State of the Block 2008

As a very inconvenient snowstorm descends on our little town’s attempts at First Night outdoor revelry, I am inspired to look back on the highlights of 2008 here at Reiter’s Block.

Books of the Year

Ariana Reines, The Cow
The Cow is like putting Western Literature through a sausage-making machine. The Cow is about being a girl and also a person. Is it possible? “Alimenting the world perpetuates it. Duh. Plus ‘the world’ is itself a food.” The integrated self equals sanity and civilization (whose machinery creates the slaughterhouse), yet the body is constantly disintegrating, eating and being eaten, being penetrated and giving birth. With manic humor and desperate honesty, Reines finds hope by facing the extremes of embodiment without judgment or disgust. Winner of the 2006 Alberta Prize from FENCE Books.

Donna Tartt, The Secret History
Precocious, decadent classics students at an isolated New England college kill someone during their attempt to recreate a Dionysian rite, then go mad covering it up. What I love about this book is that it works on so many levels. It’s a great thriller, but also a novel of ideas, and a modern-day Greek tragedy about hubris and tempting the gods. The protagonists experience the ultimate punishment of getting exactly what they asked for. Having chosen to live in their own superior, imaginary world (a campy mixture of the Roaring Twenties and ancient Greece), they are judged by that world’s merciless, fatalistic standards. Occasional intrusions of 1980s America into their reverie are sometimes comical, sometimes heartbreaking, a reminder that there is a real world where their games have consequences.

Byron Brown, Soul Without Shame: A Guide to Liberating Yourself from the Judge Within
An unparalleled practical guide to living in grace. Learn to be present with your true self and allow your spiritual growth to be directed by love, not fear. This book is written from an Eastern meditation perspective but is wholly compatible with a Christian worldview.

Magazines of the Year

The Open Face Sandwich
Brilliantly deranged literary journal of innovative prose and found texts. Highlights from the first issue include a short memoir by Ariana Reines, excerpts from the unpublished novels of Hortense Caruthers (an author so reclusive that she may not exist), and lovely photos of Atlanta roadkill.

Chroma: A Queer Literary and Arts Journal
This British literary journal publishes and promotes edgy, lyrical, and challenging prose, poetry and artwork by lesbian, gay, bi and trans writers and artists. They also offer an international queer writing competition.

Queer fiction, art, poetry and more. Editorial board includes Charles Flowers and Dorothy Allison.

10 Magazine
Gorgeous British fashion mag with an attitude.

Monthly French magazine about artistic and commercial photography. Go track down their October issue celebrating Patrick Demarchelier. Delicious!

Personal Milestones

Best decision:
Dyeing my hair red.

Proudest accomplishment: Being sane.

Second proudest accomplishment: Publishing several chapters of my novel-in-progress.

Biggest indulgence: Thrift-shop clothes and Barbie dolls.

Verses to Live By:
“Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4)
“I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:2)

Good times:

Northampton Pride 2008:

Confirmation into the Episcopal Church:

10th wedding anniversary: