I wrote a novel about fear, monsters, and a wall. It was supposed to be a fantasy. I started this novel long ago--long before this election season and conversations about actually walling ourselves in.
Fantasy literature has always imagined not just what might be, but what already is. Monsters are all around us--and they’re in us. We do bad things, and we let bad things happen. We can try to run from this truth, and we can build barriers, but we can’t get away from the monsters until we figure out who and what the monsters actually are. This is much of what my novel, The Beast Is an Animal, is about.
After walking around in a soup of despair for several days, I thought about what has convinced me before that there is too much good in the world to succumb to what’s bad. So here are a few things that might help you do the same.
Art: See left. One of my favorites—The Giant, by Francisco de Goya. That’s a monster to love.
Music: "Familiarity" by The Punch Brothers is one of my favorite songs of all time. It's about disconnection and the desire to connect. And it's simply beautiful.
Reading: If you want to get thoroughly away, V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic is a wonderfully original, so-skillfully-imagined fantasy that hooks you right in. There are four connected worlds, one of which has been overcome by black magic and was sealed off from the other worlds. But it turns out the black magic wasn't completely locked out after all. An oldie but a goodie is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle. In that novel, the most evil place, the place most dominated by IT, isn't chaotic, it's orderly--in an awful, awful way. That has powerfully stayed with me in the decades since I first read it. Finally, it's never a bad time to read or reread A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, and this would be a particularly good time. It's a book for adults and teenagers, imagining one particular way Fascism might take over the United States. Spoiler alert: The women don't fare so well. Make this your motto: Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.
And finally, some news about my book: The publication date has been moved up to February 28, 2017! You can preorder a copy here, which I highly recommend.
Hang in there, my friends. Look at something beautiful. Listen to something that sweeps you away. Read something mind-expanding. Donate even a few dollars to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. None of those things will press the rewind button on what happened last week, but a few of them will do some good, and I’m pretty certain they’ll all make you feel at least marginally better.
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