Book Review: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

I don’t know how to review this book, except I started it in anticipatory loss and it didn’t hit home until after — flipping back through it, after my loss, this quote slapped me.

There was a quote about crossing the river that was also very good, but that’s on my instagram and I’m too lazy to track it down now.

‘Grief, when it comes, is nothing we expect it to be. It was not what I felt when my parents died: my father died a few days short of his eighty-fifth birthday and my mother a month short of her ninety-first, both after some years of increasing debility. What I felt in each instance was sadness, loneliness (the loneliness of the abandoned child of whatever age), regret for time gone by, for things unsaid, for my inability to share or even in any real way to acknowledge, at the end, the pain and helplessness and physical humiliation they each endured.  I understood the inevitability of each of their deaths. I had been expecting (fearing, dreading, anticipating) those deaths all my life. They remained, when they did occur, distanced, at a remove from the ongoing dailiness of my life…

My father was dead, my mother was dead, I would need for a while to watch for mines, but I would still get up in the morning and send out with laundry…

Grief is different. Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life. Virtually everyone who has ever experienced grief mentions this phenomenon of “waves.”’

2023 TV mini reviews

This post will be updated on an ongoing basis as I watch things or change my mind about shows. Listed in no particular order. See 2022 reviews here.

I don’t review late night shows, game shows, reality TV, or sketch shows like SNL here. Though I do watch them here and there.

If it has a * then it was one of my faves.

  1. Backstage with Katherine Ryan – I enjoy Ryan roasting all of these comedians. Is this reality TV?
  2. Poker face – I stopped at episode 3. The contrived “on the run Agatha Christie” just wasn’t super believable at times but I may go back to this one.
  3. The Last of Us – super really boring?
  4. Mayfair Witches – I like Interview with the vampire better.
  5. Abbott Elementary – Carried over from 2022.
  6. Shrinking* – How can all these co-workers and friends feel so much like family to each other. What universe does this exist in because it seems so nice there.
  7. Carnival Row – Was too rushed yet they wasted an entire episode on Philo seeing things??? Also was this anti-communist propaganda??? Blondie actually started to become a well-rounded character in this one.
  8. Extraordinary* – See, Misfits didn’t have to end the way it did.
  9. Daisy Jones and The Six* – I just liked it.
  10. Shadow and Bone – the pace was good, but still so much didn’t make sense to me. Like how baddie made it out of the fold? I still don’t get that. Also, my favorite story line from season 1 felt very ignored in 2 – is the prison boy out or not?
  11. Shelved –
  12. Yellowjackets – season 2
  13. The Power –
  14. Beef –
  15. Barry –


Book Review: Elatsoe

DNF. This felt more like a middle grade novel that had their MC aged up to market better? I have no doubt that a young teen would like this book more, but I was having a tough time believing that she was 17. I did appreciate the supportive, healthy family dynamic, though there was a bit of awkwardness when addressing the indigeneity of her cousin’s Hispanic wife, who very well might have been of indigenous North American decent but was bluntly described as not “Native” (pg 57). It wasn’t handled very well, in my opinion, and came off as policing indignity but I’m guessing the history between the Apache and Mexicans is why it was brought up in the first place. I also found it hard to believe that, with so many “supernatural things” being overt and undeniable in this version of the universe that we would still have places like Texas. I don’t think that, for instance, if it were impossible to deny such supernatural aspects like ghosts and the Fae (from Europe) and vampires that Christianity would have had such an impact that it did across the globe or that, therefore, colonialism would have still happened. I don’t think the world would be so similar as it was represented in this book. I found that hard to reconcile. But what I did love was her ghost dog, Kirby. That will rip your heart out.

Book Review: Springer Mountain: Meditations on Killing and Eating by Wyatt Williams

I think I want to say that I think this book is what praxis without ethics looks like. He didn’t know what or why he was doing what he did at first. Maybe he did come to an answer, but did that make it right? Pretty sure many disturbed (is that the word I’m looking for? Troubled?) people have come to similar awakenings, after realizing why they did something after years of not being able to rationalize their behavior. Parts were so beautiful it brought me to tears, but ultimately the ending felt like he, a white man, was using indigenous meat-eating practices as just one more way to justify his own killing and eating, which, in my view, will never justify his eating and killing of animals for meat when he has other options and traditions available to him. That isn’t kinship. It’s him romanticizing the relations of one people with a species. His conclusions did not satisfy me. So, no, I don’t think he’s trying to understand why humans are still drawn to meat-eating. It’s not a question that needs to be asked any more than why do humans cause war or suffering or do evil. The answers are too varied and of course his conclusion fed into what he was already doing. What is the point on meditating on what is, if you also fail to imagine something better?

Book Review: Wild Souls by Emma Marris

“The only way to really stop life from changing is to kill it.”
It was in reading an UNDARK article called ‘The Fascist History of De-Extinction’ back in 2017 that I came to realize there were bigger implications to why I thought that zoos were wrong and why I disagreed so much with other conservation efforts (eg how we treat and talk about “invasive” or “non-native” species). I came to the conclusion that how we define “nature” sometimes is tainted with a goal of “ecological purity” that sounds too similar to the way racists talk about “racial purity.” It’s because these viewpoints are from the same system. WILD SOULS is part of the discourse breaking down those frameworks, if not more accessible and relevant to the average environmentalist and person who claims to “love animals.” It is more philosophical and practical than other theoretical and suppositional texts dealing with this same subject.
I no longer agree with the term and goals of conservation, but it wasn’t until this book that I felt so validated and like I could voice it aloud—that this is a conversation not just those interested in animal rights should be having, but those interested in environmental and habitat protections. It is everything so many of us did not have the words or examples to articulate. I feel like this has the chance to reach the “scientific community” where they’d otherwise brush off these views as idealist.
Marris writes “I am not so sure there are any ‘wild animals’ left.’ How we define what is wild is complicated and usually centers ourselves, neglecting the fact that we, too, have always been part of nature and that trying to conserve aesthetic aspects of a species or habitat or revert them back to a specific place in time is problematic and ignores indigenous contributions. Some species (animal and plant) have always depended on humans; they have evolved that way, so defining nature and wilderness as something apart from humans is incorrect. Marris states that “we can revel in the non-human without disdaining the human,” meaning the labels of ‘nature’ and ‘wilderness’ are still valuable in definitions, but there are frameworks that we need to rethink.


“To make good environmental decision, we must stop focusing on trying to remove or undo human influence, on turning back time or freezing the non-human world in amber. We must instead acknowledge the extent to which we have influenced our current world and take some responsibility for its future trajectory…We should not seek to carefully control every plant and animal on the planet. We couldn’t even if we wanted to.”

Book Review: Witch Hunt: A Traveler’s Guide to the Power & Persecution of the Witch by Kristen J. Sollee

🧹🧹🧹When I requested this book I thought it was literally going to be a travel guide that recommended sites and that it would have pictures. Instead, it’s more of a travel log of someone going to places while giving historical context to witches. I learned more about saints than witches, honestly, and the author made that line blend more for me. I have a greater appreciation for Joan of Arc, for one. Here’s some quotes I liked.