Books, Music, And Other Smiles Part III

How many of my friends can I convince to listen to deathcore?

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It’s been a month since I’ve posted on this little blog as I am both a bad person and someone who has been very tired. Happily, I’m about a week into an extended stint in Providence so I have caught up on both sleeping and eating. And that means I’m exploring new music and books again.

So, it’s time to write about some good stuff that I’m bursting with excitement to share. As before (parts I and II) we’ll start with books, and then progress into music.


How Long 'til Black Future Month? N. K. Jemisin

After I wrapped my read of N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy I knew that I had to read more of her words. I’m also starting to read more short story collections, and, happily, she published this collection of quick tales about a year ago.

It’s goddamn excellent.

Jemisin is almost annoyingly good in that she’s precisely the sort of fiction scribbler I dream of becoming; she’s inventive, her writing is inviting but deep, and she has a way of making you fall into friendship with her characters.

Read this book, but read the Broken Earth series first if you haven’t.

Dry: A Memoir Augusten Burroughs

If your therapist gives you a book, you read it. So I did.

Working through Dry was a bit of a punch in the gut as Augusten — it’s far too intimate a read for reader-author distance — tells a story that was a bit too familiar to me for comfort.

Ever wanted to know what it’s like to smell like booze but not realize it? Have you ever been curious about what it’s like to push everyone away in your life while emotionally and physically dissolving into a tumbler of whiskey? Well, now you don’t have to find out on your own. You can just read this honest text instead.

God Land Lyz Lenz

Lenz is a great Twitter follow and the sort of Christian that I can understand. Clear in her views, intellectually curious, and a strong writer who isn’t afraid of upsetting whomever she must, Lenz’s book is a trip into the soul of Middle America.

My parents are from Kansas City, Missouri, and I was raised in the more conservative reaches of the Lutheran Church, meaning that I had a bit of context to what she was trying to discover, I think.

I recommend the book to you regardless of your faith (or, more likely given who’s on this modest mailing list, your lack thereof) because it will introduce you to thoughts that you probably don’t hear too often. And it’s a quick read, so you have no excuse.


Aside from Liza and JUUL and watching the Eagles lose, music is the important thing in my life.

The following recommendations are songs that I’ve played far too many times over the last month. If you like even a few of them, I’ll be ecstatic:

  • The Sea of Tragic Beasts, Fit For An Autopsy. This is a stretch recommendation as most folks don’t enjoy the heavier side of extreme music. But I can’t not mention a song this tremendous. Listen all the way to the chorus.

  • Chemical, The Devil Wears Prada. What happens when a metalcore band writes a record of relaxed tunes? As it turns out, something lovely happens. You’ll like this.

  • HIGHEST IN THE ROOM, Travis Scott. If you are under the age of 35, you’ve already heard this. If you’re older, you are welcome. The song is a good encapsulation of what is working in rap today. Scott is visionary.

  • Finally Free, Korn. Korn, a band that was big in the ‘90s and has since happily fed its large underground fanbase, put out a stompingly good album recently. Kicking off with bagpipes and tears (a death in the life of the group’s singer is critical context to understanding the project) it’s a reminder of why Korn was big to begin with. The linked track is my favorite off the record.

  • Below, Leprous. I need to stop writing words soon, but this track is a wonderful addition to the band’s discography. Starting deep in the prog-metal sea, Leprous has tacked a course into calmer waters over the past half-decade. Still excellent, still a must-listen, I’m excited about the full project this song will sit inside of.

  • Vindication, Veritas. I don’t know what genre this is, but Vindication a song that combines a guitar solo, a relaxed beat, and clips from a Christopher Hitchens interview conducted while he was dying from cancer. And there’s a trumpet. Listen to it.

Today is Friday and I have a lot of coffee and dogs to spoil and you, you in particular, are a delightful human whom I adore. Hugs and love from the Providence home office.