Night Rooms: Essays by Gina Nutt

My dread has no origin. It extends back as far as I remember.

Moments in life can induce emotions not unlike those horror movies provoke. Unsure what’s creeping around the corner, insidious illnesses, dangerous strangers, being swallowed by the dark… stage fright. Maybe so many people gravitate towards horror films because it is an escape from all the real things in life that give us the “heebie jeebies, the creeps”. In this collection of essays, Gina Nutt examines moments in her own life and scenes from horror movies, translating distress, deflecting misfortune, mulling over displays at the Pharmacy Museum in New Orleans and the many instruments of horror from days of old. Nature isn’t off the hook, it can devastate too- as she ponders the many disaster rides at theme parks.

There are the terrors particular to women, our biological clock, sometimes faulty. How we feel about our bodies, desire, our very sexuality which can be both pleasure and pain. Sickness that hits us from nowhere, feeling like a specimen before the doctor, wondering if something lethal is inside of you, the sickness of stress. Obsessive focus on worst case scenario scenes, and having filled up on horror movies supplies endless fodder for that. The mad feeling of an unquiet mind, the torment of knowing death waits for us all and how do we live happy lives while that hangs over our heads? Okay, so going to the Morbid Anatomy Museum is a little, well… morbid- but one has to wonder, if yesterdays science and norms are todays horrors, doesn’t it translate that the same will one day be said of our norms? We humans are strange creatures, and Gina Nutt indulges all the things that people are meant to avoid. It truly is the distance watching horror films provide that makes it ok to enjoy them, right?

Life has it’s grim moments, if you live long enough you will house illness, be party to grief, loss, have your own dark night of the soul, but there is always poetry and hope. There is balance, there will be sunny days, but remember too much light can be brutal too! As Gina Nutt writes, “Horror movies are contained catastrophes.” That could be it. We can live out our biggest fears and walk away alive.

This was an interesting, unique collection- I watched a lot of horror movies as a teenager. It was fun to be spooked, scared stupid! She takes intimate moments from her own life and intertwines the memories with pieces of horror films she has feasted on. It’s not all dark humor, there are tender and heartbreaking incidents, one involving suicide. Yes, a solid read for anyone who loves personal essays or horror.

Publication Date” March 23, 2021

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I Wrote This Book Because I Love You: Essays by Tim Kreider

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“I’ve often thought that the single most devastating cyberattack a diabolical anarchic mind could devise would not be on the government, the military, or the financial sector, but simply to simultaneously make every email and text ever sent universally public. It would be like suddenly subtracting the strong nuclear force from the universe: the fabric of society would instantly disintegrate, every marriage, friendship, and business partnership dissolved.Civilizations held together by a fragile wed of tactful phrasing, polite omissions, and benign lies, would sef-destruct….”

Boy and how, talk about chaos, could anything be more devastating to so many of us? Kreider had me laughing, nodding my head and saying ‘yup me too’. His cynicism is refreshing, his humor was a welcome escape from life, which as I  age isn’t always a thing I can muster optimistic enthusiasm about! Who ‘sort of gets married’ to a girl just so they can accompany her on a circus train into Mexico? Tim does! Who falls in love with people who are unavailable, well who doesn’t? “I knew a number of people who had believed themselves, at various times, to be engaged to Annie.”  I’m half in love with the women he’s had in his life myself, hilarious!

He had some ‘groupie action’, being a cartoonist may not be rock star level but hey, you never know,  with one “Elektra Bold” or Zoey, we’re not sure, it wasn’t her real name either. It was his younger days and here he was the ‘normal one’. He needed to be ‘undomesticated’, by a woman extremely free in her sexuality.  You’ll understand when you read his book! He talks about 9/11 and the bond we all had through blood lust, and the madness that followed. I laughed about his protesting, going with his friend who equally dislikes to protest. Not one for chanting “hey hey ho ho”, no matter how serious the subject, I was giggling like a schoolgirl. Not all of us can be wild-eyed revolutionaries, some of us just lack the OOMPH. Not everyone fancies landing in jail over their passionate feelings about the state of the world. Cartoons, there are always funny political cartoons that can be made!

He becomes a cat bachelor against his will, his longest relationship ever! Yes it’s actually funny reading about this bond he shares with his feline. Maybe you have to be a pet person? Against his will, don’t so many loves find us that way, animal and otherwise? Damn you, I wasn’t ready, I didn’t want this! You’re not my type! Worse when you are in love and keep it only in your own head, as Tim is guilty of. Or maybe it’s not love, what the hell do any of us know of love anyway?

Isn’t it beautiful to know humanity is sour, that the entire world is not composed of Pollyannaish types (oh dear, showing my age again)? We can’t all put a ‘positive spin’ on the miserable moments of life, and maybe we Americans are spoiled in being temporarily devastated by silly things but we own it! Don’t most of us take comfort in the fact we aren’t the only ones suffering? Funny how Tim’s searches on google, something so trivial, can let you know you aren’t the only one in the gutter looking up at those stars, maybe too lazy to stand up. Isn’t there beauty in realizing we are all just a hair away from falling apart? No? Searches on the internet beg to differ! As he says “Time will pass without mercy. We will die. It will suck.”  But we can have fun and laugh at ourselves or at Tim in the meantime.

Maybe it’s all psychology, after all, he was once a test subject as an infant thanks to his mother. Maybe we’re all born to either cling or reject? Paired with our opposites, who knows? Whether he is smushing ants or dissecting his relationships, he rips open his brain and spills thoughts all over the reader. Always self-deprecating, honest to an embarrassing fault and too much like all of us, but no way will we admit it, Kreider shares his love-life and more. A talent to watch and not just one for the boys!

Publication Date: February 6 2018

Simon & Schuster