I've sat down to write this a few times now, and I've given up every time — I'm currently spending the holidays with my family in my aunt's loud, entertaining house, where every night the women (that's most of us) sit around the TV and watch and comment on an average of six films until the small hours, snacking on leftovers and a couple of holiday/birthday cakes. (Celebrations tend to cluster in my family.)
Now that we just finished all three Lord of the Rings films, with the extra labor of walking my mother through them ("Whose father is that?", "But wasn't that guy dead", "This Frodo is a pain in the ass"), I've decided that it's time to recommend all of you some culture. Here's a list of things I've enjoyed this year, in no particular order.
Diez variaciones sobre el amor (“Ten Variations on Love”), Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría
I first encountered Teresa's complex, poetic science fiction in the Spanish-language sf anthology Terra Nova vol. 1, with her long short story "Memory," of which a translation into English by Lawrence Schimel has been recently re-published by Upper Rubber Boots.
This new collection (unfortunately only available in Spanish — for now!) is a multi-faceted, monumental journey across the many shapes of love (of yourself, your lover(s), your clone, your family) across times, realities, and entire universes. Teresa is incredibly precise; she builds worlds out of delicate, playful language and synesthesia. Her stories portray and celebrate structures of loving and living that defy the rules of heteronormativity, respectability, possibility. From a time-traveling art historian who falls in love with a young woman accused of being a witch in the middle of a France devastated by the Plague; to the stormy relationship between two clones who are in love despite prohibitions and violence; to the journey of two brothers following a robotic spider in the completion of a prophecy that echoes indigenous Río de la Plata traditions, the book digs deep into the many meanings and personifications of love.
Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work, Melissa Gira Grant
Much has been said about this short book. I picked it up because, for a while, I had been very confused by the mainstream feminist take on sex work, which I never felt made me any less ignorant about the subject. Melissa Gira Grant offers a thorough and informative introduction to issues around sex work and a brilliant analysis of the different processes and structures of “protection” and punishment that systematically deny sex workers the right to define their struggle in their own terms.
Alucinadas (Spanish Women of Wonder), Various Authors, Cristina Jurado and Leticia Lara (eds.)
This I also read in Spanish. HOWEVER, the anthology just managed to secure crowdfunding for its edition in English! Watch out, folks: Alucinadas is the first ever anthology of sf women writers in Spanish and it features a wide variety of genres, from space opera to steampunk to a generous number of stories that defy labelling, by both award-winning and less recognized authors from Latin America and Spain, including Lola Robles, Sofía Rhei, Marian Womack, and the legendary Angélica Gorodischer.
I’ve decided it’s probably a better idea if I just leave links to some music I’ve enjoyed, rather than describing it. Good luck!
My parents have eaten artichokes in front of me my entire life. But I always refused to eat them until I recently discovered the loveliness of marinated artichoke hearts, and the fun of dipping the leaves of a fresh boiled artichoke, one by one, core first, in olive oil and vinegar. But then, I will love anything sufficiently smothered in vinegar.
Under the skin, Jonathan Glazer
I intend to watch this film again, now that I’ve read the Wikipedia page for it. Scarlett Johansson plays an extraterrestrial who, disguised as a young woman, drives around Scotland and lures men into her beautifully alien lair.
Advantageous, Jennifer Phang
A stark yet heartfelt tale of a mother and daughter navigating an economic reality in which "hand to mouth" takes a whole new meaning that feels strangely around the corner. The premise features a megacorp offering the service to transfer their clients' consciousness into a new, younger, healthier body.
This year has been big in work-related reading for me, and I must say that, busy as it has been, I feel really good about it. I wish you all a happy 2016 full of satisfying, challenging, inspiring, good things.
Arrate Hidalgo is Associate Editor at Aqueduct Press. She is also an English to Spanish translator and amateur singer. She will be very excited if you visit her brand-new website, arratehidalgo.com.