Author: Lauren E. Parker

Lauren Parker is a writer based in Oakland. A harbinger of chaos, she spends most of her time hunched over her computer working on her podcast, GLOW the Distance. She has written for the Toast, Harlot Magazine, the Tusk, Ravishly, Main Street Rag, and plain china. You can follow her on twitter @laurenink and online at www.laureneparker.com and patreon.com/laurenparker

The Great Grisby by Mikita Brottman

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There are many books about dogs. Dogs and pets in general have always held literary and personal significance, and wook at dat fuzzy widdle face! At the same time, not every book about dogs is very good. There have been some great works done on the subject of important dogs – Rin Tin Tin, Marley and Me, the Art of Racing in the Rain.  Alas, the Great Grisby: Two Thousand Years of Literary, Royal, Philosophical, and Artistic Dog Lovers and Their Exceptional Animals is not a great piece of non-fiction, dog related or otherwise. While I completely understand Professor Brottman’s love of her adorable dog, and while I think she had a pretty decent concept, the execution didn’t have an arc. Not having an arc would have been fine if the sections about each dog, the list includes a slapdash list including literary and dogs of writers and artists, had explored the significance of each animal to a decent depth. It wasn’t even really a book of essays either, which is what I had expected. But it was little articles about different dogs, what people said about those dogs, how she disagreed with those arguments, but her arguments tended to lead with how much she liked dogs and therefore disagreed with or made wild personal leaps about the relationships between dogs and their owners. It would have been one thing if she had actually incorporated some research into her train of thought,she does cite but I would have preferred she actually discuss some of that further in the text,  but it was just her opinion with no real lead as to how she go there. Then there is Grisby. Grisby is not a famous dog. He is her dog. Which is where I gathered some of my confusion since the title was clearly taken from Great Gatsby, yet Grisby is not a literary character. He’s just a cute little dog that his owner likes, which is great! Trust me, I want everyone to like their pet. I just want them to figure out how their dog relates to the stories and thoughts they are communicating a little more solidly.

The book felt like it was rambling and I just couldn’t get into the structure of it at all. I think it was poorly used as a structural device. I found none of Brottman’s investigations went as deep or as complexly as I would have liked.

Mikita Brottman is a professor in the Department of Humanistic Studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and a critic, author and analyst. She writes and teaches about the uncanny, abjection, true crime, esotericism, horror in film and literature, and the history of psychoanalysis. She lives in the old Belvedere Hotel in Baltimore, with my partner David Sterritt and our popular and charismatic French bulldog, Grisby. You can reach her at her website.

I received this book for free from HarperCollins and was not compensated for this review.

Reasons Why My Kid is Crying by Greg Pembroke

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Greg Pembroke starting taking pictures of his three year old son mid tantrum and captioning the reasons for it on a Tumblr in 2013. After that, the site blew up and tons of submissions from other parents with similar woes started appearing on the blog. I actually really loved the blog and as someone who has discussed how gross she finds children, this was not selling the event much. However, I laughed until I cried. Then I called my mother and asked her what the hell she was thinking. I loved the selection that was picked for the book and it’s a great gift for any parent. However, I wouldn’t buy it for anyone who hasn’t had a kid yet, it will be too discouraging. But if you’re a parent and you need a laugh, this is a great book. It’s mostly pictures so if you don’t really have the headspace for a full scale memoir navigating the complexities of identity and parenthood, this achieves the same thing without requiring you to read less than 16 point font.

This book was published by Three Rivers Press and can be purchased wherever books are sold. Don’t forget to visit your local library! You can access the book trailer for Reasons Why My Kid is Crying here. You can also enjoy the Tumblr blog here. GREG PEMBROKE is the father of two sons (and the husband of one wife) from Rochester, NY. He works part time as radio advertising copywriter three days per week and stays home with his young sons two days per week.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

SUPERSURVIVORS: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success

Supersurvivors-HC-c1 Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success by David B. Feldman, PhD and Lee Daniel Kravetz was absolutely fascinating. I have spent a lot of my life being utterly dissuaded by the concept of “positive thinking.” It felt like another way to not acknowledge feelings and a way to try to control other people. I didn’t really buy into the Secret or anything like that. I don’t think my grandmother died of cancer because she wasn’t thinking positively enough. So this book was actually really gratifying to my dark witted self. Plus trauma is really interesting to me as a survivor myself and I get really tired of people telling me I’m being negative. To admit that something terrible happened doesn’t give it life or power. It’s what happens next that ultimately contributes to survival.

Supersurvivors is broken up into a series of stories about people who go through incredible losses and end up leaning into the skid, so to speak. People that go through trauma, loss of limbs, cancer, severe brain injuries, the death of children, and manage to survive it but not because they always hoped they would. In fact, they were pretty convinced all hope was lost and were just doing things that made them happy. I’m explaining it really poorly but I highly recommend the book. It was really interesting to get the psychological perspective of trauma survival but I felt like some of the digging fell flat. Emotional trauma was covered but I thought it could have gone much more in depth than it managed to. It might have been that the topic was a bit too broad. But overall, I was really excited to read this and have been passing it around to family members and friends. It discusses the strength of human characters and the survival instincts without being sappy. Bad shit happens in these stories and people just roll with the punches. It’s that adaptability that is the focus, not the power of being positive. It’s written in a style that’s easy to enjoy and covers really great research. If you’ve ever been through a situation where you felt like you were being tested, this is both inspirational and emotionally gratifying to read.

You can see the book trailer here.

Fuck Fuck Fuckity Fuck

This fucking thing.

 

This is a review of Meat is for Pussies by John Joseph.

 

It’s going to be long.

 

I’m pretty mad.

 

I’m a vegetarian who cooks almost exclusively vegan. My choice to go veg was largely due to the environmental impact and the reality that I will never truly own a cruelty free item. There will be slave labor somewhere along the line of every possession I have, so the very least I could do was give up meat and at least take that off my hands. So I’m a fairly annoying vegetarian who did it with high moral grounds.

I am not as annoying as John Joseph. John Joseph is what I consider to be a well meaning, profoundly misguided turd. In the first 12 pages I wrote FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU in the margins 8 times. And here’s the worst of it, I didn’t actually disagree with his point. But his delivery was so fucking sexist and body shamey that I could barely plod through this fucking book of masturbatory vegan narcissism.

Look, you should go vegan if you can. I understand if you’re in a food desert and veganism certainly isn’t without its problems (it’s not necessarily locally sustainable) but it’s actually pretty cheap and very good for you. You will poop like a dream, feel better, not get that horrible bloated feeling after you eat, and probably live a little longer.

Meat is for Pussies, (I suppose the title should have been a tip off that I would hate this sexist communication style), has recipes and paragraphs explaining why veganism is better for you. These recipes and missives are heavily punctuated by fat-shaming, skinny-shaming (REAL MEN MUST BE RIPPED HULK MEN RAWR), and sexism. This pussy possessing vegetarian would kindly like John Joseph to go fuck himself since my pussy is fucking tough. I also do intense workouts. I do strength training by way of aerial arts and trapeze. Essentially, I’m the sort of person this book is written for, according to author, and yet I still want to force feed him Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwiches until his heart explodes.

Here’s the problem with Meat is for Pussies. It’s the same irritating, body-shaming bullshit we saw in Skinny Bitch. It’s veganism’s attempts at being edgy and sexy only this target audience is for men. And it’s fucking annoying. You can be a good vegan, a good activist, a healthy and strong person without being a fucking dick. John Joseph fails in this utterly.

The recipes are decent though.

Monster’s Chef – Jervey Tervalon

Monster’s Chef- Jervey Tervalon

Monster’s Chef by Jervey Tervalon is a book in all directions. It has some social commentary (I am almost totally convinced the character of Monster is inspired by Michael Jackson), more social commentary (how we see drug addicts), suspense, mystery, magical realism, and a touch of noir. I had no idea what was going to happen in this book and was a little unsure of the plot at first. Disgraced restaurateur gets out of jail and ends up working for a nefarious rock star named Monster. But I found myself believing a lot. Not all, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

So to the Michael Jackson thing. I found a lot of overlap (bleached skin, Ferris wheel at the compound, children running all over the place) but it was a very different spin from what I experienced when watching the Michael Jackson meltdown. Jackson was always seen as a tragic figure. Corrupted by an abusive home life and fame to become the wax figure he died as. Monster does not garner the same sympathy. He’s downright sinister. He’s less the victim and more the financially empowered madman enabled to do any and all of his bidding. It’s pretty nightmarish how he keeps his synthetic world running on money, drugs, and mystery. The book also comes with recipes that actually seem to have very little to do with the book or the story but are super delicious. I love a bonus.

My only complaint is that the ending may have twisted too fast. The fragile character of Rita 180’s into a badass which is admirable but happens a bit too suddenly for me to really believe it. I think a little extra development on her part would have been helpful. I also didn’t love that a lot of the characters with alternative sexualities were predatory. While I’m sure there are evil gay black security guards pressuring the help into affairs, it’s not nearly the rate of their straight counterparts and I don’t think that benefits the movement much. As a person who qualifies as an alternative sexuality, it was a little tired to have to see the stereotype of gay men being this super inappropriate, downright rapey entity. It’s so 1970. Now this may be to reflect how Monster’s lair doesn’t have the usual rules of the outside world and is entirely ID and primal but still. I’m tutting.

I really enjoyed it. I was nervous with every page turn.