Book Review- Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias

Okay my babes. Buckle in cause I’m about to go in on the homie Gabino Iglesias.

If you haven’t been with me for a while, Gabino is one of my favorite writers. I wrote a review on his book Zero Saints here. Open that in a new window and read it next.

SO lets GET INTO THIS. Coyote Songs* by Gabino Iglesias.

[image description: a book cover with a weathered but beautiful Virgin Mary, the title is in yellow Coyote Songs below that the authors name, Gabino Iglesias.]
The short version is, holy fuck this is an amazing book. It is not for everyone. The TL:DR is coming at you.

It took me weeks to read this book. It isn’t the longest book nor does the frequent Spanish slow me down, it is so fucking rich and beautiful and bloody, it hurt me to read. Yes it is very violent, it is graphic, it is intimate and reaches into your heart and it is so beautifully written. It is fucking brutal and the kind of beating I crave as a reader.

Yeah I know some of y’all are gonna nope out because it isn’t fluffy and that is fine. For me, this type of hard hitting, gut punch writing is my escape.

This book is gorgeous. It is a bloody mouth I would kiss and be happy. I also want to note, if you are averse to needing to look up some Spanish it is also not for you. My Spanish isn’t awesome but, what I couldn’t figure out I looked up and it is worth it.

Gabino has such a masterful touch with the way he uses language. One of my personal favorite things in any type of literary art is when a writer can use use violence with grace. Gabino is excellent at this. There were a lot of times I just put it aside, to let the blood dry and I liked it.

This is gory but not mindless. The depth and care that obviously goes into the violence in Gabino’s work transcends the ew factor. I am not really a fan of silly gore in books. I’ve never been into gore for gore sake horror. I don’t really like the gross out because most of the time it is some shitty bullshit punchline and I don’t fuck with that. What I do like is the use of violence and gore etc in a manner that is both helpful to the story but also just beautifully done by itself.

For me, this is the same thing that allows me to visually enjoy certain filmmakers because I do love something terrible done with grace and beauty. This is also why, when I was a baby potato writer, my favorite writer was Nabokov. For me, the art of transcendence in the context of using your medium to lift the work out of the pile of shit is just magical.

Gabino’s work, especially in this book hits those buttons for me.

Gabino’s work in this book, is transcendental art.

I don’t want to give a lot of plot away because I hate that. I want to talk about a few of my favorite characters.

Alma the artist. I love all of these characters but she feels special to me. This is what got me:

She wanted to shine on the institutionalized racism that made this country a pain for anyone on the “wrong” side of Otherness.

Bruh. The entire passage is so real and so deep. Gabino has an ability to write women, diverse women so well. Yes, even women who have been violated or victims of violence there is that same grace he brings to the other violence in his work. These aren’t tropes. These aren’t vaginas meant to forward a dudes story. That is so important and I want other male writers to do this level of work.

In this book, the characters each have a pulse. They have heartbeats, they are weighty and meaty and some of them are awful.

The prose in general, goddamn. There are multiple times in the book where I thought to myself, you mother fucker that’s amazing. I just love a writer who makes me feel a little jealous. This is beautiful, writing full stop.


This book is a sterling example of why #ownvoices is important. Nobody wants to get dragged like Jeanine Cummins,  and really why read that when you can read this?

Listen. You can google #ownvoices and all the reasons why it is important. What I’m going to tell you is this. If you want publishing to be better, read better. Dassit. Read better and talk about what you’re reading.

Gabino Iglesias is a deeply important writer to me. The literary canon fucking needs him. I need him. Real talk, I revisit Zero Saints (THAT ENDING U BASTARD) often. Y’all. I’m a fan. I’m an admirer. I’m down for this human.

SO go check him out. He hustles hard and has a LOT of things to read so start at twitterkids. You won’t be sorry.

Book Review- On Being Human by Jennifer Pastiloff

[image description: a photo of the book On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking up, Living Real, And Listening Hard
Okay buckle up babes.

If you’ve been here a while you’ll remember Beloved Jen from this post.  AND after months let’s get it going with my review.

At first blush, On Being Human*   and really Jen’s stuff probably doesn’t seem like my shit. Like I hate doing yoga and on the surface at first glance, nah. But, and if you remember from my last post I don’t recall how I got aquainted with Jen but, I’m so glad I did.

The thing I love about Jen and her book is that, it isn’t a blow sunshine up your ass type of book. In terms of memoir, I don’t really like the sunshiney redemption arcs. This book gives us an intimate look at and ride with her through a lot.

We go through death, pain, shame that ride, whew chile.

I love this book because it reflects a lot of the tone and emotion of things I’ve wanted to do in my own work. Less than 20 pages in, is where I got hooked.

“I have spent my whole life trying to hide who I was,”

Full disclosure, when I first got the book I very literally stopped on that paragraph on page 14 and put the book down for two weeks. That was me for so long. For years, I spent most of my energy beating myself with my shame(s). For me when I read memoir, there is frequently a moment like this, I have to put it down and exhale because for a second, I know the writer. I am them.

OKAY on to some nerdy shit.

In terms of memoir I have read them fairly widely. I prefer my memoir to be a little messy, not overly fancy. Jen uses a clarity of language that is plain enough to be very, I hate the word but it is very relatable. Unlike a lot of folks in the self helpy area of the world, Jen is not afraid to say fuck and mean it.

If you follow Jen on social media and you read the book, you know this is real. To steal half of one of her favorite phrases, it is no bullshit. I appreciate that both as a reader and as a writer. Often when folks reach a particular area of fame within their chosen area of the lit world, suddenly they aren’t the person who ever said fuck or shit or how they actually feel about anything.

There is a grace to Jen’s work that is honest and grounded. There is a LOT of woo in the world of self helpy, yoga stuff and this book is not that. There is a depth of exposed humanity that is why I like her so much both as a writer and as a human being. This is work you can hold on to.

This work is meaty and has flesh. It has tears and will probably give you some cries and some giggles. I think there are a lot of us who might see reflections of our own paths in life without the, aspirational aspect of a lot of this type of work that turns me off. Jen isn’t posturing as the person you want to be. In this work she’s showing us her heart and that is what I like.

So TL:DR this is a great fucking book. I will reread it again. I will continue to enjoy her work and humanity and sometimes, this is the best part sometimes, I think of that line from page 14 and I let out a breathe.

Neither of us has to be that person anymore and that is a beautiful thing. This book is about more than a glow up.

Read it. Get to know one of my favorite humans.

Next review we’ll be talking about another fave human of mine, Gabino Iglesias. Stay tuned babes!

Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias- A big ass review.

There is gonna be a LOT to unpack.

TL:dr- This is a great fucking book. If you like supernatural, crime and can handle some Spanish get it. Yes amazon link srry.

LONG VERSION. Some spoilers may happen.

I was given a copy of this book a bit after it came out by a dear friend who had read it and decided I HAD to read it.

Zero Saints starts with the kind of wry, first person humor during what builds to be an ass kicking that I like. The first four pages let us know that we’re in for a wild ass ride. The violence isn’t of the sort that is immediate and all the way in your face, Gabino’s style in this book is intimate, we are in Fernando’s skin (at least I am and we’ll get to that) so in the beginning of this book we know a few things. We know Fernando (not his name yet) is in trouble, big fucking trouble.

When I saw the line about Fernando praying to la Santa Muerta, y’alls….my lil woo self got all fucking excited. Following the mention came the first of much Spanish and I have enough Spanish to have gotten the gist of what was going on and this brings me to my first pointed remark. I have seen some reviews (too goddamn many) that make a point to complain about the amount of Spanish. Like…okay I don’t want to quote Junot Diaz but, the quote about folks willing to read Elvish or whatever and who will bitch about Spanish.

There is a lot of Spanish. Personally, I can read more Spanish than I can speak and I am not at all fluent. That said, when I felt like it really mattered, I looked shit up because like most of us I carry a computer in my pocket and the internet exists.


The action picks up very fast and things get real bloody. While the action is revving up, I really love that there is a low key grace in Gabino’s writing. It is brutal, it does go from 10 to 100 and there is beauty there. We know from jump that Fernando is no super badass, his fear is written in a very real way that gives us a glimpse of a well written and rich character.

Details like how Fernando stops being able to really think with everything happening, really grabbed me. This book is a really great example of why I love first person POV so much. Using this POV in this book gives us skin to skin contact, we get to be intimate with the story and with Fernando and that my friends, is my shit.

I don’t want to spoil stuff plotwise so let’s talk about skill and craft.

First let’s talk why I love how Fernando is written and thus love being so close to his skin. Fernando is written as a kind of mysterious type, we get glimpses of a life he’s lived before. he had problems. He has nightmares, he needs oxies to sleep on the regular but in particular during what’s going on in the book. We get this bloody meaty human which in noir circles can be sparse.

Gabino does a few sly little shifts to second person and I am here for it. What makes these so effective is that, the shift slows the eye. We are dragged into the reality of this situation almost gently and then there’s blood and teeth on the floor. Gabino does an excellent job of balancing Fernando’s horrific situation with glimpses into his tender heart.

He has a crush on a girl, this bit when we meet Yolanda is exquisite:

“How do you tell a woman you like that you’re a fucking coward?”

In the context of the things Fernando has experienced, the glimpses of his past we know he is not a coward and this line, just got me. I love a cis het dude with some self awareness and written with tenderness. Yes, this is a violent as fuck book that has a heart. Like most of the noir I love, our main character is someone I want to slap and hug and then put the fuck to bed.

It takes a firm grasp on one’s masculinity and a deft hand to write cis het men with heart. It just does. Especially in noir, especially when there is also violence. Too often, I think a lot of cis male characters wind up being all balls and no heart and that is boring. If you write cis het dudes, read this book.

Now, let’s talk about the super natural aspects of this book.

His use of diasporic spiritual practices is superb. When we meet Consuelo, that is where things get really deep to me. Again, I don’t want to be too spoilery but I do want to mention that, in researching to do this review, I noticed a lot of folks didn’t comment on the loveliness of the spirtuality and how the supernatural is handled in this book. That bugs me.

The introduction of Ogun changes the tone of the situation in this book. When I first read it, I said Oh Shit out loud. The violence and drug dealing by themselves didn’t quite give me the gravity of bringing in Ogun as part of the action. I think other readers, especially those unfamiliar with Afro/Latinx diasporic religions probably missed out on that. I am pretty sure that my familiarity, bred my excitement in this case.

In chapter 5 and the end of chapter 4, the depth of love Fernando is shown really touched me. Again I don’t wanna be spoilery but, the ritual and the egg, that’s fuckin love y’all. The novenas given to Fernando, the way in the book the prayers are set out in full touched my heart. These moments of love and hope are what balance the brutality of much of the book. I think in a lot of other reviews I read, I was missing the appreciation of as I said above, tenderness.


Before I go much further, let’s kind of ease to the end here because I wanna be super spoilery and I hate that.

The introduction of the Russian was another great touch to me and a perfect example of cross cultural understanding. This is transgressive because there is no push/pull in how Nando and the Russian communicate and come together. That is fucking real.

The thing I love best about this book is that without the tenderness, moments of gentle handling and sadness it would STILL be a good book.

Gabino Iglesias is a bad mother fucker.

WITH the tenderness, love, and tears this is a great book. Like most books I love, this little gorgeous thing is meaty. It is bloody not just in the violent sense but in the sense of it having a pulse, this work has a heart that as you are pulled into Nando’s fucked up life, you feel it in your hands.

And okay y’all, I don’t say this often but this book ended perfectly. Just, y’all it fucked me up in the best way. And like books I love, I want more.

What is greater is that I’m more familiar with Gabino’s work and hustle and I am here for it. This book is on my list of recommendations for actually transgressive work that lives outside of the Great White Western Ideals and does so in shining, haunting, bloody fashion.

Go read it. Read Gabino’s tweeter.

Midnight Taxi Tango- The Big Ole Review

Yes this is a big ass image. But LOOK AT THIS FUCKING COVER.

This is my review of Daniel Jose Older’s Midnight Taxi Tango. First, I recommend going back here and reading my review of the first novel in this series Half-Resurrection Blues: A Bone Street Rumba Novel


The short version goes like this. I devoured about half the novel when it came in the mail, threw it on the floor and just sat muttering, “this motherfucker right here…” it is an excellent follow up to Half-Resurrection Blues. If grown folks urban fantasy and magic is what you like, this shit right here is what you want.

Okay, so I’m going to put a read more cause thar b spoilers and it’s about to get nerdy as hell up in here.

No, seriously, I’m about to dork out on a whole other level and if you want to not witness my nerd meltdown.

Y’all been warned.

Continue reading “Midnight Taxi Tango- The Big Ole Review”

The Grace of Kings- Review and Musings

I just finished Ken Liu’s epic, The Grace of Kings. I have some thoughts and we’re gonna get kinda nerdy.

I will put a read more in where spoilers start.

The short version. This is a silkpunk gigantic beautiful creation. There is an excerpt here and I highly recommend checking it out.

What I enjoy about this novel is the scope. I have the deepest admiration for writers in whatever genre who can create these huge worlds and do it with a fine enough eye to not lose the reader but still maintain the beauty of a new world.

I love the prose. Love it. The ease of the language that is unfamiliar is really well done. One of the things I am a huge fan of is when an author an take language that is all their own creation and make it seamless within the narrative. This from the glossary is one of my favorite things:

-tika: suffix expressing endearment among family members.

This is not an easy book. There are a lot of things to keep track of and people who aren’t fans of lots of background and detail won’t be fans. There are histories, poems, social information. It is a lot.

Personally, I love that sort of thing so it is right up my alley.

Overall, it is an intense and a lovely read. Totally immersive, almost to the point of distraction for me, but still very enjoyable. I did take a few issues, but there are spoilers, so read further at your own peril.

Continue reading “The Grace of Kings- Review and Musings”

Lamentation by Joe Clifford. A review.

All right y’all.

Review time.

I got a review copy of Lamentation by Joe Clifford recently and finished reading it last week. I’ve been a fan of Joe’s short work for a long time. I don’t remember where I saw it first, maybe Shotgun Honey or the Flash Fiction Offensive but yeah I dig it.

Let’s go in.

First of all the hardback has a really beautiful dust jacket. I just love it. And we know I’m kind of a sucker for good book design.

Look at it.


Super pretty.

Now overall the short review is that I really like this book. I’m going to give it a name in terms of how the subject matter is dealt with and call it Dirty Pastoral. Not dirty like perverse, but dirty as in grimy, it’s a glimpse into the ugly side of living in a small town. This isn’t Charming Small Town America, this is decaying America where if you gotta be there, you have to fight for your bit of okayness.

It is very well written. Had I not known Joe wrote it, I would know he wrote it. The pacing is nice and tight and y’all, the end…I won’t spoil it but I was not ready and had I not been on the bus I would have yelled at the book because that’s how I handle things I love.

Overall, if you like crime fiction and you want something that isn’t just gangsters or big city drug fiction pick it up. (Affiliate link sorry)

Time to get nerdy because there are some things going on that tickled my writer nerd.

First of all I want to talk about the character Jay Porter. Jay is our low key hero and the way he’s written gives me an Everyman who isn’t just bland.

When we first meet Jay he is ostensibly a loser. At first blush, he’s that guy we all know, has a kid and an ex he’s hung up on. He has a shitty job and we’re tired of telling him he can do better. He’s the guy we all know who half the time you don’t know if you want to punch or hug or both.

What I really love about how Joe write this character is that we get that loser Everyman vibe but he isn’t pathetic. I personally really am not into the pathetic anti-hero trope. It’s boring.

The thing I find masterful and intriguing is that in the start of the book we get flashes and hints that Jay has an inner life that is beyond his current position in life. He’s not an undercover badass, he doesn’t suddenly find big brass balls, there’s a very tangible realness in Jay’s character that is upheld through the book and I really appreciate that.

The plot revolves around Jay, his speed freak shitbag brother Chris, murder, an ex girlfriend, a baby and a lot of douche bags.

One of the other things that I really love about this book is the lack of machismo. I’ve read too many crime stories and books where regardless of where the hero starts out, at some point he hulks the fuck out and suddenly can do shit. He can shoot, he knows how to handle any situation. He’s like Stallone in fuckin Cobra. (SHUT UP don’t judge me I love that movie)

Most of the main male characters aren’t written to be bad masculinity tropes. There is vulnerability, hurt, there is depth in the presentations of hetero masculinity that I appreciate. It takes someone who can write from a place that is secure in their masculinity to present other men that way.

There are few women in the book. And with those few women they are different from each other. I feel like this is something that was paid attention to. They weren’t all hot versions of the same chick.

I think one of the appeals for me of Joe’s work overall is that it feels rooted. It feels real because things are grimy. This book takes place in this lovely New Hampshire place in the dead of winter and I felt the sadness, I felt being a guy like Jay living in a shit town, with shit circumstances and a dirty life.

Again, I don’t mean dirty in a pejorative sense.

This is dirty like hood life is dirty.

I think for me my enjoyment of this book comes down to the fact that it feels authentic. Granted, I doubt there’s a lot of Black ladies in this town, I feel like I understand it because I like the grimy. Hood dirt is comfortable for me.

Like his book Junkie Love I will come back to this book. This is a world I can get lost in comfortably.

The bottom line is the following:

  • Read this book if you like crime fiction.
  • This is the type of shit I like.
  • Joe Clifford is a fine damn writer.
  • Read his work.

Keep your eye out. The next book I review will be by Kola Boof and I’m probably going to babble about some really awesome things going on. AND some updates on Self Care Like a Boss coming soon.

And let me mention before I forget that if you are one of my Patrons or if you’re interested, head on over there and check it out. I put out a letter and the first in a series of new stories, like serious Urban Fantasy stories that my Patrons get first dibs on. So come drop a dollar in the bucket and get a download.

Half-Resurrection Blues: A Bone Street Rumba Novel – The Review

Okay y’all shit is about to get nerdy because this is the first book I’ve read in a while that gave me ALL the feels.

Buckle up.

Today I’m talking about Daniel Jose Older whom you can read all about here. I believe, I believe I found likely via a retweet. My memory for these things is crap but, I’ve read a lot of the stuff he’s written around and recently picked up Half-Resurrection Blues.

First impression- I read some reviews citing the “excessive” cursing and I was like, yes okay. Give it to me.

Short version of this review is, this book is fucking great. You know how I talk about Grown Folks Lit all the time? This is grown folks lit. The people in this story are my people. My friends talk like them. They are people in a NYC that I could picture myself fitting right into.

This is Urban Fantasy and I could fucking SEE MYSELF THERE.

We know I’ve blogged many times about my sad fangirl feels and feeling removed from any type of fantasy most of the time because Whiteness.

Not in this book.

SO, if you are a a little Black or Brown nerd like me and you want to read some grown up very well done Urban fantasy, read it. That’s all.

NOW hold on to your butts cause I’m goin in.

So here’s the blurb as it is on Amazon:

Carlos Delacruz is one of the New York Council of the Dead’s most unusual agents—an inbetweener, partially resurrected from a death he barely recalls suffering, after a life that’s missing from his memory. He thinks he is one of a kind—until he encounters other entities walking the fine line between life and death.

Now this book takes place in a New York that I would like to visit. Frankly, it is the antithesis of what shows like Girls would have you think. It is not populated by White people who might screw a Black person every now and then but weird everyone else is white.

That is what hooked me. This is the NYC I dreamed about visiting as a kid. The kind of NYC where among your friends you can say, you are not sure if so and so is Dominican or Puerto Rican, not because you don’t know the difference, but because the person you’re talking about might look like your Dominican cousin or your Puerto Rican Mom. Those type’s of details are what makes me believe in the placement of POC in any story.

Not far into the book I was there. The way you are supposed to be when you read a really great story. I actually had to pause and let that feeling happen. It has been a while since I’ve felt that little kid sense that I am right there with Carlos’ half dead ass.

That my homies is a very important thing. It is at the heart of why I don’t read more genre fiction, I am just not there.

Moving along.

That was the initial fangirl squee. I already really like his work and POV and this well…..okay. Squee ensued.

The writer squee is that at the beginning of the book, we know our narrator is kinda fucked up. He’s not super halfie, he’s not all powerful. I like that. I find it too easy in a lot of urban fantasy when the supernatural critters of whatever stripe are just too good.

We know my flavor is kinda grimy and dark and this is kinda grimy. Shit goes real wrong and I deeply appreciate it.

The other thing I enjoy is that he has an excellent ear for dialogue. The dialogue in this book Code Switches on a magical level. This is not something that can be done believably if the author has not done it. It’s one of those things.

It is deeply important for readers, especially White readers to take a second and appreciate what’s going on here. This is so well done that it is seamless in terms of realness and understanding that these people are each other’s people. The language is intimate in the way that my language with my closest friends and colleagues is intimate.

Sometimes, especially in genre fiction, more so in fantasy folks want to be super stylized and fancy and that just does not always work.

Now the action and the way it is built into this world is right up my alley. We have this authoritative pain in the ass New York Council of the Dead, we have our halfie discovering some shit they did not tell him and chaos ensues.

We get that noir, who done it mystery with magic, half dead dudes, and one bad ass girl. Like I don’t want to give too much away but she, she is a Bad. Ass.

He writes women I like. They are not all the same, they are not super duper holy shit hot and everyone is thinking about doing them all the time. I appreciate that the women are diverse in bodies, temperaments etc.

Okay down the nerdhole I go.

Let us talk world building.

I have long had a love of Urban Fantasy but most of it I have ever read was White elfs in the suburbs and I’m not into that.

This is what I have needed to read both as a reader and a writer. I have had a lust to write Urban Fantasy to my own detriment. When it comes to stuff I’ve never tried before, I need to read the good shit before I can see my own path.

Daniel Jose Older gave me the good shit.

This NYC is full of Black and Brown people both dead and alive doing shit I am into. I loved the Santeros. I LOVED that the Santeros were respected and not presented just as weird Black/Brown folks witchcraft. I have seen even POC do that and it torques my heart.

The magic and sorcery and depictions of the realm of the dead were not usual and I enjoyed them very much.

Here’s the real shit.

As I mentioned last week was it, if you purchase what we can assume is Grown Folks Lit of any stripe, get yourself ready for some Grown Folks Type Shit to happen.

That might be in the form of bad words, sex, violence of whatever kind. Grown. Folks. Type. Shit.

If you can handle liberal and beautiful Fbombs, code switching and for some of y’all more Black and Brown people than you see in a week, get this book.

My POC fantasy lovers.


Right damn now.

I have both the Ebook and the audiobook and as far as the audio goes, um. SIR HOW DARE YOU.

Y’all know I have a thing about being read to and this reading is really good. I suggest going and listening to a sample.

And buy the book.

In other news briefly.

Thank you SO much. Patreon is going way better than I expected and the single donations have been just..gosh.

Fuck. My feelings.

I will talk about it more but just thank you for sharing my thing and encouraging me to reach out.

Also probably next week I’m going to talk about the value of knowing so many other writers and maybe share some extra exciting news.

AND I’m launching a new feature soon. It shall be called: People and Stuff I like. Wherein I will share in depth review/squees about people, podcasts etc that I love. Cause I want you to love them too.

Now later taters I have spent my fangirl squeeing.

Suttree by Cormac McCarthy A review.


A new favorite book.
A new favorite book.

I just finished this book and wow.

Okay first thing is I’m already pretty into McCarthy’s work. Blood Meridian is one of my favorite book. We know I like it dark and grim and  he does it.

I think Suttree might now be my favorite McCarthy book. Read the synopsis here. 

The thing about this book that I love is how well McCarthy captures the casual racism of 1950’s Knoxville and also captures that singular usage of racial slurs that are not backed by implicit hate. They are there, a lot but not overdone and not as some authors make the mistake of doing always used in a very hateful context.

The Black folks in this book behaved appropriately. In their own neighborhood and establishments while they were a bit deferential, they weren’t shuck and jive negroes that populate other books.

There is something very specific about that time period and how Black and white people who are within the same socioeconomic (or close) class interact that was captured so well. It wasn’t the bucolic oh look they could ALL get along, but it wasn’t abject fear and horror.

I LOVE the language and usage in this book. McCarthy is a master with language and this book is no exception. The finesse of using the vernacular of the time, of the Black folks of the time, of the poor uneducated southerners and then every now and then slipping in this beautifully used 7$ vocabulary gave me chills. I am an absolute fool for the ability to manipulate language that way and this book, god damn it.

Even the language around how Suttree interacts with a black queer man up through the end of the book is palpably both loving and a little grossed out.

The whole book has that magic in it, the rhythm of the plot is meandering and at moments turns very sharp but never in a way that takes the reader out of the story. Shit happens and like most of McCarthy’s work there is a lot of darkness in this book and the darkness makes the beautiful moments glitter.

Often when I read books during this time period a few things happen. Often they are all White utopia’s where your average White dude spent a lot of time not saying nigger or worrying about race relations, the conflicts of the time are ignored, or it is Black folks pain porn in one form or another. Or it is LOOK THEY WERE FRIENDS AND LIVED PEACEFULLY TOGETHER IN THE SUPER DEEP SOUTH AND POWER POLITICS DIDN’T PLAY INTO IT AT ALL…*ahem the help*.

I am not old enough to have lived at the time but, I was very blessed to have had access to Black people who did. Some I was related to some not.

There is a lot of nuance in race relations during that time especially in the deep South. Beyond that there are shades of racism and realities that to write that time period successfully while including interaction between White and Black people, it’s just difficult.

This book will be difficult reading for some. The racism, the poverty, the grim winter and general darkness. For those who aren’t deterred, if you’re going to read McCarthy read this one.

It meanders beautifully. Some have said it is overlong but I don’t agree. The language is so beautifully done, it could have gone on more and I would have been happy. The POV shifts are done masterfully and smoothly.

This book reminds me of the blues, roots, bluegrass etc music I like. Some of it is so damn sad and terrible you want to lay down and cry. But it’s done so beautifully you want the pain.

So to wrap up.

Read this fuckin book.

That’s all.

I’ll be back with some craft notes maybe tomorrow and next week I’ll be back in Yeah Write with more flash.

I also want to mention that my dear friend Dena Rash Guzman talked about some recent lit world nonsense and said some nice stuff about my work. Get it at Luna Luna.

I feel like I might talk about subversion again. And the general lack of it in the lit world right now. I also probably want to talk about my poetry. I have some feels and whatnot.

AND (shit I have a lot to do, I’ve been sick for weeks and am way off my game) I really want to discuss some important feeling decisions I’ve made of late in regard to my writing.

So yeah LOTS to talk about.

Right now I’m gonna go try to write my first op-ed type thing and chug some mighty fine ass coffee.

Dr. Sleep a nerdy fangirl review.

So prepare yourselves. My review of Dr. Sleep is going down.

First remember I have been a King lover since I was in the third grade when I read Fire Starter.

I have read 90% of his work and I’m about to get real nerdy real quick. I’ll try to keep any serious spoilers to a minimum.


Short version I really enjoyed the book and felt it is a fitting end to the story that started with The Shining.

Long Version.

We start out with Dan Torrence all grown up. He is in rough shape when we meet up with him. First we find out the fall out from what happened at the Overlook. When I re-read the Shining as an adult these were things I wondered about because we don’t get to know these things in most horror novels.

Life for Danny is real bad. Logically if we follow the thread from the trauma at the Overlook, the trauma of life with his dad and everything else we can’t be surprised.

In the first part of the book the exposition of what is going on with Danny is beautiful and painful. It is so sad, and King as usual features the tension between the rational and the irrational so well. It’s a fine line to tread when you’re dealing with regular people who have extraordinary gifts. Too little of the rational and shit gets old, too much and you ,miss the supernatural elements.

Further in we start to see Dan get his life unfucked. The book is a bit heavy on AA aphorisms and culture, that’s okay.  If you don’t have addiction issues or are unfamiliar with the culture some of the book may pass you by a little bit but, it’s not insurmountable.

When Dan settles down we start finding out about the antagonists. The True knot. I love how King handles them, the leader Rose in particular with her tusk. The imagery of this beautiful ultimately awful inhuman creature is pretty great.

Let’s get nerdy. As far as horror goes, my favorite horror gets to the gristle of what makes humans cringe. Shit, the smell of death, the idea that someone could and will destroy everything you are by barely lifting a finger. This is one of my favorite things about King’s work overall. Way back when it was free I read an essay about writing by Chuck Palahniuk that talked about writing on the body. See a bit of that here at Litreactor.

This is something I feel like a lot of modern horror lacks. The real touch as it were. Some of the horror I’ve read in the past few years relied very heavily on the gross out. Ew fat people, ew the ghetto, ew periods. Being that I’m old enough to have seen quarts and quarts of blood coming out of my vagina and don’t ascribe to the ew fat people are gross mania that tends to be lost on me.

From a writing standpoint I believe in the body. Whether it is horror or not there are things that happen in the body tht when we write about them, we give our readers a bit of sure knowledge. I feel like it is empowering and gives writing serious urgency.

Back to Dr. Sleep.

Overall the first portion of the book drew me in very efficiently.


Dude, Mr King. Come ON man.

The one trope King hits like a hammer came up but not in a huge way. The Magical Negro. We get to see Dick Halloran again and much as he was necessary it did remind me that I need for the Black folks in his books to not always be the kind of Old Magical Blues Man trope.

I do like that he tries to include Black characters in many of his books and has done so for a long time.

I don’t like that they are not just folks, or just magical folks without hitting those magical negro tropes so hard. The major Black characters are Magical Old Negroes full of wisdom who guide the White kids towards something.


Do we still have to do that?

The other thing is that there is always some hint at AAVE without t being full on AAVE. There is always some patois that feels to me like a yappy little dog jumping up and down while some human yells BUT LOOK THE ARE BLACK! LOOK HERE’S THE BLACK PERSON! LOOK LOOK.

It takes me out of the story.

Pro tip for White writers.

You can just say a character is Black and mention it periodically in a longer work, and that’s all you have to do. You don’t have to make them into the Magical Negro or change their speech pattern.

So through the book including a minor female character there were those moments that made me stop reading to roll my eyes.

Beyond that, I do love where Dan’s life starts to go. This is going to be vague but um…shit okay.

So remember Tony? His little voice. He comes back and I was afraid would be overused but actually King used that voice very effectively.

Next we meet the next iteration of a kid with the shining Abra, is a nice kid who has mega power. I like how he wrote her from birth.

I am awful at reviewing without spoilers.

I will point to the way Abra as an infant totally loses her baby shit because she knows something awful is gonna happen. It does put me in mind of infants I have cared for who seemingly totally lost it to the point of me panicking. For parents it’ll be a moment you know and probably remember with dread.

Can we talk about the villains?

The True Knot is a nightmare. If you don’t shine you’re not really in danger unless they rook you but they are fucking scary. It is way scarier to me to think of evil beings who look and seem like average Americans.

So basically it is pretty good. I think the end went a bit long for my taste.  There are also a few spots where I felt like the pacing was a bit dodgy. But if you want to know the end of the story started in The Shining read it.

Now okay, under this I’m gettin real nerdy. Spoilers. You’ve been warned.

Continue reading “Dr. Sleep a nerdy fangirl review.”

Life Cycle Poems by Dena Rash Guzman. A juicy review.


I mentioned that I have a copy of my friend Dena Rash Guzman’s book  Life Cycle Poems. 

The short review is fuck this is gorgeous.

First let’s look at the book. I really like the design.

lifecycleSo pretty right?

Now the poems.

Dena’s poetry has a pulse, it has flesh and is salty and sweaty and human.  Occasionally I read poetry that is fine and nice to read but there can be a lack of physicality to it. I like my poems fleshy and grabby handed.  I love reading poems that insist I feel things in my body.

What’s that phrase I love?

I can’t recall but Dena writes poems that even when quite brief have tactile awareness.  I love that, especially from women writers. Often women are not encouraged to write in our bodies, not about motherhood or periods or anything beyond what titillates the male gaze.  There is no consciousness of the male gaze in her work in that way and I love that.

Dena’s body is present in her work in a very beautiful way.

One of the pleasures of reading poetry for me are the moments when I have to put the book down and think about something I’ve just read. The moment in this book came for me at these two lines:

dare not to die, not today

consider the audacity

That fucking floored me. It’s very in line with how I have survived myself and life in general. It is quietly rebellious and resonated with me so much I spent a good while thinking about those two lines before I started reading again.

As is my habit with small elegant books I read it twice in a row and stopped in different places each time. That is one of the beautiful things about poetry that moves me. Each reading I have something different happen and that is a beautiful thing.

Overall I highly suggest buying your copy. To get a copy head here and get it.

This has been your review. Next week I will review Billion-Dollar Kiss: The Kiss That Saved Dawson’s Creek, and Other Adventures in TV Writing by Jeffrey Stepakoff. With my review I’ll talk about some of my suspicions about TV being confirmed and why I tend to not support TV in general.