February is virtually over, so I’d like to take this Leap Day to thank all those who’ve read my essays this month.
This month saw six essays posted. Most were book reviews, a genre that I’m glad to be getting back into and that will probably make up the bulk of future posts this Spring. The first was written for the new Chicago Review of Books and was a brief look at short story collection The Unfinished World by Amber Sparks. I can’t recommend that book enough. Lovers of both literary fiction and speculative fiction will be quite satisfied with Sparks.
I plan on contributing two more book reviews to the Chicago Review of Books: one on the novel Thirst by Benjamin Warner and another on the nonfiction work The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andres Resendez. Look for those in March and/or early April.
Alongside the contributions I hope to supply to CRB, I wrote up two commissioned reviews this month. The first was on the crime novel Between Two Fires by Toni Williams and the other on Urban Mermaid by Howard Parsons, a fantasy romance. Both of these novels were completely out of the norm for me. Thriller or crime fiction rarely interests me and while I do enjoy fantasy fiction, I’m more a sci-fi or swords & sorcery guy than a love story between fantastic creatures kind of reader. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of both novels and how reading them for pleasure was itself quite satisfying. Although still not a fan of either genre, I definitely have a keener appreciation for them. Here’s hoping a few more commission requests come by in March.
There was also a brief review of Jung Yun’s novel Shelter, a story that will definitely appeal to the more dramatic popular fiction reader. Moving away from books for a moment, my two most read pieces this month were about cartoons and soccer. Nothing like being an adult.
Early in the month, I wrote a sort of episode recap mixed with a listicle about the season premier of The Venture Bros. Fans of the show have been waiting a good long while for a new season. I wanted to at once celebrate show and provide some grounding to get into this new season, one that is turning into a real departure for the series (positively so). Given that fans of adult-themed cartoons are going through Rick & Morty withdrawals as well as there never being enough BoJack Horseman, writing about The Venture Bros. may satiate. I still plan to write another couple of essays on Rick & Morty examining Summer and Beth to go along with my profile of Jerry. I’ve yet to build up the fortitude to tackle BoJack.
Always looking for something geekery to opine upon, in the current queue are the following pieces: ‘The Anti-Villain: Deadpool v Harley Quinn,’ ‘Heroes Devouring Each Other: On the Failure of Comic Superheroes,’ and now that it’s not a spoiler ‘On the Death of Han Solo.’
Before February had passed us by, I wanted to get out a piece on regional soccer leagues. However, in the course of writing the essay it turned away from being a broad survey of the ‘lower’ leagues of US soccer (amateur and semi-pro) that are vibrant because of their embrace of regionalism to a single team profile, Minneapolis City SC.
I’ve gotten some blowback from hardcore MLS fans who give no quarter to any criticism of their league but all in all I feel like the piece has done well to increase visibility and viability of a kind of DIY sport. I tried to make it clear I wasn’t attacking MLS but simply setting my focus squarely on something existing outside it. I’m hoping to contribute pieces on the North American Soccer League (NASL) for Midfield Press come this season, but I might limit my soccer output simply because there’s a lot of needless vitriol. I can’t abide trolling or flaming, so best just remove oneself from the whole thing.
So, look for there to be at least five more essays showing up in March. I also plan to post book reviews of C. Richard Kind’s Redskins: Insult and Brand, the first three volumes of the comic Shutter, and Ultimate Questions by Bryan Magee amongst others. Over January and February, I’ve stumbled upon five or six new albums that I haven’t been able to stop listening to and plan on writing something on them (Escondido, Savages, The Jezebels, Eliot Sumner, Fascinator, and Eleanor Friedberger).
I’ve also begun the process of designing the cover for my next non-magic fantasy novel.
The plot and structure of book four is set (tentatively titled Bone Weary), I just need to sit down and hammer it out. I’m eying end of April for completion but we’ll see.
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