Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Cover img: Freshwater
by Akwaeke Emezi

~Humans often pray and forget what their mouths can do, forget that every ear is listening, that when you direct your longing to the gods, they can take that personally.~

~He loves them as a god does, which is to say, with a taste for suffering.~

~I loved her because she gave me a name.~

~The worst part of embodiment is being unseen.~

~I am tired of pain. It’s just easier to focus on love and an existence outside this world. At least that feels like freedom.~

~When you break something, you must study the pattern of the shattering before you can piece it back together.~


The Cat That Had a Clue by Fiona Snyckers

Cover img: The Cat That Had a Clue by Fiona Snyckers

~A house like this never really belonged to one person. You just looked after it for the span of your lifetime.~

~There is nothing routine about finding one of your guests dead in his bed.~

~I like to save my breath for cooling my soup.~

~A tragic and romantic tale clings to this deserted place. It is a tale of chivalry, of true love, and above all…~

The Fireman by Joe Hill

Cover img of The Fireman
by Joe Hill

~There’s something horribly unfair about dying in the middle of a good story, before you have a chance to see how it all comes out…Death is a raw deal for narrative junkies.~

~’No one else has seen it. I’m starting to think it’s like Snuffleupagus, Big Bird’s friend? Just in his head.’
…’But Snuffleupagus was real.’
‘That is the most wonderful sentence I have ever heard. I want that on my gravestone. Snuffleupagus was real. No more. Just that.’~

~In her experience it was very difficult to offer a man affection and kindness without giving him the impression you were also offering a lay.~

~Harper thought it would be a toss-up, which term for women she hated more: bitch or hen. A hen was something you kept in a cage, and her sole worth was in her eggs. A bitch, at least, had teeth.~

~The people in charge can always justify doing terrible things in the name of the greater good. A slaughter here, a little torture there. It becomes moral to do things that would be immoral if an ordinary individual did ’em.~

~Any writer who works by outline should be burned at the stake. Possibly with their own outline and notecards used as kindling. That’s what I dislike most about our plan. It’s an outline. Life doesn’t work by outline.~

Apex Magazine reviews Memento Mori

A.C. Wise via Apex Magazine has reviewed her September reads in her article Words for Thought, which included Memento Mori (Published by Omenana).

Wise writes:

Memento Mori by Tiah Marie Beautement, published at Omenana Magazine in late August is about a relationship between two characters, one who just happens to be Death, and therefore doesn’t speak at all. The other character, an unnamed woman, is one of Death’s soul collectors, gathering lost souls from the sea and bringing them to him in corked vials. Her specialty is the souls of those who are still living, but have lost all their memories, leaving their bodies in slow decline and bringing pain to their families. By collecting them, she brings them peace.

As she swam through the deep, many silvery souls drifted by, but she left them alone. They were those of the drowned and their bodies were dead. In time, other soul collectors would catch them, but while they waited they would gently float in a peaceful, slumbering state, unharmed. What she was searching for was far more elusive.

In the ocean, she’s able to transform, growing gills and webbing. On land, she must cope with her Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and constant pain. In the water there is less strain on her joints, and she can move freely, but she can’t stay in the water forever. She can only stay long enough to help those in need, collecting the souls of the lost, and easing the passage of those beyond help. The story is filled with incredible kindness, from the soul collector’s deep caring for those she gathers from the sea, to Death’s kindness toward her. Harkening back to Santiago’s story, in the absence of words, Death communicates through food. It is less the flavors that speak for him, but more the act of lovingly preparing dishes for the soul collector. Death’s actions speak for him as well–he sends the soul collector a service dog to help care for her, he gently kisses the top of her forehead before leaving her, he sleeps curled around her when she doesn’t want to be alone, and above all he respects her wishes, never pushing help onto her when it isn’t asked for or needed.  It’s a lovely story, full of beautiful imagery, and a beautiful relationship between two characters who express the most when they are completely silent.


Read about all her picks here

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Cover img of Bad Feminist
by Roxane Gay

~When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement.~

~Some women being empowered does not prove the patriarchy is dead. It proves that some of us are lucky.~

~We live in a culture that is overly permissive where rape is concerned. While there are certainly many people who understand rape and the damage of rape, we also live in a time that necessitates the phrase “rape culture.” This phrase denotes a culture where we are inundated, in different ways, by the idea that male aggression and violence toward women is acceptable and often inevitable.~

~Writing is cheaper than therapy or drugs.~

~All too often, representations of a woman’s strength overlook the cost of that strength, where it rises from, and how it is called upon when needed most.~

~To read narrowly and shallowly is to read from a place of ignorance, and women writers can’t fix that ignorance no matter what kinds of books we write or how those books are marketed. This is where we should focus this conversation: how men (as readers, critics, and editors) can start to bear the responsibility for becoming better, broader readers.~

~Rape humour is designed to remind women that they are still not quite equal. Just as their bodies and reproductive freedom are open to legislation and public discourse, so are their other issues. When women respond negatively to misogynistic or rape humour, they are “sensitive” and branded as “feminist,” a word that has, as of late, become a catchall term for “woman who does not tolerate bullshit.”

~It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away. The problem is not that one of these things is happening; it’s that they are all happening, concurrently and constantly.~

~Often, when I read the news, I have to make sure I am not, in fact, reading The Onion. We continue to have national and state debates about abortion, birth control, and reproductive freedom, and men, mostly, are directing that debate. That is the stuff of satire.~

Of Dogs & Goats by Tiah Marie Beautement

FunDza has published my latest story: Of Dogs & Goats. It tells the story of a family raising a child with special needs, in an area that battles both economically and with the animals roaming in their community.  It is a great privlage to say that this story has also been translated into Afrikaans: Honde en Bokke.

On a special note, I’d like to say that living with autism isn’t always a disability, per se. Plenty of people with the condition attend mainstream school and integrate into neuro-typical society with about as much ease as an introvert, such as seen in my story Wiki. For these people, often known as Aspies, autism often is a strength. However, as the end of the Talking Points explains, the autistic spectrum is wide, and there are people who will battle to be understood and have their needs met by a society that is more suited towards extroverts.

Image: clothes pegs on a line

Chapter 1:

“Nandi, don’t go near the road,” I call out, as I hang the laundry.

Nandi, my five-year-old sister, ignores me, but Silwane, her dog, herds her back.

These days all my friends ask me: “How can you stand to sleep with a dog in your room?”

“If you had spent years listening to your little sister screaming on and on every night, and a dog shut her up, you’d sleep with a dog too,” I tell them.

I glance over to see Nandi chasing a butterfly. Silwane is dutifully following. My sister loves anything with wings, even miggies.

I sigh as I hang another shirt. Yoh, I swear, school holidays are the worst. Some kids love the break, especially when you are in high school, like me. But you see, I don’t ever get a real break. When I’m off school, while Mama and Tata are at work, I must to do all the chores and keep an eye on Nandi – while my big brother Melusi runs off with all his friends.

“He watches her every day while you are at school,” Mama says, any time I complain.

Melusi watches Nandi because he hasn’t found a job since he matriculated. If he had a job, we’d be paying a neighbour to watch Nandi. But no, his lazy butt is jobless, and please understand, my big brother doesn’t cook or do laundry while he’s home. Hayi! He still leaves that job for Mama or me.

A yip catches my attention and I look up from the laundry to see Melusi strolling up the street with Blaze, his fellow jobless friend, and they’ve got a short, squatty dog on a rope.

“You keep that dog away from here, neh?” I call out.

Silwane has parked himself directly in front of Nandi, who is now twisting fistfuls of the dog’s fur. Silwane ignores her, keeping his focus on the other dog, that is straining at the rope.

“Molo, Cebisa,” Blaze calls. He gives me a wave, as if I don’t know he is nothing but trouble. I say nothing.

“Greetings, Cebisa,” Melusi scolds. “You don’t need to be rude.”

“Molo,” I reply, with a glare. “Now you keep that other dog away. What are you two even doing with that dog, neh?”

Blaze smiles his slick smile and shrugs. “Your family seems to enjoy having a dog so much I thought maybe I’d like one too.”

I narrow my eyes as Nandi cowers behind Silwane. That child does not do people. She doesn’t even talk, let alone make eye contact. Stepping in front of Silwane, in order to shield Nandi a bit more, I ask, “Blaze, didn’t you walk past here yesterday with a different dog?”

He gives another shrug. “Eh? That dog ran away. Now I have this one.”

I open my mouth to object, but Melusi waves me off. “Leave it, Cebisa. We’re going. We just came by to tell you that I won’t be home for dinner.”

Now I’m suspicious. “What are you really up to, neh?”

But he doesn’t answer. He and his friend just walk off, dragging that other dog with them.

Something’s going on. I just don’t know what.

Click to read Chapter 2

The Book Smugglers Review Memento Mori

Charles Payseur via The Book Smugglers has picked his reads for September and Memento Mori (Published by Omenana) made the list!

Art work by Sunny Efemena , featuring Death and a Soul Collector

Payseur writes:

What It Is: The narrator of this story is an operative of Death. Which might seem scary, except here Death isn’t a looming specter, but rather a being very concerned about the living and the fate of their souls. The narrator is a woman who can transform into a kind of merperson, capable of searching the oceans for the whisper-fragile lost souls Death cannot collect himself. She’s especially good at her job in part because of a rare condition she has in her joints that allows her to move in ways that others cannot. On land, though, her condition is something that causes her constant pain, and makes living on her own in a secluded house something of a risk. Death cares for her as more than just a business partner, though, and as the story progresses their relationship, intimate and respectful from the start, evolves and deepens.

Why I Love It: A layered, consent-based romance featuring a disabled woman and (an also disabled) Death? Yes please! I was charmed by the premise alone, but the story’s execution is also incredible, building up the narrator’s independence and skill and making her every bit Death’s equal. I truly appreciate the care that goes into their relationship, where Death could be so overbearing and forceful, and yet doesn’t really act until she tells him he can. He listens to her, hoping to be more a part of her life, and together they have this very tricky negotiation about what their relationship can and will be. It’s sweet and it’s hot and it’s amazing, and all of that is interspersed with tension and terror and all manner of possible heartbreak. But the two characters show what they’re capable of, and show how they care for one another without having to change or give up who they are. It’s one of the freshest and most surprising depictions of Death I’ve seen lately, and absolutely won me over!

Read all the reviews HERE

Knucklebone by N.R. Brodie

Cover img of Knucklebone by N.R. Brodie 

*Quotes are only from first third of book to avoid spoilers.

~Nobody used clocks to tell the time any more.~

~These animals, they have not learned that the city is not a place for the wild…They still try to hunt at night. And then the hunters, they turn into prey.~

~Sometimes the truth depends on what you believe.~

~It is like a river…There is one side – the side where we are, humans, the world. And on the other side is another world, the spirit world. If you want to cross over from one side to the other, you must cross the river. And to cross the river you must pay a price.~

~It had been a mistake to go to the library.~

~Second guesses will get you killed.~

You Found Me by Virginia Macgregor

Cover img of You Found Me
by Virginia Macgregor

~Sometimes he’s so tired that he forgets which way he’s going: whether he’s heading home for a rest or whether he’s going back to the hospital for another shift.~

~He stopped minding the rain a long time ago; it is part of him now, of his hair and beard and clothes. Soon, it will seep through his skin and start running through his veins, like a river. Like the sea.~

~Language, like music, goes deep. Long after the deepest memories have vanished, it’s one of the things that stays.~

~Sometimes remembering can be worse than forgetting, David. Sometimes, remembering can do more damage than good.~

~It’s the little things that make you want to keep living.~

Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller

Cover img of Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller

~Odd. An odd night. Carrying some dying soldier back to an empty house.~

~Strange duty killing men whose names you do not know.~

~He did not dare to question what he was doing. Start to question it and he might find himself gazing through a tear in the skin of the world.~

~He should try to set her mind at ease, though he had no real sense of how to do it and was aching with tiredness. Why had he not stayed in a hotel or a lodging house? Family always saw too much.~

~Tea, the proper making of it, the knowledgeable enjoyment, was, like British sea power, a mystery a foreigner could only gaze upon, awed and confused, an idiot at High Mass.~

~He wanted to build a city in her head.~

~Do drowned men have headstones?~

~Was love, once given, always possessed? A gift, a quality, you could scatter over your head like sacred ashes when you had need of it?~