all the books i read in ohio

megan martin / nevers

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All the menu links on the Rejectionist are broken! I know! I’m working on it. I have sort of a lot to do at the moment. Yesterday I was having a (few) drink(s) before a meeting I didn’t want to go to and asked the bartender what he was reading, and he said “A Nick Hornby essay collection,” and I said, quite politely I will have you know, “Oh, I’ve never read him,” and the bartender looked at me for a minute and then said “You probably shouldn’t.” I don’t know, I guess I have a certain air about me.

I’ve been reading other things that aren’t Nick Hornby! Mostly women, aren’t you surprised. Last weekend I went to Ohio to read at Miami University, and it was great—people in Ohio are so nice!!! and I made lots of new friends, and got taken to a speakeasy, and got to tell a lot of Young People what to do with their lives, and was generally very impressed with myself. In Cincinnati I read with Megan Martin, who’s brilliant, and whose book Nevers is brilliant in my favorite creepy-funny way with sentences that are extremely precise and clean and filling. It’s got witches in it, too! If you like the things I like you’ll like it.

Also I read Tanwi Nandini Islam’s Bright Lines, which is a rich and gorgeous book about growing up in Brooklyn (I KNOW!!! It’s not by a Jonathan, though, so it’s actually good) and figuring out you’re queer and family and home when you don’t really know where home is and it has a complicated girl friendship and a great confused awkward messy girl central character. I read Danielle Dutton’s Margaret the First , based on the life of the actual Margaret the First, who was a weirdo feminist performance artist and writer in the seventeenth century, which was not a super friendly century for women trying to be any of those things (as opposed to our own wonderfully accommodating one, ha ha ha) and it’s itself a weirdo feminist performance artist text, and I loved it. I am reading the newish Valeria Luiselli, The Story of My Teeth, which I like quite a lot though not so well as I liked Faces in the Crowd. Oh, and I read the new Victor LaValle, The Ballad of Black Tom, which is a DELICIOUS and horribly creepy subversion of HP Lovecraft, perfect if you like scary stories and also have a deeply complicated affection for HP Lovecraft, which I do. (Michel Houellebecq, not so much, ugh.)

It’s a scary time right now, isn’t it? I’ve been having a lot of conversations about that and a lot of panics. I have been thinking a lot about figuring out a way to buy a great big patch of land somewhere and moving everyone I love out to the middle of the woods—not to flee; to protect. But this is the world we live in and we stick around to fight for what matters. Tomorrow is a big eclipse and I will leave you with Chani Nicholas, who always brings the righteousness and good counsel, no matter what you think about astrology:

We have the ability to create acts of beauty, courage, kindness and compassion. Compassion so powerful it heals us of our ailments. That’s the highest octave of Pisces. Love beyond boundary. Love beyond comparison. Love beyond the human condition. Love that is not lazy. Love that sees injustice and puts its energy towards loving the solution for it, not denying that it exists or hiding from the suffering of others.

Keep loving, keep fighting.