Three Curtal Sonnets about Books

The theme for last night’s Esoterotica show was scifi/fantasy fandom. I decided to write three Curtal Sonnets (which you can read about at this lil’ link right here) inspired by three genre books I’ve been constantly recommending to people as of late. Liberties were taken with plot and character to make them fit the form and the nature of the show, so they aren’t spoilers or anything really.

They Who Wait Love You
after the novel The Croning

We’ve all got secrets, don’t we, loverboy?
Our eggshell-thin masks barely keeping tight
an inner void that yawns, that sighs, that grins.

It may engulf you with some clever ploy,
or you might fit inside and sleep the night
straight through. I won’t know until it begins,
’cause it’s not often folks like you come ’round.

I’ll show you, if you think you’d stand the sight…
(A seam splits from my hairline to my chin,
the frailties of humanity not found

All His Stories Were Apologies
after the novel Mongrels

Let’s run at night, follow the railroad ties,
because the moon pulls us like ocean waves.
We go for miles, out where men won’t tread.

Some vacant freight container’s where we lie,
and rut like what-we-are, no face to save
when mongrels curl up in a makeshift bed.
Leave toothmarks, all the better to remind.

We sleep with limbs entangled in our cave
of rusty metal, feral hungers fed.
The sun awakens me as man, to find
you’ve fled.

Teeth of Ice Biting Flowers
after the novel Winterglass

Pull tight the coat against your muscled frame
to fight this evening’s chilblains as you wait
to be received by the General, your host.

Her stern demeanor scarcely masks her aim,
her lingering gaze, her appetite to sate.
She knows the splintered core beneath your boasts,
the stillness inside while you bring the storm

You’ll surely fuck her as you contemplate
swift ruin washing ‘cross her nation’s coasts.
Vengeance and lust entwine, your blood as warm
as ghosts.


Book Review: Meddling Kids

Subgenre: Uptempo Eldritch Sleuthpunk

That cover made me check the prices of old Monster In My Pocket sets on Ebay. Then I balked at the starting bids, read the book, and got far more fun out of it than if I’d spent the same amount of money on stale plastic figurines. The only accurate description I can come up with is that it’s like if P.G. Wodehouse did a line of coke off of a Hot Fuzz DVD.

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In Praise of Subgenres

Biopunk and solarpunk and silkpunk are apparently things now. You can argue about whether or not any of these things qualify as “punk,” like people have been doing with the political implications of steampunk. Or you can go the route of electronic music and just embrace categories breaking down into more and more specific subgenres. Because I know darn well what my shtick is, I’m taking the second route.

Here are some overly-specific subgenres for a few books I’ve read in celebration of categorization.


City of Stairs: Covert spectaculesque godwave

Love is the Law: Acerbic magickal punkpunk

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Review – Molotov Hearts

Okay okay yes I read a rom-com and I’m not going to mince words with some “it’s a romantic comedy BUUUUT-” qualifying statements. Molotov Hearts by Chris Eng is an entertaining book whose plot centers on two people who catch feelings for each other. It isn’t solely about the love between the guy and the girl though, it’s also about the love for and within the punk scene. In the same sense that this review is about my love of minor spoilers.

Socially-maligned high schooler Jenn watches the punk kids loitering after school, particularly the cute guy always reading physics textbooks. After a fight with her abusive mother she sneaks off to join their punk house, dumpster dives, suffocates at basement shows, and gets to smash. But such a plot summary overlooks the hand-sewn details.

Molotov Hearts’ plot is propelled almost entirely by women’s agency. Jenn takes the initiative to goes over and talk to the punks and her dude, Becky bails her out at school after they break up, other punk girls front bands and lead the dumpster-diving excursion. There’s no synchronized shouting of “girl power” to oversell things, women getting shxt done is just the default state of the Molotov Hearts world. Jenn’s authoritarian mother is full of agency and fairly evil, but eh, representation isn’t always enough without class consciousness. And is this book ever conscious of its class! The life of the punk house isn’t a glamorized Lost Boys carefree adventure — the dumpster diving scene is as filthy and dangerous as it is calorie-dense, most of the punks dress themselves from piles on the floor (if they do dress themselves) and there’s an appropriate lack of headboards. It reads like it’s drawn from actual bummy quasi-commune experience rather than someone trying to piece together what dejected punk kids do based on Rancid and MxPx lyrics.

But that’s all window dressing, albeit window dressing that knows it should be old bedsheets instead of actual curtains. I wouldn’t have stuck with the book were it not for the characters. Jenn is smart and resourceful, but not tritely hypercompetent. She doesn’t get everything right; her friends straight-out tell her that her priorities are pretty screwed up at one point and there really aren’t enough books out there willing to let their protagonists be wrong about things. Or have friends that call them out on it and then actually talk about what’s going on. But even if fidelity to actual human behavior isn’t your thing, there’s still plenty of fun and snark as the punks play off each other and pwn some posers. 

If I had a consistent rating system Molotov Hearts would get 4.5 out of 5 somethings. Let’s say 4.5 perfectly good wheels of cheese pulled out of the Safeway dumpster.
(I’m only marking it down because it doesn’t acknowledge that Blink-182’s first album was pretty legit and if we can’t have petty squabbles like that then what’s the point of a subculture anyways.)