I am, apparently, not the only person to wonder (usually under the fluorescent, changing-room lights) what it would be like to magically become the most conventionally-hot, sample-sized version of yourself. In her new novel The Regulars, Georgia Clark uses this premise to keenly examine beauty standards while leading readers through a taut, dynamic, and entertaining parade of bittersweet plot points.
A spice chess pie with a chocolate cookie crust inspired by Petty Magic, by Camille DeAngelis.
Do you ever look back on the first time you met someone important to you and sort of smile knowingly at your past self? It’s so adorably sweet that memory-me has no idea how her life is about to change now that this person has arrived. She’s usually too busy checkin’ out their butt. Similarly, I look back at the Hanna who almost didn’t buy Petty Magic (because she wasn’t sure if she could justify another book purchase) and chucklescoff. In a few short weeks she will devour this book in one sitting, on an airplane, pausing in the darkened cabin somewhere over the Atlantic while everyone else is sleeping to clutch this book to her chest and thank the universe for sending it to her.
An ice cream tart with a potato chip, pretzel, and cracker crust inspired by Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, part two (tart two!) of a two-pie special!
You can read about my old gods pie, a beet and pork pasty, over here.
When my sister was in high school she used to make these outrageous baked goods, lining glassware baking pans with store bought cookie dough, plopping a layer of Oreos on top, and then covering it in brownie batter. Her junk food Frankenstein monsters were a huge hit at pep rallies and bake sales, but there was always an element of fear and awe, the quiet knowledge that these things were probably killing you softly. For the second half of my American Gods pie I followed her lead and created something I’ve been casually referring to as “Trash Tart” for the past few weeks.
Ginger and honey margarita pie with a saltine crust, inspired by Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer
I was irrationally afraid of everything short of my own shadow as a kid. This still holds true in some ways; I prefer subtlety to gore and sensationalism doesn’t play with me. But somewhere along the way I peeked out from between my fingers and realized that I could learn the narrative patterns of grotesque stories. I realized that by arming myself with knowledge things became less scary (like allowing my eyes to adjust to the dark) and I found that familiar problems seem intriguing in the light of the uncanny.
So I consider myself pretty adept at predicting where a story is headed. With that in mind, I want to tell you that Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation is utterly unpredictable and kept me awake at night. Unable to put it down at first, and unable to sleep once I did, it sent ice down my spine on more than one occasion.
A raspberry lemonade icebox meringue, inspired by Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Trilogy (or at least the first two books). When I recommended Red Rising to my friends, I said things like, “it is so good, you have to read it!” But when I tell people about the recently-released Golden Son, the second book of Pierce Brown’s action-packed trilogy (Morning Star to come), I simply deadpan: “it’s orgasmic.” Vivid, rich, and with pacing as sharp as a razor’s edge, this is definitely one of those series I will be recommending for years to come.
A variation on hunter or shepherd’s pie; a savory lamb pie inspired by The House on the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods, by Matt Bell.
When you crave “green space” in New York City, you head to a park where hundreds of other sweaty (often shirtless) people are fighting for a place to lay their picnic blanket. The operative word for most people is “green;” that desire to get out, get a little sun, and wiggle their toes in cigarette-butt-studded grass. Throw a Frisbee around. For me it is the opposite. When I crave trees and running water, what I really need is the space. I love being alone in the woods with nothing but leaves and rotten logs and spider webs strung between blades of long grass. Give me a lake! God, the things I can do with a lake.
So when I read the title of Matt Bell’s The House on the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods I thought, “that sounds like a house I’d want to live in.” I was grossly, painfully, disturbingly wrong.
Pumpkin spice hand pies inspired by the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.
It’s almost Halloween; goblins, ghouls, and ghosts are abroad in the muggle world. If you’re like me then you’ve done your apple picking, your pumpkin hunting, and your woodland hiking. But at the end of a long day of jumping in leaf piles, you need something a little sweet to go with that cup of hot apple cider. I wanted to get this recipe out before that particular flavor of witchy October magic passes, while there’s still time to curl up with a pumpkin beer before we start mulling cider and delving into winter holiday territory. So here it is! This one goes out to anyone who spent their preteens waiting for their Hogwarts letter.