Monday, March 5, 2018

Quick Sips - Glittership February 2018

Glittership is back after a short delay with new 2018 content! Woo! First up is an original story, a reprint, and a poem, all of which are gloriously queer. The fiction is set in the "real" world with a heavy emphasis on death and with people generally occupying space bordering both the living and the dead. Especially for queer people who are in a state of constant danger, it's a precarious space, but it can also be a powerful one that allows them to face the larger world and its mysteries more directly. These are rather wrenching pieces, and the the poetry doesn't let up, looking at shapeshifting and portrayal and it's just wonderful work all around that I should get to reviewing!


“Granny Death and the Drag King of London” by A.J. Fitzwater (5618 words)

No Spoilers: Lacey is a young queer immigrant to the UK directly following the death of Freddy Mercury. On the verge of tears, on the verge of so many things, she finds herself seeing an old woman she refers to as Granny Death, and from there a larger mystery and magic begins to reveal itself. Heavy with grief and with the feeling of being insecure—in the face of having trouble finding a job, in the face of the infighting within the queer community, in the face of the virus seeming to stalk them all. It’s wrenching but for me ultimately hopeful, about the joys of community as much as it’s about the messy ways labels and places sometimes don’t seem to fit quite right.
Keywords: Death, AIDS, Queer MC, Grief, Historical
Review: This story for me looks at community and loss in very interesting ways, exploring a time when AIDS was sweeping and where loss was near-continuous. Lacey is someone without a lot going for her, insecure in her job and not without friends but without a lot of people who she really trusts. Because in some ways trusts requires a more stable environment, one where everyone isn’t so...frayed? With the virus stalking, the social situation full of fear and the threat of violence, and Lacey herself not exactly “normal” even among other queer people, tension is high and there’s a feeling like something might snap. Like Lacey might crumble from the pressure and the wear of having to live without a safety net. And yet at the same time that these big things are happening, that things are starting to unravel, she meets someone who lowers a sort of helping hand. An elder who takes the time to reach out to Lacey to try and help her and offer her some guidance at a time when things have stopped making sense. Throw in some death magic and the prospect of a regular job, and it’s enough to snatch hope back from the jaws of despair. So that despite the virus, despite the fear, despite the loss, there can be some way forward, some way to still celebrate and make connections and be whole. It’s a lovely, complex read and very much worth checking out!

“Smooth Stones and Empty Bones” by Bennett North (5054 words) [reprint]

No Spoilers: Helena is the daughter of a witch living in a small town where the recent disappearance of a boy has made some of the locals look toward her family in distrust. It’s something that Helena is a bit used to, but it carries an added weight because what she is hiding—that she’s queer and dating the older sister of the missing boy. And as the search begins to look helpless, Helena decides to tell her girlfriend (Mariposa) something that she thinks might help, but which might also destroy everything that Helena has built for herself. About loss and, perhaps more, about the risks of revealing who you really are, the story is slow, sad, and beautiful.
Keywords: Witches, Queer MC, Dating, Death, Resurrection, Magic
Review: This is a rather difficult story because it plays with some very heavy themes. Namely, death and the risk of exposure. In a small town, the two in some ways walk hand in hand. For Helena, there’s at this point really no pulling the two apart. And I love the way that it complicates her situation, the way that it makes her vulnerable, makes her alone and desperate to have someone who will understand her and her situation. She’s isolated not because of anything she’s done, but rather because of who she is, and because people hate who she is. She must then erase those parts of herself that would put her at risk, but in doing so must erase those parts of herself most hurting, most in need of help. When she finally gets into a relationship, when she finally finds someone who she thinks she can be truly open and honest with, things...well, the story explores how the setting in many ways does not want her to be happy and supported. The way that these small towns seek to hurt those that don’t fit in. Because in a small town, deviancy is a threat. And because with the limited numbers their power is so fragile, it must be absolute and unchallenged. And yet still Helena finds ways to try and be happy, ways to try and find connections. As people do, by finding their way to others that don’t fit in. It’s just that this is a situation already saturated with death and loss, and even more is introduced. It’s a wrenching story about how bad things happen to good people, and how everyone deserves a chance at happiness, but how not everyone gets that chance. Which, fucking heartbreaking. But still so good, the characters still reaching and hoping despite their hurts. It’s an emotionally hitting story and one you should spend some time with. An excellent read!


"Seven Handy Ideas for Algorithmic Shapeshifting” by Bogi Takács

This poem takes a rather fun (until it’s also rather poignant) look at shapeshifting, at the different uses for the ability. The piece is framed as perhaps a user’s guide to shapeshifting, like one of those recipe guides that comes along with a microwave or crock pot. Like those, the actual suggestions here are a mix of kinda weird, fairly simple, and blisteringly devastating. Or...wait, people probably don’t often have that reaction to a microwave guide. Well. The poem crafts an increasingly complicate set of ideas about how the ability to shapeshift can be used. None of which is exactly safe. All of which involves confronting people with the disconnect between the shapes assumed and the reality of the person beneath the guise. And really in many ways the piece becomes for me about the way that people are treated who don’t match what people expect when they’re seen. About in some ways the options one has as someone who Does Not Fit In. How they are made to handle their own difference, made to either weaponize it or satirize it or confuse people with it (as if any of those things were the point when people are just trying to be, to live). Especially with the last point, the piece for me seems to become one showing not how people can choose to exist as trans people, but how they are pushed to make decisions about their identity because they’re not allowed to just be. So they must pick ways in order to Make Sense to everyone else. Either by making their identity into some sort of statement, trick, or erasure of themself. What they are left with is the knowledge that they will not be understood, and that what they have is their own convictions, their own lives, but always filtered through how other people will perceive them. It’s a complex read that’s fun but also rather deep and heavy. For me, I love the humor and the heart, the way that in the end the poem resolves into a subversion of form and shapeshifting and perception. And it’s a great read!


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