Apr 102022

Compulsory schooling is net-harmful. Here’s my reasons why, starting with my three major objections, which apply to mid-teen and late-teen public schooling (called “high school” in the USA). These are followed with several more commonly heard points, which apply more to early schooling for pre-teen children.

I – High School Steals Life-Years During Crucial Psychological Transition States, Causing Immense Mental Anguish

By their mid-teens most humans are at a developmental stages where they have a drive to begin their lives. There is a strong desire to contribute something of value to their community or family, or to begin accumulating worth for themselves. This doesn’t necessarily mean material wealth — reputation, respect, and advancement are extremely valuable. In the pre-modern era, by this age most people would have duties and responsibilities that matter. Their peers or family would be counting on them in some way.

Teens in school, on the other hand, are acutely aware that nothing they do matters. They are given endless hours of busy work, which is thrown away after it’s done. They are prohibited from doing anything of value, locked in a holding pattern of meaningless stasis for years. Not only are these years subjectively far longer than the years that older adults experience, they are also some of the most energetic and healthy years of most people’s lives. They are burned for nothing.

II – High School Is Literally Low-Intensity Physical Torture Via Sleep Deprivation

Most teenagers naturally have later sleep cycles than older adults. They also need more sleep than older adults. Older adults run schools, and they don’t care about the natural cycles of legal minors. In addition, since teens are compelled to waste so much of their waking hours on schooling yet still desire other activities, they will often cram in more activity at the cost of even more sleep. As a result, 3/4ths of teens are chronically sleep deprived. Severe sleep deprivation is a tool of torture. Less severe but chronic sleep deprivation is low-key torturous, and also causes long-term psychological damage.

III – High School Has The Social Dynamics of a Prison

Rates of depression and mental health disturbances by teenagers outstrips that of all other demographics. This was not the case in the pre-modern era. Much like criminal prisons, many in school turn to alcohol, prescription drugs, or illicit drugs to claw their way through this time. With no way to measure status via metrics that matter, students form into cliques and form hierarchies based on surface appearances and local popularity. Anyone not in a clique suffers social isolation and sometimes harassment, and it can be difficult to join one. Even within cliques, many people spend much of their time tearing down rival members in zero-sum status games, or abuse of low-ranking or new members.


Nearly 100% of our population endures these years of torture, and it’s been deranging us for generations.

The thing is, I had a pretty darn good schooling experience. I was a precocious child. I loved learning. I honesty and thoroughly enjoyed a well-delivered lecture, and scribbling notes as fast as I could. I loved taking tests and scoring well on them. Test taking is a skill all of its own, and it’s fun to be good at something hard. My teachers loved my enthusiasm for learning, and by extension loved me. I sometimes got special privileges. My school was in a progressive middle-class suburb, with minimal social nastiness. And yet…

And yet everyone I know (including myself) feels like we “survived” high school. Yes, almost everyone survives high school, it’s designed to take people to the brink without pushing them over. The fact that the experience is one of having survived an ordeal by so many is a very strong sign that something is wrong. More importantly, the survivors come out scarred and deranged in significant ways, and they make up nearly the entire populations of our country. Despite my relatively “good” experience, I was deeply depressed in high school, especially the later years. I cut myself for some time, and came to the brink of suicide at one point.

I’m in my early 40s now. When I see a school, I still get a powerful frisson of awe and horror. Especially large, institutional buildings, with multiple wings sprawling over a wide campus, with several areas 2-3 stories tall. I am drawn to them, wanting to be inside that alternate reality once more, despite feeling all the old scars throbbing at the sight. It hurts, and it’s sweet, and I think this is what Stockholm Syndrome must feel like.

Is there some social benefit that justifies this mass emotional scarification?


Other Harms of Schooling, Which Are Also Not To Be Overlooked:

(many of these are also variations of “destroying years of life for no gain is very bad”)

1. Compelling Those Who Don’t Want Schooling To Be Confined With Those Who Do Is Damaging To Both

Children and teenagers who don’t want schooling are forced to attend anyway. These include both students who won’t learn, and those who already know that which they’ll be instructed on. They are confined in boring rooms with nothing to stimulate them. This style of low-grade sensory deprivation is already damaging. These students will often resort to rebellion and disruption, which makes it impossible for even those who would benefit from the instruction to gain anything from it. The result is fruitless confinement for everyone, wherein no one learns anything, and vast time and resources are wasted.

If the students who didn’t want to be there were not compelled to attend, they would have much better lives, and the students who do want to attend would have a chance to learn something.

2. The Majority of pre-5th Grade Instruction is Wasteful

When humans need to learn something, especially humans under the age of 30, but SUPER ESPECIALLY humans under the age of 20, they will learn it quickly of their own accord. Anyone who’s watched a child master a game they are interested in already knows this. Anyone who’s watched a child teach themselves to read so they can consume another story knows this. Anyone who’s seen a child experiment with tools or physics or bugs already knows this. Anyone who has created a website, or podcast, or renovated their home, or stayed a few months in a foreign country, already knows this.

When you need to know something, you learn it. You learn it quickly, and you know the value this knowledge has to you. There are a lot of things that people need to know to function in our society, such as basic literacy and numeracy. When they aren’t shackled by plodding instruction, imprisoned in an institution that doesn’t let them see how this knowledge is useful to them, and plied with extraneous trivia, children can learn all the basics in just a few hours per week, rather than burning every non-weekend day (before accounting for homework).

3. The Vast Majority of Learning is Wasted

All students are instructed in roughly the same things. This is a gross misuse of time, because students have very different aptitudes. Some excel in math, and should be spending a lot of time honing and exploiting those skills. Some pick up reading very quickly, others languages, or physical systems. When everyone is instructed at the same pace, many are instructed in things they have no aptitude for. They shouldn’t be wasting any time in those areas after they master the basics needed to function as an adult (usually what we call the “fifth grade level,” those most people could achieve that level of mastery long before the traditional fifth-grade age). Continuing to compel students to take instruction on topics they don’t have aptitude for and will not use is a destruction of their life-years.

4. The Vast Majority of post-5th Grade Instruction is Useless

In harmony with point #1, when you don’t need to know something, you forget it quickly. Everything learned after elementary school is knowledge that is only needed in limited domains. Every single student will lose 90% of what they learn by the time they are in their 30s. No matter how smart they are and no matter how demanding of a career they pursue, at most 10% of what they learned will actually be used by that career. Therefore, it will be forgotten. The greatest physicist of our generation won’t remember anything worth remembering from Honors Biology or World History. The few things s/he will remember are things they would have picked up as an adult anyway. Every hour spent on that unused 90% of compelled schooling was pure waste.

In summary, no one should be compelled to go to any school. Compelled schooling is in some ways worse than incarceration, as confined students are guilty of no crime.

If the populace is taxed to provide for general education (which I agree is a public good), the parents of minors (or teenagers who’ve reached majority) should be allowed to direct that money to any school they desire. If they attend no school, but pass tests proving competency, that money should be refunded directly to the parents/student for having done the labor of educating the child/themselves.

The amount of suffering and the vast amount of life-years lost by compelled schooling in the US is unconscionable.

Apr 082022

The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater

Synopsis:  Two outcast orphans come of age on a small European island, bound to their community and traditions via the mystical, vicious horse-monsters that can exist only here.

Book Review: I was wary at first. A book about orphaned teenagers? Coming of age? With a strong focus on horses? This sounded suspiciously like the sort of 80s preteen lit that had been done absolutely to death. I felt like Fred Savage asking “Is this a kissing book?” But it was for book club, so I did my due diligence.

By the fifth page I was intrigued. By the tenth page I was hooked. After that, it was all over for me. The Scorpio Races is excellent. I had forgotten that a million knock-offs are launched in imitation of an actual great originator. And sometimes, after forty years have passed and only the ancient ones still remember the faded fads of yore, a true devotee of the progenitor genre will spend a decade refining all her dreams into a successor that captures that greatness once again for a new generation.

The Scorpio Races reads like a labor of love. The island state captures life in a small, isolated community with striking fidelity. The closeness to history, the depth of the communities roots and traditions that hold one tight, and the stifling economic realities that drive the young and ambitious away. Even the smallest of supporting characters is many-layered, with complexities that can often only be seen by subtle implication (with the possible exception of Mutt). The plot is straight-forward but not simplistic — our heroes’ problems are easy to identify but difficult to navigate. The horse-monsters are religion made manifest, the sort of deep magic that tap into spiritual traditions rather than high fantasy spell-slinging.

I’m not sure the novel has a Statement that it is Making. It’s not the sort of thing I usually am taken in by. But it has immense amounts of heart. In a more subtle way than I’m used to, it is commenting on the nature of love. A strong, vivid style of love. Not the sappy, lovey-dovey stuff. It’s the loyal love of one’s homeland, the awe and fear of nature’s majesty, and the fierce love of two survivors finding mutual respect and respite. Very different from what I normally read, and I am happy to have read it. Recommended.

Book Club Review: There’s something here for everyone. I don’t think this will spark a lot of fiery debate or provocative takes, it’s not that kind of book. But there’s substance here, enough to give anyone something to reflect and expound upon. Recommended.

Apr 082022

Grooming isn’t real. Grooming has never BEEN real. Accusations of grooming were always just an excuse to persecute gay men.

In the early 21th century, this was expanded as a method to attack men who had sexual relationships with women more than a few years younger than them. Eventually it was used to persecute anyone that has any contact, even nonsexual, with someone younger than them.

And of course, it’s come full circle, and now is being used to persecute gays and lesbians again.

This is, and always was, complete bullshit. Child abusers don’t bother “grooming” their victims. They just sexually abuse children. They abuse the ones that already trust them, or that they know can be easily control. The vast majority of child abuse is done by someone close to the child, very often a blood relative. “Grooming” is a blood libel invented for the purposes of dehumanizing and destroying a socially-weak target.

For that matter, almost every law of the past 80+ years passed for the purposes of “protecting the children” is actually a tool used by amoral monsters to attack a minority for political or social gain. The Comics Code of the 50s. The War On Drugs of the 70s. Parents Music Resource Center of the 80s. The violent video games panic of the 90s. The FOSTA/SESTA bill of a few years ago. And of course, the fear of the gays throughout all of it. All of it bullshit. All of it there to fan the flames of moral panic, fueling the careers of monsters by destroying the innocent.

Never forget – anyone who introduces a law to protect the children is a cackling puritan sadist. Anyone who accuses someone of grooming is sick liar. Anyone who smelled it, hath surely dealt it.

Mar 292022

Humor is the greatest gift of mankind. It, more than anything else, allows us to see each other as humans.

When we joke with each other, we take the sting out of disagreements. We are saying “I think you are stupid and wrong, but I respect you enough to try to make you feel better about it, and acknowledge we’re both fumbling monkeys.”

When we joke with each other, we defuse awkwardness and uncomfortable realities that otherwise are left unspoken. We can all admit we all have flawed, farting bodies, and it’s not a big deal.

When it comes to discussing controversial or emotionally-laden issues, there are few things as valuable as a strong and well-tuned sense of humor. It is a near-panacea for interpersonal conflicts. It makes romantic relationships easier, it makes work relationships more productive, it makes family almost bearable! Individual humans are weak. Humans united in a group are strong. And an absolutely crucial lubricant that allows groups to continue to function without wearing themselves to dust is humor.

Guys, not to go all evo-psych on you or anything (I’m sorry Wes, don’t hate me!), but there’s a reason that women find humor attractive, and this is it!

I am friends with people of wildly varying stances on many Issues. Some of them hold positions I strongly disagree with. On the other hand, there are people I’m acquainted with that agree with me on most issues of substance, who I cannot stand. The thing that separates the first group from the second group is humor.

A lack of humor is a glaring red flag that Something Is Wrong with your movement or group. One of the most striking things about the pre-2000s culture wars was the staggering imbalance in humor. The Christian Fundamentalists and Right Wing Scolds were completely bereft of humor. They couldn’t take a joke, couldn’t make a joke, and generally didn’t understand what this human emotion called “humor” was. Frank Zappa and The Simpsons and South Park were degenerates that were destroying Christianity and ruining women’s virtue!

(This isn’t the case anymore, the right has had some good humor for a while, and the left doesn’t have as much. It’s strange how times change, and gives an insight into which direction the moral authoritarians are drawn)

Famously, those in power try to keep a tight rein on what humor is acceptable, because they know that unsayable truths become sayable by the jester. Humor is anathema to Fear.

For all these reasons, I think Humor is one of humanities greatest assets. When we laugh together — even at things that really suck, even with people we don’t particularly like — we destroy the myth that others are alien monsters. We are actively tearing down the walls of dehumanization that were wrought in hate.

I’m not here to debate the particulars of the Oscars and of if any given joke was good or bad. I am here to say that Humor is Important. It should be nurtured and encouraged.

It should not be suppressed, and especially not with violence.

Yes, obviously all rules have exceptions in the extremes. But the DEFAULT should be to accept humor and play along, hit back with jokes of your own if needed. Physically attacking someone making a joke requires overwhelming provocation, because it chills all subsequent humor, and that is very bad for continued social functioning.

Which is why I’m saying Will Smith is a gigantic buttmonkey, and we should all fling poo at him for a while. He screwed up, and burned a lot of good will at the Oscars. That sucks for him, but he’ll get over it. Maybe his friend Chris Rock can give him some tips on how to do so with grace.

Mar 212022

A few follow-ups to previous posts:

Capture of Tools, to Crush Your Enemies – In this post I warned about the trend of removing access to common tools as a political punishment. I was commenting on the Canadian Trucker Protest, and the use of payment processor and crowdfunding site bannings. I expected to get some pushback about how this was a slippery-slope argument without any proven slipperiness. I did NOT expect for the leader of a major western democracy to swan-dive right to the bottom of that slope a few days later.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared a state of emergency for the first time* in Canada to quell the Trucker Protest. As part of this, he froze over 200 bank accounts. He did this extra-judicially, with no oversight, due process, or recourse for anyone targetted. The targets were “anyone linked to the protest.”

Again, a reminder that “There are no other constitutional rights in substance without freedom to transact.” Taking away someone’s ability to pay their rent, go to their doctor, and seizing their entire life savings, are not small actions. These are weapons of war. Which was again demonstrated just a few week after THIS, when Russia invaded Ukraine. Freezing Russian assets and destroying their ability to transact were actions taken by western governments as weapons in the Ukrainian war! The same weapons Canada used against it’s own citizens.

I seriously did not expect to be vindicated so thoroughly in such a short period of time. It’s kinda faded to the background, now that the potential for WW3 is looming. But at least it’s uncontestable now.


Die Mad About It – since the phrase is supposed to refer to decades of unresolved frustration rather than death, but the “Die” part really draws a lot of attention to the death thing… AND because I’m a transhumanist that is hoping for eventual immortality for everyone… a friend suggested amending the phrase to “Live a thousand years mad about it.” I like this better, though it is a bit less snappy. I think I’m willing to trade off a bit of snappiness to be more explicitly NOT wanting someone to die. But if anyone has ideas to snap it up more while preserving the anti-deathism, I’d love suggestions.


* – It is the first national one under the lawchange from 1988, a technicality which can be mooted, but which doesn’t change the conclusion.

Mar 192022

Winter’s Orbit, by Everina Maxwell

Synopsis:  A gay(?) teen romance in spaaaaaaace

Book Review: This is basically wish-fulfillment fanfic with original charecters, and I am so here for it. It’s adorable and twee and they are so fumbling and flustered I could just die. I grinned the whole way through.

You have to know what you’re in for, of course. If you get annoyed by teens constantly being self-conscious, misreading obvious cues, and tripping all over themselves, you’ll hate this. But they just love each other so much, and are so perfect for each other, and we know they’re gonna end up together, that it’s unironically a treat to read. The whole novel could be summed up with:


Every now and then some plot stuff happens, which diverts word-count from the romance, which is kinda annoying. But it’s easy enough to skim until you get back to the adorable romance. :)

Two things!

First, my synopsis says this is a gay(?) romance. The (?) is because these charecters use he/him pronouns, but pronouns aren’t related to sex or presentation in this book’s universe, and there are no gender roles or expectations. It is literally a description of their jewelry preference (stone/wood/glass), and has nothing to do with sex. So they could, in fact, be a male/female couple. Honestly, since they both act a lot like teen girls, I pictured them as a lesbian couple the whole time I was reading. XD (Yes, I know that’s a common portrayal of male gay lovers in slashfic). Once I started down that road, I swapped a lot of characters in my mind. The ultra-competant assistant became Batman’s Alfred in my mind, for example.

Once you start reading it this way, you begin looking for counter-evidence, just to see how long you can keep it up. And the thing is, it lasts through the whole book! The author conspicuosly avoids using descriptions that are sex-specific. Even during the freakin’ sex scene there isn’t any mention of any thing that would rule out either sex! I think Maxwell was in on it, and did this on purpose. :) There are a couple references to one having a “solidity” to him, which is male-coded, and a couple mentions of “chests” without any reference to “breasts,” which also implies male. However neither one is definitive, and is exactly the sort of thing you’d do if you were trying to preserve deniability! So, if you want, they can be a straight, gay, or lesbian couple.

Second, my synopsis says this is a teen romance. The book explicitly puts both lovers in their 20s. However, this is a society where gender is based on jewelry preference and has nothing to do with sexual charecteristics. It’s entirely possible that age is equally fluid, and has nothing to do with chronology. It’s sorta hinted at, when one of the lovers is talking about his past, and gets kinda flustered about the ages and yadda-yadda’s past the details. And it’s STRONGLY hinted at by the fact that they act like goofy teenagers the whole damn time. I’m confident enough in the teenage thing that I didn’t even bother to append a (?) their ages in my synopsis.

In summary, this is a fantastic book if you want to read a heartfelt and cheerful bumbling romance of the type I just described. It has the heart of a Chuck Tingle work, but is far longer, and doesn’t have any explicit sex. If you’re as chuffed by this sort of thing as I am, Recommended!

Book Club Review: The only problem with this book for book clubs is that not everyone wants to read a cheerful bumbling romance. If you’re in a romance book club, maybe this is a good fit? I dunno, I’m not in one of those, I don’t know what their standards or expectations are. I admit, it doesn’t really fit into an SF book club. So, if you’re looking for an SF novel rather than a romance, Not Recommended.

(But hey, every now and then it’s good to streach a bit and read other stuff, right? This was so fun!)

Mar 162022

This is a follow-up to my previous post, where I expressed ambivalence about supporting Detrans Awareness Day. A friend challenged me on that, and after a fair bit of working things out, I’ve come to the conclusion that I support detrans awareness quite a bit, and that it’s good to do so. Here’s why.

I was very young, but I have a few memories of the 80s. In the 80s, the gays were perverts. The popular conception of them was drug-addled hedonists or creeps that lurked around playgrounds looking for victims. Anyone who supported gays or gay rights was immediately putting themselves in the position of supporting such perverts. If you didn’t want to be giving support to evil, you didn’t speak out about gay rights.

There were a lot of involuntary outings in the 90s. I am not in support of involuntary outing. But the fact that so many people were outted had a huge effect on the popular conception of gayness. Suddenly it wasn’t just the freak perverts–it was your daughter or your brother. It was the friendly choir leader in your church. You KNOW those people, they’re good people.

Awareness Days were made for this reason. They strip away the slander of “only the vile and deplorable support such things” when good and decent people reveal they are in the target class. But this requires people who are brave enough to say “I know you think horrific things about these people, but I’m one, and I’m not horrific.” (Or to be involuntarily outted, unfortunately).

Which brings me to Detrans Awareness Day.

My friend pointed out that attempting to raise awareness of detrans people is very convenient to anti-trans bigots and anti-trans organizations. So convenient, that he presumed almost everyone supporting detrans awareness is actually, in fact, just anti-trans. He felt that likely 90% of the people talking about detrans awareness are hard-core anti-trans bigots.

To test this, he googled “detrans awareness day”. On first page, supporters were: 2 legit groups started and run by detrans people. 1 explicit anti-trans bigotry group. 1 anti-trans youtuber. 1 christian group (presumably antitrans). 1 G&L group (presumable protrans, but further investigation showed they were more on the trans-skeptical side). So not as high a percentage of anti-trans bigotry as he expected, but still not a great ratio.

Shouldn’t this make me avoid Detrans Awareness, so as to avoid being lumped into a group that consists more of anti-trans bigots than people trying to support detrans folks?

I know (well, maybe knew, it’s been a while) one detrans person personally. Also, I run a discord server with a detrans member who mostly lurks. And I have a fair number of trans acquaintances and a close trans friend. I am aware that trans support groups are very close-knit, and strongly supportive of each other. In fact, they are like the gay groups of the 80s in many ways. They are the friends and family when other friends and family have rejected you. They are the social safety net that fully accepts you as you are.

For some people, they are the primary or only social safety net they have. For others, even if they have other social groups and networks, this is the strongest and most emotionally-validating one.

For anyone to realize they aren’t happy as trans can be terrifying if it means losing their closest friends. It can be crippling if that’s their only serious support group. They may fear losing all of that if they come out as detrans.

Our friends should know that we all still support them, and will not ostracize or belittle them, if they detransition. If they are told that only anti-trans bigots support detrans awareness, they are hearing the opposite message. That only the perverts and hate-filled would support a day that tells the world that they exist.

Our trans friends should know they will have support from trans-friendly people even if they stop being trans. Not just from hardcore anti-trans bigots! They don’t need to be driven into the darkness. We know that they are the same people they were the day before. They will remain our friends, and we will still support them, no matter what body they are in.

For this reason, I support Detrans Awareness Day. And you should too, so the armies of the compassionate vastly outnumber the ranks of the hateful.

Mar 132022

On March 13th 2020, then-president Trump declared a national emergency in response to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The nation reacted rapidly. Many public businesses and gatherings were shut down. Those who could work from home did so, rather than come into the office. Those who could leave the cities often did. Schools shut down and children stayed home. In high-population areas, nearly everyone wore masks in public.

Private citizens pitched in. Hobbyist costumers, tailors(?), etc created cloth masks at home en masse to make up for PPE shortages. Distilleries converted from creating drinking-alcohol to hand-sanitizers. Billionaires built excess factories to prepare for eventual vaccine production. We all learned how to use a bit less toilet paper.

The medical industry went into overdrive. Spurred by Operation Warp Speed, the government’s insanely successful program of fast-tracking human trials and promising to buy 300 million vaccines, they created multiple vaccines in a matter of months. This shattered the previous record, the mumps vaccine, which took four years from development to deployment. It used cutting edge mRNA technology, which had barely even existed a decade prior.

We paid a massive price, fighting this war. Globally, estimated 18 Trillion Dollars(US) were lost. ~900 US/Mexico Border Walls. Tens of millions were out of work. Social isolation skyrocketed, hundreds of millions suffered mental and psychological damage. Social shockwaves are still echoing.

But we beat this thing. We beat it HARD. Using the USA’s massively distributed pharmacy infrastructure, everyone in the nation that wanted a vaccine was fully vaccinated less than a year and a half after the declaration of the emergency. UK scientists recently found that, in the UK, COVID is less deadly than the flu. Around the US and Europe, everything is opening back up.

It’s hard to know when to declare victory in a war without a human opponent to sign a surrender. But a victory should be announced at some point, so that everyone knows we are free. The dark times are over. We can begin to right our lives, clearing away the debris and rebuilding where needed.

March 13th was the day that the US declared its national emergency, and all of us began the fight in earnest. It is fitting that March 13th, two years later, should be the day we declare our victory.

Have a party, or raise a glass, or just hug your family. Today we are free. March 13th is Victory over Covid-19 Day.


Mar 102022

The Memory Theater, by Karin Tidbeck

Synopsis:  A series of fairytale vingettes linked via a narrative thread

Book Review: For what it is, this is a pretty good book. The fairytales are distinctive and imaginative, while being solidly in the traditional fae aesthetic. Each individual vignette is strongly focused visually and thematically on its particular scene. They are really neat snapshots that I’m sure will stick with me for quite a while. I enjoyed all of them.

There is even a theater troupe within the book (the titular “Memory Theater”) that goes around recreating such vignettes within the text, which is a neat touch!

The fae themselves are fantastic. They are exactly how you’d think of 2-year-olds with nigh-infinite power. They are completely innocent, because they are so unaware of the internal experiences of others. This makes them absolutely evil, of course, much like 2-year-olds would be if they weren’t tiny and helpless. It’s easy to hate their evil, but it’s hard to hate them specifically, because they are ultimately so innocent that they can’t even BE evil, they can just DO evil. It makes their atrocities all the more shocking.

That being said, in a collection of vignettes, I think aesthetic is extremely important. In general, I consider aesthetic important in most things, and very important in art. You can get away with a LOT as long as it’s beautiful. Conversely, writing something good is marred if it’s ugly. Vignettes tend to have little in the way of plot/characters, and are primarily about creating a feeling, so they lean on aesthetic even more than most stories. Unfortunately, the writing in the vignettes from the POV of Dora is… unpleasant.

I think this is intentional. When vignettes are told from the POV of the fairy, we get standard sentence structure, sometimes with twists and intricacies. We get fancier phrasing, and words with flourish. It’s not outstanding, but it doesn’t interfere with the reading. Dora, on the other hand, is a very simple person. I believe she is written as someone with functional autism, and it’s done pretty well. As part of this, all her vignettes are written with a particular style. The sentences are short and plain. The words are simple, the descriptions are flat, the prose is matter-of-fact without embellishment or care for presentation. It is, to be honest, very ugly prose. It’s hard to read, because of how ugly it is. Again, I think this is intentional, and it was a bold strategy. But it significantly detracted from my enjoyment.

And since this is a series of vignettes, there isn’t much to the overall narrative that ties them together. This is fine, for this type of book. It is a very short novel, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It doesn’t need to have an overarching storyline, or character development, or thematic purpose. But when you don’t have the lyrical beauty of words to bask in, it makes the lack of a strong narrative more conspicuous. I ended the book wondering “what was the point?”

I’m not sure about recommendation here. It was cool, but not gorgeous, and without a drive behind it. This, to me, is ideal beach reading. Light and enjoyable, without asking major emotional investment. So… Not Recommended if you’re only looking for the hard stuff, but Recommended for the inbetween-times in life.

Book Club Review: Another one of those books were everyone came in saying “Well, this seems like it should be good, but it’s unsatisfying, what went wrong?” and we hashed it out as a group. A fun exercise, and its super short, so not a huge reading commitment. Definitely better than Machinehood for this purpose. While maybe not ideal for Serious Business, I think I would recommend it for a high-stress time in life when lower stakes and investment would be a welcome relief. Recommended with Caveats.