So I am one of those people who approaches historical fiction with horror. I suppose that isn’t an approach so much as a recoil. Turns out I don’t want … Continue reading O, Africa
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.
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 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.
Kids Are Weird by Jeffrey Brown is a fitting tribute to parenthood. I have noticed that the word has gotten out on parenting. It’s not viewed as a natural or noble pursuit so much as a gauntlet of human endurance. What I’m saying is I’m scared, okay? I’m convinced I will fail because it turns out that children aren’t mini versions of us so much as tiny independent beings. How do you even prepare for that? Brown’s book is an adorable tribute to natural eccentricity of childhood. It’s a weird time in your life and it fits that being a child would, in fact, make you weird.
The illustrations are precious without being too cutesy or too endearing stomach. I thought Brown captured the child characters quite well and accurately and overall I liked the book and laughed aloud at a few parts.
My only complaint is that the book lacked a narrative style. It was more a fragmented list of weird run ins with his children versus an actual story arch. I think a narrative would have improved it a bit and I would’ve like to see what Brown could have done with it.
All in all, I would buy this for any new parent because while it affirms what we all now know, children are odd and will run you for about 25 years, it will remind you that you’ll be very entertained. Better to be held hostage by singing and dancing captors than left in a spider hole.