Then and Now #27 (6/6/22 - 12/6/22)

Happy Sunday! The Sunday Post is a blog news meme hosted @ Caffeinated Reviewer. See rules here: Sunday Post MemeMailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.  It is hosted weekly over at Mailbox Monday and every Friday they do a round-up of some of their favourite, shared reads!

Last Week

What a week! I'm back and recovered from my first ever academic conference, which took place the week before in St. Andrews, Scotland. It was lovely to be back there, since I did my MLitt degree there in 2016, but I also did need some time to recover afterwards. So many interesting talks coming straight at me for two days straight, it was like an information overload. But in a good way! 

Then this week it was a back and forth of focusing on my thesis and on everything else that needs to happen, like finding a job, planning for the next conference in July, and planning a symposium. Thankfully the symposium is beginning to look like it will be a great event and everyone seems really enthusiastic about it. And my thesis is fully coming together now, which is a little scary. I've been writing it since February and now, four months later, it's almost finished... how time flies when you're having fun! I'm also starting to plan my summer reading, since I don't know if I can financially stretch to a big holiday. The money pit that is my cat is thankfully feeling a whole lot better, so it was all worth it in the end.

Had a bit of a difficult moment in church today cause they're changing how we do Communion. I've been going to that church since I was a child and how we used to do Communion, which we do every week, is how it feels right for me. Now that it's changed, in part because of Covid but also for other reasons, it feels wrong. And although I'm not capital-R religious, it is nonetheless something that feels a bit sacred to me. So I'm now faced with the choice of whether to continue with Communion and have it feel wrong, or to stop taking it. So that's a bit tough.



I've been listening to this song a lot this week. I think it is an unreleased song, i.e. one that wasn't on an album, but I love this demo version. Here's Fine China by Lana del Rey. So technically all of that is true, but as I was thinking about it, this is actually the song I've been power-walking to! Zitti e Buoni by Maneskin:

Mailbox Monday
Pathetic Literature edited by Eileen Myles (Grove Atlantic; 11/15/2022)

An utterly unique collection composed by the award-winning writer, a global anthology of pieces from lesser-known classics by luminaries like Franz Kafka, Samuel R. Delany, and Gwendolyn Brooks to up-and-coming writers, that examine pathos and feeling, giving a well-timed rehab to the word “pathetic” 

“Literature is pathetic.” So claims Eileen Myles in their bold and bracing introduction to Pathetic Literature, an exuberant collection of pieces ranging from poetry to theater to prose to something in between, all of which explore those so-called “pathetic” or sensitive feelings around which lives are built and revolutions are incited.

Myles first reclaimed the word for a seminar they taught at the University of California San Diego, rescuing it from the derision into which it had slipped and restoring its original meaning of inspiring emotion or feeling, from the Ancient Greek rhetorical method pathos. Their reinvention of “pathetic” formed the bedrock for this anthology, which includes a breathtaking 105 contributors, encompassing titans of global literature like Robert Walser, Jorge Luis Borges, Rumi, and Gwendolyn Brooks, queer icons and revolutionaries like Dodie Bellamy, Samuel R. Delany, and Bob Flanagan, as well as the invigorating newness and excitement of writers on the rise, including Nicole Wallace, Precious Okoyomon, and Will Farris. Creative nonfiction by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, Jack Halberstam, and Porochista Khakpour rubs shoulders with poetry by Natalie Diaz, Victoria Chang, Lucille Clifton, and Ariana Reines, all joined by prose from Chester Himes, Djuna Barnes, Chris Kraus, and Qiu Miaojin, among so many others. The result is a matchless anthology that is as much an ongoing dialogue as an essential compendium of queer, revolutionary, joyful, and always moving literature.

From confrontations with suffering, embarrassment, and disquiet, to the comforts and consolations of finding one’s familiar double in a poem, Pathetic Literature is a swarming taxonomy of ways to think differently and live pathetically on a polarized and fearful planet.

I looooveee collections like this, especially when they start as bluntly as Pathetic Literature does. 'Pathetic' is one of those words that has changed in meaning quite a bit from its Ancient Greek origins, so I can't wait to see what texts Myles has selected to win back the word.

Little Eve by Catriona Ward (Macmillan-Tor/Forge; 10/11/2022)

From Catriona Ward, the international bestselling author of The Last House on Needless Street comes Little Eve, a heart-pounding tale of faith and family, with a devastating twist.

“A great day is upon us. He is coming. The world will be washed away.”

On the wind-battered isle of Altnaharra, off the wildest coast of Scotland, a clan prepares to bring about the end of the world and its imminent rebirth.

The Adder is coming and one of their number will inherit its powers. They all want the honor, but young Eve is willing to do anything for the distinction.

A reckoning beyond Eve’s imagination begins when Chief Inspector Black arrives to investigate a brutal murder and their sacred ceremony goes terribly wrong.

And soon all the secrets of Altnaharra will be uncovered.

I adore Catriona Ward and have done for quite a bit. So of course this one was a no-brainer for me. I also love the Gothic feel of the cover and who could resist a Scottish clan rooting for the end of the world?

Savage Her Reply by Deirdre Sullivan (BooksGoSocial; 10/1/2020)

A dark, feminist retelling of The Children of Lir by the author of the multi-award-winning Tangleweed and Brine

A retelling of the favourite Irish fairytale The Children of Lir. Aífe marries Lir, a chieftain with four children by his previous wife. Jealous of his affection for his children, the witch Aífe turns them into swans for 900 years.

Retold through the voice of Aífe, Savage Her Reply is unsettling and dark, feminist and fierce, yet nuanced in its exploration of the guilt of a complex character.

A dark & witchy feminist retelling from the author of Tangleweed and Brine

I love retellings and I love witches, so I think Savage Her Reply is right up me alley. (What a title, btw!) I wonder what Sullivan is going to do with Aífe and if she can become a redeemable character.

Delphi: A Novel by Clare Pollard (Avid Reader Press; 8/2/2022)

For readers of Jenny Offill, Deborah Levy, and Olivia Laing, an exquisite debut novel about a classics academic researching prophecy in the ancient world, just as the pandemic descends and all visions of her own family’s future begin to blur.

Covid-19 has arrived in London, and the entire world quickly succumbs to the surreal, chaotic mundanity of screens, isolation, and the disasters small and large that have plagued recent history. As our unnamed narrator—a classics academic immersed in her studies of ancient prophecies—navigates the tightening grip of lockdown, a marriage in crisis, and a ten-year-old son who seems increasingly unreachable, she becomes obsessed with predicting the future. Shifting her focus from chiromancy (prophecy by palm reading) to zoomancy (prophecy by animal behavior) to oenomancy (prophecy by wine), she fails to notice the future creeping into the heart of her very own home, and when she finally does, the threat has already breached the gates.

Brainy and ominous, funny and sharp, Delphi is a snapshot and a time capsule—it both demythologizes our current moment and places our reality in the context of myth. Clare Pollard has delivered one of our first great novels of this terrible moment, a mesmerizing story of our pasts, our presents, and our futures, and how we keep on living in a world that is ever-more uncertain and absurd.

I do not want to keep repeating myself so I'm just going to say I'm mildly obsessed with Delphi and its oracles and that I can't wait to see what Clare Pollard does with this in a modern context. I do think this will be the first book I read that actively has Covid-19 as a plot element. I wonder how that will be.

That's me for this week! What have you gotten up to?


  1. Glad your thesis is coming along nicely! That's always a plus. Sorry to hear about your dilemma with Communion at church. That's gotta be rough, but you just gotta do what feels right to you. I believe God will understand your decision.

    Nice new reads too! Those are all totally new to me ones but I hope you enjoy them all!

    Here's my StS

    Have a GREAT day!

    Old Follower :)

  2. Glad you are recovered from your trip. COVID has impacted everything, but I hadn't thought about how it would affect communion.

  3. It sounds like you've got a lot going on! FINALLY finishing my thesis was one of the happiest days of my life. I hope you have a great week!

  4. Good luck on the thesis -- As others said, finishing my dissertation was one of the high points; such a relief to be done. Conferences can be overwhelming, but I used to love going.

  5. Good luck with your thesis!
    You've got some interesting books here, I'm mostly intrigued by Little Eve and Delphi.
    Have a great week and happy reading!

  6. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip. Good luck on the thesis.
    We've had changes in communion over the years primarily due to changing church denominations. Like music, I learned to focus on the purpose (of worship or participating in communion) rather than the method.
    Some of your books this week look dark. I hope you enjoy them all. Happy Reading!

  7. Good luck with your thesis. These look like some interesting reads.


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