School's Out

The newsletter will be back at the end of the month. Don't get too excited.

School's Out

Every once in a while, and always against my will, I have to come to terms with the fact that I am overbooked. I can write quite a lot — I usually put out between two or three long articles a week, not counting any books or comic books I might be working on — but sometimes, a reported piece gets a lot bigger than expected, or there’s a new deadline on a behind-the-scenes project, or my kid’s school is out for a few days and I have to spend more time parenting than writing.

In those cases, I have learned to stop. I could keep going. I could write something shitty just to make deadline. I could misstate a crucial point, and piss off the Internet, and spend the rest of the week trying to defend or explain myself on social media, when all I really want to do is clear out some space and time to get more work done. But that would make things worse — which I know, having done it, more than once — and all that work would still catch up with me and overwhelm me later on.

This is one of those times, and my only excuse is that it happens rarely — typically, like right now, at the end of one long project or the beginning of a new one. The final issue of The Neighbors comes out July 26, and I want to end it well.

Since this newsletter is the one job where I don’t have a boss (other than you) or deadlines (other than the ones I set for myself) I’m taking a hiatus on full-fledged horror reviews for the month. I’ll be back next month with more horror — I always am — but for now, you have my apologies, and a list of brief capsule recommendations to keep you busy while I’m gone.

* I Inside the Old Year Dying, PJ Harvey. The new PJ Harvey album is apparently adapted from her epic poem (!) about the cycles of nature in the Dorset countryside. All I can tell you is that it sounds like PJ Harvey being bodily absorbed into the film stock of the original Wicker Man. It’s great.

* The Night Eaters, Vol 1: She Eats the Night, Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda. This is such a special comic. First of all, every single panel is staggeringly beautiful — I don’t think there’s anything else that looks like this, except maybe Monstress, their previous collaboration — but, while I found Monstress a bit too high-concept to wrap my head around, this is a wonderfully human story about immigration, intergenerational burdens, and a Problematic Mom (an archetype I reliably always love).

* The Only Good Indians, Stephen Graham Jones. I’m late on this one, I know. It’s written in exactly the kind of rough, gritty, beer-and-hunting-jacket, blue-collar “masculine” prose I normally find affected, but Jones wears it lightly, and makes it into something musical and elastic, spinning it out into extremes of both gore and poetry. The ending, in particular, brought actual no-shit tears to my eyes.

After all that, if you’re still bored, you can read some of my recent writing elsewhere. I think this essay on the “new masculinity” articulates some things I’ve struggled to express in the past, and people seem to like it. I’m also very fond of this article in which I go on a quest to find the Gayest Drink, and discover that drinking liquid, itself, is a gay activity.

Thank you, so so much, for your patience. It's the only way to get decent writing out of me at the moment, and decent writing is what you deserve. See you next month!