  89. Any Man by Amber Tamblyn (2018)

    It’s a pain … it’s a cellular pain now, okay? It’s not a memory, it lives in me like a heart.

    “I’m telling you this story because everyone who loved Maggie and cared for her believed it was the gusts that took her life that day. But it was me. I took her life. I took her life because I thought my life was taken from me. Because I was drunk. Because I was angry. A stupid fucking angry Neanderthal. A weakling. A chicken-shit. I’ve never admitted I was the one who felled her. Maggie the Magnificent Maple Tree. But I’m admitting it now. Her body still hangs there, suspended in midair in the arms of her family.”

    Ten years ago, I was having a beer with a friend after work and a few hours later, I was violently assaulted and left for dead behind a dumpster. No, worse—I was left for living. My assaulter wanted me to live through what I had experienced. It was a gesture of torture, a most excruciating gift.

  90. Quiver by Julia Watts (2018)

    “We don’t read fiction for homeschool, just textbooks and the Bible.”
    My dad could make a compelling argument that the Bible is a work of fiction, but I choose not to go there.

    The only kind of soul I believe in is the kind James Brown had. Or Bowie on Young Americans with Luther Vandross on backup vocals.

    Patience is sitting on a blanket by herself, shooting glances over at Libby and me. She always looks at me like she’s just caught me doing something wrong, which, in her opinion, I guess I have, whether it’s wearing pants or thinking my opinion matters even though I don’t have a penis. I’m pretty sure the sock I stuff into my jeans sometimes doesn’t count.

    Mr. Hazlett’s getting worked up, too. A vein in his forehead bulges disturbingly. “In a Christian home, the man is like God, and his wife is the holy church.”
    Dad laughs out loud. Maybe a little too loud. “So you get to be a deity, and she just gets to be a building?”

    I wonder what Mr. Hazlett would do if one of his kids discovered a stash of porn in an outbuilding. Do a ritual to cast out demons or just burn the building down because it’s been so corrupted by evil?

    “Mama, I don’t think it’s good that you’re going against Daddy’s wishes,” Patience says. “The church is supposed to do what God says. When he gets home, I might have to tell him you disobeyed him.”
    Mama sighs and rubs her temples. “Patience, if you feel the Lord is leading you to tell your daddy on me, then by all means, do it. But first you need to think about whether you want to tell your daddy because the Lord wants you to or if you just want to because you’re a tattletale.”

    I don’t know what shocks me more—my grandmother cursing or hearing her say I have the right to choose what to do with my life.

    I wonder if that could be right. How many people in the world are Christians like us? I think of the size and number of the downtown churches compared to our little church. If we’re the only true Christians, heaven is going to be almost empty no matter how many babies we have.

  91. Sadie by Courtney Summers (2018)

    Her nails are pink and long and pointy, and I imagine the feel of them clawing across skin. Every little thing about you can be a weapon, if you’re clever enough.

    Who doesn’t want a love story? I wish this was a love story.

    Paul taught me a person committed to silence can suggest importance, strength. So long as they’re a man, I mean. It’s not an option when you’re a girl, not unless you want people to think you’re bitch.

    My eyes burn, and tears slip down my cheeks and I can’t even imagine how pathetic I look. Girl with a busted face, torn-up arm, begging for the opportunity to save other girls. Why do I have to beg for that?

    CLAIRE SOUTHERN: You’re doing this because your daughter opened your eyes, is that it? Having a little girl makes you realize, what, there’s a whole big, bad, dirty world out there? So now you’re going to try to save mine from it and pat yourself on the back for leaving it a little cleaner than it was?

    CLAIRE SOUTHERN: I think you should call it The Girls. I think you should call it that for every girl I figure Sadie must have saved. You call it The Girls and you make sure the people who hear it, you make sure they know Sadie loved Mattie with everything she had. You let them know that she loved Mattie so much, that’s what she turned her love into. You let them know.

  92. Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger by Soraya Chemaly (2018)

    Ask yourself, why would a society deny girls and women, from cradle to grave, the right to feel, express, and leverage anger and be respected when we do? Anger has a bad rap, but it is actually one of the most hopeful and forward thinking of all of our emotions. It begets transformation, manifesting our passion and keeping us invested in the world. It is a rational and emotional response to trespass, violation, and moral disorder. It bridges the divide between what “is” and what “ought” to be, between a difficult past and an improved possibility. Anger warns us viscerally of violation, threat, and insult. By effectively severing anger from “good womanhood,” we choose to sever girls and women from the emotion that best protects us against danger and injustice.

    Anger is usually about saying “no” in a world where women are conditioned to say almost anything but “no.”

    Because the truth is that anger isn’t what gets in our way—it is our way. All we have to do is own it.

    Five times as many clinical trials have been conducted on the topic of male sexual pleasure, such as for erectile dysfunction, as on female sexual pain.

    This caring mandate is implicit in the pressure on girls and women—tacit or overt—to define themselves relationally. We’ve even convinced young women that keeping their own names when they get married is selfish, damaging to their families, and a social affront. Today only an estimated 8 percent to 10 percent of women keep their names after marriage, down from a midnineties peak of 23 percent. Three in five of Americans think that women should take their husbands’ names, and more than half believe it should be enforced legally.

    Women’s unpaid and undervalued care work stands as the single greatest wealth transfer in today’s global economy.

  93. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (2013)

    I’ve come to think that’s what heaven is – a place in the memory of others where our best selves live on.

    I am learning to pass, to look like everyone else, even though I feel broken inside.

    I learned long ago that loss is not only probable but inevitable.

    And even if she loses the charms, she thinks, they’ll always be a part of her. The things that matter stay with you, seep into your skin. People get tattoos to have a permanent reminder of things they love or believe or fear, but though she’ll never regret the turtle, she has no need to ink her flesh again to remember the past. She had not known the markings would be etched so deep.

    “Time constricts and flattens, you know. It’s not evenly weighted. Certain moments linger in the mind and others disappear. The first twenty-three years of my life are the ones that shaped me, and the fact that I’ve lived almost seven decades since then is irrelevant.”

    Molly touches Vivian’s shoulder, frail and bony under her thin silk cardigan. She half turns, half smiles, her eyes brimming with tears. Her hand flutters to her clavicle, to the silver chain around her neck, the claddagh charm—those tiny hands clasping a crowned heart: love, loyalty, friendship—a never-ending path that leads away from home and circles back. What a journey Vivian and this necklace have taken, Molly thinks: from a cobblestoned village on the coast of Ireland to a tenement in New York to a train filled with children, steaming westward through farmland, to a lifetime in Minnesota. And now to this moment, nearly a hundred years after it all began, on the porch of an old house in Maine.

    As soon as Jack shuts off the engine, a girl springs from the backseat, wearing a blue-striped dress and white sneakers. Becca—it must be. She has red hair. Long, wavy red hair and a smattering of freckles.
    Vivian, gripping the porch rail with one hand, puts her other over her mouth. “Oh.”
    “Oh,” Molly breathes behind her.

  94. The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus (2018)

    The Daisys will be the only insurgency she brings off tonight, and every night. Feet are what connect you to the ground, and when you are poor, none of that ground belongs to you.

    “But I can’t be alone, can I? Of course not; I’m not that special. Anomalies like me exist all around the world. So when does an anomaly quit being an anomaly and start being just the way things happen to be? What if you and I are not the last of our kinds, but one of the first? The first of better creatures in a better wold? We can hope, can’t we? That we’re not of the past, but the future?”

    Eons of loneliness, and then one day your ellipsis peaks toward that of another planet and there is a gasp of nearness. Wouldn’t you try to make the most of it? Wouldn’t you, too, combust and flare and explode if you had to?

    For two billion years, the world knew peace. Only with the invention of gender—specifically males, those tail-fanners, horn-lockers, chest-pounders—did Earth begin its slide toward self-extinction. Perhaps this explains Edwin Hubble’s discovery that all known galaxies are moving away from Earth, as if we are a whole planet of arsenic. Hoffstetler comforts himself that, on this morning, all such self-contempt is worth it. Until Mihalkov can authorize the extraction, Occam’s dogs need bones on which to chew.

    She realizes that, down here, hate has no purpose. Down here, you embrace your foes until they become your friends. Down here, you seek not to be one being, but all beings, and all at once, God and Chemosh and everything in between. The change in her isn’t only mental. It’s physical, of skin and muscle. Yes, she has arrived. She is full. She is perfect.

    we welcome all who are willing to follow we welcome the fish we welcome the birds we welcome the insects we welcome the four-legs we welcome the two-legs we welcome you ///
    come with us

  95. Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington (2007)

    Was Sims a savior or a sadist? It depends, I suppose, on the color of the women you ask.

    Owners and physicians also blurred the therapeutic line by referring jocularly to whipping as “medicine” for malingering slaves. One complaining woman was “treated with a cowskin or hickory switch to scourge her” [emphasis added]; other doctors recommended that an owner apply “9 drops of essence of rawhide” or “oil of hickory” to the back of a sick slave.

    By 1851, Cartwright had also discovered and described a host of imaginary “black” diseases, whose principal symptoms seemed to be a lack of enthusiasm for slavery. Escape might have seemed normal behavior for a slave in ancient Greece or Rome, but Cartwright medically condemned such behavior in American blacks, offering a diagnosis of drapetomania, from the Greek words for flight and insanity. Hebetude was a singular laziness or shiftlessness that caused slaves to mishandle and abuse their owners’ property. Dysthesia Aethiopica was another black behavioral malady, which was characterized by a desire to destroy the property of white slave owners.

    Even biological advantages were cast as racial flaws: In discussing the tendency of blacks to survive yellow fever epidemics that killed whites, one physician denounced the “inferior susceptibility” of black slaves.

    In New York during the 1860s, Sims attended white women patients who suffered from vaginismus, a disorder marked by painful vaginal muscle contractions that prevent the entrance of the penis, making intercourse impossible. Complaining husbands approached Sims, who regularly etherized their wives, rendering them unconscious so that their husbands could have sex with them.

    Even in the North, hospitals expected blacks to submit to research as “payment” for having been treated in charity wards; yet no amount of money could buy a black patient a bed in the private ward where well-to-do whites received care.

    However, Nazi eugenicists frequently observed that their laws to bar Jewish-Aryan mating were more liberal than were American laws to separate people of African descent from the white genetic pool. Germans held that a person who was one-quarter Jewish was a legal Aryan and thus fit to marry a German, but parallel marriages and matings between whites and blacks were illegal in much of the United States and, in effect, punishable by death—lynching.

    Within a century, reproductive coercion had taken a 180-degree turn for black women. During slavery, black women had been forced to procreate, but now they were being forced into sterility. The consistent factor was white control.

    In the South, rendering black women infertile without their knowledge during other surgery was so common that the procedure was called a “Mississippi appendectomy.”

    Via Operation Paperclip, the U.S. government supplied American hospitals and clinics with seven hundred Nazi scientists.

    One Dickensian institution, the Fernald School in Waltham, Massachusetts, added radioactive oatmeal to the menus of thirty orphans in a program sponsored by the AEC with the support of the Quaker Oats Company.

    “Criminals in our penitentiaries are fine experimental material—and much cheaper than chimpanzees.”

    Because scientists wished to explore cheaper ways of eliminating the lead threat in the future, they purposely arranged with landlords to have children inhabit lead-tainted housing so that they could monitor changes in the children’s lead levels as well as the brain and developmental damage that resulted from different kinds of lead-abatement programs. Scientists offered parents of children in these lead-laden homes incentives such as fifteen-dollar payments to cooperate with the study, without divulging that it placed their children at risk of lead exposure. The literature given the parents implied that the study was protecting their children from lead damage and promised to inform parents of any hazards. KKI researchers simultaneously encouraged landlords of approximately 125 tainted housing units to rent to families with young children by paying for the lead abatement if the landlords rented to such families. They met with chilling success.

    In the late 1980s, many states, including New York, funded research initiatives that tested newborns for HIV infection without their mothers’ knowledge, then withheld the knowledge of their HIV status.

    Not until nearly 1980 did the Scientologists’ research group finish piecing together its research and publish a report, which detailed, among other things, how in 1955–1956 the residents of Florida’s Carver Village has been visited with a plague of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Swarms bred by the Army Chemical Corps at Fort Detrick, Maryland, carried, among other things, yellow fever and dengue fever.

    In October 1996, the Department of Health and Human Services passed 21CFR50.24, a regulation that robbed seriously ill emergency room patients of the right to informed consent. This allows researchers to legally enroll such patients in medical-research studies and test experimental therapies on them without their consent.

  96. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)

    “Dr. Thompson,” Arthur said.
    “Mr. Leander.” The disorientation of meeting one’s sagging contemporaries, memories of a younger face crashing into the reality of jowls, under-eye pouches, unexpected lines, and then the terrible realization that one probably looks just as old as they do. Do you remember when we were young and gorgeous? Clark wanted to ask. Do you remember when everything seemed limitless?

    In the next version of her life, she decides, she will be entirely independent.

    The beauty of this world where almost everyone was gone. If hell is other people, what is a world with almost no people in it? Perhaps soon humanity would simply flicker out, but Kirsten found this thought more peaceful than sad. So many species had appeared and later vanished from this earth; what was one more?

    First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.

    Dr. Eleven: What was it like for you, at the end?
    Captain Lonagan: It was exactly like waking up from a dream.

    Toward the end of his second decade in the airport, Clark was thinking about how lucky he’d been. Not just the mere fact of survival, which was of course remarkable in and of itself, but to have seen one world end and another begin. And not just to have seen the remembered splendors of the former world, the space shuttles and the electrical grid and the amplified guitars, the computers that could be held in the palm of a hand and the high-speed trains between cities, but to have lived among those wonders for so long. To have dwelt in that spectacular world for fifty-one years of his life. Sometimes he lay awake in Concourse B of the Severn City Airport and thought, “I was there,” and the thought pierced him through with an admixture of sadness and exhilaration.

    All three caravans of the Traveling Symphony are labeled as such, THE TRAVELING SYMPHONY lettered in white on both sides, but the lead caravan carries an additional line of text: Because survival is insufficient.

  97. Grace and Fury (Untitled #1) by Tracy Banghart (2018)

    This book was home to her, more than the palazzo and its fine furnishings could ever be.

    “One evening,” Serina had recited from memory, her recent singing lessons coating her voice with honey, “as the sun eased toward the horizon and the moon rose from its slumber, two birds flew along the path made on the water by the setting sun. They dipped and sagged, their battered wings barely holding them aloft. Every now and then, one would falter and fall toward the water, all strength gone. The other would dive and catch the first on its back, carrying its partner for a time.
    “The two birds traveled this way for many leagues, until the path of the sun had faded and the moon’s silver road appeared. The ocean shimmied and danced beneath the birds, intrigued by their obvious love for each other. The ocean had never loved anything so much, to burden its own back with another’s survival. It didn’t understand why the birds didn’t fend for themselves—the stronger leave the weaker and carry on.
    “It took the ocean some time to understand that apart, the birds would never have made it so far,” Serina had continued, wrapping an arm around Nomi’s shoulders. “That their love, their sacrifice, gave them both strength. When at last, the two little birds, their bright red and green feathers tarnished from their long journey, could no longer hold themselves free of the endless water, the ocean took pity on them. Rewarding their steadfastness, it pushed land up from its depths—huge, lush hills with fresh, clean water, towering cypress trees, and all the fruits and berries and seeds they could ever desire. The lovebirds alighted in the shady, cool branches of an olive tree, their tired wings wrapping around each other, their beaks tucked into each other’s feathers. And at last, they were able to rest.”

    Every aspect of their world, down to Viridia’s prisons, pitted women against each other while men watched.

    “My father used to say that oppression isn’t a finite state. It’s a weight that is carried until it becomes too heavy, and then it is thrown off. Not without struggle, not without pain, but he believed the weight would always, always be fought and overcome. He wasn’t the only one trying to change things.”

    “If I hadn’t suspected before, I certainly would have now,” he said almost gently. “Don’t let anyone see you around books. Your yearning gives you away.”

  98. Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart (2016)

    I wish the world were made of dogs.

  99. The Broken Girls by Simone St. James (2018)

    Books were her salvation. As a child, she’d had a shelf of childhood favorites that she loved enough to read over and over again. But after, during the hospital stay and the long voyage and the cold days in Idlewild’s dreary hallways, books became more than mere stories. They were her lifeline, the pages as essential to her as breathing.

  100. Emotions Explained with Buff Dudes: Owlturd Comix by Andrew Tsyaston (2018)

  101. Upgrade Soul by Ezra Claytan Daniels (2018)

  102. Someone I Used to Know by Patty Blount (2018)

    “Ms. Lawrence,” he says, taking off his glasses. “I understand how you feel—”
    “Really?” I snap back. “How did you get over your rape?”

    I swallow back the groan, take the papers, find a seat in a comfy-looking leather chair near a window, and eyeball the rest of the room. Besides the bald guy, there are exactly six of us in this room. Six guys against rape. Six, in a university where twenty thousand are enrolled.

    A chill crawls up my back at the next bullet point: the time when college rapes are highest? August through November. Football season.

    I put a hand to my heart, and then I remember it’s cracked in so many pieces, it’s probably not even where it used to be.

    “The reason men like Ariel Castro and Elliot Rodger and Aaron Persky exist is because men like us never called them out on their bullshit the first time they showed it.”

  103. The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel (2016)

    As we came upon the orange-red brick, we saw Elohim eating on the porch. His feet, too short to reach the floor, hung barefoot. His lunch consisted of macaroni salad and a raw onion sandwich. No meat would be found on his table. At that time, he was the town’s only vegetarian.

    Dad was kneeling in the freshly cut yard with our dog Granny. They were both looking at the small snake Dad held in his hands.
    I hollered to Dad, but he didn’t hear me. I was about to call him again, but the boy grabbed my arm and urged me to wait.
    “Let’s see what he does with the snake.”
    “Why?” I shrugged out of his hot grip.
    “You can tell a lot about a man by what he does with a snake.”
    Dad allowed the small snake to slip turns through his fingers until Granny barked. The snake hissed toward the sound as Dad stood. He walked to the back of the house, keeping the snake rather close to his chest before releasing it into the dense woods bordering our backyard.
    “Well?” I turned to the boy. “It wasn’t nothin’ but a harmless snake anyways. Looked to be a garter.”
    “A snake that could harm you, you don’t have much choice to kill. You wouldn’t be able to leave a cobra in your sock drawer. But a snake that is no threat will greatly define the man who decides to kill it anyways.”
    “Weren’t you a snake once? If you are the devil, that is.”
    “I’ve been called a snake, yes. But haven’t you ever been called something without having actually been it?”

    “Hey, old girl.” I scratched her neck, and her tail wagged as best as it could. Only a dog could show such love in such pain.

    If only she could’ve told me it was okay to pick up the gun, to end her suffering. It’s having to make the decision all alone and them not being able to tell you it’s the right one.

    There was something about her eyes that made me see her death as final. There was no place after, her tears said. This was it. Dying animals have that effect. I think because you never see them in church preparing for an afterlife. You never see them wearing crosses around their necks, or lighting candles in Mass. It all seems so final with them. Their dying is not moving on, it’s going out.

    “People always ask, Why does God allow suffering? Why does He allow a child to be beaten? A woman to cry? A holocaust to happen? A good dog to die painfully? Simple truth is, He wants to see for Himself what we’ll do. He’s stood up the candle, put the devil at the wick, and now He wants to see if we blow it out or let it burn down. God is suffering’s biggest spectator.”

    Being the devil made him important. Made him visible. And isn’t that the biggest tragedy of all? When a boy has to be the devil in order to be significant?

  104. Before She Sleeps by Bina Shah (2018)

    When I got to the Panah, I was unused to the sight of women’s bodies not swollen and distorted by pregnancy. It seemed wrong, at first, as if something was missing. It took me months to realize that a woman’s stomach wasn’t always convex; that its default state was not always filled with another being.

    I don’t like the idea of being the sandpaper to smooth a man’s rough edges, but it’s better than being an entire nation’s incubator.

    Above ground, we are only women, but here in the Panah, we are humans again.

  105. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (2018)

    My phone lights up and I glance at it. Ayoola. It is the third time she has called, but I am not in the mood to talk to her. Maybe she is reaching out because she has sent another man to his grave prematurely, or maybe she wants to know if I can buy eggs on the way home. Either way, I’m not picking up.

    Murderer—Ayoola; Place—Studio Apartment; Weapon—Knife

  106. The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark (2018)

    Funny to find Confederates in here anyway, what with all this open miscegenation.

    The magic of those old Afrikin gods is part of this city, ma maman used to say, buried in its bones and roots with the slaves that built it, making the ground and air and waterways sacred land. Only we forgot the names that went with that power we brought over here. Since Haiti got free, though, those gods were coming back, she’d said, across the waters, all the way from Lafrik. Now here’s two of them in a bordello in New Orleans. Who knows what that means.

    “I’m here to get you out!” I say, bending down to loosen the ropes about her wrists and ankles. “Your father sent me! You understand?”
    She nods but still looks confused, licking a set of parched lips before speaking. “Wi. It is just . . . you?”
    I scowl up at her. I happen to think I’m plenty.

  107. Daughters of Forgotten Light by Sean Grigsby (2018)

    That’s one thing they never told Lena Horror about space – how damn dark it is.

  108. Room by Emma Donoghue (2010)

    Stories are a different kind of true.

    Sometimes when persons say definitely it sounds actually less true.

    “This is a bad story.”
    “Sorry. I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have told you.”
    “No, you should,” I say.
    “But—”
    “I don’t want there to be bad stories and me not know them.”

    Grandma says why doesn’t Ma take me to the zoo but Ma says she couldn’t stand the cages.

  109. The Many Deaths of Scott Koblish by Scott Koblish (2018)

  110. Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill (2018)

  111. Monsters of the Week: The Complete Critical Companion to The X-Files by Zack Handlen, Todd VanDerWerff, and Patrick Leger (2018)

    I went back, as I often do, to read some contemporaneous reviews of “Pilot” (S1E1) from TV critics, and what struck me was how many of them insisted that UFOs were “played out” as the subject matter for TV series. Even the positive ones – and there were many – were worried about The X-Files becoming just another UFO series.
    – Todd, “Things That Go Bump”

  112. Donald and the Golden Crayon by P. Shauers (2018)

  113. Loading Penguin Hugs: Heartwarming Comics from Chibird by Jacqueline Chen (2018)

  114. The Book of Onions: Comics to Make You Cry Laughing and Cry Crying by Jake Thompson (2018)

  115. Lil’ Donnie Volume 1: Executive Privilege by Mike Norton (2018)

  116. The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney (2017)

    Grief, I discovered, feels not so very different from defeat.

    All these men who loved Emma, I think. For all her problems, men were fixated on her. Will anyone ever feel like that about me?

    Most people put all their energies into trying to change other people when the only person you can really change is yourself, and even that’s incredibly difficult.

  117. Watersnakes by Antonio Sandoval (2018)

  118. Slothilda: Living the Sloth Life by Dante Fabiero (2018)

  119. Super Chill: A Year of Living Anxiously by Adam Ellis (2018)

  120. How to Be Successful without Hurting Men’s Feelings: Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for Women by Sarah Cooper (2018)

  121. Claw the System: Poems from the Cat Uprising by Francesco Marciuliano (2018)

    THE PRESS
    There is nothing more important
    Than the press
    There is nothing more indispensable
    Than the press
    There is nothing we need more right now
    Than the press
    Of my paw
    Against the lips
    Of anyone spewing hatred
    Right after that paw has been in the litter box

    MENTAL HEALTH DAY
    When you can’t lift your head up
    When you can’t raise your hopes up
    When you can’t get yourself up
    To face another day
    Remember
    You can still bring your leg up
    And lick yourself down there
    For like hours if you want
    Because you have to take care of yourself
    Before you can take on this world

  122. Gwen the Rescue Hen by Leslie Crawford and Sonja Stangl (2018)

    It takes time to make a real friend, especially if one of the friends is a chicken and the other is a person. Mateo figures out what chickens do. And Gwen figures out what chickens do, too.

    “Come on, Gwen,” says Mateo, as he helps settle her onto the handlebars. Let’s hit it! she thinks. Let’s fly.

  123. To Kill a Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel by Fred Fordham (adapter/Illustrator) and Harper Lee (2018)

  124. Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice (2018)

    “You know, when young people come over, sometimes some of them talk about the end of the world,” Aileen said, breaking the silence and snapping Evan out of his woolgathering. He looked up from the plaid pattern on the vinyl tablecloth to the old woman’s face.
    “They say that this is the end of the world. The power’s out and we’ve run out of gas and no one’s come up from down south. They say the food is running out and that we’re in danger. There’s a word they say too — ah . . . pock . . . ah . . .”
    “Apocalypse?”
    “Yes, apocalypse! What a silly word. I can tell you there’s no word like that in Ojibwe. Well, I never heard a word like that from my elders anyway.”
    Evan nodded, giving the elder his full attention.
    “The world isn’t ending,” she went on. “Our world isn’t ending. It already ended. It ended when the Zhaagnaash came into our original home down south on that bay and took it from us. That was our world.”

  125. Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall (2017)

    That was close is my first thought. Followed by What was close? Pleasant conversation? Ugh.

    I miss the days when I could have a panic attack in peace.

    I’d love to see out my homeschool career with a 4.0. It sounds odd, cruel even to suggest, but shining in one of the recesses of my mind is the idea that being intelligent will force people to see past my crazy parts. Maybe even make them obsolete. I don’t know. That’s probably dumb, but no one remembers Charles Darwin as the guy who suffered from panic attacks. Ludwig van Beethoven isn’t the bipolar composer, he’s the composer who was bipolar. I’m sure it’s not as simple as all that. I just want to have proof that I can think straight, that I am more than the girl who believes that odd numbers will cause a catastrophe.

    ‘I’m afraid,’ I confess in a whisper. I’m always afraid, but I don’t usually admit it out loud.

    I sniff, scrub stray tears off my cheeks with the sleeve of my sweater. I’m tragic, an unkempt gravestone – I’m what a sorrowful Shakespeare sonnet would look like in human form.

    Why do people keep telling me to be myself? Honestly. It’s like they’ve never even met me.

    There’s this one thing she said that keeps popping into my head as I swallow down my serotonin reuptake inhibitors and watch that damned blackbird jumping around on my windowsill. Your mind adapts to what worse is. Suddenly, that thing that seemed so terrifying at first is dwarfed by the next challenge that comes your way. But you adapt again and again and again, until you find yourself fearless.

  126. The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke (2018)

    They called us the Mercies, or sometimes the Boneless Mercies. They said we were shadows, ghosts, and if you touched our skin, we dissolved into smoke.

    A person was never truly dead as long as someone, somewhere, remembered them. Memories made you immortal. This was why men went to war.

    Siggy used to say that Mercies shouldn’t enjoy killing. But the daughter-beaters, the wife-beaters, the ones who were cruel to animals, the ones who were brutal and selfish and hard . . . I liked killing them. I took pleasure in it.

    “Blue Vee?” Runa rubbed her palm along her jaw and eyed me warily. “That’s your plan to get us out of Mercy-killing? We slay the sick and old, Frey, not bloodthirsty beasts. What makes you think us Mercies can kill this thing? A creature that trained warriors haven’t been able to destroy?”
    Even as she said it, I felt my heart beat faster, blood buzzing through my veins.
    I wanted to fight something that fought back.
    I wanted it more than I wanted a home and a family. I wanted it more than I wanted food and warmth and gold.
    My eyes met Runa’s. “Trained warriors kill loudly. We kill silently. And that is how you hunt a beast.”

    Four Boneless Mercies stood at a crossroads near a hangman’s tree. It was like something from a Vorse saga. In their hands they held four weapons, freshly ripped from the grave. I smiled.

    “There’s an old Sea Witch saying that goes: If we kill all the monsters, mankind will take their place.”

    Trigve once said everything had a price, and love meant letting fear into your life.

    Esca Roth lost almost all his men to the giant Logafell. Only seven remained, out of all his dozens of warriors. So the women of Blue Vee began to train in earnest. To become masters of the edge dance. The widows and the fatherless daughters came up from the villages of the Destin Lush Valley to fight, to live in the Great Hall, as only the men had done before. […]
    Jarl Roth would have the first female army in Vorseland, something that hadn’t existed in living memory, not since the time of the Witch War Chronicles.

  127. Yes, I’m Hot in This: The Hilarious Truth about Life in a Hijab by Huda Fahmy (2018)

  128. Sprig the Rescue Pig by Leslie Crawford and Sonja Stangl (2018)

    Sometimes you know things, even if you don’t have words for them.
    So even though he didn’t have the words, our words, this is what Pig knew on that blazingly hot day as he sped along a country road in a truck jam-packed with lots of other unhappy pigs, most of them bigger than he was.
    Pig knew that this was no life for a pig.

  129. Book Love by Debbie Tung (2019)

  130. A Suicide Bomber Sits in the Library by Jack Gantos and Dave McKean (2019)
  131. [Dis]Connected: Poems and Stories of Connection and Otherwise edited by by Michelle Halket (2018)

    The saddest thing about a gravestone marked with a name you can’t stop saying, is that a part of you knows that slowly you will stop saying it, and your most vivid memories together will fade. You will lock that name away in secret, to remember only once in a while on your happiest or saddest days. There is something both immensely tragic and beautiful about preserving someone in memory that way. Like fire, they exist between a solid and a gas, a chemical reaction that consumes one to make the other.
    – “Gods and Mortals,” Nikita Gill

    i etch into memory our today
    for all our tomorrows i’ll never know
    – “Impermanence,” Sara Bond

    Mama raised us on her own, a house full of girls, though it wasn’t really a house. We lived up on the third floor and every summer when the heat would rise, we would fight like animals over the bathroom for a cool shower and a few moments of privacy. And when the door-banging and screaming stopped and one of us was nursing bruised knuckles, Mama would call us out into the living room. “I am raising a house full of girls,” she’d say, her voice tired. And the three of us would look down at our feet, quiet and sorry. Because Mama only ever called us girls when we had really fucked up.
    Otherwise, she called us her babies, and she loved us even more than she was afraid for us.
    – “Ultra,” Yena Sharma Purmasir

    At this point, you should also know, my parents are dead. I don’t know you but I trust you, so I will tell you these things, and you can keep me company while he sleeps. You will be safe here, behind this curtain, next to the black planet—that’s what I call it—where they died. It’s a place inside me, this planet, pulled together by the gravity of knowing that they’re dead and not coming back. I can be having a completely normal, everyday experience, buying coffee, looking at my phone, talking to someone, and suddenly my brain will see something or smell something and be reminded, “Oh yeah, that happened. My parents are dead.” And that’s when I remember I have a black planet inside of me now, where terrible things have happened, and sometimes, the gravity pulls me in, disrupts my compass. Over time, the black planet seems to get smaller, becoming a distant twinkle, but it’s always there, and regardless of what I tell myself, it will always shine with a strange kind of light. My parents must have had black planets too, where their parents died, where their friends died. Inside all of us must be a galaxy that slowly gets filled as we grow older and more and more people we know and love, die, and another dark spark shines in the void inside us and the night grows one iota blacker.
    – “Driving With Strangers,” Iain S. Thomas

    It’s a shame, really, how humans try to take the things they’re not allowed to have.
    – “Small Yellow Cottage On The Shore,” Amanda Lovelace

    “There is a story about a man who watched me bathe nude and was so overcome with adoration and desire that he approached me. They say I turned him into a deer before he could even speak and watched his hunting dogs rip at his flesh. Men have spent thousands of years romanticizing their unwanted advances, their assaults. They have spent just as long demonizing women for their anger and their retribution.”
    – “The Unholy Wild,” Trista Mateer

    There is something to be said for a love that refuses to melt. A love stored in the freezer, in a Ziploc bag.
    – “Knee To Knee,” Trista Mateer

    you get to be a certain age & people try to force your forgiveness. it’s like, ‘how can you still be angry?’ i don’t know, how can you still be an asshole?
    my first boyfriend was my only boyfriend, because i didn’t want to make the same mistake twice.
    – “If My Aunt Was On twitter @lovelydurbangirl,” Yena Sharma Purmasir

  132. The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (2019)

    When one’s life seems broken beyond repair, there remains one last move: a person can at least shut her eyes.

    People love a tragedy when it’s happening far away.

    Mei can tell that the college is not sure what to do. An uneasy feeling: to discover that the adults are no more prepared than the kids are.

    “Imagine there are five people tied to the tracks,” he says. “Oh God,” says the other girl in the study lounge. “Not this stupid train thing again.”

    They sleep like children, mouths open, cheeks flushed. Breathing as rhythmic as swells on a sea. No longer allowed in the rooms, their mothers and fathers watch them through double-paned glass. Isolation—that’s what the doctors call it: the separation of the sick from the well. But isn’t every sleep a kind of isolation? When else are we so alone?

    Not everything that happens in a life can be digested. Some events stay forever whole.

    You can’t always distinguish between reason and hope.

    This is how the sickness travels best: through all the same channels as do fondness and friendship and love.

    In another time, under the watchful eyes of the girls of the dorm floor, Mei might have wondered what it was that was happening between them, whether she and Matthew were a real couple or not. But she is not thinking much about any of that. They are connected like this: two people in peril every day. Here he is beside her. Here is his hand, laced in hers at the end of the day. Here is his hip pressed into hers in the night. What does it matter what they call it? How about this, she thinks, as she floats off to sleep one night, nursing the kind of grand idea she would never speak aloud: a love for the end of the world.

    [H]ow much quieter that ending would be, a whole world drowned in sleep, than all the other ways we have to fall.

  133. Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton (2018)

    Every emotion I’d felt throughout the evening seemed to have been mixed in a blender and poured down my throat. They added up to exhaustion.

    “It’s like they think I’m a heretic,” I said.
    It was such an old-fashioned word, but it felt right when I said it. Mr. Kinross thoughtfully unwrapped a toffee and put it in his mouth.
    “There’s nothing so medieval as high school, is there?” he asked.

    And then I asked him the question that had been haunting me all year. “And was … was I supposed to die?”
    “Ah. Do you think you were meant to be St. Ludmilla of Los Angeles?”
    “No,” I said, unable to hide my misery. “But I do wonder if I’m supposed to be here at all.”
    “Perish that thought, Ludmilla,” he said with a gentle certainty that was as soothing to my ears as the toffee was to my stomach. “You are being tried. Do you know that it’s often much harder to stay alive? You’ve chosen the thornier path. I admire you for that.”

    Am I, to him, an unusual human or a different creature entirely?

    Chimera.
    Or, switched around:
    Ah, crime.

    “Russia is starting to mine the solar system, and Americans are going to be getting their unicorn horns polished and designing children with claws and rainbow auras.”

    He is passing from his own world into another, where humans and gravity hold sway. Up there, he isn’t Snake. He is only Chimera624, property of the Blessed Cures Consortium. If I were to examine the Consortium’s books, would I find myself listed as property too?

    There is no manatee word for no as far as I can tell. There is only majestic disregard, so this is how I answer them, by floating solemnly away.

    This was, in a way, the beginning of a fairy tale.

    When you’d read Dickens, and Dickinson, and you’d read selections of Greek mythology and stories by a woman called Brontë and even a few by a man called Vonnegut—or at least, when you’d read the parts of those books that made it through the Proto Authority’s redaction process—you sometimes thought about a different sort of life.

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