Celebrating one year of newslettering
No. 19: Pointing your way... my recent reads, Smiling Friends, Pingu Random House and more
Hey! Welcome to issue 19 of my newsletter.
The first draft of this introduction was a longer and more emotive comment on the state of things in the UK. But I feared it was a rather depressing way to open the newsletter. Plus, I figured it was unwise to put those words to my name on the Internet.
However, all of you currently subscribed know me in person. I think you either know or can guess what my feelings are about the monarchy and our newly appointed Prime Minister.
So let’s just skip past that…
✍️ Writing Report
I celebrated my newsletter anniversary on the blog. I’d recommend checking out the post if you’re interested in what’s performed well. I’ve also included some of the easter eggs you all missed.
As promised in my last issue, I expanded upon my list of book recommendations. Due to my allergies to brevity, however, I’ve split my thoughts up across three posts:
Great science-fiction (feat. Andy Weir, Ursula Le Guin, George R. R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle)
Graphic non-fiction (feat. Kristen Radtke, Lynda Barry, Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddel)
Short (but not exactly sweet) (feat. David Eagleman, Cormac McCarthy and Caleb Azumah Nelson)
📺 What I’m Watching
After catching the Rick and Morty season six premiere, I discovered Smiling Friends is on All 4. There are nine 11-minute episodes, and I enjoyed them all. Currently, my only criticism of the show is that there isn’t more of it. Considering there is a lot of lacklustre adult animated comedy out there – to put it mildly – Smiling Friends makes for a refreshing change. Whether or not adult animated comedy is your thing, I’d recommend giving the series a watch.
Next, I’ll be catching up on Tuca & Bertie.
📰 Further Reading
During my university days, I ran writing workshops for other students. Something I’m thinking about right now is doing more teaching. I’d quite like to help nurture creativity in younger children. So I found this story about educators at a children’s centre in Melbourne teaching storytelling as a core life skill to kids very interesting.
I agree with Lincoln Michel’s thoughts on what is meant by “realism” in fantasy fiction. Since the premiere of House of the Dragon, similar criticisms levied at Game of Thrones regarding its depiction of violence – especially sexual violence – have returned. There are certainly valid criticisms to be had of Martin’s work, especially the TV adaptation that ramped up the physical and sexual violence. But much like Michel, I take issue with the idea that a more sanitised fantasy world absent of the real world’s horrors is somehow better or more moral to write/consume.
Lincoln Michel also wrote about the claim that “50% of books published sell fewer than 12 books” that went around on Twitter recently. It’s not true, or at least not true in the way many think it is.
Evan Puschak’s essay on how to write a book without getting in your own way was a relatable read. The self-loathing he writes about is a familiar presence. It’s rare that I can arrive at the page and not get a visit from my inner antagonist. And there are days when his voice is just too loud to ignore. The goal, of course, is to keep coming back to the page because some days are pure bliss, and there’s nothing else quite like crafting a story.
For The Atlantic, Jonathan Rauch outlines what Trump’s second term would look like if he runs and wins in 2024. The six steps Trump would take to erode American democracy as we know it are terrifying enough on their own. When we consider – in Noam Chomsky’s words – that the Republican Party is “the most dangerous organisation in human history”, the future looks very bleak indeed.
Lastly, Khaled Beydoun writes about how the mainstream media is selective about which victims get named and remembered: “Slain Palestinians are killed twice. First, when their corporal bodies are struck down by gunfire or bombs. Second, when their names are stricken out of news coverage, their faces scratched out of view, and their entire lives uprooted from earth and the landscape of history.”
▶️ Video Recommendation
Today is September 11th. Many will call this the 21st anniversary of 9/11. But it’s also the 49th anniversary of the first 9/11. Here is how Noam Chomsky describes it in his book Who Rules the World?:
September 11, 1973, when the United States succeeded in its intensive efforts to overthrow the democratic government of Salvador Allende in Chile via the military coup that placed General Augusto Pinochet’s ghastly regime in office. The dictatorship then installed the Chicago Boys—economists trained at the University of Chicago—to reshape Chile’s economy. Consider the economic destruction and the torture and kidnappings, and multiply the numbers killed by twenty-five to yield per-capita equivalents, and you will see just how much more devastating the first 9/11 was.
Double Down News’ “The Other 9/11: How to Make a Nation Scream” goes into greater depth on the horrific aftermath of the first 9/11. I urge you to give it a watch. The 25-minute documentary also explains Britain’s role in the coup as well as how Chile was used as a petri dish for neoliberalism, an economic system that is destroying our own country today.
🐦 Twitter Thoughts
Seeing so much cringe get dunked online has given me an unhealthy fear of posting cringe. But the Twitter user @bloomfilters is right, embracing the cringe is key in developing a skill/hobby.
This is especially important to remember because my future self will inevitably look back on everything I write and cringe anyway. Every single thing I wrote at university is painfully cringeworthy now. The only solution is to “just be cringe”.
Twitter user @gvaughnjoy wrote this excellent thread about the problem Hollywood has created for itself. I won’t try and summarise the thread here because there’s no way I could do it justice. But the TL;DR is that better antitrust legislation is our only hope of getting movies that don’t feature superheroes or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
I’d also recommend @gvaughnjoy’s “Get Fucked: A Thread” where she argues that sex in TV/film is absolutely necessary.
And to finish off this section, here’s a thought on the Queen’s passing:
Actually, have one more, this time from Robert Smith of The Cure:
❤️ Something I Love Right Now
The Pingu Random House Instagram account is such a joy if you’re a bookworm like me. Some of my favourites include their covers for The Exorcist, The Road and Dracula.
🔗 Stray Links
Where writers write: photos of famous writers’ writing rooms
👋 Thanks For Reading!
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P.S. ICYMI in my last issue, click here for my favourite TikTok account.