Reading List

Here are some fictional and non-fictional works that have stayed with me, some of which I would gladly reread, some that enchanted me beyond belief.

*= okay
**= great
***= excellent

FICTION

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee [1960] **
  • The Floating Opera by John Barth [1956] *
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (x3) [1952] ***

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  • Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr. (unforgettable read, watched the movie 3 or 4 times) [1978] ***

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  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker [1982] ***

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  • Beloved by Toni Morrison [1987] *
  • The Octopus: A Story of California by Frank Norris [1901] **
  • 1984 by George Orwell (brilliant book, dystopian novels are great) [1949] ***

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  • Animal Farm by George Orwell (novella) [1945] **
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by C. S. Lewis [1865] *
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain [1884] *
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho [1988] *
  • The Manual of the Warrior of Light by Paulo Coelho [1997] *
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood [1985] ***

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  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald [1925] *
  • Moromeţii by Marin Preda (Romanian novel, volumes I and II) [1955 and 1967] *
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne [1850] *
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo [1831] *
  • Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder [1991] ***
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov [1955] **

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  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (cried like a baby while reading it) [1852] **
  • Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (MAGICAL) [1911] ***

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  • Harry Potter (all VII volumes) by J. K. Rowling (MAGICAL) [1997-2007] ***

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  • The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell (volume I) by Chris Colfer (looking forward to reading the other two volumes) (aaaand MAGICAL) [2012] ***

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  • Struck by Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal by Chris Colfer [2013] ***
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green [2012] **
  • Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan [2010] **
  • Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan [2003] **
  • The Rainbow Trilogy: Rainbow Boys, Rainbow High, Rainbow Road by Alex Sanchez [2001, 2003, and 2005] **
  • Cireşarii (The Cherry Teenagers) by Constantin Chiriţă (Romanian novel, V volumes) (wonderful books, the best of the Romanian literature) [1956, 1958, 1960, 1961, and 1963] ***
  • La Ţigănci by Mircea Eliade (Romanian short story) [1959] *
  • Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz [1895] *
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco [1980] **
  • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner [1929] *
  • Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser [1900] *
  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (short story) [1892] *
  • The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe (short story) [1839] *
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy [2006] *
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez [1967] *
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (almost done) [1932]

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  • The Divine Comedy: Inferno and Purgatory by Dante Aligheri (masterpiece, can’t wait to read Paradise as well) [1314 ?] ***

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  • Girl With the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier [1999] **

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ESSAYS

  • Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau [1849] *
  • Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson (x3) [1841] ***

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  • Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson [1836] *
  • A Defence of Poetry by Percy Bysshe Shelley [1821] *
  • Why I Write? by George Orwell [1946] **
  • Politics and the English Language by George Orwell (I love Orwell) [1946] **
  • Queer and Then? by Michael Warner [2012] **
  • What I Believe by Emma Goldman [1908] ***
  • Choosing the Margin as a Space of Radical Openness by bell hooks (in Yearnings: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics) [1989] **
  • Panopticism by Michel Foucault (in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison) [1975] **
  • The Civil Rights Movement: What Good Was It? by Alice Walker (in In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens) [1983] **
  • Compulsory Heterosexuality by Adrienne Rich [1980] **
  • The Personal is Political by Carol Hanisch [1970] *

POETRY

  • Walt Whitman
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Audre Lorde

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  • Allen Ginsberg
  • Adrienne Rich

AUTO/BIOGRAPHIES

  • A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass [1845] **
  • The Long Hard Road Out of Hell by Marilyn Manson (Brian Warner) and Neil Strauss [1998] ***

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  • Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews [2011] *
  • Yes We Can: A Biography of President Barack Obama by Garen Thomas [2008] *

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NON-FICTION (no chapters or articles)

  • The US Constitution (a few times) [created 1787, ratified 1788] *
  • The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels [1848] ***
  • Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine [2010] *
  • Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin [1987] ***
  • No Death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom for Life by Thich Nhat Hanh [2003] ***
  • The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh [1999] **
  • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle [1997] **
  • A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle [2005] ***
  • The Origins and Role of Same-sex Relations in Human Societies by James Neill [2009] **
  • Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream by Jay Stevens [1988] **

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  • Queering Anarchism: Addressing and Undressing Power and Desire by (Eds.) C. B. Daring, J. Rogue, Deric Shannon, and Abbey Volcano [2012] **
  • Refusing to Be a Man by John Stoltenberg [1989] **
  • Political Ideologies: An Introduction by Andrew Heywood [1992] **
  • Memories of the Future: Unsolved Mysteries of the Past by Erich von Däniken [1968] *
  • The Trouble With Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life by Michael Warner [1999] **

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  • Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville [1835] *

What are your thoughts on this list?

Monologue of the Déprimé

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I have been diagnosed with major depression. Only half of it is true actually. The depression part, you guessed. I haven’t really been diagnosed, it’s more of a self-imposed diagnosis. When did doctors care anyway? So this promises to be a rather long monologue where I complain and bitch about the world, my mental and physical health – they say I’m super good at this. Now, another writer (ha, who am I even calling a writer?) would ask you at this point, “dear reader, bear with me”. Well, I won’t. Go do something else, something better, like buying seafood, or feeding your dogs or posting a twelfth selfie on facebook + twitter + instagram + whatever-the-fuck-other-social-media-they-have-come-up-with-these-days. I’m not here to entertain you. I’m here to wallow. But I promise you I’ll do a good job.

So apart from practically drowning in mucus, from coughing what’s-left-of-my-lungs out, from having what I would call in “Inception” terms, a cold within a cold within a cold slash pneumonia (or, in “Inception” terms, “limbo”) – apart from all this, there’s all of …that. If I used to have this voice in my head telling me, urging me to get off my ass and do something, now I have the energy of a dead fish. I have such low energy that if a dinosaur burst through my window I would most likely skip saying “hello” and just lie there, patting the dinosaur on the back, bitching to him about the weather, which if I didn’t mention already (that that was also meant to include Alzheimer’s), it’s something like Twilight meets Fifty Shades of Grey meets other shitty fan fiction – which is, yes, terrible. Make that in 3D. With glasses on.

So how does this depression thing work? Who isn’t depressed these days? Not to offend anybody who’s actually been diagnosed or dealing with this issue. I’m for real here. I get up in the morning (meaning around afternoon) because my stomach screeches, so I have to feed it in order to shut it up and best case scenario, go back to end, I mean bed. I have a question for you. Why do you wake up in the morning? I’m not expecting a philosophical explanation of the meaning of life. Literally: why and how? And now you’d say: “Oh, but look around, so many things to be joyful about, and alive for and thankful for. Like the birds, and the trees and the sun and the food on the table”. Two points for you. As for right now, not only do I feel below sea level, but also guilty because apart from being a whining drama queen, I’m also an ungrateful person. I must have earned myself that title. Manniqueen of Depression (I didn’t come up with the term). How awfully perfect can this be? I’ve become it. It’s an it, but alive and eating at my gut (quite literally since scientists have recently discovered a connection between gut imbalance and anxiety and depression), surfacing a lot lately, interfering with my daily activities. “Laughter in the background” – add “morbid” to that. Which daily activities?

You’d think there’s a lot of crying going on, but then again, the crying is supposed to help, so if I’m here, there hasn’t been much of that. But there’s sadness. That runs deep. Oceans of sadness. Floating around in mucus. I’m not even joking.

Someone once told me: “My heart is in the right place, it’s my mind that’s fucked up”. So “is there a way out of the mind?”, asks the great Sylvia Plath, suicide queen. The mind – this mass of torment, a committee of black holes gathered to strip you naked and laugh at you, the maze which is sick, which tries to turn the tones of trouble into poetry. Of course, failing big. Could it be that the only freedom we should be striving for should be freedom from the mind? Is that the only freedom there is? Is it freedom from or freedom to that should be sought? Freedom has been of interest to me for a long time now so it’s not a random or a rhetorical question. That’s one of the few things I still care about I guess.

Going back to my precarious state of mind and physical health, of course it could always get worse. And the two work in tandem. But aren’t they one and the same? And how about circularity? Doing things with a regularity that is insane and monotonous? Waking up, eating, working, drinking, going to bed, end of day, and the next day the same, and the next day, and the next. How? What is this? Get me out of here. Make it stop. I want out. And make the rain stop. And the silence. And the creepy monsters dragging my ass in their game. Kill the capital letters, they’re unbearable. i hear you frown, do you hear me? if depression could be heard, it’d be like this —————— like when the machine says you’re dead. No or low battery. Recharge. How? “Hey, there’s a way out of the darkness”, says X merrily with a pat on the back. “Hey, look for the light at the end of the tunnel”. There is no tunnel, no end, no light, no half full glass, no glass (remember that one from the “Matrix”, “there’s no spoon”?). They are songs you play when you know you have to hold on to something, so your mind invents anything, glasses, tunnels, inspirational quotes. But what happens when you take down the glitter, the colors, the rainbows, the cheer? You get a sad face. And you forcefully put on a smile. Because it’s the way to go. And the sadder you get, the harder you try to put on a smile. And layers of fake. Of makeup, of color. Of fake. Until the smiles machine breaks down. And you unveil yourself and then people think there’s something wrong with you. You don’t fucking say. But most of the times, they can’t tell. I’m really good at pretending, better than at whining.

So where do you start? To put your remains of a life back together, in a continuum, in a homogeneous, monolithic whole that used to be my life (more like my perception of it). Now it’s pieces, I’m scattered all over the place. At the surface, things may seem alright, but go down in the circles of Dante and you’ll find my Inferno. Nihilistic bastards weighing me down. Go right, go left, get up, go back to bed, wake up. I am awake. But there is barely anything for me here. I don’t do the things that used to make me happy anymore, like singing and dancing. I resolve to get through the day, but by the time I get down to business (my least favorite word), I lose interest. I HAVE LOST INTEREST. I have lost drive. I have lost focus. I have lost.

I don’t even scream or throw around with things because actual anger presupposes you have some energy left in you. Energy level zero. Not that I’m trying to define how I feel, but I can’t put my finger on it. Because if I do, then I might arm myself with the right weapon. Die, depression, die sadness. Merry, joy, come to me. There are so many forms and intensities because people are so diverse so naturally they will react differently to it. So is this a process of healing? Of transformation? Of becoming aware, conscious? Is it supposed to hurt? I can’t tell when it started. Ok, I’ve had a few downs this year, which entitles me to attribute this to internal as well as external factors.

“I think you’re depressed”. “Are you kidding me? I’m fine. I just don’t know which way to go, where I’m heading”. I know it’s not for the oven (I don’t cook, so that leaves suicide, Sylvia style). I know it’s not letting go. You know you should grip something on your downward spiral into madness and loneliness, those new friends you made. Which is what brings me here. At the end of my pen, I find a bit of closure, a bit of something, a bit of less grief, a bit of a friend. A bit. And it’s more than enough for now.

Turns out the nihilist psychotic soliloquy has a happy ending. Whataya know? Here’s for all those who didn’t end it abruptly. There is a way out of the mind, keep looking. Some say it’s meditation, others yoga, others prayer, others sleep, others LSD, others food, others meth, others coffee, cigarettes, sex. You get the point. Anything that takes you to an altered state of consciousness. OUT OF THE MIND.

For me it’s music. That’s when the blood flows through my veins (the way it should in someone who’s alive), when the mind stops, when I float, when the scattered is unscattered. Maximum volume is a good treatment if you skip the side effects, like becoming deaf. It’s totally worth it anyway. And then there’s this. I have come to you with my walls down. Apart from those that deal with grammar and punctuation. And it was totally worth it. Dear reader, if you’ve made it this far, you are my hero slash heroine.

And apparently Mental Illness Awareness Week and World Mental Health Day (October 10) have just passed. My heart goes out to all those struggling.

identity politics

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i’m not a poem, i’m not a word, i’m not a book, i’m not a device, i’m not a comma, i’m not a dot, a sign, a mark, i’m not a question, i’m not an answer, i’m not a reply, i’m not order, i’m not chaos, i’m not stellar, i’m not planetary, i’m not music, i’m not death, i’m not bipolar, i’m not dual, i’m not singular, i’m not a voice, i’m not noise, i’m not somebody, i’m not nobody, i’m not glam, i’m not goth, i’m not rock, i’m not pop, i’m not opera, i’m not rap, i’m not a princess, i’m not a queen, i’m not a slave, i’m not crucial, i’m not a funeral, i’m not a negation, i’m not an essence, i’m not a cube, i’m not a circle, i’m not fresh, i’m not rotten, i’m not black, i’m not yellow, i’m not white, i’m not khaki Continue reading

A Supermarket in California/Please Master (by Allen Ginsberg) Mash-up – A Masterful Piece of Rubbish

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What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman
you walk in the supermarket with your long-sleeved dress as if walking down the isle,
I see you changing your pace, do you know I have longed?
no groceries and no grocery boys in sight, you can do the shopping for me and I’ll do the shopping for you.
scattered letters fill my mind instead of price tags, I’ll leave you, master, toy with them;
fruit and vegetables are dying, but it’s our atrophy I’m worried about; what will we eat? besides each other.
who will ever know we were here, marking our brief nocturnal visit to the underworld of mankind Continue reading