Fahrenheit 2017

This post was originally published on obraartifact.com.

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” – Ray Bradbury

 

My students groaned when I passed out the books.

“I thought you said we weren’t reading another novel,” said the kid in front.

“I was wrong,” I said. “We’re reading this one because I think it’s important with everything that’s happening these days. Like how we just studied fake news.”

They lazed in their chairs. A guy down front took a pull on his Dunkin Donuts latte, eyeing me like he couldn’t decide if I was up to no good.

“What’s it about?” he asked. Continue reading

Review of Annie Hartnett’s Rabbit Cake

Elvis Babbitt, who shares a name and birthday with the King of Rock & Roll, is the precocious and obsessive protagonist of Annie Hartnett’s Rabbit Cake. Elvis’s peculiar proclivities stem in part from her mother, a failed naturalist who settled for teaching in community college in Alabama. Mom herself harbors quite a bit of quirk. For one, she always makes her daughters, Elvis and Lizzie, rabbit-shaped cakes complete with raspberry blood for their birthdays. But that isn’t the only weird thing about Mom. Continue reading

More than Weirdness Machines: The Inequality of Hurricanes in Fiction

I wrote this post right after Hurricane Matthew, but my life was so scrambled that it never got posted. The following are my belated thoughts on hurricanes in fiction.


Like many of my fellow Floridians, I evacuated for Hurricane Matthew. As I’m writing this, it’s been nearly a week since it hit. I’m still without power. I’m sitting in Denny’s, basking in the Wi-Fi, and thinking about how in my 26 years (in other words, my life) in Florida, hurricanes have always acted as weirdness machines.

Aftermath carries a bizarre glow, a strange cast to the sky. Oddities have been shaken out of hiding. Strangers carry on conversations, empathize and sympathize, never to see each other again. Matthew sent me to hunker with my cousin and his wife in Ocala, where I saw a letter-board outside a hunting outpost that read “Remember Lot’s Wife.” Driving home, a man dressed half in Army fatigues and half in Confederate gray uniform crossed the road in front of my car. I have found stray shot glasses in my yard after a storm not once but twice. Continue reading

Litsy A-to-Z Reading Challenge

Life has been very busy in many excellent (and a few mundane) ways. I should be posting a new life & writing update soon, and I’ll also be slapping some reviews on here, because I have been flooded with arcs. It’s truly hard for me to say no when somebody hands me a book.

Meanwhile, I’ve still been reading. One of the challenges I’m participating in this year is the Litsy A-to-Z challenge. There are a few options for that one, but the one I’m choosing is this: read 26 books, each with an author whose last name starts with a different letter. If you’re on Litsy, follow me: @becky_renner, and click this link to join in the fun.

Here are the books I have read so far: Continue reading

Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge 2017

I seem to be a literary glutton for punishment this year. Not only am I writing a novel, I’m planning to read gobs of them as well. (As I should be.) I already have all the books I agreed to review (and I’m SO behind), not to mention my personal reading list for my MFA this semester. (Ha ha ha – I’m dying. No, really. Can I hire a maid?) I am also daring to attempt TWO reading challenges. One of them is Litsy A to Z. The other is Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. Continue reading

Six Oscar-Nominated Movies Based on Books

This year, the Academy Awards will air on February 26th this year. Several of the movies nominated are based on books or stories.

mv5bmtexmzu0odcxndheqtjeqwpwz15bbwu4mde1oti4mzay-_v1_sy1000_cr006401000_al_Arrival (2016) is the story of an alien arrival on planet Earth and the linguistics professor, played by Amy Adams, who endeavors to interpret the language of the alien visitors.

Arrival is nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Production Design.

Arrival is based on Ted Chiang’s Nebula-winning novella “Story of Your Life.” You can read this and other stories in his collection Stories of Your Life and Others.

Continue reading

Book Giveaway!

Hello lovely people of Internetlandia,

I’m doing my first book giveaway. It’s hosted on rafflecopter, and you can enter to win one of these beautiful books:

It’s going until January 31st. Click here to enter!

Bees and Books: What You Can Do to Protect the Planet

During my recent MFA residency, one of my classmates (a fellow lit mag editor) found out that the Atlantic Center for the Arts, where we were doing our residency, was home to its very own bee colony. Only a few hours later, our professors convinced the resident beekeeper, Doug McGinnis, to give us a tour of his hives and teach us what he knew about beekeeping. What could be more poetic? Continue reading

Why I Write

In my first year of teaching, I gave my seniors the assignment to write about an event in their life that made them who they are. I read them all, surprised at what they’d been through, surprised too at the secrets they would trust me with, at what they’d put on paper. Domestic abuse, poverty, illness, one even witnessed a murder – these are the things that boiled under the surface of these people who I laughed with daily, who decorated my room, who sang me happy birthday, who wore me down to eventually have class outside. I had known them eight months already, or I thought I knew them. It wasn’t until April that we had this turning point, and I saw through to the other side. I realized that we are all a little broken. Every single one of us is on the mend. Continue reading

My Top Five Favorite Novels of 2016

I have read a lot of books this year (124 as of today), some of them amazing, some of them egregiously bad. These are my top five favorite novels I read this year.

vegetarian-coverOn its surface, The Vegetarian by Han Kang is a deeply disturbing story of a woman’s descent into madness. But don’t let the surface fool you. At its core, this novel is about the rules for femininity that confine Korean society. I highly recommend The Vegetarian by Han Kang. It’s astonishing (but tight!) prose and highly significant subject matter would make it the perfect book for readers of literary fiction and maybe even for book clubs that want to push the envelope and spark discussion. Read the rest of my review. Continue reading