Letter 77

December 02, 2021

On fantasy

I think as soon as it starts getting colder every year, I start leaning toward fantasy. Not that I don’t love it year-round, but I’m less likely to act on it when the temperate is above 50 degrees. I’m always drawn to the idea of fantasy, the vibes of it, the way it makes me feel just to think about it in my head—but something about wintertime especially makes me want to rewatch Lord of the Rings or read a book with an undercurrent of magic and ghosts. I think I am not so good at talking about why I like fantasy or what I find compelling about it, but I know in my gut that it makes me feel a certain type of way that other genres just can’t. Fantasy is for cups of hot beverages and blankets and candles, for snow and rain and wind outside, for being so immersed in a story that you forget to move or think or exist for several hours. It is the ultimate comfort, to me, and I wish I indulged in it more.


Later this month, the issue of FIYAHLIT I was a guest editor for will be released. Leading up to this incredible opportunity, I had been thinking a lot about fantasy, about the speculative, about the possibilities of other/different/better worlds. Like most kids, I read SO MUCH fantasy—I was obsessed with literally anything fantastical; I loved myths, I loved the opportunities folklore presented, I loved every monster that could also be beautiful. I took a break, for a while, and turned my focus to literary fiction and poetry—slowly, though, I’ve been easing back into the things I love and trying to marry them to what I am passionate about now. Poetry is a speculative space, has opportunity for the fantastical not just in metaphor but in concrete—I’ve enjoyed just dreamily laying around and thinking about the reality-bending worlds I could build in verse, the lushness poetry gives and how to complement what I used to devour. I’ve been thinking about imaginations, and everything I restrict myself from thinking, remembering to ask questions of my questions—all of these instincts, latent for years, but really born from my most childish instinct of why not? Re-immersing myself in the fantastical—and more diverse versions of it, and not just books—has been healing and fun and generative in so many ways.


We recommend

📖 Tidesong by Wendy Xu

I’ve recommended other work by Wendy Xu, but Tidesong is their debut authorartist graphic novel! It’s a gorgeous middle-grade book about a kid witch who visits family to hone her skills before auditioning for a fancy magic school. It’s got big Kiki’s Delivery Service vibes but with WIND MAGIC and DRAGONS and it just made me feel so warm and excited.


🎶 re:treat

I’ve been working on making a big playlist of music I can put on in the background while I’m working, because I’m getting a little tired of listening to the same lofi mixes on YouTube all the time. Today, while picking some songs to add to the playlist, I revisited this album by Leon Chang that I really love. It samples a lot of Animal Crossing music in a fun way, and it just makes me happy to listen to while I’m puttering around my apartment doing my silly little tasks.


📽️ tick…tick..BOOM!

Truthfully, this wouldn’t be my first recommendation but I’ve mostly been rewatching What We Do in the Shadows and playing Zelda games SO! Here’s a movie musical that was pleasantly, surprisingly enjoyable! Andrew Garfield is super dreamy and the clear love put into each musical number makes up for the less-than-stellar soundtrack. The plot is absolutely enhanced by the reality of what happens to Jonathan Larson, and so in many ways the execution as a movie is maybe…better…than on the stage? I couldn’t tell you for sure because it’s likely I’ll never see a piece of live theater again, but hey! This is on Netflix. Bring back movie musicals made by people who actually like musicals!!!!!!


📽️ No Time to Die

I went nearly 25 years of my life without seeing a single James Bond film, and then this year I finally watched a whole bunch of them, including all of the Daniel Craig ones (which I loved). So this movie really came out at the perfect time for me. I saw it in theaters on one of the last possible days that I could, and when I got home, I had to rewatch the trailers for all of the other movies in the series so I could figure out which one was my favorite. I decided No Time to Die isn’t my favorite, but I still really loved it, and I thought it was a really great ending to the series. So this isn’t so much a recommendation for this specific movie as it is a recommendation for all of the Daniel Craig Bond films—go watch them all!