Things I Like
The April edition
It’s finally time, my cherished paid subscribers. After years of running this Substack, I’m entering the “recommendation” space. I’ve been thinking of ways I could connect more to my paying readers, and I thought a monthly roundup of books, movies, essays, and more would be a great way to do that. I inhale a lot of stuff each month, and I think I have pretty good taste.
And what better month than April to start something like this? Spring is springing. The world is in bloom. Enthusiasm returns for “doing things.” For me, this has looked like a renewed appetite for art, both making my own and looking at other people’s.
I’ll make my first recommendation visible for all subscribers each month, but if you’d like to support me and my creative pursuits, the best way to do that is by upgrading your membership! Thank you so much, and without further ado, let’s start recommending things.
The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
I loved this book. I’m a sucker for folklore, especially when it’s mixed into a more grounded, realistic world. It’s like mixing sugar and sea salt, which is an elite combination of things.
The Magic Fish is a coming out story, of sorts, but it’s also a story about language. Tien is teaching English to his Vietnamese, immigrant mother by reading her fairytales. When he develops a crush on a boy in his school, he uses those fairytales to communicate deeper personal truths to her.
It’s gorgeously illustrated, and I loved the narrative structure that really embraced the blurred lines between myths and personal histories. Fairytales have always been an ornate way to communicate universal truths, and this book accomplishes that in a fun way that queer readers, parents of queer kids, and people from immigrant backgrounds will find especially beautiful.