Hot Reads for Hot Times

Here I sit on Independence Day eve with the TV on high volume to drown out the never-ending cherry bombs (or whatever they are) that terrorize my sweet Rosebud. Sigh. Every holiday I curse those fireworks-loving…….people out there wreaking havoc in my house. Right now she’s sleeping and all I can do is hope the TV and A/C are loud enough to keep her in dreamland.

It’s been a while since I posted a reading list for y’all so I’m remedying that right now. Most of these selections are recent with a couple older pieces that are new to me. I’m thinking we all might have some reading time this weekend since most of us are still staying home to help flatten the curve of Covid-19. How are y’all doing with the quarantine? It’s not been a burden for me since I’m naturally a homebody and I have plenty to keep myself busy. New Orleans had seen a down turn in cases until recently. We seem to be on an upswing now but I’m not surprised. People will get restless and complacent. What a shame.

So, I hope y’all enjoy these selections. I certainly did. Take care and stay safe.

One Milky Window by Tara Isabel Zambrano in The Forge

Over the weekend, you spend most of your time in the study and we end up visiting Chandni Chowk. The old charm of the capital dripping in syrup and curry from top to bottom. On our way back in Uber: traffic with a side of mashup Bollywood songs. The sugar settling in my stomach, your light beard poking my cheeks. I run my finger on your shoulders, your hands until you smile and withdraw. We weren’t always like this, once we had kissed all the way to our home. 

Sophia’s Mother by Jan Stinchcomb in Corvid Queen.

There is always a favorite story a child requests over and over. I told Sophia hers every time she asked for it, the one with the wolf and the girl. You know it, surely. The girl survives, but not until after the wolf has achieved his goal. He gets what he wants.

Family Video by S. Craig Renfroe Jr. in Pithead Chapel.

It was simultaneously distancing and too intimate seeing oneself beaten to unconsciousness. And no matter how many times I watched it, there was always the suspense of waiting for the sweaty man to stop and the possibility that he wouldn’t, that he would kill the person on the screen that was me. Maybe that tension, that strange thought that it could on one viewing go further than it had in the past ones, than in reality, kept me watching.

Dale’s Shoe Emporium by Amy Barnes in Cabinet of Heed.

People deserve to have their souls pilfered: never playing tennis yet wanting tennis shoes, dusty Eleanor Roosevelt orthopedics worn by trendy young women, brown leather pumps with devil-red soles spooning with outdated mom-chosen saddle shoes and pointy-toed witch shoes. I catch soul bits on my medieval wooden shoe stretchers, heel pushers, shoe devil horns and discarded shoelace nooses.

Forever 21 by Taylor Byas in Jellyfish Review.

I pick a room where a few of the vanity bulbs have gone dark, and the lock on the door doesn’t fully catch. In my bra and underwear, I pinch my stomach’s fat between two fingers. I ask myself in my boyfriend’s voice, “Is it the birth control? Stress?”

Sunday Morning Girl by Gabriela Gonzales in Lost Balloon.

a Sunday morning girl watches you while you speak, memorizes the shapes your mouth makes, smiles she smiles she smiles at the way you move. a Sunday morning girl is learning to love you and learning that you are human and understanding and not understanding them at the same time. mouth on the rim of your old mug, sipping black tea, no honey, tastes sweet.

Pearl by Candace Hartsuyker in Ellipses Magazine.

A fisherman’s life: follow sea, follow footprints, follow sand. The blood lures her out, like the witch said it would. His wife has changed. Water enclosed her, a womb, but now it sluices off her.  

Brass by Melissa Ostrom in Cheap Pop – also selected for inclusion in Best Microfiction Anthology 2020. (A tiny snippet because it is, after all, a micro!)

…and then her “Be good,” the swift release, and a cloud of lemons and lilies.

Here, also, is a link to Melissa’s most recent blog post on her website. I really enjoy reading her insights about writing, pottery-making, life. Her most recent post about the comparisons between pottery and writing is very interesting. She creates gorgeous pottery in addition to gorgeous stories.

And finally, I really liked this article in Aeon Psyche magazine about grumpy women in literature. I’m not a fan of pessimists and complainers but, I must admit, they do make for more interesting characters in literature. The opening paragraph grabbed my attention:

Cantankerous, sexually perverse, too-smart-for-her-historical-situation, possibly corrupt: this is what I look for in a female narrator or protagonist. I’ve had enough of hope, and achievement, and of women being excellent. I’m tired of fixating on positives. More interesting to me are characters that reflect how dreadful, compromised and utterly burnt-out we are. 

Ha! Happy reading!

Image credit: Conversation, 1916 by Vanessa Bell, artist sister of writer Virginia Woolf via @womensart1 on Twitter.

2 thoughts on “Hot Reads for Hot Times

  1. Happy 4th, Charlotte! I’m going to be inside watching Hamilton. We have idiots shooting off noisy things here, too, and I imagine there might full-out illegal fireworks tonight–since that’s been the case for several years. I hate the noise, and I’m also afraid they’ll set something on fire. Hope Rosebud is OK.

    Thanks for the reading list!

    Liked by 1 person

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