geographic diversity

autumn-432294_640When I tell people that until I moved to Boston, I didn’t know all the climate-, weather-, and season-related I read about in books and magazines my whole life were true.

Seriously.

I know it sounds silly, but when you grow up in the Southwest, things like leaves changing color, layering your clothes, and “spring” don’t mean a whole lot. I saw seasons change in movies, and it’s not likely I truly believed that the East Coast/Midwest utopia that the great majority of American fiction takes place in was a fairytale land, but it may as well have been for all that it resonated with me. I have never put snow chains on a car. The first time I saw salt residue on my jeans after walking in the snow I flipped out because I didn’t know what it was or whether it would come off. I called my dad in almost tears of joy the first time I looked out and actually saw autumn colors and leaves of different colors all around me, and his response was, “Geez, your mom and I really should have taken you and your sister to the East Coast more.”

When we talk about diversity in literature and publishing*, those who think diversity is stupid or that books published by marginalized people are only for marginalized communities often like to kvetch that reading a few words here and there in another language or referencing a religious practice or cultural practice without explaining it in detail is a shortcoming because then “nobody can understand it.” That is, of course, because the presumed readership and audience of all cultural production is the magical Default Human, who is white, upper middle class, Protestant, and heterosexual (and, furthermore, is entirely generic and conventional and doesn’t participate in any subcultures of music, politics, fashion, etc), so anything mentioned that does not come from one of those groups must be defined and explained ad nauseum.

You could look at geographic and climatic references the same way. Continue reading

what your sad friend does not need to hear from you

I just had a really lovely, low-key, fun evening with a friend. We went for a hike and then for Burmese food. It was just what I needed.

Then I was driving home and thinking about whatever and kind of continuing the conversation we had had at dinner with myself, as I am wont to do, and then all of a sudden I was in tears. Not breaking down inconsolable, but a steady, obnoxious, salty stream–just me, mascara-y tears, and 101.

This is not the first time that some zen-ish driving (i.e. not rush hour) has…prompted? allowed? made? me start to cry about the state of my life. It has happened a lot since I moved here, and probably has happened in other non-driving iterations at other times in my life.

And one of the things that made the tears keep coming out, I mean aside from catharsis from being a generally bottled up, busy person, was my realization that I have no one to cry to except myself. Continue reading

blythewood is the new spence

No, nobody is the new Gemma Doyle. But this is the next book I will give to my readers who love A Great and Terrible Beauty. My cousin lent me this book AGES ago and I finally picked it up and read it, because I am trying to turn over a new leaf where I am less of an asshole when it comes to borrowing, hoarding, acquiring, and reading books. And my best friend assured me it was good when I was having one of my reading crises where I can’t decide what to read next, so I took her advice.

I’m really glad. Blythewood (IndieBound) by Carol Goodman is fairly excellent. It has many of the things that make me like a book: boarding school, magic living in (or on the edge of) the real world rather than high fantasy, social commentary, and feminism. Continue reading