Categories
writing

“Saving the Suburbs” in Newfound

I have a new review in the latest issue of Newfound. In it, I look at Jason Diamond’s book The Sprawl: Reconsidering the Weird American Suburbs in conversation with the 2017 film Suburbicon. You can read the review here, and better yet, you can read the entire issue.

Diamond’s The Sprawl is available through Coffee House Press.

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Uncategorized

Some Writing Around the Web

I had a number of things published in the past few days around the web:

For the Lunch Ticket blog, I wrote about what it means to sit alone in my room listening to music and how it connected me to the wider world. You can read it here.

For Issue IV of Variety Pack, I wrote a review essay about some books that have helped me learn how to grieve in a nation that does not grieve well. I considered Marion Winik’s The Big Book of the Dead, alongside Camus’ The Plague, Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped, and Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.

For The Adroit Journal, I reviewed Melissa Valentine’s wonderful memoir The Names of All the Flowers, which has stayed with me since I read it last July.

Thanks to all of you who choose to read.

– Ben

Categories
reading

October Reads

I prioritize spooky reads in October for obvious reasons, although I never get through as many as I’d like. Still, the books in this list (with one non-spooky interruption) were worthy of reading during the most haunted month of the year.

Categories
reading

September Reads

I somehow let my September reads go by, but fear not! I certainly read, though I may have been a little in over my head to reflect.

Categories
reading writing

“Re-mystifying Language” in The Adroit Journal

One of my favorite memoirs published this year, E.J. Koh’s The Magical Language of Others, has stuck with me since I read it in May. I reviewed it for The Adroit Journal, which you can now read here.

I highly recommend this memoir of family, language, and loss.

Categories
reading

August Reads

August was a long month and great for staying in to read far and wide. I took advantage, though I am ready for cooler weather, only so that I can take the books outside for a change.

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reading

July Reads

Hard to believe we’re in the second half of this very long year. In July, I went back to work and started semester reading for my MFA program. Both of those life changes slowed me back down to five books, as well as how much time each of these books demands (in a good way).

Categories
reading

June Reads

My monthly reading average jumped in June, including two by activist and abolitionist Angela Y. Davis, both of which I covered in my anti-racist reading series. I started my MFA at Antioch University, where the residency was on Zoom for ten consecutive days. Instead of slowing me down, I was happy to sit with a book in place of a screen at the end of each day, and I was especially happy to read the books discussed below.

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reading

What to Read Next: Anti-Racism and Abolition

Since my last post on recommended books on racism, more Black Americans have been killed by and within racist institutions: Rayshard Brooks, Riah Milton, Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells, and Robert Fuller, among others, should be alive today. I am a firm believer that white people should educate ourselves and reach out to educate other white Americans, and in that spirit I have been sharing what I have learned from books authored by Black writers. I encourage you to purchase the books from Black-owned bookstores and to not simply stop at reading the books, but to allow the books to compel you to action within your spheres of influence.

This week, I am recommending books on abolition. To be clear, I have not read books that specifically address defunding the police, but once the phrase came across my social media feed, I began to think back on what I’ve read about abolition, as well as sought out a few titles from my to-read shelf in order to think through this current moment.

I am seeking to educate myself on what it would take to attain an “abolition democracy,” the term W.E.B. Du Bois coined during America’s Reconstruction Era to argue that slavery would not truly be eradicated in the U.S. until institutions were put in place to genuinely incorporate Black Americans into the nation’s conception of democracy. I credit Angela Y. Davis with articulating this notion, and several of her books are described below. State, local, and federal funding must be invested in community solutions that address racism and other social ills (homophobia, transphobia, sexism, classism, and so on), and our current system of overfunding systems designed for punishment must change. I have arrived at this belief because of the books and resources listed below.

Categories
reading

May Reads

This month, I finally broke my five-book rule, in part because I read some shorter books and also because I found myself bouncing between longer books. If you’ve missed any of my past months, you can find them here: January, February, March, and April.