|Fish wrangling doesn't pay a living wage.|
Getting my first job required me to call Lisa, the nice singing teacher who’d offered me free dance classes in exchange for filing sheet music and sweeping the wood floor at her studio. I must have practiced that phone call twenty times with my mom playing the part of Lisa before I actually dialed.
I just used my lunch break to make three phone calls that weren’t exactly traumatic (i.e. no medical test results involved), but which were heavy with the weight of a future I have no energy to plan. Guess what? Two voicemails and one message-with-a-secretary. I love being able to check shit off my to-do list on a technicality.
I actually really like people in person. And I like them in text form. It’s just phone limbo I hate. I also like fake people in text form. On that note, here’s what I read in May:
Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting: The stories in this collection are sharp, both in the sense of wit and harshness. The first, "Dinner," features people being boiled alive. A later story, "She-Man," follows an MTF former prostitute as she tries to live the straight life. Her pimp catches up with her and she tells him, "You'll kill me just as dead as a real woman. As dead as your wife or your mother or your sister." Then he does. And she confides, "Their mothers and sisters, of course, are alive."
And that's how injustice plays out in Nutting's stories: a little absurd, a little soul-tearing. I was particularly drawn to "Ant Colony," a nice metaphor about cancer, the body and identity, set in a future in which people are required to house other organisms in their bodies due to planetary overcrowding. Nutting works in the tradition of Kelly Link and Aimee Bender, two other writers I was surprised to like as much as I did. Her writing lacks some of the warmth I find in Bender's, but she's funny and smart and good with a simile, and I will be reading more of her work.
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson: This was one of those right-up-my-alley books: turn-of-the-century urban squalor, a carnival (well, a World's Fair, which is like a giant, expensive carnival) and a murder mystery. Larson's loose thesis is that Chicago in 1893 showcased the best and worst of what cities of the future could offer: On one hand, there was Daniel Burnham's World's Fair, with its lush gardens, Ferris wheel and (usually offensive and exploitative) international demonstrations. On the other, the city was a vast and lawless place where independent young women could get taken in by the likes of serial killer H.H. Holmes and not be missed until it was too late. But somehow I didn't get fully taken in by the book, maybe because it's told like a true-crime novel and seems irony-deficient. I could have used a little more social commentary, or weird facts about the fair, and a few less leaps inside Holmes' head. Then again, I listened to the abridged version on CD--my librarian mom would be horrified--so maybe that's all there in the full-length version.