‘Red Clocks’ by Leni Zumas

Red Clocks is a delightful and harrowing read. In a not-so-distant future, if the incorrigible, trail-of-slime-leaving Mike Pence ever ascends to the presidency, we read about the goings on of a few women dealing with political machinations of those (read: men) who legislate reproductive-capable bodies. The believability and possibility of the plot is the scariest part. The likelihood of a 28th Amendment to scrap Roe v. Wade and anthropomorphize duplicating cells within wombs is as close to imminent as it is parodic.  

One of the narrative threads I really enjoyed was through Ro, who is writing a biography of Eivør Mínervudóttir, a little-known 19th-century Icelandic female polar explorer. Zumas wrote about Mínervudóttir so well that I didn’t realize she was fictional until I’d finished the book. Her story is one of the many macro ideas scaled down into micro glimpses the book provides.

The comparisons to Handmaid’s Tale are expected, but the character arcs in Red Clocks reflect those of many women I know, so it’s likely I’d recommend reading Red Clocks before Atwood’s masterpiece.

: : : : Although I eventually bought a copy myself, I was first given a galley courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review : : : :
Continue Reading

‘Zero K’ by Don DeLillo

In Zero K, with anticipatory verve, Elon Musk types offer themselves as guinea pigs. The conceit is giving up one’s current life for a distant hope of unseen, unproven eternal life, merely a rearranging of factors seen in religious devotees. No surprise that late capitalism’s god summons altars for the true seekers, sans necessity of a deity. The wealthy are afforded (fully intended) the opportunity to preserve one’s body and mind for an as-yet-unready future. Zero K is fun little Bladerunner-ish escape into the dreary possibilities of wealth as the determinant for human progress and achievement. Every DeLillo sentence is worth reading.

: : : : galley courtesy of publisher in exchange for an honest review : : : :
Continue Reading

Families and Mourning

Today my family—and families in general—is on my mind. As is mourning.

Two years ago today (back on Nov. 5, 2015), Kate Kelly and I visited the gravesite of my great^4 grandma Mary Ann Frost Stearns Pratt, a determined, strong, autonomous pioneer woman who was finally granted a divorce from early Mormon leader Parley P. Pratt after events including polygamous marriages withheld from her knowledge.

It was the same day the Mormon church’s harmful policy banning baptism of children of same-sex couples was unearthed.

Here is a quote from an article Mary Ann Frost wrote for Woman’s Exponent in April 1880: “Without the woman chaos would now reign triumphant on the earth.”

Today I’m also revising a talk (for the umpteenth time) I will give about my dad at his funeral this upcoming Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 [Update: here is a link to the audio of me giving the talk]. He’ll be buried in the same cemetery as Mary Ann. I mostly have to shorten it, but it’ll be hard to deliver no matter how eloquent I try to make it due to the emotions of it all.

For those who do not yet know, my endlessly kind and affable dad passed away peacefully after a long courageous battle with a rare autoimmune disease and cancer on October 31. It happened in the best possible way for my sweet mama, considering the circumstances:

All of my siblings (there are 6 of us) were at his side as it happened. I was holding one of his hands. My mom kissed him as his eyes flitted about longing for life’s last curiosities; she then kissed him one more time and then he left us. It was excruciatingly painful, but having our whole family present brought quick peace. My mom deserves a lifetime of comfort after all she’s been through as his caretaker for over half a decade. We were able to watch his favorite movies, listen to his favorite music, and share with him my adventure in Sweden in our final days with him. I’ll miss him always.

Lane Ryan Pas Waters — August 27, 1952 – October 31, 2017

Also today (Nov. 5, 2017), Sweden learned part of my family’s story as my “special day” segment aired during today’s episode of Allt För Sverige. The story shown is that from my ancestor, Olof, who is in my grandpa’s line. Mary Ann is in my grandma’s line. I will share Olof’s story in a separate post.

I am filled with equal parts happiness and sorrow. The episode resonated even deeper with me because of everything that happened this week

Hold on to your loved ones, share stories with them. Mourn with and for them.

As my friend Jacob Baker wrote, “The work of mourning is a knife that efficiently cuts away the outer protective shells we have carefully built to keep others away, obscuring our view of one another… Mourning elides space-time… and takes what would have been years (if ever) of bitterly hard work and condenses it into a shared moment where time stands still and we are left with only each other.”

He goes on, “Where there are stories there can be mourning. And where there is mourning, there we will be, undone by one another, all together for the very, very first time.”

Continue Reading

Hej hej, Sverige!

Hej hej, Sverige!

My whole life, Sweden had always seemed like a utopian place: a mix of Vikings, Lord of the Rings, eating fish, drinking coffee and pastries (fika!), and treating one another with respect. As I arrived, I quickly realized how familiar it felt. It surprised me! It really, truly felt like home. Like I belonged.

I look forward to sharing more journal entries from my experience in Sweden, reflections on the country, Scandinavian books I read, and much more.



Continue Reading