“The Merry Spinster,” Mallory Ortberg

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It is with great excitement that I post this, the first ever edition of Lit, He Wrote.

This blog has, from the beginning, been an effort to celebrate diverse voices that are commonly marginalized, or generally “othered.” This, of course, came to reflect my own personal experience as a cisgendered woman. I don’t want this blog—and, in turn, my reading—to be limited by what I find the most relatable. That isn’t progress. The net must be cast wider.

Plus, Mal Ortberg is, like, legend status to me. For all he has done and continues to do for inclusivity, feminism, and everything in general, he belongs here.

In The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror, Ortberg reimagines folk tales and biblical stories, incorporating dark and terrifying twists. The stories are brimming with Ortberg’s signature humor and bravado, but gravitas is never lost. With every tongue-in-cheek reference to a familiar tale, you’re also side-swiped by dark reflections of humanity and gender. These moments, the ones that are closest to reality, become the most chilling of all. Continue reading

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“Sing, Unburied, Sing,” Jesmyn Ward

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Let the record show that I—Kristin of Lit She Wrote—have, for the first time ever, finished an advanced reader copy before the book’s release date! Please, hold your applause. I’m no hero. Everyone calm down.

In all seriousness, there’s a reason that this notoriously slow reader got through Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward: it’s incredible. The story follows 13-year-old Jojo and his troubled, often absent mother Leonie as they travel across Mississippi to pick up Jojo’s father, Michael, after his release from prison. Jojo’s relationship with his mother is strained, perhaps beyond repair, largely due to Leonie’s substance abuse and distracting infatuation with Michael. Jojo and his toddler sister Kayla find refuge in the care of their stoic grandfather, River, and healer grandmother, Philomène. Continue reading