Dr. Selena Middleton Shares a Shelfie

In case you’re not a book nerd–which is unlikely if you’re reading this–a “shelfie” is a quick glimpse at someone’s bookshelf. Today Dr. Selena Middleton, who is doing important work focused on ecological fiction with Stelliform Press, shared this thoughtful response to Convulsive in conjunction with other recent books:

Two recent favorites are Naben Ruthnum’s novella Helpmeet (from Undertow) and Joe Koch’s short story collection Convulsive (from Apocalypse Party). Considering these two titles together, I think what draws me to them (besides their incredible covers) is that Helpmeet and many stories in Convulsive are stories of transformations that are simultaneously horrific and transcendent. I read a lot of climate fiction for Stelliform Press and my taste in horror is definitely overlapping with what Stelliform’s climate fiction often does. We are currently, as a society, standing at the brink of a systems-level transformation. The ecological, political, and social systems that come out on the other side of the transformation might not be what we expect or even what we want. But books like Helpmeet and Convulsive are almost reassuring in that they both assert that, yes, transformation is difficult and painful—they don’t pretend that transformation is easy or gaslight us for feeling pain and fear—but there is a kind of life on the other side, for some of us.

Both of these books also have passages that are deeply disgusting and I always find it interesting when a work affects me on that level. Finding that line is a way to know a deeply recessed part of yourself, I think. But for me, I find it easier to go there—to the edge of that line—with writers of color, LGBTQ2S+ writers, or writers who are otherwise marginalized. As a reader, I trust those writers to punch up, to create stories wherein the horror isn’t denying someone else’s humanity—unless, you know, it’s denying everyone’s humanity.

The full conversation over on Horror Spotlight goes into more about Dr. Middleton’s work with Stelliform Press and the books she’s excited to read soon. She’s a self-proclaimed “fungus devotee,” so you know you can’t go wrong with her recommendations!

Read the full article with links to great fiction on Horror Spotlight!

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Published by: Joe

Joe Koch (he/they) writes literary horror and surrealist trash. Formerly published as Joanna Koch. A Shirley Jackson Award finalist, Joe is the author of The Wingspan of Severed Hands, The Couvade, Convulsive, and over eighty short stories in anthologies and journals. Find Joe on Twitter @horrorsong.

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