In place of our staff picks this week, we’ve asked contributors from our Spring issue to write about what they’re reading, looking at, and listening to this month.
Still from Hereditary, 2018.
For months now, I have been waiting anxiously for the movie Hereditary to come out. It’s supposed to be out on June 8, but I keep hoping that this is a publicity joke and that it will come out sooner. Like everyone else, I found out about the movie back in January, when they showed it at the Sundance Film Festival, and the audience lost their minds and reported back to the Internet. Everyone who has seen it has said that it is some sort of love child between Rosemary’s Baby (excuse the pun) and The Shining, maybe with some of The Exorcist thrown in. I don’t know how this could even be possible, but please count me in. As the weather grows warmer, the flowers bloom, and the date grows nearer and nearer to its release, I get even more lovesick and pathetic with longing to see it. I watch its trailers every day, sometimes many times, and have even watched the horror-fan YouTube videos people have made doing close readings of the trailers. I have theories about the movie I have written in several notebooks, and then crossed out most of them. I have visited the Etsy site the movie’s production company has made with beautifully odd dolls that one of the main characters, a supernatural child named Charlie, has made, a hundred times, hoping that they will list more for sale (the dolls sold out immediately). I wait and wait until June 8, begging most people I know to go see the movie with me, but knowing I will probably end up going alone, crying in the dark. Why am I so excited? It’s such an awful time right now. And I get so sick of things—books, movies, poems—that are hailed as great but have no source of catharsis. I want to burn and feel better. I really hope Hereditary lives up to the hype. I don’t know. I have faith. —Dorothea Lasky
Lately, I can’t stop writing love poems. I write a short story—it’s a love poem. I start a new novel—long love poem. Sonnet, sestina, triolet: love poem, love poem, love poem. Maybe this is why “It’s Raining in Love” by Richard Brautigan keeps playing in my mind. I think I accidentally memorized it twenty years ago. It’s a kicky, self-conscious poem right from its opening stanza (“I don’t know what it is / but I distrust myself / when I start to like a girl / a lot”), and I adore the speaker for how cooly he winces at his crushing (“It makes me nervous,” he declares). All that’s A+, but then Brautigan goes on to discuss how crucial inconsequential questions become when you’re in love. Everything is code, sign, weather—even the weather, especially rain:
If I say, “Do you think it’s going to rain?”
and she says, “I don’t know,”
I start thinking : Does she really like me?
Rain, the speaker asides, shouldn’t be so weighty; it happies slugs, it’s a means of “programming flowers.” “Programming flowers”—! Did Brautigan proactively reclaim the word “programming”? I adore that. So affectedly casual elsewhere, when Brautigan starts “programming flowers,” he slides into rhapsody, reminding me how, enthralled by a lover, we all might become so programmed to bloom. —JoAnna Novak