Things you should Read

Or I mean, two books I’ve read recently and loved.

Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak.
Isn’t that a beautiful title. My 5 y.o. asked me what I was reading and when I told her, she repeated the title all day long as she twirled around. The book lives up to the great title, and is magical, interesting, and strange. Thoroughly enjoyed this young adult book.

Shadowshifter by Daniel Jose Older
Daniel, are you a secret super spy who invaded my subconscious and plucked all the tropes that I love and crammed them into one lovely book? Probably not, but this book has magical murals, a cast of vivid characters not drawn from the white middle class, the real New York, and so much more. Loved it.

Heroes and the Rest of Us

A friend of mine, who I have never met in real space/time but a friend nonetheless who has done whip-smart editing for me and is generally a great person in the writerly sphere, has written a book I am wild to read. It’s called “Stay Crazy,” and it’s out now from Apex Press. Why am I so excited? First, this blurb:

“Had Philip K. Dick lived through riot grrrl and the collapse of the America’s industrial economy, STAY CRAZY would be his memoir. Erica Satifka is a prophet.”
—Nick Mamatas, author of SENSATION and I AM PROVIDENCE

Nick, another friend, never ever says a word he doesn’t mean, and if he likes a book, I’m generally in. And did you notice the PKD and Riot Grrl reference? Those are two things I will always want to read. Aside from this book being wildly well suited to some things I specifically love, there is another huge reason I can’t wait to read it.

There is am issue in books and the narratives we tell each other in who gets to be the hero? The prince? Or maybe the princess, or if we are being really wild maybe the commoner girl with a plucky heart of gold. For those of us who tell stories, we know heroes are tricky business because you want the reader to identify with the main character, and so the fall out of that is that heroes and protagonist often only come in a very narrow band of race, class, culture, country, gender, and disability. People are working on that, of course. Lots of amazing writers are working on that.  “Stay Crazy” is working on that, too.

See, the protagonist in Stay Crazy is Emmeline Kalberg, who was institutionalized after having a breakdown. She has the kind of mental illness that is hard to understand with hallucinations and a lifelong illness in front of her. Our society stigmatizes Schizophrenia in a huge way, and often imagines if someone hear’s voices they are one step away from axe murdering someone. Trust me on this one, as someone who has worked in community mental health for over fifteen years. Being psychotic makes people suspicious of you at best, and imagine you are villainous and need to be locked up at worst. But in this book? Emmeline Kalberg gets to be an awesome, complex, and worthy hero driving this story that is not centered around the fact that she is mentally ill, but is about her being human, working at a mall, and having troubles with aliens.

I can’t wait to read it. You can buy it here.