Monday, November 26, 2012

If you or someone you know had photos damaged by hurricane Sandy, CARE (Cherished Albums Restoration Effort) will digitally restore them for free.They are also looking for volunteers, so if you are a Photoshop wizard, look them up and use your powers for good.

Okay? Okay.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

I had an imaginary friend. Her name was Cousin Jane and she lived in the sewer. I could call her on the fire hydrant that was the same color as her hair. I don't know where she came from or when she left, but I know that I never saw her--I simply knew what she looked like. She was my cousin, you know?

The Icarus Girl is about an unpopular, sickly, and somewhat sad girl named Jessamy, or "Jess," who lives in London with her Anglo dad and Nigerian mom. The book plays with permutations of cleaving and doubling: Jess's "mixed" parentage and the division of her life between sickness and health are two of the more subtle examples of that. The more central doubling occurs when Jess and family go to Nigeria for a month. Jess feels better with all the aunties and cousins, but still on the outside. When she goes exploring the family compound she catches a message just for her: "Then her eye caught on something and she backed, all thoughts of staircases and balconies and upstairs rooms completely forgotten.

On the surface of the tabletop, someone had disturbed the dust. Scrawled in the centre in lopsided lettering were the words HEllO JEssY"

This is Jess's first introduction to a mysterious, mischievous girl that she nicknames Tilly or TillyTilly. But what exactly is TillyTilly? And what does she want with Jess? I loved how Oyeyemi shows the danger inherent in Tilly's seduction by letting the reader see the manipulation that Jess, as an 8 year-old, can't. When Tilly shows up on Jess's London doorstep things get really good.

Sure, this book is a first novel, and that shows occasionally, but The Icarus Girl is scary, very scary. It's a horror book dressed up like a literary novel about the trials of youth and the dangers of loneliness. I stayed up all night reading it, by coincidence in my childhood bedroom, and deep in the dark, I got the for-real shivers. Cousin Jane stopped calling long before my teens but just for a moment I experienced the feeling of the fire hydrant suddenly sounding into the night.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Today has featured two Isle of Man delights:

First Isle of Man stamps of 2013 revealed! To celebrate a Manx heritage museum opening!

"That Ol' Dagon Dark" by Robert MacAnthony (Pseudopod #307) and read by Pseudopod host Alastair Stuart. Never, ever try the special blend, no matter how good it smells.
From the NYPL Digital Gallery: ID 1640578

I spent one Christmas in the  mid-2000s stomping through the snowy streets of Manhattan with a young Manx man. He didn't know what Hanukka is. He also may have thought I was going to murder him. He wanted fish and chips for dinner but I think we ended up with falafel. I think he wanted a Christmas kiss. He promised to write but never did.

So I bought a YA novel by a science fiction author I am trying to get into. Most of the blame should rest on my lack of close reading of the cover copy, but the fact that the design of this book for teenagers is indistinguishable from those marketed to adults says a little something about the genre.


That is all.

Friday, November 02, 2012

taxes, why you pay

Need to get out of the house post-Sandy? Use the internet? Find edification or escapism?
Most Brooklyn Public Library locations are open today until 5, including Central Library at Grand Army Plaza. These are not: Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Flatlands, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend, Jamaica Bay, Kensington, McKinley Park and Sheepshead Bay. All open branches are open normal hours tomorrow. 
NYPL (Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island) are also open til 5 today, with some major exceptions. Click the link for a full list.
The Queens Library system is mostly open normal hours, with the exception of the beach branches (Arverne, Broad Channel, Peninsula and Seaside). Click the link for a full list.


Because the mail must go through I am grateful. With the mail today was this. I cannot wait to read it. Vanessa Veselka and Lidia Yuknavitch wrote two of the best books I read this year, along with several get-down-to-it essays.