June Full Moon Tarotscopes by Sarah Faith Gottesdiener

by on Jun.16, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

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June Full Moon Tarotscopes

Welcome to the Full Moon of June! It rises on June 17th in the sign of Sagittarius. This Full Moon is just before the Summer Solstice, so you may wish to honor both. June is the month of Pride, of Juneteeth. There is a feeling of resistance wrapped up in celebration. We still have so much to change, so much to protest. Let us tap into our collective histories to remind us to stay present on both the individual and the whole.

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is shining and the crickets sing all night. There’s beach days and ice tea and strawberry sorbet. We worship this aspect of living that this Full Moon brings easily, as the nights are so warm and the Moon is so bright. This is a Full Moon about loving life and nature. This is a Full Moon to focus on the whys of our lives. About who we need to be, now—about who we need to protect. This is a time to think about your enjoyment, about small pleasures. About how they can get us through the hard stuff.

And, last but not least, because of this Full Moon’s proximity to the Solstice, you may wish to spend time reflecting on dark and light, shadows and shadow integration. This is the last Full Moon before eclipse season starts next month, which can sometimes shake things up. Remember that this summer could be a rocky one—try to keep yourself aligned, and have your actions resonate with love, bravery, protection and protest.

Personally, with the year half over, it is time for us all to think about the future seriously. Make plans (or spells) around where you wish to be by the next Solstice. Go backwards from there and commit to the energies and qualities you will need to make your dreams happen, and yourself moving forward.

All tarotscopes are written solely for your support and well-being.

Feel free to read your Sun, Rising, or Moon.
Take what you need and leave the rest.

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Support her work here.


Aries: 9 of Cups

Aries, believe it or not, the same card as last month has been pulled for you! It’s the beautiful 9 of Cups. And what a wonderful card to get twice in a row. The message is clear: keep doing what you are doing. Do your best to continue welcoming in growth, welcoming in your dreams. Shake off the doubt that can come with a streak of sweetness.

When there is the same archetype pulled twice in a row, there are other aspects here to consider—culmination and integration. Consciously integrate the belief that you can have what you want, that your boundaries are beautiful. By the fall, a phase of your life will be ending. This could be around emotional healing, around finally understanding your worth. Take this time to enjoy all the soft rainbows that are enveloping you now. There are as many lessons in sweetness as there are in pain.

Suggested spell ingredients: a bestie necklace you buy for yourself to commemorate your greatest love affair yet, an afternoon spent floating in a body of water, and an altar devoted to your dreams.

Taurus: 3 of Pentacles

Taurus, this summer is all about stepping into new roles for you, and this Full Moon is all about connecting to feelings of worthiness, peace, and abundance. That’s what will pave your way forward. What you have to say is important on a larger level. Get your mission statements and ideas out of your head and into the world.

Your work is absolutely poised to transform.

I want to make a caveat here: the “work” doesn’t just refer to your career, even though it could. The “work” is about your growth, about your magic, about your heart, about your devotion, about your intellect, about your relationships. The “work” is about new combinations. The “work” is about what you need to express, and who you need to express it to. It’s just as much about how you are working as it is why you are. The “work” is about allowing as much in as it is about pushing. The work at this Full Moon just might be opening up enough to let others help you help yourself.

Suggested spell ingredients: petrified wood, tiger’s eye, a new bell to help you meditate, and a blueprint of the world you wish to inhabit.

Gemini: 2 of Wands

Twin Star, you are all lit up! As this Full Moon lands as we wrap up Gemini season, it is both a and a bright new beginning for you. The 2 of Wands wants you to focus on where you are going, not where you’ve been. Your Full Moon magic is about summoning every ounce of enthusiasm, every drop of hope you’ve got within to charter your own course. This Full Moon promises you’ve got everything you need. Make bold moves that will eventually make you big money. Make big moves that will create big magic.

Make important decisions out of love and creativity. Not fear or shame.

If it is novel, if it is interesting, if it allows you to flex your creativity: that’s the spark you follow.

There could be pulls to go the same old way. There could be pressure to stay put. These impulses can be seductive, however you must resist the tendency to go for the tried and true. You want experiences that are going to open you all the way up. You want to be known for your biggest dreams, not your back-up plans.

This Full Moon is a reminder of who you truly are when you are connected to your fire. Make sure you bask in the glory of your own glow.

Suggested spell ingredients: a fun day-trip, a fun night-trip, carnelian, sunstone, basil iced tea charged with moonlight, and messages in bottles designed to eventually wash up on different shores.

Cancer: 7 of Pentacles

Cancer, this is a Full Moon to get out of your head and into your body. You need to make a decision in more than one area of your life, but ruminating to excess is just going to create more conflict. This Full Moon is telling you that you need to take a break from doing things in the same way. A pause, a rest, another way to read in-between the lines of your life. This is a Full Moon to get out of your emotions, and into the sensations that magic can offer you.

Shake it up, Sweet Moonchild. Do you need to do a spell outside? Do you need to dance all night? Do you need to play with poetry? With singing? With a new herb? What spell can you cast next week that you’ve never done, but always wanted to?

After this, you might have more luck with figuring out what needs to stay, and what needs to go. If you have a good friend or two, and you can handle it, ask them to get real with you because there’s something you aren’t seeing at the moment. It could be you are habitually over-focusing on things that aren’t bringing you results you want; it could be you are over-focusing on things you no longer need. You’ve outgrown a number of areas in your life, so something needs to go. Start there. If you can’t decide, start with remembering that you can change.

Change your perspective and change everything.

Suggested spell ingredients: green apple opal, malachite, a heart-to-heart with a favorite plant, abundance spells, and root magic.

Leo: 3 of Cups

If there ever was a Full Moon to create a feast and have your loved ones over, it is this one, Leo. The wonderful people that have been appearing in your life since the Spring Equinox are external reflections of all the growth that has been happening inside of your heart. Over time, abundant collaborations may come of these connections—this might even be happening already. This Full Moon time is ripe for synchronicities, and these will only come if you go out into the world to greet them. Take at least 3 times this week to go somewhere pleasurable, to do something that will require you to engage with others. Show up. Share yourself. Remember that the joy you are given by others is in direct proportion to the joy you are equipped to gift freely.

The Moon is Full and the word is Love.

Suggested spell ingredients: matching mugs or bowls for you and your besties that you give out at a friendship ritual, a chalice charged with moonwater, and a bit of lemon quartz to put on your altar.

Virgo: 8 of Cups

There’s being a kind, fair person and then there’s being a doormat. Virgo, it is up to you to decide if you’ve been staying too long—staying too long in certain relationships that just aren’t evolving; staying stuck in patterns that leave you depleted and those around you fed; staying in emotional loops that don’t affirm how absolutely brilliant you are. And yes, these tendencies could all absolutely be only with yourself; a distraction tool your subconscious has created to keep you feeling safe, or like a martyr. If you catch yourself playing yourself, ask yourself why.

There could also be some external events that are causing you to start packing your metaphorical bags. Whatever might be going on outside you is relying on what is inside of you to change. It’s okay to walk away, even if the amount of energy you’ve invested in a certain belief or relationship has been enormous.

This is a Moon that pertains to your spiritual and intuitive transformation. It is truly up to you to define success—more specifically, what spiritual success means to you. Now. In this very moment. Take the time at this Full Moon to touch it, feel it, taste it. Take this time to get clear on what you are journeying towards and what it will consist of when you find it. Let this Full Moon move you into an entirely different arena; one that is truly about getting to the master level with yourself.

Suggested spell ingredients: a turned-off phone, kunzite, lapis lazuli, a loving-kindness meditation, and a new pair of shoes.

Scorpio: Ace of Swords

Opportunities abound for you at this Full Moon, Scorpio if you can look inward. Your mind is absolutely powerful and your communication style is ready to be assessed. It can be hard to take a step back and really observe ourselves: what we say, internally and externally. But this is what you must do if you are interested in growing in the way the Ace of Swords asks you to currently.

What is up for growth at this time is your power. Your personal power, the power of influence you have, the powerful ways in which you wield your tongue. Observe yourself in all manners of language. Would you want to hang out with your mind, if your mind was a person? When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, try asking: is this true? When you catch yourself about to say something defensive or reactionary, try asking: will this ultimately be helpful? When you are making decisions both large and small, ask the question: will this add to my personal power?

Watch your language.

Do not turn away from any impulses you have to write, to speak, to channel.Do not turn down any and all chances to share your power.

Suggested spell ingredients: the dictionary app, fire breathing, mookaite, mahogany obsidian, dalmatian stone, peppermint, and birdsong—both natural or recorded.

Libra: Page of Swords

Sometimes as we get older, we can become set in our ways. We can forget that we are eternally students. This Full Moon is asking you to step back into being a student in one or more areas of your life.

Ask yourself: what do I want to learn? How can I start architecting my life around what I wish to be a student of?

Combine what you already know or are good at, with what you are curious about. This is a Full Moon around new ways of thinking, reacting, communicating. One way to break the curse of limiting beliefs is with curiosity. The recipe in that fresh, new cauldron consists of one part attained knowledge, one part questioning, and one part mystery. Stir them up and see how the Full Moon alchemizes these elements.

Last but not least, air angel: listen. Listen. Messages are coming through to you, multiple times a day. Make it a priority to carve out space to listen to these messages without prejudice. Wrapped within a whisper might be the next great project of your life.

Suggested spell ingredients: a cluster of clear quartz, a new blank notepad, and the energy of clouds and birds and angels and the wind.

Sagittarius: 4 of Pentacles

When the going gets tough, the tender hearts stay grounded. Gentle Archer, you are being asked to really live out your values right now. There could be some external events you that are causing a bit of derailment at the moment. Sagittarius, even when life is swirling and whirling around you, come back to yourself. Remember what you know to be true. Get into your body, and your body will help give you answers and guidance.

There’s a saying: “secure the bag.” To me, this means going after what you truly want and desire. It’s obtaining something meaningful and overflowing with value. This has been your focus, and every week you get closer to embodying this. There has been one precious component of this quest that you might have been forgetting, especially if there’s been a lot of distraction in your zone.

At this Full Moon, remember that you are the bag. Secure yourself.

Suggested spell ingredients: gold flakes in a small vial you charge under this Full Moon, time spent earthing (putting your bare feet on the earth), ways to express your magic, and an indigo blue forcefield you imagine around yourself at all times.

Capricorn: The Emperor

Sweet, strong Capricorn—this is a Full Moon that corresponds with your future and the way forward. A lot of your planning has been coming to fruition. Use the energy of achievement and accomplishment to lesson any resistance you have around continuing. This Full Moon is the time to cast spells around what you want to be happening in your world by the beginning of December 2019. If you stay organized, and stay the course, you will absolutely see the results of your efforts. These results will be the reward of more time, more satisfaction, and more impact.

The phrase “take a break” might not be in your vocabulary, so I’m going to try saying this in a different way. Believe it or not, you can get a lot more done than you ever thought by scheduling in rest, pleasure, and creativity into your days. Switch up your day-to-day routine so that the basics of what you need to feel inspired keep showering you with reminders of why you are alive. There could be one or more tasks or roles you’ve simply outgrown. If that is the case, commit to moving those organically out of your life by the next Full Moon in July.

This is also a Full Moon around how you are being seen. You need to be seen by others as exactly as you are. If there are things you are holding back on sharing, if there are treasures you are hiding from others, it’s time. Shine, share, glow.

Suggested spell ingredients: carnelian, Maca, a long to-do list for your soul, and all the permission slips you need to take up more space in your life and in the world.

Aquarius: Judgement

Beautiful Water Bearer, here’s a loving heads up: this Full Moon could feel like a bit of a scorcher. Drink loads of water, if you need to rest—rest, and find ways to support yourself physically and mentally around this Full Moon and the next few weeks. It’s ok to take time for yourself. In fact, it is suggested.

When the Judgement card comes up, it’s time to stop and hear the call. You can’t hear any messages if you’ve got three different podcasts going at the same time, thirty-two tabs open on your browser, and are running from social engagement to obligation to work to bed.

If a lot has been coming up for as of late, pay attention. For some of you, they are indicators of what is ready to heal. For some of you, they are indicators of what is no longer working. And focusing on what is ready to heal, combined with ending what is no longer working, is the magic for you to dig into at this Full Moon.

If this all seems like a lot, start small. Pick one thing that used to bring you joy, and do it. Pick one pattern or habit you need to let go of, and strategize what you need to do to stop reverting to it. Pick one way you can tap into your Higher Self, that will grant you mercy and grace and forgiveness as you navigate through the miracle of resurrecting yourself.

Suggested spell ingredients: jet stone, rose quartz, a past life meditation, space, time, compassion, and faith.

Pisces: The Knight of Wands

Lovely Cosmic Dreamer, keep going. So much of your year so far as been about seeking, searching, moving. About learning, growing, saying yes and saying no. It can be hard to be the initiator. It can be difficult to keep it moving; getting back on the horse of your vision as many times as you get thrown off. Your secret weapon is how tenacious and brave you truly are, because you swim in the sea of universal understanding and love.

You’ve been deep in a process and most likely by now, you can feel the wheel turning. The Knight of Wands wants you to make this leg of the journey all about you, and all about what gives you pleasure. You might have forgotten, but fun is part of the process you’re in. If it isn’t pleasurable, if you can’t express your unique creativity, then what’s the point?

At this Full Moon, keep it simple and keep it creative. Keep it related to your movement, and joy, and the art of life. Put on your favorite record and make a delicious meal. Make eyes at someone really cute. Start that art project. Or finish that art project! Do something around this Full Moon that reminds you of how gorgeous and how cool you are. Put it on your altar and ask for more under the light of this Full June Moon.

Suggested ingredients: joy, pleasure, creativity, honey calcite, a red candle, wheels, circles, and art.


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BiCoastal Events: This Weekend in Los Angeles and Philadelphia

by on Jun.14, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

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Our beloved bicoastal family is hosting two separate events this weekend in both Philadelphia and Los Angeles:

Tonight, Friday, June 14 in Philadelphia is the BloodMilk Mourning Fair, hosting Moss Marchen, Pitt & Pendulum, Roses & Rue Antiques, Witch Fingers Antiques & Oddities, and a Polaroid Pop Up Booth from Pop Up Polaroid. You may also view the original art from Uusi’s Pagan Otherworld Tarot in The Hidden Path exhibit. And, of course, BloodMilk Jewels will be available for in person purchase.

Find Haute Macabre next week at the BloodMilk Presents The Solstice Divination Market at Sphinx and Snakeskin Studio and Gallery, on Friday, June 21 with a hand curated selection of crystals and tarot cards.

Tomorrow, Saturday, June 15,  in Los Angeles, is the June Gloom Lunacy Event at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, where you may sample their scents in person, including the beautiful limited edition two scent Duets.


Twilight Alchemy Lab was updated late last night with a fresh batch of ritual oils crafted with the intention to assist us through the astrological chaos of this summer:

July is tied only with June for the prestigious title of “Worst Month of the Year.” July begins with Mars’ movement out of Cancer and into Leo, which blessedly moves Mars out of configuration to Saturn and Pluto. Unfortunately, Mars’ removal from the battlefield is followed shortly by a pair of Eclipses, a total solar in Cancer on July 2nd and a partial lunar in Capricorn on the 16th, which reactivate June’s brutal dynamics. Furthermore, poor Venus enters Cancer in early July, getting her caught in the crosshairs that the difficult reshuffling of Eclipses augur.

Between the Eclipses, on the 7th, Mercury stations retrograde, conjunct Mars in Leo. This is a fiery and contentious move on Mercury’s part, and does not make an-already difficult set of Eclipses any easier. Mercury retrogrades back into Cancer on the 19th to make yet another pass over the difficult Cancer-Capricorn axis. Mercury will not station direct until August.

The Sun and then Venus’ movement into Leo on the 22nd and the 27th bring some relief and resolution to the month’s difficulties. It is the New Moon in Leo on the 31st, the first lunation not shadowed by an Eclipse, that decisively shifts the focus away from the Cancer-Capricorn meatgrinder. Not only that, the 31st also puts an end to Mercury’s retrograde.

From Austin Coppock’s 2019 Forecast 

Despite the foreboding nature of these planetary movements, I am confident that the new additions  Twilight Alchemy Lab blends will alleviate the symptoms. Included in this release is Clean Yer House, Clean Yer Self, Protect Yer Self, and a batch of Abre Camino oil, which was specifically blessed and charged over one lunation under the auspices of Mercury, Hermes, and Tyche.

A more in depth post forthcoming on the complete Twilight Alchemy Lab collection, as I have been working with them in tandem to my personal rituals recently and have been experiencing extremely active and positive results.


 

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BiCoastal Events: This Weekend in Los Angeles and Philadelphia

by on Jun.14, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from | Go to Original Post

Our beloved bicoastal family is hosting two separate events this weekend in both Philadelphia and Los Angeles:

Tonight, Friday, June 14 in Philadelphia is the BloodMilk Mourning Fair, hosting Moss Marchen, Pitt & Pendulum, Roses & Rue Antiques, Witch Fingers Antiques & Oddities, and a Polaroid Pop Up Booth from Pop Up Polaroid. You may also view the original art from Uusi’s Pagan Otherworld Tarot in The Hidden Path exhibit. And, of course, BloodMilk Jewels will be available for in person purchase.

Find Haute Macabre next week at the BloodMilk Presents The Solstice Divination Market at Sphinx and Snakeskin Studio and Gallery, on Friday, June 21 with a hand curated selection of crystals and tarot cards.

Tomorrow, Saturday, June 15,  in Los Angeles, is the June Gloom Lunacy Event at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, where you may sample their scents in person, including the beautiful limited edition two scent Duets.


Twilight Alchemy Lab was updated late last night with a fresh batch of ritual oils crafted with the intention to assist us through the astrological chaos of this summer:

July is tied only with June for the prestigious title of “Worst Month of the Year.” July begins with Mars’ movement out of Cancer and into Leo, which blessedly moves Mars out of configuration to Saturn and Pluto. Unfortunately, Mars’ removal from the battlefield is followed shortly by a pair of Eclipses, a total solar in Cancer on July 2nd and a partial lunar in Capricorn on the 16th, which reactivate June’s brutal dynamics. Furthermore, poor Venus enters Cancer in early July, getting her caught in the crosshairs that the difficult reshuffling of Eclipses augur.

Between the Eclipses, on the 7th, Mercury stations retrograde, conjunct Mars in Leo. This is a fiery and contentious move on Mercury’s part, and does not make an-already difficult set of Eclipses any easier. Mercury retrogrades back into Cancer on the 19th to make yet another pass over the difficult Cancer-Capricorn axis. Mercury will not station direct until August.

The Sun and then Venus’ movement into Leo on the 22nd and the 27th bring some relief and resolution to the month’s difficulties. It is the New Moon in Leo on the 31st, the first lunation not shadowed by an Eclipse, that decisively shifts the focus away from the Cancer-Capricorn meatgrinder. Not only that, the 31st also puts an end to Mercury’s retrograde.

From Austin Coppock’s 2019 Forecast 

Despite the foreboding nature of these planetary movements, I am confident that the new additions  Twilight Alchemy Lab blends will alleviate the symptoms. Included in this release is Clean Yer House, Clean Yer Self, Protect Yer Self, and a batch of Abre Camino oil, which was specifically blessed and charged over one lunation under the auspices of Mercury, Hermes, and Tyche.

A more in depth post forthcoming on the complete Twilight Alchemy Lab collection, as I have been working with them in tandem to my personal rituals recently and have been experiencing extremely active and positive results.


 

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When Yorick Dreams…

by on Jun.12, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

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Today we’re coveting this 19th century Japanese ivory carving of a human skull with a snake coiled around its crown and three toads and a tree frog climbing around on the skull and the snake.

Measuring a mere 4.25″ (10.9 cm) high, this marvelously detailed carving is an okimono from the Meiji period, circa 1890.

Okimono is a Japanese term describing a decorative object or objet d’art. Okimono were created depicting everything from real-life animals and mythological creatures to humans and gods, fruits and vegetables, and everyday objects.

Customarily made out of wood, ivory, ceramic, or metal, Okimono were typically displayed in a tokonoma alcove or butsudan shrine, but we wish this beautiful piece lived in Haute Macabre HQ.

[h/t: /r/ArtefactPorn]


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From the Archives: Elsa Lanchester, Herself. An Interview with Tom Blunt

by on Jun.10, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

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It’s hard to know when imagery so striking, so wonderfully eerie, so utterly iconoclastic as the one presented by Elsa Lanchester as The Bride of Frankenstein, first becomes embedded in one’s memory. When was I not aware of this astonishing creature, this electric-tressed beauty, robed in ghostly whites and the most elegant bandages ever glimpsed on screen? That intensely penetrating gaze, those severe slashes of eyebrows, that exquisite jawline!

Elsa Lanchester the actress, and the human, much like her character in The Bride of Frankenstein, was more than the sum of her extraordinary parts; in her fantastic 1983 autobiography Elsa Lanchester, Herself one beholds the creation of, and rise of this independent, liberated woman from her bohemian upbringing by radical socialist parents, to her life in film, two world wars, stage acting in London, her dance career and her marriage to actor Charles Laughton. Reading the actress’s reminiscences and observations, in her own words, on everything from her hilarious vignettes describing her early family life, to the many profound personalities she met from the first half of the 20th century, is akin to sitting for a coffee with your cattiest, most witty friend, spellbound by their enthralling gossip and stories. Not only are these recollections penned with warmth, wit, and delightful candor–the lady could write, too! I don’t think I’ve ever read a more eloquent, wonderfully worded glimpse into a celebrity’s life. I would have recommended Elsa Lanchester, Herself to everyone I know–but, unfortunately until just a few weeks ago, this fabulous memoir was out of print.

Of course, I didn’t even know the book existed until I began following Tom Blunt’s “Reprint Elsa” campaign a few years ago.  Drawn to the fringes of the odd and the mundane, Tom is a writer, producer, and performer who shares his unique perspectives on culture, history, and LGBTQ issues. With these credentials then, it may not surprise you to learn that Tom is also part of the team over at our dear friends and purveyors of esoteric perfumes and potions, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Tom has been the Lab’s Relationship Coordinator since 2016 or so and assists in terms of marketing, licensing, and event planning.

It is with great joy and sincere congratulations to Tom that I share our interview with you today– for, as of April 2018, Tom’s campaign was an overwhelming success and Elsa Lanchester, Herself was reprinted by the Chicago Review Press. Read on for Tom’s wonderful insights into this striking and unusual Golden Era entertainer and his quest to ensure that so many decades later, she finally finds her people.


 

About Elsa Lanchester’s autobiography, and the actress herself, Vincent Price wrote, “A very special person tells a special tale of an extraordinarily special life and she tells it brilliantly in her own special way.” I can’t help but to agree, after having read it for myself. I’d love to hear why this extraordinary person was special to you.

What’s strange is that she wasn’t really special to me before all this happened. Since childhood I’ve always been drawn to Bride of Frankenstein as an icon of ferocious, maligned womanhood, but those were the days before you could look someone up on IMDB and see what else they’d been in. I’d seen some of Elsa’s later movies, but never connected that distinctive face and voice to the hissing Bride, and didn’t know her book even existed until I found a copy in a thrift store.

“If this is any good whatsoever,” I told the friend who was shopping with me, “I’m going to do a whole show about her.” This was back when I was producing and hosting a variety show in New York City, revolving around undersung women in film.

I think I only read about five pages before reaching out to the programmer at our venue, the 92nd Street Y, to pitch a show, which I called “The Elsa Monologues.” The idea was that I’d conscript a bunch of actors and nightlife types to perform excerpts from the book, and we’d share clips from Elsa’s film career, maybe throw in a burlesque number. (By the night of the event, our lineup included a milliner who’d designed a couture hat inspired by The Bride’s hair.)

Toward the end of the book, I began to get funny uncanny tingles about it. More than anything she achieved in film, Elsa felt her true calling was in cabaret singing — funny, character-based songs that were sometimes poignant and often quite filthy. As a teenager she even started her own cabaret nightspot in London, which she called the “Cave of Harmony.” And now here I was a century later, a struggling wannabe artist trying to create my own ridiculous scene, with drag queens and musicians and famous character actresses. She did everything first, and better. I was in awe.

So she became special to me through this book, through all these disarming stories that resonate with tremendous sadness, which she masterfully sows with comedic jolts. There’s nothing better than a book written by someone who’s a born entertainer.

Not to make too big a deal out of it, but the timing of all this felt fateful to me, and I wanted to make sure she finally found her people.

Elsa Lanchester, Herself was originally published, I believe in 1983. What were your thoughts, when reading it for the first time? What was it about the woman– her life, her words, her experiences–that struck you as relevant and compelling and not only worthy of a reprint, but perhaps vital, at that particular point in time?

I read lots of what I like to call Star Lady Memoirs. A lot of them! While nearly all of them are worth reading, it’s not very often that I feel someone’s life force so strongly in their words.

Perhaps it’s because Elsa wrote this book at the end of her life, when she had nothing left to lose. It’s not in her nature to simply complain about all the pain and disappointment in her life — she spins an enthralling story out of every misery, dropping certain details so candidly they just leave you stunned. There’s a rare art to baring your soul to people in a way that actually leaves them wanting more.

I was particularly struck by the torment she weathered as the long-suffering wife of a closeted gay movie star — and Charles Laughton was a much bigger star then she was, so she labored in the shadow of his greatness for decades. On top of that, he seemed genuinely threatened by her success, and sabotaged her in a million ways, large and small.

She wrote this book after Laughton’s death, and while she pulls no punches against him, she still manages to profess an enduring love and tenderness for him, and an appreciation for his suffering as a human forced to spend his whole life in hiding. That really broke my heart. Marriages like these are still happening today. People need to hear these stories.

However, back in ’83, there was almost no hope of a book like this finding an audience. People believed women even less than they do now, and it was considered tasteless to “speak ill” of a famous loved one who was no longer alive to tell his side of the story — especially if you appeared to capitalize on it. As you may have noticed, Hollywood is notoriously closed-mouthed about certain things and detests people who blab.

On top of that, women weren’t the major literary marketing target they are now, nor were LGBTQ people. So, telling these stories about her marriage wasn’t seen as an act of bravery among movie buffs. It was more like embarrassing faux pas made by an avowed eccentric… to the extent that anyone cared at all.

As I read the book, I marveled at some of the crucial ways in which the world has changed since Elsa died. If anything, she’s much more famous than Charles now — The Bride’s image still echoes through pop culture, and people will always trace that back to her. Today we find ourselves looking back at everything we took for granted about the 20th century, examining it through the eyes of all the women and queer people whose stories were never told, or amplified so they could actually be heard, and be part of the record. Elsa managed to document the very special sort of hell she and Charles occupied together, and left a record of it for future generations, in case anyone cares.

I think time and history were actually on her side all along. I think we do care, and I decided to make sure the stone got kicked just a little bit further down the road so that a new generation of monster-lovers would find out about her, and older ones would see the bizarre events of her life through fresh eyes.

The book was reprinted by Chicago Press just this year (congrats!), and with your social media coverage and campaigns, you were instrumental to the process. How did you become involved? And how do you even approach something like this? Getting a book back into print can be extremely difficult, especially when the author is no longer alive to promote it. I understand that it was not an an easy road at any point–can you speak to some of the hurdles along the way?

After our Elsa tribute show, I basically picked up the tools I use for producing nightlife events — publicity, creativity, and a high tolerance for rejection — and set out to apply gentle (yet unrelenting) pressure on the powers that be, in hopes of guiding the book back into print.

I’m no expert in this area, but I interned at a publisher in NYC once upon a time, so I knew a thing or two about the challenges involved in reviving someone else’s book. One of the hardest parts is sorting through who really owns it, and that’s an area where you can’t take anything for granted, unless you want to end up in court.

I started out with the original publisher, St. Martins, but was informed the rights had reverted back to Elsa’s estate. I then spent years dealing with the organization that controls her estate, before discovering the rights had never actually reverted at all. They’d been tussling with me over a property they actually didn’t own in the first place.

That’s a great example of another huge challenge in the reprinting process: since no one stands to make a substantial amount of money, the parties involved can actually be so apathetic, they won’t take the time to perform a perfunctory search before answering any of your questions.

Along the way, I was even in touch with Elsa’s original literary agent from the ‘80s, who informed me that he’d been so charmed by the book that he adapted it into a screenplay — this actually exists somewhere, though I have yet to see a copy of it. His only paper copy was destroyed in a fire.

A couple of years into the project, my social media antics caught the eye of the Chicago Review Press, who reached out and ultimately joined the crusade, making an official bid on the rights. Even then, we remained in limbo for additional years.

At some point I basically divested and moved on to other battles. Even when CRP notified me that we’d won, and the book would actually be reprinted, I was still afraid to get my hopes up. It wasn’t until they began asking for input related to the physical book itself, such as who we could get to write a foreword (my friend Mara Wilson did a terrific job!) that I trusted it was a done deal.

Even so, I didn’t share any news with the hundreds of people following our Facebook group until I had an actual pre-sale link. There’s nothing worse than taking a victory lap and then discovering you can’t actually deliver what you promised.

But she’s here! And I did deliver, although credit is owed to the numerous people who participated and pushed alongside me. This is a team victory.

Now that Elsa Lanchester, Herself is in circulation again and new generations are learning of this fascinating, fabulous woman, what is it that you hope people take away from her story?

That nothing anyone thinks or says about you counts more than what you think and say about yourself. While I urged CRP to make sure there was a picture of The Bride on the book’s cover, (for marketing purposes, natch) readers will note that Elsa writes very little about her experience in that film. While she was grateful to have left her mark, she is open about the mixed blessing of being known for one major thing — and The Bride wasn’t her creation at all, she was mainly just a vessel for someone else’s makeup and costume design.

After the book was written, Elsa’s version of events was disputed by some of Laughton’s friends, such as Maureen O’Hara, who commented: “[Elsa] was witty, and down deep, she was decent, but she always seemed to want something outside her reach.” Well, who doesn’t?

You may never end up being known for your best qualities. Hell, you’re lucky if you can even identify them in yourself, or put them to any real use whatsoever, before you’re gone and buried. If Elsa hadn’t written this book, I doubt anyone would think to go back and listen to all the music she released — which is still currently available online, and contains the very essence of her talent and personality. In 1951, The New Yorker described her musical act thusly: “There is a desperate quality about her art; in some curious way, she takes her listeners out of a close, tidy world and into a disquieting place filled with sharp winds and unsteady laughter.”

I think that’s pretty punk rock.

What’s next on the horizon? You enigmatically remarked on your blog that ” …Elsa’s not the only incredible lady we’re interested in.” Any future projects involving extraordinary women that we should be looking out for?

I have schemes, but that’s about it. The next memoirist in my sights is Ann Miller, the tap-dancing starlet who fancied herself psychic, and whose screen career spanned everything from Easter Parade to Mulholland Drive. Her book Miller’s High Life (yes, that’s the real title) is fascinating, and I befriended a relative of hers who wants to help make a reprint happen. Will it happen? Will anyone care as much as I do? I’ve launched a Facebook group to get that ball rolling. Join it!

My dream is to start a literary imprint that revives more of these Star Lady Memoirs — there’s so much history and wisdom in these books, but they’re considered disposable once they go out of print. Shelley Winters, Pearl Bailey, Tallulah Bankhead — they bared their souls to us, and we’re just throwing these stories away.

If you asked me a year ago, I’d have said it was hopeless. But having managed to pull Elsa’s book out of the trash, I’m changing my answer to “anything is possible.”

Elsa Lanchester, Herself is now available in the Haute Macabre Book Shop


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From the Archives: Elsa Lanchester, Herself. An Interview with Tom Blunt

by on Jun.10, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from | Go to Original Post

It’s hard to know when imagery so striking, so wonderfully eerie, so utterly iconoclastic as the one presented by Elsa Lanchester as The Bride of Frankenstein, first becomes embedded in one’s memory. When was I not aware of this astonishing creature, this electric-tressed beauty, robed in ghostly whites and the most elegant bandages ever glimpsed on screen? That intensely penetrating gaze, those severe slashes of eyebrows, that exquisite jawline!

Elsa Lanchester the actress, and the human, much like her character in The Bride of Frankenstein, was more than the sum of her extraordinary parts; in her fantastic 1983 autobiography Elsa Lanchester, Herself one beholds the creation of, and rise of this independent, liberated woman from her bohemian upbringing by radical socialist parents, to her life in film, two world wars, stage acting in London, her dance career and her marriage to actor Charles Laughton. Reading the actress’s reminiscences and observations, in her own words, on everything from her hilarious vignettes describing her early family life, to the many profound personalities she met from the first half of the 20th century, is akin to sitting for a coffee with your cattiest, most witty friend, spellbound by their enthralling gossip and stories. Not only are these recollections penned with warmth, wit, and delightful candor–the lady could write, too! I don’t think I’ve ever read a more eloquent, wonderfully worded glimpse into a celebrity’s life. I would have recommended Elsa Lanchester, Herself to everyone I know–but, unfortunately until just a few weeks ago, this fabulous memoir was out of print.

Of course, I didn’t even know the book existed until I began following Tom Blunt’s “Reprint Elsa” campaign a few years ago.  Drawn to the fringes of the odd and the mundane, Tom is a writer, producer, and performer who shares his unique perspectives on culture, history, and LGBTQ issues. With these credentials then, it may not surprise you to learn that Tom is also part of the team over at our dear friends and purveyors of esoteric perfumes and potions, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Tom has been the Lab’s Relationship Coordinator since 2016 or so and assists in terms of marketing, licensing, and event planning.

It is with great joy and sincere congratulations to Tom that I share our interview with you today– for, as of April 2018, Tom’s campaign was an overwhelming success and Elsa Lanchester, Herself was reprinted by the Chicago Review Press. Read on for Tom’s wonderful insights into this striking and unusual Golden Era entertainer and his quest to ensure that so many decades later, she finally finds her people.


 

About Elsa Lanchester’s autobiography, and the actress herself, Vincent Price wrote, “A very special person tells a special tale of an extraordinarily special life and she tells it brilliantly in her own special way.” I can’t help but to agree, after having read it for myself. I’d love to hear why this extraordinary person was special to you.

What’s strange is that she wasn’t really special to me before all this happened. Since childhood I’ve always been drawn to Bride of Frankenstein as an icon of ferocious, maligned womanhood, but those were the days before you could look someone up on IMDB and see what else they’d been in. I’d seen some of Elsa’s later movies, but never connected that distinctive face and voice to the hissing Bride, and didn’t know her book even existed until I found a copy in a thrift store.

“If this is any good whatsoever,” I told the friend who was shopping with me, “I’m going to do a whole show about her.” This was back when I was producing and hosting a variety show in New York City, revolving around undersung women in film.

I think I only read about five pages before reaching out to the programmer at our venue, the 92nd Street Y, to pitch a show, which I called “The Elsa Monologues.” The idea was that I’d conscript a bunch of actors and nightlife types to perform excerpts from the book, and we’d share clips from Elsa’s film career, maybe throw in a burlesque number. (By the night of the event, our lineup included a milliner who’d designed a couture hat inspired by The Bride’s hair.)

Toward the end of the book, I began to get funny uncanny tingles about it. More than anything she achieved in film, Elsa felt her true calling was in cabaret singing — funny, character-based songs that were sometimes poignant and often quite filthy. As a teenager she even started her own cabaret nightspot in London, which she called the “Cave of Harmony.” And now here I was a century later, a struggling wannabe artist trying to create my own ridiculous scene, with drag queens and musicians and famous character actresses. She did everything first, and better. I was in awe.

So she became special to me through this book, through all these disarming stories that resonate with tremendous sadness, which she masterfully sows with comedic jolts. There’s nothing better than a book written by someone who’s a born entertainer.

Not to make too big a deal out of it, but the timing of all this felt fateful to me, and I wanted to make sure she finally found her people.

Elsa Lanchester, Herself was originally published, I believe in 1983. What were your thoughts, when reading it for the first time? What was it about the woman– her life, her words, her experiences–that struck you as relevant and compelling and not only worthy of a reprint, but perhaps vital, at that particular point in time?

I read lots of what I like to call Star Lady Memoirs. A lot of them! While nearly all of them are worth reading, it’s not very often that I feel someone’s life force so strongly in their words.

Perhaps it’s because Elsa wrote this book at the end of her life, when she had nothing left to lose. It’s not in her nature to simply complain about all the pain and disappointment in her life — she spins an enthralling story out of every misery, dropping certain details so candidly they just leave you stunned. There’s a rare art to baring your soul to people in a way that actually leaves them wanting more.

I was particularly struck by the torment she weathered as the long-suffering wife of a closeted gay movie star — and Charles Laughton was a much bigger star then she was, so she labored in the shadow of his greatness for decades. On top of that, he seemed genuinely threatened by her success, and sabotaged her in a million ways, large and small.

She wrote this book after Laughton’s death, and while she pulls no punches against him, she still manages to profess an enduring love and tenderness for him, and an appreciation for his suffering as a human forced to spend his whole life in hiding. That really broke my heart. Marriages like these are still happening today. People need to hear these stories.

However, back in ’83, there was almost no hope of a book like this finding an audience. People believed women even less than they do now, and it was considered tasteless to “speak ill” of a famous loved one who was no longer alive to tell his side of the story — especially if you appeared to capitalize on it. As you may have noticed, Hollywood is notoriously closed-mouthed about certain things and detests people who blab.

On top of that, women weren’t the major literary marketing target they are now, nor were LGBTQ people. So, telling these stories about her marriage wasn’t seen as an act of bravery among movie buffs. It was more like embarrassing faux pas made by an avowed eccentric… to the extent that anyone cared at all.

As I read the book, I marveled at some of the crucial ways in which the world has changed since Elsa died. If anything, she’s much more famous than Charles now — The Bride’s image still echoes through pop culture, and people will always trace that back to her. Today we find ourselves looking back at everything we took for granted about the 20th century, examining it through the eyes of all the women and queer people whose stories were never told, or amplified so they could actually be heard, and be part of the record. Elsa managed to document the very special sort of hell she and Charles occupied together, and left a record of it for future generations, in case anyone cares.

I think time and history were actually on her side all along. I think we do care, and I decided to make sure the stone got kicked just a little bit further down the road so that a new generation of monster-lovers would find out about her, and older ones would see the bizarre events of her life through fresh eyes.

The book was reprinted by Chicago Press just this year (congrats!), and with your social media coverage and campaigns, you were instrumental to the process. How did you become involved? And how do you even approach something like this? Getting a book back into print can be extremely difficult, especially when the author is no longer alive to promote it. I understand that it was not an an easy road at any point–can you speak to some of the hurdles along the way?

After our Elsa tribute show, I basically picked up the tools I use for producing nightlife events — publicity, creativity, and a high tolerance for rejection — and set out to apply gentle (yet unrelenting) pressure on the powers that be, in hopes of guiding the book back into print.

I’m no expert in this area, but I interned at a publisher in NYC once upon a time, so I knew a thing or two about the challenges involved in reviving someone else’s book. One of the hardest parts is sorting through who really owns it, and that’s an area where you can’t take anything for granted, unless you want to end up in court.

I started out with the original publisher, St. Martins, but was informed the rights had reverted back to Elsa’s estate. I then spent years dealing with the organization that controls her estate, before discovering the rights had never actually reverted at all. They’d been tussling with me over a property they actually didn’t own in the first place.

That’s a great example of another huge challenge in the reprinting process: since no one stands to make a substantial amount of money, the parties involved can actually be so apathetic, they won’t take the time to perform a perfunctory search before answering any of your questions.

Along the way, I was even in touch with Elsa’s original literary agent from the ‘80s, who informed me that he’d been so charmed by the book that he adapted it into a screenplay — this actually exists somewhere, though I have yet to see a copy of it. His only paper copy was destroyed in a fire.

A couple of years into the project, my social media antics caught the eye of the Chicago Review Press, who reached out and ultimately joined the crusade, making an official bid on the rights. Even then, we remained in limbo for additional years.

At some point I basically divested and moved on to other battles. Even when CRP notified me that we’d won, and the book would actually be reprinted, I was still afraid to get my hopes up. It wasn’t until they began asking for input related to the physical book itself, such as who we could get to write a foreword (my friend Mara Wilson did a terrific job!) that I trusted it was a done deal.

Even so, I didn’t share any news with the hundreds of people following our Facebook group until I had an actual pre-sale link. There’s nothing worse than taking a victory lap and then discovering you can’t actually deliver what you promised.

But she’s here! And I did deliver, although credit is owed to the numerous people who participated and pushed alongside me. This is a team victory.

Now that Elsa Lanchester, Herself is in circulation again and new generations are learning of this fascinating, fabulous woman, what is it that you hope people take away from her story?

That nothing anyone thinks or says about you counts more than what you think and say about yourself. While I urged CRP to make sure there was a picture of The Bride on the book’s cover, (for marketing purposes, natch) readers will note that Elsa writes very little about her experience in that film. While she was grateful to have left her mark, she is open about the mixed blessing of being known for one major thing — and The Bride wasn’t her creation at all, she was mainly just a vessel for someone else’s makeup and costume design.

After the book was written, Elsa’s version of events was disputed by some of Laughton’s friends, such as Maureen O’Hara, who commented: “[Elsa] was witty, and down deep, she was decent, but she always seemed to want something outside her reach.” Well, who doesn’t?

You may never end up being known for your best qualities. Hell, you’re lucky if you can even identify them in yourself, or put them to any real use whatsoever, before you’re gone and buried. If Elsa hadn’t written this book, I doubt anyone would think to go back and listen to all the music she released — which is still currently available online, and contains the very essence of her talent and personality. In 1951, The New Yorker described her musical act thusly: “There is a desperate quality about her art; in some curious way, she takes her listeners out of a close, tidy world and into a disquieting place filled with sharp winds and unsteady laughter.”

I think that’s pretty punk rock.

What’s next on the horizon? You enigmatically remarked on your blog that ” …Elsa’s not the only incredible lady we’re interested in.” Any future projects involving extraordinary women that we should be looking out for?

I have schemes, but that’s about it. The next memoirist in my sights is Ann Miller, the tap-dancing starlet who fancied herself psychic, and whose screen career spanned everything from Easter Parade to Mulholland Drive. Her book Miller’s High Life (yes, that’s the real title) is fascinating, and I befriended a relative of hers who wants to help make a reprint happen. Will it happen? Will anyone care as much as I do? I’ve launched a Facebook group to get that ball rolling. Join it!

My dream is to start a literary imprint that revives more of these Star Lady Memoirs — there’s so much history and wisdom in these books, but they’re considered disposable once they go out of print. Shelley Winters, Pearl Bailey, Tallulah Bankhead — they bared their souls to us, and we’re just throwing these stories away.

If you asked me a year ago, I’d have said it was hopeless. But having managed to pull Elsa’s book out of the trash, I’m changing my answer to “anything is possible.”

Elsa Lanchester, Herself is now available in the Haute Macabre Book Shop


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New Offerings: Garnet, Labradorite, Rose Quartz, Pyrite and Cleansing Bundles

by on Jun.07, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from | Go to Original Post

A small set of offerings on this June evening to the Haute Macabre Shop. I have been finding comfort in these pieces surrounding me recently, and am hoping that you shall find the same. As always, I have hand selected each individual piece made available. At times, this doesn’t mean that the piece specifically calls out to me personally, but uses me as a conduit to find you.

Pyrite, available in small, medium, and large pieces. A glistening metallic golden piece of pyrite, believed to hold fire in its core. Use this fire within to assist in manifesting your deepest desires: Pyrite is a great motivator and energy shield, as it creates an immediate increase in vitaliy. Each piece contains caverns of glittering golden yellow.

I work with Pyrite alongside the Empress in the Tarot, calling forth the motivation and the prospects of abundance in all aspects of my life. Think big when working with pyrite: transform your Ace of Swords into the Ten of Pentacles.

Rose Quartz Obelisks, healers of the heart and balms for grief and despair, a relief for trauma, and on a softer note, amplifies compassion, harmony, and soul connection.

Ritual Cravt Sage & Palo Cleansing Bundle.

Privately and sustainably grown California White Sage and sustainably sourced Peruvian Palo Santo is hand wrapped with Ritual Cravt’s proprietary 4 Directions herb blend and a crystal. These are perfect for clearing out energies first with Sage, and bringing blessings back in with Palo Santo. Energies are amplified with the accompanying stone and our herbal blend calls in the energies of the four directions. Makes a beautiful gift as well.

Ritual Cravt’s white sage is sustainably grown by Sage Winds Farm in California and is never wildcrafted. White sage is an endangered indigenous medicine, please buy carefully and ask where your sage comes from!

One free standing and extra flashy polished Labradorite, bringing one’s deep magical powers to the surface. A stone of protection, both physically and psychically. The dark sister of the moonstone, the crone face of the triple goddess, awakening mystical innate energy and powers within.

Multi Faceted Garnets, which I have kept within reach since I found these. These glittering blood red stones will assist in healing trauma while diving into your deepest self, helping to remove your inhibitions, and boost your confidence and self worth, similar to the carnelian.


These selections are now available in the Haute Macabre Shop.


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Stacked May 2019

by on Jun.05, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from | Go to Original Post

Sonya:

You Should Have Left: A Novel by Daniel Kehlmann — I loved this novel which, to me, felt like the Platonic ideal of the innermost story of House of Leaves, a terrible book nobody good ever finished and which buried its one promising narrative under piles of pretentious dude shit that wasn’t cute when I was in college and sue me for not wanting to turn a book upside down just to keep track of who your main character is fucking, anyway.

The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli — Recommended by my friend Paige, this book was an odd reading experience. Every other chapter swung me from love to hate, from thinking it was incredible and insightful to finding it horrible and dull. I sent Paige a screenshot of a paragraph saying it was one of the best things ever written; I sent Paige a message saying I hadn’t then read the following paragraph and I take back everything. I wanted to put it down and I relished every word. It’s surreal, packed with parables and anecdotes and a love for language and linguistics that’s deliciously rare, and one of the most unique books I’ve come across.

Without Protection by Gala Mukomolova — Gala is one of the first contemporary Russian poets I ever found online, a chance to finally talk to a peer about writing and immigration and pelmeni and strange parents and queerness and the complicated threads we leave everywhere that tie us to our past and have them reply, “Da, ponemaju vsjo.” We’ve since found many others like us — shout out here to The Cheburashki — but Gala’s words are particularly dear to me for reasons both inside and outside of their inherent brilliance. Without Protection is her first full-length; it’s beyond powerful.

You Know You Want This: “Cat Person” And Other Stories by Kristen Roupenian — My husband has a phone alarm set for January 2020 that says something along the lines of “check if anyone still cares about ‘Cat Person’” and the joke’s on him — it’s going to be me. I wasn’t smitten with the viral story about millennial dating when it ran in The New Yorker in 2017 but I bought Roupenian’s collection anyway. It starts out as I expected, with millennial dating. It was fine. And then shit got weird. I mean, weird. Monster curses! Body-horror spells! More… dating? Turns out Roupenian is a graduate of the science fiction & fantasy workshop Clarion West, and also a fucking genius.

Sour Heart: Stories by Jenny Zhang — I had the honor of doing a reading with Jenny several years ago, though I fainted right before her set and spent it sitting outside against a wall, wiping vomit off my dress and false eyelashes off the ground while my husband insisted I looked totally fine and could go back in, for sure. I think Jenny might appreciate such an intro to her story collection, which deals with immigration and family and loss and gain and promise and sacrifice and the brutal, beautiful messiness of being a human from one place creating lives in another.

Ghost Wall: A Novel by Sarah Moss — I often say that my favorite genre is “non-fictiony fiction,” meaning the kind of fiction where it’s clear the author went down some kind of research hole that utterly fascinated them but, because they are a fiction writer and not, say, a journalist, turned their up-all-night discoveries into a story. And I mean a story that sings, not like that one ridiculously long chapter from Notre Dame de Paris that describes the city’s buildings to such a dull extent that you wonder if you’re reading a novel or a Wikipedia article. Moss’ Ghost Wall, which I consumed in one sitting, is most certainly the former and, moreover, combines two of my favorite things: the horror genre and bog bodies. BOG BODIES! Read this one.

Sarah

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang is a book that I started earlier in the spring and finished in May and I’m still not certain how to even begin to tackle the material. I feel funny saying that I “enjoyed” a book that personally chronicles a woman’s exhausting experience with psychosis and a perpetually shifting reality, but in truth, I did tremendously enjoy it. Or, rather, it feels more human to say I enjoyed learning more about what it is to live with schizophrenia, a diagnosis that has always both intrigued and terrified me in equal measure, I suppose, because of the streak of mental illness that runs through my own family.  Intimate, candid, and immediately compelling, these vivid, tangled essays provided perspectives into both chronic and mental illness and insights that were surprising, terrifying, but also wonderfully illuminating, sometimes even quite empowering.

I spent two weeks in the psych ward immediately following a suicide attempt when I was 28 years old; my memories of that time are a collection of amorphous moments of cloudy despair alternating with slices of razor-sharp fury and crystalline focus. I was not experiencing a psychotic break; I wasn’t hallucinating, my reality wasn’t (exactly) fracturing–my experience was not even close to that of the author’s, but I wasn’t myself while I was there. I had a very hard time finding my way back. In the course of these writings, the author shared some things that helped her when she felt herself starting to slip, and I feel that had I access to such ideas, they might also have helped me. When she starts to feel the onset of what she describes as a sort of psychic detachment,  “episodes that preclude psychosis, or even mild psychosis–the episodes in which I must tread carefully to keep myself where I am,” she implements small, symbolic systems of defense or spiritual safeguards that have a connection to the “sacred arts”. The solace granted by these practices is not through the beliefs accompanying them, but rather the actions they recommend. “To say this prayer–burn this candle–perform this ritual–create this salt or honey jar–is to have something to do when it seems nothing can be done.” If the delusions come to call, she has a ribbon she will tie around her ankle: “If I must live with a slippery mind,” she muses as the last essay concludes, “I want to know how to tether it, too.”

The Word Pretty by Elisa Gabbert. I like books in which people spend time thinking about things; especially when it’s the writers themselves thinking about things, and even more so when those things being pondered are related to their craft. They are the kinds of conversations and connections and observations that I’d like to share with people, if I weren’t so self-conscious about sharing (or having an opinion or talking to people at all…) and so instead I read about these internal conversations in the form of brilliantly inquisitive and obsessive essays, written by other people. Even on the subjects and anecdotes I related to or connected with, though, it was on the level, I felt, of a lower life form. Elisa Gabbert writes like the accomplished, sophisticated interesting-in-all-ways person that I wish I was, and I felt like I was an amoeba trying to relate to some sort of higher being, complete with halo and wings. Even if I thought I was relating exactly to a particular thought, was I really? Would I even know, middling mediocre hack that I am? The more I read, the more unsure of myself I grew…and yet, I could not stop reading. Elisa Gabbert, I am sure that you are a very nice person and it was not your intent that I feel this way. I loved this book, even though I did not love the way I felt about myself when I read it.

Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin is apparently “far too bewildering” for one reviewer on Amazon and if that’s not your thing, then you may want to skip this slim book of surreal, unsettling stories. To be fair to the stories, though, I think this reviewer might have had a very low tolerance for the bizarre. There are no happy endings (and very few happy beginnings or middles) and really, several stories don’t even quite have a proper ending, happy or otherwise– rather just an abrupt stopping point or a vague notion that the story may continue forever, whether or not we are still present and reading. Many of the tales are dark and violent, brutal and heartbreaking, but the one I loved was not a particular standout in any way I can pinpoint or recommend. It involved the theme of familial bonds, one adult brother’s bemused and at times perplexed recounting of another brother’s depression, in the midst of a family that seems to be thriving and in which everyone else appears to be hunky-dory. I don’t think I’m remembering it exactly as I read it, but at one point, in a brief and sudden flash, the successful brother, at a family barbecue full of mirth and merriment, experiences an unexpected moment of (was it sadness? anxiety? maybe more of a nothingness? A nothingness that might last forever? I can’t recall) but I remember feeling… vindicated, and a bit vindictive, when my first thought was “so then…now you know how it feels.” I’m neither a masterful enough reader nor writer to say if that was a bit of subtlety on the part of the author, or if she aggressively smacked us over the head with the notion, but I felt what I felt, and I loved that profound punctuation in what was otherwise a not very engaging story. It elevated it somehow, to something extraordinary.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. Sometimes I like to read trashy books. And when there are obscenely rich people in the story, spending their money in stupidly extravagant ways, that is the maybe best kind of trash. It’s particularly good for in-flight reading. I usually leave these books in the lodgings I stayed at, for someone else’s trashy enjoyment. You can find my copy of Crazy Rich Asians in the bar of The Rosemary hotel in L.A.

Maika

Veronica by Nicholas Christopher – I was first introduced to the work of Nicholas Christopher a couple years ago via the dazzling experiences that was his ’00 novel A Trip to the Stars. Veronica was published 4 years earlier, but it didn’t find its way to me until last month. I was entirely swept off my feet by this magical, mystical, synchronistic story. Not that comparison is necessary, but because I think if you like one book, you should definitely read the other: while both books are visionary in their own right, I found A Trip to the Stars to be a more complex and epic tale than Veronica, which feels more intimate to me, though it’s also sweeping and breathtakingly creative. I fear I’m turning into a terrible book reviewer when I repeatedly find myself saying, “the less I tell you about this, the more you’ll enjoy it,” but it’s true. Approach Veronica like you’ve just stepped out onto the streets of Manhattan on a snowy winter night. Your eyes are drawn to a mysterious woman searching for her keys in the snow. She knows you’re watching her and, from this point, nothing is ever going to be the same.

MEM by Bethany C. Morrow – Speculative science fiction about identity and memory set in Jazz Age Montreal. What’s not to love? I’m fascinated by memory, by how we remember, how memory is intimately connected to all our senses, how the act of remembering itself alters our memories, and I devoured this beautiful novel.

Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis – Intensely creative, utterly strange and surreal, and very very dark, I’m reluctant to try to categorize these beautifully written short stories. Science/speculative fiction-y, but boxing them in like that feels like a disservice. There’s a twisted magic realism at work here and all sorts of very shrewd commentary on the human condition. I know I’m generalizing about sci fi here, but these aren’t tales of people who’ve advanced to live forever above the clouds, traveled to colonies on mars or the moon, or commune with alien life forms. These are gritty stories about people who still live on the ground to live beneath the people who live above the clouds – where sex robots fall from the sky and people rejected by their advanced moon or martian societies and banished to live back on earth. This is a world where mortgages are paid off by blood sacrifice, loss drives people to become feral (and then some), people escape into virtual reality that occupying alien populations are paying voyeurs, and, as is the case so often for so many of us, in fiction or very real life, where people are yearning, striving, clawing, and even bleeding in effort to find ways to connect. I want more.

Betwixt-And-Between: Essays on the Writing Life by Jenny Boully – Writing about writing that reads like dreaming someone else’s dreams. I love this collection of essays, which are as much about being a writer, the act of writing, and the power of the written word as they are about time and memory and the messy complexities of being passionately alive.

“I have a suspicion that in this life, mirrors are not meant for looking into but rather for looking out of. I only have to master this kind of looking, and then I will be able to see what the outside has to offer, instead of only seeing myself looking outward ad infinitum. Sometimes, I have a paranoia that I am not living this life but another one that was invented for me, and this is only a long daydream, the kind where only bad things happen. But when do the daydreams begin and the dreams end, and where does the sky end and the prairie grass begin? There are stars in the grass…”

Beautiful.

Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler – I’ve been on such a lengthy and satisfying short story kick, I was delighted when a lovely friend told me that Octavia Butler had published her own collection of short stories. I picked up a copy straight away and enjoyed it from cover to cover – and not just the stories, but how Butler took a moment at the end of each of them to reflect on them with brief afterwards. There is some seriously visionary content happening in these stories – even more so when you realize most were written in the late 70s and 80s and are reminded how little today is actually original. Apologies to Ms Butler if this offends the ghost of a brilliant novelist, but I would happily watch TV series based on “Bloodchild,” “The Evening and the Morning and the Night,” “Speechsounds,” or “Amnesty.” Actually, I just want more of “The Evening and the Morning and the Night” and “Amnesty” in any form. I also particularly appreciated “Positive Obsession” and “Furor Scribendi,” one an autobiographical essay about Butler determination to become a professional writer, the other an essay about the challenges of writing and six rules for new or struggling writers, which boil down to one radiant piece of guidance for so many dreams: Persist.


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Stacked May 2019

by on Jun.05, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from | Go to Original Post

Sonya:

You Should Have Left: A Novel by Daniel Kehlmann — I loved this novel which, to me, felt like the Platonic ideal of the innermost story of House of Leaves, a terrible book nobody good ever finished and which buried its one promising narrative under piles of pretentious dude shit that wasn’t cute when I was in college and sue me for not wanting to turn a book upside down just to keep track of who your main character is fucking, anyway.

The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli — Recommended by my friend Paige, this book was an odd reading experience. Every other chapter swung me from love to hate, from thinking it was incredible and insightful to finding it horrible and dull. I sent Paige a screenshot of a paragraph saying it was one of the best things ever written; I sent Paige a message saying I hadn’t then read the following paragraph and I take back everything. I wanted to put it down and I relished every word. It’s surreal, packed with parables and anecdotes and a love for language and linguistics that’s deliciously rare, and one of the most unique books I’ve come across.

Without Protection by Gala Mukomolova — Gala is one of the first contemporary Russian poets I ever found online, a chance to finally talk to a peer about writing and immigration and pelmeni and strange parents and queerness and the complicated threads we leave everywhere that tie us to our past and have them reply, “Da, ponemaju vsjo.” We’ve since found many others like us — shout out here to The Cheburashki — but Gala’s words are particularly dear to me for reasons both inside and outside of their inherent brilliance. Without Protection is her first full-length; it’s beyond powerful.

You Know You Want This: “Cat Person” And Other Stories by Kristen Roupenian — My husband has a phone alarm set for January 2020 that says something along the lines of “check if anyone still cares about ‘Cat Person’” and the joke’s on him — it’s going to be me. I wasn’t smitten with the viral story about millennial dating when it ran in The New Yorker in 2017 but I bought Roupenian’s collection anyway. It starts out as I expected, with millennial dating. It was fine. And then shit got weird. I mean, weird. Monster curses! Body-horror spells! More… dating? Turns out Roupenian is a graduate of the science fiction & fantasy workshop Clarion West, and also a fucking genius.

Sour Heart: Stories by Jenny Zhang — I had the honor of doing a reading with Jenny several years ago, though I fainted right before her set and spent it sitting outside against a wall, wiping vomit off my dress and false eyelashes off the ground while my husband insisted I looked totally fine and could go back in, for sure. I think Jenny might appreciate such an intro to her story collection, which deals with immigration and family and loss and gain and promise and sacrifice and the brutal, beautiful messiness of being a human from one place creating lives in another.

Ghost Wall: A Novel by Sarah Moss — I often say that my favorite genre is “non-fictiony fiction,” meaning the kind of fiction where it’s clear the author went down some kind of research hole that utterly fascinated them but, because they are a fiction writer and not, say, a journalist, turned their up-all-night discoveries into a story. And I mean a story that sings, not like that one ridiculously long chapter from Notre Dame de Paris that describes the city’s buildings to such a dull extent that you wonder if you’re reading a novel or a Wikipedia article. Moss’ Ghost Wall, which I consumed in one sitting, is most certainly the former and, moreover, combines two of my favorite things: the horror genre and bog bodies. BOG BODIES! Read this one.

Sarah

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang is a book that I started earlier in the spring and finished in May and I’m still not certain how to even begin to tackle the material. I feel funny saying that I “enjoyed” a book that personally chronicles a woman’s exhausting experience with psychosis and a perpetually shifting reality, but in truth, I did tremendously enjoy it. Or, rather, it feels more human to say I enjoyed learning more about what it is to live with schizophrenia, a diagnosis that has always both intrigued and terrified me in equal measure, I suppose, because of the streak of mental illness that runs through my own family.  Intimate, candid, and immediately compelling, these vivid, tangled essays provided perspectives into both chronic and mental illness and insights that were surprising, terrifying, but also wonderfully illuminating, sometimes even quite empowering.

I spent two weeks in the psych ward immediately following a suicide attempt when I was 28 years old; my memories of that time are a collection of amorphous moments of cloudy despair alternating with slices of razor-sharp fury and crystalline focus. I was not experiencing a psychotic break; I wasn’t hallucinating, my reality wasn’t (exactly) fracturing–my experience was not even close to that of the author’s, but I wasn’t myself while I was there. I had a very hard time finding my way back. In the course of these writings, the author shared some things that helped her when she felt herself starting to slip, and I feel that had I access to such ideas, they might also have helped me. When she starts to feel the onset of what she describes as a sort of psychic detachment,  “episodes that preclude psychosis, or even mild psychosis–the episodes in which I must tread carefully to keep myself where I am,” she implements small, symbolic systems of defense or spiritual safeguards that have a connection to the “sacred arts”. The solace granted by these practices is not through the beliefs accompanying them, but rather the actions they recommend. “To say this prayer–burn this candle–perform this ritual–create this salt or honey jar–is to have something to do when it seems nothing can be done.” If the delusions come to call, she has a ribbon she will tie around her ankle: “If I must live with a slippery mind,” she muses as the last essay concludes, “I want to know how to tether it, too.”

The Word Pretty by Elisa Gabbert. I like books in which people spend time thinking about things; especially when it’s the writers themselves thinking about things, and even more so when those things being pondered are related to their craft. They are the kinds of conversations and connections and observations that I’d like to share with people, if I weren’t so self-conscious about sharing (or having an opinion or talking to people at all…) and so instead I read about these internal conversations in the form of brilliantly inquisitive and obsessive essays, written by other people. Even on the subjects and anecdotes I related to or connected with, though, it was on the level, I felt, of a lower life form. Elisa Gabbert writes like the accomplished, sophisticated interesting-in-all-ways person that I wish I was, and I felt like I was an amoeba trying to relate to some sort of higher being, complete with halo and wings. Even if I thought I was relating exactly to a particular thought, was I really? Would I even know, middling mediocre hack that I am? The more I read, the more unsure of myself I grew…and yet, I could not stop reading. Elisa Gabbert, I am sure that you are a very nice person and it was not your intent that I feel this way. I loved this book, even though I did not love the way I felt about myself when I read it.

Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin is apparently “far too bewildering” for one reviewer on Amazon and if that’s not your thing, then you may want to skip this slim book of surreal, unsettling stories. To be fair to the stories, though, I think this reviewer might have had a very low tolerance for the bizarre. There are no happy endings (and very few happy beginnings or middles) and really, several stories don’t even quite have a proper ending, happy or otherwise– rather just an abrupt stopping point or a vague notion that the story may continue forever, whether or not we are still present and reading. Many of the tales are dark and violent, brutal and heartbreaking, but the one I loved was not a particular standout in any way I can pinpoint or recommend. It involved the theme of familial bonds, one adult brother’s bemused and at times perplexed recounting of another brother’s depression, in the midst of a family that seems to be thriving and in which everyone else appears to be hunky-dory. I don’t think I’m remembering it exactly as I read it, but at one point, in a brief and sudden flash, the successful brother, at a family barbecue full of mirth and merriment, experiences an unexpected moment of (was it sadness? anxiety? maybe more of a nothingness? A nothingness that might last forever? I can’t recall) but I remember feeling… vindicated, and a bit vindictive, when my first thought was “so then…now you know how it feels.” I’m neither a masterful enough reader nor writer to say if that was a bit of subtlety on the part of the author, or if she aggressively smacked us over the head with the notion, but I felt what I felt, and I loved that profound punctuation in what was otherwise a not very engaging story. It elevated it somehow, to something extraordinary.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. Sometimes I like to read trashy books. And when there are obscenely rich people in the story, spending their money in stupidly extravagant ways, that is the maybe best kind of trash. It’s particularly good for in-flight reading. I usually leave these books in the lodgings I stayed at, for someone else’s trashy enjoyment. You can find my copy of Crazy Rich Asians in the bar of The Rosemary hotel in L.A.

Maika

Veronica by Nicholas Christopher – I was first introduced to the work of Nicholas Christopher a couple years ago via the dazzling experiences that was his ’00 novel A Trip to the Stars. Veronica was published 4 years earlier, but it didn’t find its way to me until last month. I was entirely swept off my feet by this magical, mystical, synchronistic story. Not that comparison is necessary, but because I think if you like one book, you should definitely read the other: while both books are visionary in their own right, I found A Trip to the Stars to be a more complex and epic tale than Veronica, which feels more intimate to me, though it’s also sweeping and breathtakingly creative. I fear I’m turning into a terrible book reviewer when I repeatedly find myself saying, “the less I tell you about this, the more you’ll enjoy it,” but it’s true. Approach Veronica like you’ve just stepped out onto the streets of Manhattan on a snowy winter night. Your eyes are drawn to a mysterious woman searching for her keys in the snow. She knows you’re watching her and, from this point, nothing is ever going to be the same.

MEM by Bethany C. Morrow – Speculative science fiction about identity and memory set in Jazz Age Montreal. What’s not to love? I’m fascinated by memory, by how we remember, how memory is intimately connected to all our senses, how the act of remembering itself alters our memories, and I devoured this beautiful novel.

Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis – Intensely creative, utterly strange and surreal, and very very dark, I’m reluctant to try to categorize these beautifully written short stories. Science/speculative fiction-y, but boxing them in like that feels like a disservice. There’s a twisted magic realism at work here and all sorts of very shrewd commentary on the human condition. I know I’m generalizing about sci fi here, but these aren’t tales of people who’ve advanced to live forever above the clouds, traveled to colonies on mars or the moon, or commune with alien life forms. These are gritty stories about people who still live on the ground to live beneath the people who live above the clouds – where sex robots fall from the sky and people rejected by their advanced moon or martian societies and banished to live back on earth. This is a world where mortgages are paid off by blood sacrifice, loss drives people to become feral (and then some), people escape into virtual reality that occupying alien populations are paying voyeurs, and, as is the case so often for so many of us, in fiction or very real life, where people are yearning, striving, clawing, and even bleeding in effort to find ways to connect. I want more.

Betwixt-And-Between: Essays on the Writing Life by Jenny Boully – Writing about writing that reads like dreaming someone else’s dreams. I love this collection of essays, which are as much about being a writer, the act of writing, and the power of the written word as they are about time and memory and the messy complexities of being passionately alive.

“I have a suspicion that in this life, mirrors are not meant for looking into but rather for looking out of. I only have to master this kind of looking, and then I will be able to see what the outside has to offer, instead of only seeing myself looking outward ad infinitum. Sometimes, I have a paranoia that I am not living this life but another one that was invented for me, and this is only a long daydream, the kind where only bad things happen. But when do the daydreams begin and the dreams end, and where does the sky end and the prairie grass begin? There are stars in the grass…”

Beautiful.

Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler – I’ve been on such a lengthy and satisfying short story kick, I was delighted when a lovely friend told me that Octavia Butler had published her own collection of short stories. I picked up a copy straight away and enjoyed it from cover to cover – and not just the stories, but how Butler took a moment at the end of each of them to reflect on them with brief afterwards. There is some seriously visionary content happening in these stories – even more so when you realize most were written in the late 70s and 80s and are reminded how little today is actually original. Apologies to Ms Butler if this offends the ghost of a brilliant novelist, but I would happily watch TV series based on “Bloodchild,” “The Evening and the Morning and the Night,” “Speechsounds,” or “Amnesty.” Actually, I just want more of “The Evening and the Morning and the Night” and “Amnesty” in any form. I also particularly appreciated “Positive Obsession” and “Furor Scribendi,” one an autobiographical essay about Butler determination to become a professional writer, the other an essay about the challenges of writing and six rules for new or struggling writers, which boil down to one radiant piece of guidance for so many dreams: Persist.


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Post Mortem: May 2019

by on Jun.03, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

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