Written by Dan Flore III
Review by Julie Carpenter
There’s something light and clean about Flore’s poetry, even when he talks about stints in psych wards, homelessness, or other traumatic events. Reading one of his collections is like sitting at the beach watching the ocean wash over the garbage, cleaning the detritus wave after wave.
The Hate You Give
Written by Angie Thomas
Review by Mekayla Trout
In The Hate U Give, the protagonist, Starr, faces a series of heartbreaking challenges following the murder of her childhood friend Kahlil. Because Starr goes to a private school called Williamson, unlike most of the kids in her neighborhood, who go to the Garden Heights public school, she struggles with having censor herself around the different groups of people in her life. In the world of Williamson, Starr holds herself back, fearing casual racism from her peers. In the world of Garden Heights, Starr feels that she has to work harder to be accepted because she goes to a predominantly white school.
Your Uncle Morty has been listening in and once again some of the living are making him shake his bony old head in disbelief. Some of you think maybe there are no good choices to vote for. You think you won’t bother. What difference does it make?
Look at it like this. You live in a rickety, rackety, clickety clackety falling down apartment. You and the other residents are kind of ticked that you’ve had a series of bad landlords but you’ve never pulled yourself together to do anything about it.
An Experiment in Love
Written by Hillary Mantel
Review by Jarad Johnson
The plot of this novel is multilayered, multidimensional, and fluid. This makes it hard to know where to start sometimes, so I’ll try to begin by give a general overview of the book. The main character is named Carmel, and the novel follows her as she moves from her parent’s house to a boarding school. The reader follows her as she struggles with anorexia and her studies. The plot moves from event to event, memory to memory, and in that sense is very realistic, because when you recount an even it doesn’t come to you in a linear fashion. The novel is in a sense like looking into the mind of someone else- literally. It deals with many issues, including eating disorders, depression, body dysmorphia and abortion. Really, I can’t say that this novel is about any particular thing; it’s just Carmel’s life. There is no message, no point, it just tells her story, and leaves interpretations up to the reader. Not to say that there isn’t meaning, but there’s no agenda.
I’m going to discuss a topic that at first glance might seem to be a poor fit for a blog where we discuss stories. But bear with me, I think it has more resonance with our narrative obsession than might be readily apparent.
We at Sacred Chickens love books. We really do; but sometimes life gets in the way of reading. So, we have decided to introduce a new section of the blog called Weekend Reading, where Jarad, Morty, and Julie tell you what they want to read over the weekend. We may not get it all done, but at least we'll feel bad about it.
This weekend, Morty's reading........
In the Time of Madness- Richard Lloyd Perry
What is it? This book is the personal record of a British reporter, Richard Lloyd Parry, who is caught up in a time of great unrest as he covers Indonesia for the news. He is witness to the collapse of the Suharto regime and to the violence of the Dayak, natives of Borneo, as they begin to hunt down and behead and then cannibalize the Madurese Muslims who have migrated to their Island. The author is also present during violent clashes between the government and student protestors. This book is well-written and researched, but the author does not disguise the emotions he experiences as witness to the violence and trauma.
Why read it? In addition to being a complex, compelling look at a slice of history and the collapse of a political system by someone who was there, this book asks important questions about how easily people, any people, slip into the madness of hatred and violence.
Happy Halloween! Jarad, Julie, and Morty all have some great horror recommendations to share with you today! Also, one of our more recent contributors, Mekayla Trout, decided to recommend a novel as well!
Cabin in the Woods
What is it? Five College friends rent a cabin in the woods that quickly turns into a horror story. Little do they know they’re just pawns in a cosmic game. Someone needs them to die.
Why watch it? It’s meta horror that brings in everything from Slasher movies to a little bit of Scooby Doo. The stakes are high, the horror is real, but so is the very dark comedy. It’s a little bit closer to Uncle Morty’s understanding of Metaphysics than he’s comfortable with…but it’s a great way to enjoy an evening in your pjs during Halloween week.
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo
Written by Marlon Bundo and Jill Twiss
Essay by Jarad Johnson
We’ve recommended this book before in passing. Even though its white-hot popularity has faded somewhat, we’re here to make a more in depth recommendation. Why? Because it’s becoming increasingly clear that the stories we tell each other and our children are very, very important. Often in our society books and stories, particularly fiction are swept aside as hobbies, something to do when you’re not doing something more important. Math and science are celebrated as “real” contributions to society both for the technology they produce and for their money-making potential. But the reality is that stories about other groups of people can affect our views, politics, and actions in society for generations to come. So, let’s take another look at A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo.
She Needs That Edge
Written by Paul Brookes
Review by Julie Carpenter
Sacred Chickens has, published Paul Brooke’s poetry and reviewed his chapbooks and before, and he’s one of our favorites. His verse is distilled into singular moments that are paradoxically extraordinarily narrative. This chapbook is no exception. It reaches the apex of this juxtaposition, containing whole life stories in the shape of a hand, or a sticky note on the refrigerator. Every poem is a tiny aperture into a widening depth of experience.
We had kind of pictured the Author spotlight as a place to look over the collected works of an author, to discuss themes, which books to read and why. However, Jarad was impressed enough to recommend this author as someone to watch. As of now, Gyasi has published one book of historical fiction, which was already reviewed on Sacred Chickens, called Homegoing. It detailed the story of two sisters separated at birth on the Gold Coast, modern day Ghana, and the three hundred years of their descendants. The book addresses slavery and its impact on American society as well as in Ghana, post slavery, the crack epidemic of the 1980s, motherhood, the Anglo-Asante Wars, as well as a host of other issues; however, the book does an excellent job of educating the reader on the realities of slavery, both in Ghana and the Americas, and how it continues to impact our society. It's one of those books that should be considered a classic, and is very much worth your time. As for Gyasi, since her debut novel was so brilliant, once can only imagine how her career will progress.
According to Penguin Random House, "Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she held a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellowship. She lives in New York City.
Yaa Gyasi is available for select speaking engagements. To inquire about a possible appearance, please contact Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.prhspeakers.com".