Porter House Reads: Mermaid Edition
(Reads that keep you swimming!)
“What’s the difference between a Disney mermaid & the last Kalinga tattoo artist?” by Jessica Hudson
I find prose poetry to be such a compelling genre, and this piece has a lot of momentum. It’s lyrical and impactful.
– SG Huerta, Nonfiction Editor
Lithium for Medea by Kate Braverman
Water permeates this novel. The protagonist traverses the beaches and waterways of southern California as she navigates the deteriorating health of her father, her strained bond with her mother, and the dissolution of her romantic relationship. “I felt the sea beating behind me, waves curling on shore and withdrawing, waves clawing at the shore and leaking out spent,” writes Braverman. “Crash and foamy silence. Crash and sudden silence.” Water is at once a retreat and a cure, a specter and a weapon, a background for a narrator who believes herself to be wired for self-destruction.
-Molly Yingling, Assistant Managing Editor
“None of My Vices Are Violent Enough to Undo Remembering” by Hanif Abdurraqib
Hanif’s ability to take water imagery and portray it as something that can cleanse, something to drown in, and something to use for reflection all within one piece about generational trauma is masterfully done in this poem. This is peak poetry writing for him.
-Aaron Hand, Reviews Editor
The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn
A modern fairytale made up of Russian mermaid lore and Little Children vibes, The Mermaid of Brooklyn is the story of Jenny, a Park Slope mother of two whose husband vanishes one evening after he claims he’s going out to buy a pack of cigarettes. Vulnerable, depressed, and hardly coping, she soon becomes possessed by a rusalka–a Slavic water spirit–who causes such trouble and mischief in Jenny’s life that Jenny actually begins to heal. Shearn, a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s MFA program, is a master at mixing the unexpected: humor and darkness. myth and realism. Motherhood and…Brooklyn. If you’re into fabulism, parenthood, and of course, mischievous mermaid magic, this book is for you.
-Steph Grossman, Public Relations Manager
“What to do When Your Child Brings Home a Mami Wata” by Chikodili Emelumadu
When fiction gets you by the footnotes, you can’t do much but dive in. This wonderfully comic yet satirically telling story was a 2020 Caine Prize nominee (one of five finalists) that guides whoever reads it on ways to proceed if/when your child enters into a Mami Wata (a water spirit) relationship. It would be wise to take notes.
-Chisom Ogoke, Events Coordinator
“The Fog Horn” by Ray Bradbury
Should we fear the Deeps, or should the Deeps fear us?
-Sam Downs, Fiction Editor
“The Objectified Mermaid” by Matthea Harvey
Harvey’s 2014 collection If the Tabloids Are True, What Are You? features a series of prose poems about mermaids, each accompanied by silhouette art of the titular mermaids. In this particular poem, Harvey transforms the figure of the mermaid from one of whimsy to a commentary on sexism and exotification. Nevertheless, all nine poems are fabulous reading, running the gamut from wistful to cerebral.
Alejandro Sobalvarro, Managing Editor