An Epic Hodgepodge – July Roundtable

Cait: I am proud to announce that I finally finished “A Brief History of Seven Killings” by Marlon James (all 800 pages of it). This book about Jamaica in the mid-late 70’s was TOTALLY worth the journey. It’s one of those books that goes on my absolute-favorite-forever shelves. One of the reviews on the inside flap calls it a mix of William Faulkner and Quentin Tarantino, and it’s so true. It’s brutal, violent, and yet, deeply human with moments of absolute beauty among the physical and emotional squalor. As a bonus, you will never listen to reggae and rap the same way again. You will finally understand sooooo many of the references, and it becomes even more powerful.

Yes, I’ve been listening to a lot of reggae for my running. That got me through my 5k. However, it doesn’t quite have enough oomph to get me through my 10k training, so I have switched to very angry rap. So far, it’s working like a charm.

For fiction, I read “Room” by Emma Donoghue, and WOW. I read it cover-to-cover in four hours. Could not put it down. Yes, I know I’m about two years behind on popular fiction. Whatever.

I went to the beach in North Carolina last week, and I spent a lot of time catching up on all my back issues of Discover Magazine. Yes. It’s a science magazine. But, it’s written so beautifully and easily that even non-sciency me totally gets it.

Other non-fiction in July included finishing “The Ugly Renaissance: Sex, Greed, Violence, and Depravity in the Age of Beauty” by Alexander Lee, and starting “God’s Philosophers” by James Hannam. I thought I was going to be much more in love with the Renaissance book (which was a deliberate pick since I had heard so much about it) than God’s Philosophers, which was a random sale pick from Brookline Booksmith, but it’s totally the other way around. I enjoyed The Ugly Renaissance, but I LOVE God’s Philosophers.

I’m also starting “How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City” by Joan DeJean as part of research I’m doing for my next big project. So far, I’m adoring it and taking lots and lots of notes.

I’m not sure what my August fiction selections are going to be. I have a couple of books, including, “Station Eleven,” “The Museum of Extraordinary Things,” and “The Devil in Marshalsea,” but I get this totally weird anxiety about the emotional commitment necessary to read fiction. It’s definitely a topic to explore further with blog posts and my therapist, but there you have it. I am afraid to read fiction. LOL.

I didn’t see any movies, but for t.v., I actually got hooked on this mini-series called “Marcella” from the BBC with Anna Friel. It’s a sophisticated crime/mystery story, with complex characters, tangled motivations, and beautiful writing and acting. Other than that, I haven’t really been doing anything other than writing, working out, running, and cooking.


Kim: Cait is apparently working overtime to make the rest of us feel like slackers, and we haven’t even heard from Kenya yet. I strongly disapprove. Also Station Eleven was lovely.

One nice thing is that because I referenced Imajica in our Fictionista blog post the other day, I got inspired to read it again. I find I’m enjoying reading this 800 plus page novel more on my kindle, the paperback was difficult to manage. (I really should have bought the hardcover/was poor/sorry/not sorry.) I also clearly was influenced by Barker when working on my own book; it’s an epic fantasy with a very unusual romantic element and moves from world to world. Funnily, it’s one of my best (and best read) friend’s most hated book. There’s no accounting for taste!

Instead of being like Cait and reading educational non-fiction which will improve my brains, I’ve been going back and forth between American Ninja Warriors (my husband: I can do that. Me: hahhahahahahhahahhahahahahhahahhahahahahahahhahahahahhahahahahahhahahah) and The Great British Baking Show. I honestly did not know there were that many kinds of cake in the world! (me: I can bake that. My husband: hahahahahahhahah, you get the idea.)

We also are trying to get caught up on Orphan Black. Give Tatiana Maslany all the awards already.


Daphne: Wait, didn’t July just start? Well, okay, if you say so then. Speaking of being a year or two late on the trendy fiction front, I finally finished Girl on the Train. It was a page turner, I’ll tell you that, I but I was a little disappointed when I called the twist four chapters in. That’s all I’m saying.  I also finished The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. One of my really good friends kept insisting that I read it and I did that thing of “Sure, yep, I’ll put it on my list” and then she got frustrated and just gave me a copy of it. (HINT: THIS IS A TRUE FRIEND). It gets a little too touchy feely at times, but I was overwhelmed by the call to action that it’s okay to ask for things. Sometimes we forget that. Correction: sometimes I forget about that and now I have this flag waving around in my brain saying “What are you so afraid of?” Cait also waves that flag too.

I enjoy the fact that Cait is reading back issues of Discover magazine. I had a lovely image of her wandering on the beach with wind whipped hair, looking up after reading a introspective article of what the Hubble really meant for modern technology. Cait, feel free to correct this image. (Cait: Um…yeah, that’s actually pretty much exactly what it’s like.)

Kim – The Great British Baking Show is the classiest form of food porn there is. I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s watching it in a dark room.

Did you hear? I went to Comic Con? (Of course you did, because I talked about it non stop for the last month and am still talking about it.) Wonder Woman was huge and it was like a giant carnival where a two hour line was the real attraction. But I got to nervously spew out words to Margaret Atwood and Felicia Day, and those are first impressions I’ll never get to fix. AND, I got to go on a yacht with the cast of Archer, where they did a live reading of a classic episode. It was all courtesy of a guy who offered me tickets to the event in exchange for some extra Conan taping tickets I had. I came face to face with my junior high movie crush that came in the form of Christian Slater. I am proud to say that I now have closure to that relationship.

Star Trek Beyond is the best of the recent Star Trek movies (and I say that coming from my own involvement as an underpaid loiterer in costume on the first one). I’m seeing Suicide Squad tomorrow night at a screening and I am STOKED.

What else? OOOOOO…who’s watching Stranger Things?  I NEED TO DISCUSS IT.

11312045_971640899541292_1417386962_n                                                                                 Daphne’s own Comic Con photo

Kim: Daphne, this is for you.

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He has very nice skin, and like most actors is a pocket person. Also I am SUPER proud of you for talking to people! All the awards to you!


Genevieve: Well, I can’t compete with any of you. You guys have been up to some amazing stuff!

I pretty much just watched BBC documentaries all month. I now know how not to drown in Tudor peasant clothing while collecting water, how to cook a feast for Henry VIII (pro tip: the more gold leaf the better), and how to put on a nice face of Edwardian make-up (although, you might go blind and crazy from the added mercury and belladonna).

Oh, and the most important thing I learned, no matter what time period in history? To quote Mel Brooks, “it’s good to be the king.” There you have it. ALWAYS be the king and let those poor peasants roast your meats and bring you fine hot chocolate in bed. (Well, I should preface: Always be the king except for Charles I or Louis XVI).

I also have been reading. I’ve quite enjoyed Jason Chabot’s “Beyond,” (highly recommend if you are in a fantasy AND sci-fi mood) and have started reading Sol Stein’s “Stein on Writing.” It’s very interesting, although I can’t help but snicker anytime he uses one of his own novels as an example of what TO do, but never as the examples of what NOT to do. hmmm….Must be nice to be so awesome.



And just because this is educational….


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