Holographic Squirrels are Eternal

Salvador Dali's "Ten Recipes for Immortality"

Casting her as the star in his
voluntary program of desire
Gala swimming, smiling.
Gala, darling.

He wanted to consume her
to absorb her organism
each atom dissolved
and reassembled
on another plane
a fourth atmosphere
where infinite consciousness
takes the form of
an eternal holographic squirrel.

He has a paranoid passion
to reveal invisible truth
becoming everything and nothing at once.
To devour the known,
take in particles of perception,
and birth a nightmarish cousin.

Did he deliberately misunderstand
what we all know to be true?
The squirrel, flesh and bone,
scurrying, instinctual,
hoarding food to last the winter
acorns piling up
against starvation

steps through a portal
into another realm
rising through the ether
forming a staircase
to eternity.

In the nuclear age
we are all immortal.

-after Dali’s “Ten Recipes for Immortality”

Plot Twist: A Book Review of Lane Moriarty’s “Big Little Lies”

collage by author

I did not want to like this book. I really did not want to like this book. 

When the TV series aired on HBO, I saw the commercial previews and promptly put the whole spectacle in a mental recycle bin labeled Bachelorette / Kardashian. I figured it would be pretty, pink, vacuous, and reinforce stereotypes about race, class, and gender that I wanted to neither encourage nor engage with.

At some point, however, I heard the book referred to as one of the great feminist stories of our time. A tale that could hold up and reflect the ideals of the #metoo movement. This intrigued me, and I decided to see if Lane Moriarty moved past Sophie Kinsella territory and invited intersectional feminism to the conversation. Could this novel include commentary about the complexity of womanhood today? One that brought multiple voices and perspectives to the table?

“The whole purpose of intersectional feminism is to listen to different kinds of feminists – not just ones like yourself.”

International Women’s Development Agency

At first, I felt my worst fears were confirmed. Not only were the main characters white, but they were also all rich as well. In fact, the only tension in character development seemed to be the strain between blue and white collar folks in the small coastal town where the novel is set (come to find out, the TV show is set in Monterey, California which is a stone’s throw from where I live in Santa Cruz). While this is a life situation I can identify with, I could not see how such a milquetoast tableau could support a tale about anything but white feminism.

But then the plot began to thicken like a good roux, darkening and deepening in complexity and flavor, and I was hooked.

To write more in detail would require spoilers, but the bottom line is that the near absence of race and class turns out to be crucial to the story. The narrative does eventually while weaving the plot threads together in the denouement, transcend the trappings of rich white society. As Kadia Blagrove wrote for Jezebel, 

“But in the end, Big Little Lies did a great job of making unlikely characters feel familiar by using their enormous wealth and status as a simple backdrop, rather than a focal point, to their internal lives.”

By removing most class and race differences between the main characters, Moriarty shows that the terrible events of the story could happen to anyone. Not just rich or poor, white or brown, suburban or urban. ANYONE. That forceful point, combined with a suspenseful plot and original narrative style that draws the reader in and makes it hard to put the book down, made this a five star read for me.

How Did I Get Here: A Book Review of Lisa Brennan-Job’s Memoir “Small Fry”

photo by author

Author: Lisa Brennan-Jobs
Publication Date: September 2018
Genre: Autobiography
(Audiobook format)

“What I wanted, what I felt owed, was some clear place in the hierarchy of those he loved.” 

In her well-written memoir, Lisa Brennan-Jobs jobs tells the story of growing up as Apple computer mogul Steve Jobs’ oldest daughter. Hers is a complicated tale of divorce, estrangement, and desperate attempts to gain the affection of an extremely confusing and complicated man — her father.

Brennan-Jobs is an excellent writer. Her prose is descriptive and compelling and draws the reader into a world of her memory. She strings together gorgeous vignettes, bringing her childhood growing up in the Bay area to vivid life. The challenge I found with the book is that Brennan-Jobs’ narrative does not draw the reader forward with much force or interest.

Fans who idolize Steve Jobs, perhaps already knowing that he was kind of jerk, will appreciate this glimpse into his life. For myself, a reader who is interested in memoir more than Macintosh, it was uncomfortable to see the cold, inconsistent relationship he had with his oldest child. Young Lisa’s interactions with her father are harsh and upsetting. The author is clear and concise about the way she hurt her mother trying to win her father’s approval. I admire her honest assessment of the complicated feelings and craving for acceptance and approval that motivated her as a child and teen growing up in such an unstable environment. That way a moody and distant Steve treats his daughter is both terrifying and fascinating, yet there is an overwhelming feeling of Lisa’s ultimate privilege that makes it difficult for the average reader to engage with her struggles.

Many of us have craved better clothes, a nicer car, and more of our parents’ love. The only thing that distinguishes our narrative from Lisa’s is that her father happens to be extremely famous and powerful. But throughout her story, Lisa fails to draw a strong connection between her experience and the experience of the outer world. The human element is overshadowed by the complicated decadence and idiosyncrasies of extreme success and wealth. The most interesting bit of her story some toward the end of her story as she muses on the connection between her father’s genius and his propensity to be cruel and cutting with the slightest provocation:

“When people speak and write about my fatehr;s meanness, they sometimes assume the meanness is linked the genius. That to have one is to get closer to the other. But the way I saw his create was the best part of him: sensitive, collaborative, fun.”

Overall, Small Fry contains some excellent descriptive prose and deserves consideration for that fact alone. Despite the rather flat narrative, the writing is descriptive and engaging. I should add did not like the narration of this audio book version, I felt the narrator had awkward intonation and paused at some strange time in certain sentences and parts of the story putting the emphasis in the wrong place. You may therefore enjoy reading the book more in the paper or eBook format.