In The Flesh

9 x 56 min.

More zombies? Yes, but possibly like you’ve never experienced them before. These zombies view brains as a delicacy, they are back from the dead, and they are medicated in such a way that they are not rabid any more and need to assimilate (back) into society. The bbbc-in-the-fleshBBC sometimes likes to spin things just a bit differently, and this time they do it well.

If the pain and discomfort of having undead murderers move back into your neighbourhood, add a bit more human horror with having the neighbourhood being a small, Northern England one, and have the main character be different in another way as well: main character Kieren is gay. It’s hard to discover which one is viewed as worse.

That makes In The Flesh – possibly more than other zombie stories – a show to look at your way of viewing the other in society, and the hypocrisy of Not In My Backyard and the like. This doesn’t turn it into a Save Humankind pamphlet, which might make things even a little bit more depressing. And yet, it’s a show to watch, a pain to suffer. That darn BBC again.

In The Flesh, BBC 2013

Juliet Takes A Breath

Dear Harlowe,

Hi, my name is Juliet Palante.

Wederom een boek dat een noodzakelijke andere invalshoek biedt. Een Puertoricaanse lesbische tiener uit de Bronx die handvaten nodig heeft voor opgroeien, identiteit, feminisme en seksualiteit.

Maar leuk en lief en frustrerend en interessant, echt waar. Juliet worstelt nog met haar identiteit en uit de kast komen, maar heeft veel hulp van een boek. Na een enthousiaste mail naar de auteur mag ze langs komen voor een stage, waardoor ze ook nog moet leren omgaan met een compleet andere omgeving (Bronx naar Portland).

Juliet is heel erg een tiener, maar wel eentje die open staat voor nieuwe dingen leren, waardoor wat-een-tiener-frustraties bijna niet op komen borrelen. Ja, ze is koppig en ongeduldig en wantrouwend, maar ook zelfstandig, nieuwsgierig en kan kritiek aan.

Het boek leest als een technicolor sneltrein, en ik kan mij niet herinneren wanneer ik het voor het laatst zo’n ontiegelijk menselijk YA heb gelezen. Dus doen voor de invalshoek, maar zeker ook voor de lol.

Juliet Takes A Breath, Gabby Rivera, Riverdaleave Books 2016

Memory Mambo

I’ve always thought of memory as a distinct, individual thing.

For me it’s always tougher to argument why I didn’t like a book, especially when I felt like I should. I’m always up for more female, not-white, not heterosexual stories, and the lives of (first generation) immigrants interest me as well.

So what’s lacking with Memory Mambo? From the start it’s unclear who the main character is, what she does and why the reader has to root for her or dislike her. Juani is an extra in her own life, but is so incredibly passive that we don’t know if it’s willingly or because it’s the easiest.

And which story is the reader following: her lamenting her ex, or the happenings of her family? Why does it all fade into each other (okay, that’s daily life, always a challenge to make that look appealing) until A Real Big Thing less than twenty pages from the ending? Was it supposed to be a longer story but cut off for some reason?
Reading is someone’s effort, and this time it didn’t pay off.

Memory Mambo, Achy Obejas, Cleis Press 1996

Dora: A Headcase

Mother is cleaning the spoons again.

“A female fightclub”, “Hopefully to replace Catcher in the Rye in reading lists for the alienated” and an introduction from Chuck Palahniuk – I was very curious about why the heck I had added this book to my To Read list.

While reading the question returned to me on a regular basis, because this isn’t a fun, accessible book. Yet finishing it, I noticed that I’m glad I did. That I took thoughts and ideas and silent hopes of the teens involved into the world with me. Maybe I didn’t like it, but it definitely left me something. Which I think everyone needs with a book from time to time.

Dora is Ida, a girl in love, a daughter off parents that seem not to care or not to be able to function as parents, a psychiatrist’s client. She’s angry and prickly and – a teenager; so of course oh so smart and intelligent and with a clear view of how the world really works. Was she a passive element in one of Freud’s case studies: this time everything but her and her friends seem to be inactive, passive elements in a slow motion world.

Some heart comes from Ida’s friends, but mostly it’s a pool of tar covered in glass shards. Yes, it should replace Catcher, maybe for the sole reason to show that girls can be broken and angry and frustrated with the world as well, while still gain wings to fly through it.

Dora: A Headcase, Lidia Yuknavitch, Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts 2012

Hushed

“I feel that suicide notes lose their zing when they drag on too long.”

One of the reasons I liked this book was because the queerness of the main character isn’t the main subject. This isn’t A Story With A Not Straight Person, it’s a sad, ugly story about what life (and life events) can do to people.

Archer has been looking out for Vivian for her entire life. It’s what she deserves, after he couldn’t save her that one time. So with every bad break up, whenever Vivian calls, he is there, folding his life around her needs, because he has to make things better. He tries to do so by cleansing her life of unwanted subjects, permanently.

Someone new in his life shows him that this isn’t the way a relationship, a friendship should be, but how do you free yourself from a parasitic connection?

Hushed is a thriller in which humans are the scariest creatures, and shows that love can both reap destruction as build bridges.

Hushed, Kelley York, Entangled Publishing 2013

De voddenkoningin

Ik ben niets meer dan het ongewenste gevolg van de verjaardagsborrel die mijn moeder in het café ging halen op de dag dat ze achttien werd.

Nog een fijne Nederlander, maakt de afstand de liefde echt sterker?

Het is niet aan me te zien, maar ik kan kleding – goed, mooi, spannend, knap gemaakt, zeer waarderen. Bijna alleen voor de liefdevolle, precieze omschrijvingen van kledingstukken is dit boek het lezen al waard.

Maar er is meer. Koko’s levensverhaal is een geschiedenisboek, een familiedrama, een feministisch pamflet. En dat allemaal zonder ook maar één moment taai of nukkig te worden. Saskia Goldschmidt schrijft op een stevige maar luchtige manier, met ruimte voor woorden en eigen ideeën en beelden van de lezer. Het is een visuele pracht, verfilming niet nodig. Die zou alleen maar afbreuk doen aan de sprankel.

Boek of ebook vinden dus, en genieten.

De voddenkoningin, Saskia Goldschmidt, Cossee 2015

Parrotfish

I could hear Mom at the phone in the kitchen gleefully shrieking to her younger sister, my aunt Gail.

I put this book on my To Read List because it’s main character is a transgender teen. Society still has so little clue (or care/interest) about the subject, and I think that fiction can be an accessible way to learn more. It clearly been written for teenagers gives some hope about future generations being more understanding. It also gives the not-teenage reader the feeling that they’re reading a children’s book (short sentences, point of view on certain subjects).

Our main character is Grady, whom used to be Angela, a girl and daughter. He needs to get used to shifting perspective, ‘coming out’ as to who he really is, but so do family, friends and school. His naivety fades quickly when he learns that humans really really need everyone to fit into a certain box. Luckily there are supporters (in unlikely places).

The Life Lessons are worked through quite effortlessly, but if you view this book as a first introduction to the subject, it might be best to keep it contained. It shows how support is so very important, and that character should trump exterior and gender.

Parrotfish, Ellen Wittlinger, Simon & Schuster 2007