I recently had to look back at some chat logs from April and early May, and I was struck wordless by the enthusiasm in my communications back then. I thought this would end soon. I thought my maudlin mid-2020 period would be relatively brief and that big parties loomed at the end of summer.
But here we are, saying farewell to a July that dripped through us like coffee through a filter. At least there are good stories and good books.
The first good story is the one about the dyke at summer camp. I’m sure you heard the same rumor I did. It’s all true. This is written so tightly that you could fit the whole thing through a keyhole. It’s hypnotic. It’s as warm and clammy as a cabin full of girls on a summer night.
The next one is a perfect quarantine tale by Victor LaValle, whom I can never pass up. All the little interactions that don’t really count, all the people you know without knowing are in this one. I know you’ve been missing them, because I miss them every day.
As miserable as I have been through my long confinement, I know that the people in my life who have kids at home are dealing with some much tougher conversations and choices. This essay by Dan Sinker hurt me bad, even as a non-parent. It’s about the way that folks with kids have to lie or guess or make up the future in a maddening way, how nothing in certain and having to introduce a child to chaos day after day is heartbreak and betrayal and a death by thousand cuts.
Jia Tolentino. That’s it. That’s the post.
This poem by Alan Palaez Lopez captured the moment for me: the shamelessness of pleasure, the nearness of mortality, this ego-death moment where we all admit to liking hot cheetos.
Anyone who’s every tried to write about sexual assault will vibe with Lacy Crawford while she tries to explain how impossible, how pitiless, how audience-repelling that work is. This one has sharp edges; handle with care.
Good books this month definitely included Bush-era first-contact stunner, “Axiom’s End” by Lindsay Ellis. Totally unsurprised that this ended up on the bestseller list. I’ve been a fan of the author’s video essays since the internet was a small boy.
If you’re in the market to be spooked like “Crimson Peak” and creeped like “Rebecca,” you might like “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. It hits all the beats of a gothic novel with original features and then takes a drastic, weird and satisfying left turn when it comes to revealing the monster.