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By Mandy McGee

I just wanted to let you all know that our staff writer, Morgue Anne, has a youtube channel where she talks about books once a month. Here is the latest one she posted. It is a live google hangout. Watch, Like and subscribe. 

By Morgue Anne

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Valentines day is fast approaching and…wait, it’s tomorrow? SHITBALLS! Alright, everyone. Don’t panic. We can do this. Even though we’re poor, even though the television tells us we are failures in our relationships if we don’t give/receive a buttload of shiny diamonds. Here’s some heartfelt Valentine’s you can get for less than a roll of quarters. 

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By Mandy McGee

“The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence.”-The Bell Jar

It has been 50 years since Sylvia Plath took her life. I read a bunch of blog posts yesterday about it and it took me back to when I first discovered her work. I was 16, sitting in the library near my house, and I was supposed to be studying for a test. Instead I was looking through the poetry section and sitting on the floor in the middle of the isle, too lazy to go back to my table, I started paging through. The first poem I stopped on was “Firesong,” which became my favourite poem.

"Born green we were
to this flawed garden,
but in speckled thickets, warted as a toad,
spitefully skulks our warden,
fixing his snare
which hauls down buck, cock, trout, till all most fair
is tricked to faulter in split blood.

Now our whole task’s to hack
some angel-shape worth wearing
from his crabbed midden where all’s wrought so awry
that no straight inquiring could unlock
shrewd catch silting our each bright act back
to unmade mud cloaked by sour sky.

Sweet salts warped stem
of weeds we tackle towards way’s rank ending;
scorched by red sun
we heft globed flint, racked in veins’ barbed bindings;
brave love, dream
not of staunching such strict flame, but come,
lean to my wound; burn on, burn on.”

That grabbed me and I couldn’t stop reading. Shortly after starting to read her poems I searched for more of her stuff. I found “The Bell Jar” and it felt like there was actually someone in the world that knew what it was like to be lost and depressed. 

If you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed.”

This quote is something I started to live by. I was constantly disappointed by those around me. If I just expected it or accepted that this is what my life is, I would not be disappointed or surprised when bad things happened. 

After reading up more on Path and her life I found the book “Letters Home.” It was like reading about myself. At the time I had been cutting for about 5 years and my thoughts of suicide consumed me. I won’t go into detail (that’s for another day, a different blog) but she made me feel like it was ok to feel that way. I have been battling depression for as long as I can remember; I still have my good days and my very bad days. I learned to live with what she couldn’t. 

If she were alive today I would hope she would grow and learn that it is ok to have those feelings but learn to not let them consume her. 

My second favourite poem is “Edge.”

"The woman is perfected.
Her dead

Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity

Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Her bare

Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.

Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,
One at each little

Pitcher of milk, now empty.
She has folded

Them back into her body as petals
Of a rose close when the garden

Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.

The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.

She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.”

By Morgue Anne

Why is the Penis Shaped Like That is probably not a book I would recommend to read on the bus, or any other form of public-transportation, really. Yes, you could point to the “Scientific American” on the spine and reassure everyone giving you funny looks that it is, in fact, a collection of legitimate scientific studies about…weird and fun sex stuff. Or you could buy it for kindle and save yourself the embarrassment of only reading this particular book in the privacy of your own home. Or you could just not give a rat’s ass, because if you’re reading Why is the Penis Shaped Like That then you probably are not someone who’s overly concerned with grandmother’s giving you disapproving glances on the subway.

Let’s be honest - why wouldn’t you want to read a book with this title? If you have any inkling of something resembling a sexuality, you’ve probably had some questions over the years that your high school health class, church group, or grabby uncle just never got around to answering for you, most likely because they didn’t know. Jesse Bering dives into everything from the purpose of the female orgasm to the neurology of people who are sexually attracted to animals and evolution of bodily fluids, leaving no stone unturned in his search for answers. 

Bering does a fantastic job of bringing his own voice to each essay while also staying fairly objective in a celebration of science at it’s best. While most people stop searching for answers as soon as they’re uncomfortable, Bering makes a point to dive even further and look at things from an objective viewpoint. This attitude may frighten a lot of people away, but consider that the more we understand something the better equipped we are to handle instances such as pedophilia. There is a lot of stuff in there discussing “vanilla” sex as well, such as the title essay and a few other pieces concerning male and female genitalia (with one of my personal favorites on the psycho-therapeutic aspects of semen). This is guaranteed to be a fantastic ice-breaker with all the strange information you will gain. I can’t count how many conversations I started with “So I’m reading this book about strange sexual studies…” and then went on to tell someone about foot fetishists. Or female ejaculation. Or the different scientific terms for blow jobs.
This is not a book I recommend to someone without a sense of humor, or anyone who is unable to get past the ‘ew ew ew’ part of their brain and take a look at something that might make them a little uncomfortable. This is for the curious, the scientist inside all of us who takes a look at the world around and wonders “Why?”. If you are still hesitant, consider this - if a gay man can suck it up and write an entire section of his book on vaginas for the sake of being fair and balanced, you can  give Why is the Penis Shaped Like That a chance.

Buy Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?: And Other Reflections on Being Human

By Morgue Anne

imageTina Fey may be a genius, and Amy Pohler will get my vote for president every election for the rest of life, but Caitlin Moran is my soul-sister. After reading her second book, Moranthology, I can imagine perfectly the two of us lounging on a couch, bleaching each other’s (copy-written) hair and trading stories about the effects of marijuana on various creatures in the animal kingdom. But only during the commercial breaks, because one simply does not talk during Sherlock. I feel like Caitlin (Yes, I’m calling her by her first name now) wouldn’t judge me for my fuzzy skull pajamas or my weird, crazy ideas about feminism not being just for women. I know, after reading only one of her books, that we would be best friends. That’s how much of herself Caitlin puts into this aptly titled Moranthology. Much like the author herself, Moranthology is quirky, passionate, and unflinchingly honest. Reading really did make me feel like I was sitting on a best friend’s couch, being way too caffeinated and sharing everything from our most embarrassing celebrity interview moments to views on womanhood. Let it be known that Moranthology is one of the few books in existence to actually make me laugh out loud (your move, David Sedaris). Caitlin’s energy jumps off every page and leaps from every word. With short chapters taken from her column in the Times of London, this is the perfect throw-in-your-purse and read it on the bus/in line at the post office/anywhere book. Just make sure you’re somewhere where it’s ok for you to frequently burst out in snorts of laughter, because there will be plenty of that. Just relax and enjoy it, because Caitlin Moran will go down in history as one or the revolutionarys of womanhood in our modern era, the Funny Girl. The women who refuse to out on pants on Sundays, who will never apologize for being ‘one of the dudes’ but will insist that all her dude friends shower regularly. I really, really hope this trend of intelligent, hilarious women takes more hold in our pop culture. God knows we could use a few more minds like my new friend Caitlin’s, and probably a few less like the Kardashians (or whoever’s popular and stupid nowadays). Although something tells me the significant others of the world won’t be too pleased when Caitlin’s “ask them something ridiculously important right as they drift to sleep” trend takes hold.

Buy Moranthology

By Morgue Anne

Well the world didn’t end, but if had or if one day it does you probably don’t want to be caught by the apocalypse with an embarrassing book half finished on your nightstand. You want something that will impress the alien archaeologists  or the angel of death (I hear she’s really hot), or maybe you just want to read something about the end of the world. Regardless of your reason, I have the perfect book for you to read as we usher in the end of days.

The Last Policeman by Ben Winters doesn’t have zombies or John Cusack, it’s not a disaster novel packed with adventure and heart-pounding excitement. This is not a post apocalyptic tale of survival, it’s a fairly accurate (in my opinion) depiction of a pre-apocalyptic culture, one that happens to be our own. The ‘What if’ presented by Winters is simple - What if there was an asteroid headed toward earth that we all knew was going to cause world-shattering destruction in exactly six months, but we didn’t know where exactly on the planet it would land and have no way of stopping it? Sounds terrifying, but before you start strapping on your old football pads and getting ready for Thunderdome, consider the six months of anticipation leading up to pur collective impending doom. Suddenly, this game isn’t about who’s Ish Williams and who’s Adrian Earl of Windsor. It’s about whether you are going to carry on with your life, give up, or go crazy. Ben Winters delivers a small but seriously powerful game changer that flips apocalypse literature on it’s head and gives us visions of a world somehow more frightening than the actual apocalypse - the build up.

While crops rot in the field and people swarm to the nearest church or strip club, there are bound to be those who will continue to carry on in their lives. Hank Palace is the title character not by virtue of being the last man on the job, but the last man on earth to care about his work. While many around him simply go through the motions of life half-heartily (Something we arguably already do), Palace finds himself sucked into a case of suicide that seems like something more. As the mystery unravels, the reader has to question if the world really cares about one more murder when everyone is going to die in a few short months anyway, and there is some relief to be found in the thought that at least one man will remain clinging to the idea of justice and society. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but it’s a worthy read for the end of days.

If the world doesn’t end, you can always gift it to someone. But just in case, make sure this is what’s sitting on your nightstand instead of 50 Shades of Grey.

Official site for Ben H. Winters

Buy The Last Policeman: A Novel