Home Book editor Everything our editors loved about July

Everything our editors loved about July

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By the end of July, most of us at Outside our eyes were on this year’s action-packed Olympics. But when we weren’t watching athletes like Carissa Moore, Sifan Hassan, and Katie Ledecky triumph in Tokyo, we found time to read classic short stories, broadcast a calming gardening documentary, and learn all about coyotes. Here’s everything we liked about the past month.

What we read

I picked up a copy of Denis Johnson’s collection of stories Son of jesus on the recommendation of Associate Editor Abigail Barronian, who shares my enthusiasm for writers such as Lucia Berlin, Raymond Carver and Eve Babitz. Son of jesus, at less than 150 pages, delivers magnificent and overwhelming portraits of quintessentially American iconoclasts. These are characters that seem to come out of Danny Boyle Trainspotting and against the weird backdrop of Jim Jarmusch Midnight train. If you are a filmmaker, photographer, or someone looking for relief from the poetic tragedy of human life, this film is for you. —Evan Grainger, assistant video director

In July I started to read American Coyote by Dan Flores, who tells the ecological and cultural story of coyotes in North America. First revered by many Indigenous peoples as a mythical figure – Coyote Man, a clever, anthropomorphic trickster – and later deeply misunderstood by colonizers in the United States, coyotes have long had a complicated relationship with humans. They have inhabited the continent for millions of years and managed to survive the cruel attempts to eradicate Americans moving west in the 1800s and 1900s (who, it must be mentioned, also slaughtered millions of wolves. , bison and other wildlife that entered the West’s way to colonize, many of which never fully regained their populations). Flores argues that the animal’s resilience made it an emblem of North America, where it has learned to live comfortably in vibrant communities, having even migrated as far east as New York City. I grew up in eastern San Diego where it was common to see coyotes on the trails where I rode, even a little unnerving when their familiar howl began at dusk. Reading this book helped me understand why these animals are so important to the ecosystem of North America and brought me back to those special times when I stared at a coyote’s eyes on a path before it ‘he does not rush into the undergrowth. —Maura Fox, Associate Editor

Although I haven’t had a chance to escape to the beach this summer yet, I have lived vicariously through two works of literary fiction that take place in seaside resorts. The first is Maggie Shipstead’s debut novel in 2012, The seating arrangement, who follows a WASPy family from the east coast through a disastrous wedding weekend on the fictional island of Waskeke in New England. The second, that of Colson Whitehead Sagging port, is a series of vignettes about a teenage boy named Benji Cooper spending the summer of 1985 in a predominantly black enclave in the Hamptons. The storylines are heartwarmingly low stakes, and Whitehead and Shipstead write in sumptuous and evocative prose. (For example, here’s Whitehead’s teenage narrator of The Joys of Coca-Cola: “How not to be charmed by the effervescent joviality of a tall glass of the substance – the manic activity of bubbles, popping, reforming, popping to again, sliding the inside of the glass towards freedom, as if the brew were in fact, miraculously, caffeinated on itself. That tangy first sip, preferably with ice smacking against the lips for extra sensory fulfillment, that stunned the brain in a total reminder of the pleasure, of all the cokes consumed before and all those impending cokes, the long line of satisfaction that underpins a life. ) Both writers have new novels this year; I can’t wait to read these next. —Sophie Murguia, associate editor

What we listened to

My recommendation this month is a podcast called The Greatest Story Ever Told – and to be fair, I’m blood related to half of this podcast team, made up of my brother Payton Barronian and his friend Courtney Bush. They read the whole Bible and do an episode on each book, which is weird, considering Payton is an ex-Christian with religious trauma and Courtney has hardly ever set foot in church. But they’re both bright, funny, and deeply curious, which makes the whole experience fascinating. Christianity has, of course, deeply shaped the Western world and many of our psyches, and this lengthy conversation between friends offers a welcome way to take a light, sidelong look at the book that made it all possible. These old stories are strange and wild, and it was a gift to meet them disfigured and refracted through the prism of two happily agnostic spirits. —Abigail Barronian, Associate Editor

What we have seen and experienced differently

The gardener, which you can stream on Amazon Prime, is a documentary about a huge garden created by Frank Cabot in Quebec. When Cabot inherited the land from his parents, he slowly built the garden his mother had started years before until it turned into a 20 acre piece of art. Each section has a different theme: there is a Japanese-style garden with a tea room; a “living room” garden, where the shrubs are cut into shapes resembling a sofa and a table; two monkey bridges over an immense ravine; a section of forest and wildflowers… it goes on forever. Although it started out as a private garden, Cabot, who also founded the Garden Conservancy in 1989, slowly opened up tours to the public. Since Cabot’s death in 2011, his son has stepped in as his father’s Work of Life Guardian. While The gardener is far from an adventure movie on the edge of your seat, there is something soothing about watching the beautiful plans of flowers, vegetable gardens and unique architecture play out across the screen. —Abigail Wise, Chief Digital Officer

When I was a kid, one of my favorite original PlayStation games was Nagano 98 Winter Olympics by Konami. This was before the era when you could easily look up online reviews of new releases, so I had no idea that it was, in fact, a bad game. But I liked the music and played games. hours crushing the arbitrary button combinations required to perform aerial ski tricks, sweep curling ice and navigate the short track. So when I saw the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Official Video Game for PS4 on the sales shelf, I had to get it. To be clear, the Tokyo 2020 game isn’t particularly great either, although it’s certainly more polished than its ancestor, and the custom avatars are fun. I just enjoyed buying something off the shelf (no research!) That I could play on the couch with my friends until we got frustrated enough to quit. To me, that’s how console gaming should be. —Jon Ver Steegh, Digital Project Manager


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