Antler Review: September

September was a rough month. Well, you know. You were there. We Septembered together. We shivered and shook and collectively re-processed old trauma.

But there were good things too. Bright spots, like the first good apples of the season. Things like “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters and the Prince Who was Made of Meat,” by Brooke Bolander. This is one of those times when I just want to tell you it’s exactly what’s on the can, but it’s better than that. It’s what you think, and more. It is both darker and funnier than you expect. Its ending was better than I imagined it could be.

Following the orange-delicious scent of pumpkin brings us to a story of witches and dresses and the way the same garment looks completely different on another shape of body, I must entice you to read Laura Blackwell’s “An Accidental Coven.” This is not just a case of Extremely My Shit (witchcraft, dresses with pockets) but also a fabulously engaging story full of lush descriptions and gorgeous turns of phrase like the swirling of a full skirt. Try it on. I imagine it will fit like it was made for you.

I know this is becoming an A. Merc Rustad fan blog, but with stories like “How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps,” who could blame me? This one is a little hard to read; its corners are sharp and it forgets we are flesh in its effort to become something more resistant and resilient. But once you get inside, its intricacy is a wonder of flashing circuits and positrons charged with pain.

 

In nonfiction this month, I’ve got two controversial subjects from brave and talented writers for whom I have nothing but sympathy.

You’ve probably seen “Everything You Know About Obesity is Wrong,” because absolutely everyone shared it on Facebook and Twitter and talked about it for a couple of days. It is a very good and well-researched read, and the kind of thing I yelled while absorbing. It is extremely hard to get treated like a person when one is as fat as I am, and I am glad this was shared as widely as it was for that reason.

You may not have seen “Dear Men, Please Stop Assigning Reading to Me,” by Eliza M. Dumais, but if you’re the sort of person who tells women to read Kundera, you may be feeling a little tight in the collar right now. If you have experienced a date where reading was assigned along obviously gendered lines, you might feel a yell coming on.

I have sympathy for both these writers because the pieces that have netted me the most hate mail in my career are the ones where I insist on my fat humanity, or the ones where I ask men to stop doing anything at all.

September was a rough month. Let the Octobering begin!

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