Digital gardening, inspirational tattoos and video games.
Carmen Maria Machado’s story ‘The Husband Stitch’ appeared in Granta in October 2014. Here, she shares five links to what she’s reading, watching and thinking about right now.
1. Kelly Link
I don’t know, precisely, when the category of ‘fan’ merges into ‘super-fan’, but I’m fairly certain a tattoo of the subject of one’s admiration is a pretty good indicator. In any case, here’s where I come clean: I have a line of Kelly Link’s permanently inked on my right upper arm (‘She didn’t look back, but stepped off the edge of the known world’). So it should be no surprise that I can’t get enough of Link’s forthcoming book, Get In Trouble. This brilliant and utterly original new collection – filled with celebrity superheroes, iguanas, missing spaceships, ghosts and ghost-boyfriends, pocket universes, vanishing nudists and weirdness of all kinds – is the highlight of my reading year, and it’s only January. I feel bad for every book that comes after.
2. Lucius – Wildewoman
Sometimes when I read, I put mental soundtracks to the book I’m devouring, or to what I imagine the film version of the book might look like. So nowadays I find myself listening, obsessively, to Lucius’s Wildewoman, and particularly to ‘Go Home’, whose tortured, sly lyrics and lush arrangements sync up pretty beautifully with Get in Trouble: ‘I’m your dolly / Stuffed with extra baggage / Lay me down to shut my eyes.’
3. Kentucky Route Zero
And if you’re still on a lovely/eerie magical-realism kick after that, look no further than the half-video game, half-dream Kentucky Route Zero, with its odd, otherworldly story and gorgeously stylized art. Best experienced in a dark room, with headphones.
4. For-Profit Online University
There’s been a lot of recent excitement over Adult Swim’s riff on 80s sitcom intros, Too Many Cooks, but my favourite video in this series is the pseudo-infomercial For-Profit Online University. Its slickly produced business jargon and scammy doublespeak is smart and entertaining well before it gives way to a grim, terrifying ending.
5. Joanna Russ’s How to Suppress Women’s Writing
‘It’s important to realize,’ writes the late Joanna Russ in her book How to Suppress Women’s Writing, ‘that the absence of formal prohibitions against committing art does not preclude the presence of powerful, informal ones.’ Her treatise on how society suppresses writing by the ‘wrong’ sorts of people should be required reading for every writer, reader, editor, MFA candidate, literary academic and English teacher working today.
Cover image © SportSuburban, 1955 GM Styling, 2008