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I would not be eaten, nor beaten, no skewered and swimmer I,
no drowned dinner for a circle of cold companions,
gobbling my guts, glutted on my gold.

Beowulf giving ‘zero shits’ and the numerous Bro!’s won’t be for everyone, and that’s okay. Usually, a translation endeavors to be “timeless” so that no matter when it is consumed, it can be reasonably well understood. This approach narrows the translator's available word choice, eliminating popular vernacular, cadence, and jargon in favor of the antiquated versions of these things, as well as the original interpretations of the story itself. …


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“Sometimes the only way to start over in life is to burn down the house.”

Simultaneously evoking the conventional while being unconventional itself, Apartment has an uncanny knack of casting you into the role of the unnamed narrator-protagonist.

They — He — You? — are a somewhat middling, but still budding, writer in an MFA program at Columbia University. Here we meet Billy. Broke but charismatic; naturally gifted, the embodiment of small-town, kind of jock, writer. …


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Adrienne Miller’s memory is a fabulously keen thing. Her memoir is vivid and detailed and, to the dismay of some critics, apparently, approached entirely on her own terms.

Having entered the publishing world of GQ and, later, in 1997, the imminent Esquire, Miller proceeds to carve an almost Mad Men like career. Almost. Her boss only reigns in the spending, otherwise, it appears she is able to do what she likes and does it well.

But even from the start, she feels something is amiss. …


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“It went on in increments not tallied by any earthly measure. For centuries we wander that snow with their blood running from our elbows.”

Whiskey When We’re Dry is (another) proof positive that subversion of any genre is integral to its growth and value. The tropes, and what we have come to expect from our shaped preferences, is all very well and good from time to time. …


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“Her loving him and him being well don’t seem to get on at all… And now they would get nothing but ruination.”

I do not think it is an understatement that of all the books I have read pertaining to Canadian culture, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club is the most important. It is a slap in the face we all of us deserve.

“Smile. Smile for your money. Or starve.”

Within the general consciousness, there are certain understood exclusions for Canadians.

While all societies organized around patriarchy have a pervasive rape culture (and numerous issues around toxic masculinity), Canadians, in particular, do not admit there is anything nefarious about our country. Pick a pervasive cultural problem. We’re actually doing better than everyone else; I guarantee it. And we like to keep our dirty laundry indoors, thank you very much, as opposed to the other places that hang them out for all to see. Gross. …


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Image from Depositphotos

“Until there is no longer the possibility of sadness, of isolation, there can be no gravity. We all float by, rootless, taking clumsy astronaut steps and calling it progress.”

The ‘death girls’ of Swarthmore are a notorious trio of women on the Swarthmore campus. They are utterly consumed with the work of particular poets. They dress in black, hold seance-like rituals where they read from Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and a fictional poet: Lucy Asher.

They each go so far as to take steps to look like their chosen poet.

But unlike her friends, ostensibly, Claire Danziger has experienced the loss of her younger brother and that loss has molded her in ways she hasn’t yet unpacked. As she falls headlong into a relationship with Julien, she starts to question her death girl identity, distancing herself from her friends, though she has considered it vital to her being — until now. …


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Cover Mockup

“we all die…and we receive nothing for nothing.”

A Danish-Indonesian author, Maria Dermoût’s 1955 Danish classic is unlike most anything in the Western canon — which is exactly what makes it so valuable.

Felicia embarks from Holland to return home to the Spice Islands of Indonesia with her infant son after her husband abandons them because the money from the family sugar business dries up.

“Past the three graves, the path suddenly went steeply up into the hills, hills without many high trees, open and sunny, overgrown with thick yellowish grass that smelled of herbs, and full of wild rosebushes. And from there, over the tops of the trees, over the house and the outbuildings, she could see the inner bay — like a round blue lake, with here and there light-green discolorings where the water was shallow and dark-green ones where it was very deep, around it the white ridge of the surf and all the luxuriant green of the coast.” …


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…when she left stepped off her stage, she left in a scintillating dazzle, like a fairy queen stepping off her throne.
All that shine. And at home?
She was a grubby hoarder.

Literary microworlds, such as cyberspace in cyberpunk, abound. But it is quite rare to find one that you haven’t come across before, let alone one that is also well realized. Carpe Glitter offers exactly that, and more, of course.

Persephone’s absolute character of a grandmother has passed away, willing her all the earthly possessions in her home. All she has to do is catalogue it all and then she can sell them. Easy right? Well… the house is actually three interconnected houses. …


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“Take heart, she seems to say. The world has been on the brink of ending before. The dust has always been waiting to swallow us. People have always struggled and suffered. Your poverty is not shameful. It is not a failure of your character. Life, by its very nature, is precarious. And your struggles are never for nothing.”

In the year 2034 and only a few forests remain on earth. A blight called The Withering has already swept the world, annihilated whole eco-systems, and left families destitute. …


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Image from Esquire

“Just for the record: happiness is not bullshit.”

Usually, I don’t like novels that are self-aware. Not too self-aware. Self-aware at all. Comedies depend heavily on my mood, more so in a novel.

Less, really shouldn’t have worked for me, then. It is perhaps the most self-aware novel I’ve ever read and the entire perspective from which the story of Arthur Less is narrated is one which goes out of its way to find the humor in any situation.

But if there’s one thing I can get behind, its self-deprecation.

“I know I’m out of your life / But the day that I die / I know you are going to cry.” …

About

Fraser Simons

@frasersimons is a Canadian tabletop role-playing game designer and writer best known for such games as The Veil, Hack the Planet, & Retropunk.

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