Short Bites: Lunch with the Person Who Dumped You

Not a traditional short story, “Lunch with the Person Who Dumped You” runs us through the thought process of someone who’s just received a lunch invite from someone s/he used to know. There are five what-if scenarios presented in this short piece, and the anxiety runs deep throughout the piece.

But I appreciate the candidness of it all. The story reflects what we would all be thinking should the same thing happen to us. I don’t blame this person has gone overboard analyzing one message—I can relate. Not everyone is perfect, and some of us have our neurotic moments.

Someone who will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory is a fun collection to read. It’s written by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, the creator of Bojack Horseman, which explains the cloud of dark humor that envelopes the book. Another piece, “LIES WE TOLD EACH OTHER (a partial list),” is exactly what the title says, a list of things we have said that aren’t actually true. Not everything is in a short story format, but that makes the collection a more entertaining and refreshing read—if you’re a fan dark humor, that is.

Novel Reactions: Rebel Cities

David Harvey’s Rebel Cities challenges the capitalist norm in which owners of capital are the only ones thriving in cities and poses that we can find a socially just solution to allow the majority to reclaim the cities.

This book made me think: yes, that’s true; our cities are flawed.

Rebel Cities doesn’t dictate the one solution to solve the issue—to be frank, there isn’t any one yet—but Harvey gives us a comprehensive background on the issue and provides us with some alternatives.

For a book of ~160 pages (paperback edition), it was quite a heavy read. There were times I’ve had to look up concepts mentioned in the text to make sure I was on the same page as Harvey. I think this was largely due to the target audience being people with economics or policy backgrounds. Nevertheless, the content wasn’t that hard to follow, so and it wasn’t at all intimidating to read my way through this book.

This is one of my favorite nonfiction reads. It has made me curious enough about social and political issues that I will likely read up on related topics to this. I would recommend this to anyone interested in social justice.

Novel Reactions: Radicalized

Wow, never has science fiction felt so real to me. Cory Doctorow’s Radicalized is a collection of four stories—all “what if?” scenarios people have probably thought to themselves at some point:

  • What if we take the internet of things too far?
  • What if our favorite superhero clashes with our justice system?
  • What if regular people finally crack?
  • What if the world goes into turmoil?

Of course, all of the stories stretch things (a little) too far, but, to be fair, they’re not too far from what we can imagine. All of the themes are current and familiar, and the social commentary is spot on: if these situations actually happened today, the stories in Radicalize portray potential reactions pretty well. How unfortunate.

The stories are longer than the typical short story, but each one can still be read in one sitting. I limited myself to one story each time I picked up this book because …well, it is a little chilling. Also, Cory Doctorow wrote the characters so well that, even if I didn’t love them, I understood them. Society can be crazy sometimes.

Radicalized is a very timely and worthwhile read, and I have super glad I picked it up at the bookstore. I would definitely recommend this to anyone, even to my friends who don’t really venture into sci-fi.

Novel Reactions: 99 Percent Mine

I am more or less a mood reader. I switch off to lighter romantic reads when I’m on vacation or when I’m too pooped from numerous sad endings. So this is where 99 Percent Mine comes in: I needed a source of entertainment during a time when Netflix wasn’t a good option.

The story is simple, and it was enough to keep me entertained. So… it served its purpose, but will I recommend it to anyone? Nah. I’m not a fan.

The story isn’t that special. The main girl (Darcy) is in love with her childhood friend (Tom), who is also her brother’s (Jamie’s) best friend. Additionally, the childhood friend is pretty much family and is doing the siblings a favor. (Said favor is renovating their grandmother’s cottage.)

Darcy and Tom are obviously going to get together, and it’s not the predictability that put me off. (My guilty pleasure is reading/watching romantic comedies; I always know they end well.)

Here, in more detail than people who hate spoilers will like, are my reasons for feeling meh:

  1. The main characters are not likable. Darcy is incredibly selfish. She has zero self-control and cannot accept responsibility for her actions. She thinks she’s all that (not in the way that she would brag about her work but in the way that she would always try to protect Tom). Also, Tom is not even that great. He’s placed on too high a pedestal, but he’s really just there as a brooding, juicy piece of meat.
  2. It seems like the writer needed an excuse to bring the two in extremely close quarters, so for some reason, Tom (childhood friend/contractor) camps out at the project site while Darcy lives somewhere there. Excuse me? How ridiculous is that? I get that it’s fiction, and writers can invent things, but at least let these things make sense! A lot of safety precautions have to be taken at construction sites. People cannot just come and go as they please, and contractors do not just let their inexperienced clients do manual labor on their sites. I am baffled.
  3. How can a new business owner with so much to prove skip town for two months and then take credit for all of the work done in their absence? Yes, everyone needs to take a personal day or two (been there) at some point, but to take two months without consequences? Given Tom’s background, I expected more hustle from him. I get that this is supposed to be for dramatic effect, but it would have given off the same effect and still have been more acceptable if this disappearance was cut short.

I’ve read better romantic novels. I came in looking for a fun read—to be entertained without having to think too much (basically, I needed an alternative to tv shows). It was just ok, I guess. Actually, no, it wasn’t very satisfying. Perhaps I should have read something else.

Short Bites: A Visit

In Baby, You’re Gonna Be Mine, Kevin Wilson’s “A Visit” is a homecoming kind of story in which a dutiful daughter rushes to her mother’s aid. You guessed it—the circumstances of their reunion aren’t so great, but what can you expect when there’s a sudden need for any child to come home?

I felt like the story gave me a sneak peek of what it would have been like to grow up in the US South. I like the strong community feeling—growing up having so-and-so’s kid around or knowing you can easily ask neighbors for a cup of sugar when you’ve run out. Also, there’s nothing like a good parent-child story to make you feel like the world isn’t so bad.

So, I liked it just fine.