Come see my 10-Minute Play, “December 26th”, at Monday Night PlayGround, Dec 17th!

I am thrilled to announce that, for the third month in a row, my short play has been chosen for a staged reading with PlayGround SF! Join us on Dec 17th at Berkeley Rep to see six shows based on the prompt “Holiday Miracles”. My piece is titled “December 26th” and follows a family waiting and waiting and waiting for their own holiday miracle.

holiday miracle

Purchase tickets here and join us for a great night of theater!

My 10-Minute Play “Hiiiii” to be performed at Monday Night PlayGround, Nov 26th!

For the second month in a row, you can come see a 10-minute short play with PlayGround! This month’s theme is “Fall Down, Get Up” and I cannot wait to see what the other selected writers have come up with.

My comedy titled “Hiiiii” follows a woman trying to return to work after a traumatic event, and her well-meaning but smothering co-workers doing their best to “support” her. You can purchase tickets here and come see the show at Berkeley Repertory on November 26th, 8pm.

nov playground

“The Most Just” announced for the October People’s Choice Award at PlayGround!

I am thrilled to announce that my short play, “The Most Just”, has been announced as the People’s Choice Awards from the October Monday Night PlayGround.


Thank you to everyone who came out to see the show and support my work. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, you can read the first two pages on PlayGround’s website.

Reading Resolution: “The Whale Rider” by Witi Ihimaera

7. A book written in Australia/Oceania
: The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera


List Progress: 22/25

So let’s talk about Chosen One narratives. Characters who are destined to do incredible things and whose fates are written in the stars. A lot of times this trope can be a lazy shortcut to justify why a character has to be involved in a conflict; the writer doesn’t have to properly motivate them to fight the good fight, they just Have To. I don’t generally mind it as much as some critics do, but I can see where the argument comes from. But I also think books like Witi Ihimaera’s 1987 novel The Whale Rider show that it can be done well.

The Whale Rider tells the story of Kahu, a young girl who is the eldest great-grandchild of her Maori tribe’s chieftain, Koro Apirana, and if she had been born a boy, she would have been considered destined to be the tribal leader of her generation. The story is told by her uncle Rawiri, a young man seeing the Maori way of life change around him and his niece fight for the love of the great-grandfather that she adores. Kahu seems attuned from birth towards the traditional Maori ways of life, and may have inherited the ability from her namesake ancestor to speak to whales.

I saw the 2002 movie adaptation as a teenager and remember really enjoying it, though I can now see that the film shifted the perspective to make it more from Kahu’s point of view, whereas Rawiri feels like the more fleshed out and real character in the novel. He lives away from Kahu for years at a time and comments on how life differs in the big cities of Australia and Papua New Guinea from the small New Zealand village that he grew up in. Kahu seems so absolute in her beliefs and convictions that it is Rawiri who feels more human with his doubts and questions. Kahu feels larger than life, and I agree with Ihimaera’s decision to let the narrator marvel at her from the sidelines like the reader rather than position the book through her eyes. It makes the Chosen One trope of her life sit a lot more comfortably, if it does rob Kahu of some detail.

I know very little about Maori culture, but Ihimaera weaves it in very smoothly as a natural part of the plot, educating without info-dumping. The parts about Maori culinary culture in particular were really interesting and inspired some trips down the wiki rabbit hole. All in all, I’m really glad I read this one and I will be interested to go back and watch the movie sometime soon.

Would I Recommend It: Yes.

Come see my 10-min play “The Most Just” at Monday Night PlayGround,Oct 15!

I am thrilled to announce that my ten-minute comedy, “The Most Just”, has been chosen for a staged reading as part of Monday Night PlayGround. Come see what happens when an “evil” king and a “noble” knight have philosophical disagreements about their “grand” “quests”.

playground justice

Tickets are available for $15 through Monday Night PlayGround. The performance will be at 8pm at Berkeley Rep. Come and see six great short plays written around this month’s theme: Justice.

Reading Resolution: “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn

23. A 2017-2018 New York Times bestseller: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

List Progress: 21/25

Sharp Objects is entertaining. Its prose moves quickly, its very immersive into the lead character, and the imagery is very evocative. Sharp Objects is also very brutal towards female characters, obscene in its depiction of youthful sexuality, and depending on how you read it, quite sexist. It is a very entertaining book and I enjoyed reading it, and I am left wondering what that says about me.

Sharp Objects is the 2006 debut novel by Gillian Flynn, who made it big with Gone Girl in 2012. It was recently developed for a HBO mini-series starring Amy Adams, and any discussion of my reading the book has to be prefaced with the fact that I watched the entire series before picking up the novel. (I will try to keep this from being a “who did it better?” review.) Going in knowing all of the major events and twists, I had a slightly backwards approach to a mystery story, but I like to think it helped me analyze how the story itself holds up under scrutiny. Not that the plot is really the point (no pun intended).

The story follows Camille Preaker, a reporter who is sent from Chicago back to her small hometown in Missouri to cover a series of brutal murders of young girls. She has to sort out the facts of the case while dealing with her passive-aggressive Southern belle mother, her passive stepfather, and her hellion thirteen year old half-sister, as well as flirting with the big city cop sent down to work on the case. Camille’s backstory is a grab-bag of traumas and pretty much any trigger warning out there should be applied to this book. It is not for the faint of heart and earns the title “pulpy” in every sense of the word.

Through the eyes of this damaged female protagonist, and written by a female author, the story could perhaps be considered a deconstruction of stories about violence against women, about how much our fiction and our news cycle love Pretty Dead Girls. But I’m not sure if it is or not. Camille undoubtedly has a great deal of internalized misogyny, and I can’t quite decide if that is an intentional trait written into the character or a trait that Flynn herself shares. To paraphrase a line from Slings & Arrows, it feels more like something that shows us brutality, rather than teaches us about brutality. But it also shows us the ripples of that brutality, so maybe it is worthwhile as a message? I don’t know if I can say.

The mini-series tones down a lot of the stories uglier traits, smoothes it into more of a police procedural mold, and is better at some aspects of the story but much worse at others. The book is grosser, but in a way that feels very (again, no pun intended) pointed. The book wants you to be disgusted by the factory hog farm, but the redneck teenagers, by the promiscuous thirteen year old. Even if just through the necessity of casting an older actress to play the half-sister, the show cleans up some of the grossness, and possibly in the process, normalizes it.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was entertaining.

Would I Recommend It: Yes. Trigger warnings for murder, rape, self-harm, underage sex, torture.

Reading Resolution: “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka

8. A book written in Europe/Russia: 
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

List Progress: 20/25

Suddenly, through no fault of your own, everyone in your family finds you disgusting. You didn’t do anything to become disgusting, you just woke up this way and there’s no way to go back. You are not only a huge burden to them, but they can’t stand to be in the same room with you because of what you’ve become. Beneath the surreal imagery, this is what The Metamorphosis, the 1915 novella by Franz Kafka, is all about to me. It seems that academics have thrown up every interpretation in the world to explain this story, but at its core, The Metamorphosis is about what it is like to feel utterly, completely repulsive. It is not an easy novella to read, but that central concept sure hit home for me.

I have never read any Kafka before, but was familiar with the central conceit of the story: that a young man named Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning having been transformed into a giant bug. I don’t know if I was picturing some sort of adventure to turn him back, or a quest to figure out why this happened, or a journey to find a new life where he could fit as a giant bug. Whatever it was, I wasn’t picturing a slow, tragic meditation on how his loved ones saw him. Gregor’s central problem is not that he is a giant insect, but how his loved ones see that insect. They are afraid, disgusted, angered, frustrated, perversely intrigued, and annoyed by the new Gregor, but no reactions that would help Gregor to feel less alienated and alone. He has provided for his family for his entire adult life, but as soon as he is no longer useful, they lose all affection for him. His sister tries for a while, but in time not even she can find it in herself to love this bug.

The Metamorphosis reads as a very, very pessimistic view of what it is to live with a mental or physical disability, anything that would make the rest of the world look on you with disgust. As someone with my own history of mental illness, there were definitely uncomfortable moments reading this, as an absolute worst case scenario was laid out. If you can stomach that sort of journey, I would definitely recommend reading this, but it is not always going to be a fun ride. This was one of the most emotionally-stirring classics I’ve read in a long time, but I am definitely hoping to read a few fluffier things before I dive into more Kafka.

Would I Recommend It: Yes, if you are in a stable headspace at the time.

(Note: I always try to find the cover image from the edition of a book that I read, and in this case I am glad to have found a more subdued example at the local library. Kafka himself was apparently adamant that Gregor’s bug form not be depicted literally on any cover or promotional art, and I do like the quiet anxiety and grief of this cover as opposed to just slapping on a drawing of a cockroach.)