Sunday Lowdown #118


I think many of us have seen it: that shelf at the library that one series of homogenous-looking covers. There are, what, 20 or 30 or 50 of them? The manga series. I’d heard of Naruto and Attack on Titan and Bleach, probably because these were made into cartoons that were advertised in the early 2000’s on Cartoon Network, back when I had cable and was watching King of the Hill reruns.

But, until this week, I had never read a manga. What were my qualms? Well, most series are about eleventy-billion books long, and I don’t have time for that. The content isn’t typically to my liking — the fighting and crying and dying or threatening to kill themselves. Is manga just a tricksy word for soap opera in Japanese?

Then, in my horror movie club, they got to talking about manga, and I confessed all that I’ve have stated here. It was recommended to me that I try Junji Ito, who writes short manga horror stories. So, as of 2023, I finished my first manga, Lovesickness, a collection of horror stories. Though the titular story went on long, there I found the entire book immersive. You know, when you forget where you are because you went into the world of the story.

There was a whoooole conversation around people teaching me how to read Ito’s book. Okay, it’s back to front. It’s also right to left. And it’s also right to left with detours down if the panels are shaped that way. It took me a hot minute, but I got into the flow of it! I could sense everyone on the chat group was kind of giggling at me; they are experienced manga readers.

I’ve also been reading more Sweet Valley High books. I have #1-#10 on Kindle because there was a sale last year. After I read the novel, I listen to the corresponding episode from the Double Love podcast, which is put together by two Irish women whom, I believe, are in their early 40’s — the perfect age to have read SVH.

I’ve noticed that as I’m reading the novels, sometimes I hear the text in the voice of the podcast hosts, who frequently give the best (and by best I mean worst) quotes from the books. It has added a funny element to my experience! Now, I “hear” the books in a more snarky way as I read, making me feel less foolish and able to take the stories for what they are: money-making schlock that girls loved.

At school, things are really ramping up as we get ready to Dukes-of-Hazzard the end of the semester. This coming week I have a ten-minute performance in ASL as well as a receptive test on car facts in ASL. I finished the linguistics paper about Zora Neale Hurston and discourse analysis; it’s printed and ready to be handed over. Also, I have a test to determine my ASL competency, which will be decided by an outside entity hired by the university. That’s nerve-wracking for reasons I can’t explain, but not only does it give students a sense of where they are, skill-wise, it also holds the professors accountable for their teaching.

On the other hand, while final exam week finishes April 27, the summer semester begins April 29. Several of my required books are at the library. The psychology book cost $200, so I offered a student $50 to borrow hers. She agreed, so I feel good about that, though she wouldn’t agree to a date on which I should give her book back, and she said to keep it. Summer classes are online for me, meaning I’ll be doing school work, but I won’t be in a physical class. Maybe Zoom class? We’ll see when I hear more from the professors. I’ve signed up for psychology, sociology, philosophy, and an introduction to Christianity.


Is Hye-Young Pyun’s The Hole even scary? What is scary in this novella, if anything? The health condition that leaves a man unable to communicate or move? A mother-in-law whose intentions are unclear? Being found out for every wrongdoing you committed against your dead wife? It’s an interesting book that gets your mind going, but I would argue it’s not horror, not the definition that comes to mind when someone says “horror,” anyway.


Biscuit and I took a leap from Korean culture to Mennonite culture when we read Women Talking by Miriam Toews. It wasn’t clear to us where the book was set, but it was based on a true situation with a Mennonite colony that resided in Bolivia. The story is highly triggering because it deals with a colony whose women realize that they, and many of their children, are being sexually assaulted in their sleep after several men from the colony crawl through the windows and drug them at night. Do they leave and risk their souls or stay and continue being raped and ignored by society’s justice system? I have yet to see the movie, as it didn’t come to any theaters near me, but I do try to watch most everything Sarah Polley directs.


Books Bought Since January 2023: 1

Running Cost: $1



  1. My son who is a similar age to you … was right into manga. We have just donated swags of his collection as part of our downsizing BUT we also brought down on this trip about 3 boxes that he wanted to keep! My daughter didn’t get into it all but my good friend’s daughter was also into it. She and my son love art and drawing whereas my daughter loved writing more … so my guess it’s all – or largely – about interests.

    I think being nervous about that external assessment of your signing is very understandable but my guess is you’ll rock it.

    Oh, and I thought summer vacation was supposed to be rest time? I do hope you get some?


  2. BIG Attack on Titan fan here but I have not read the mangas, just watched the anime. That one is wonderfully violent, and I feel like you would like it. As a horror fan, it definitely hits.
    I can’t wait to talk about all your classes this summer. I think they’ll keep you interested in the materials. Although, I’ve never taken philosophy so I can’t speak to that one. You know my feelings on Christianity but it’s fun the discuss anyway. 😉
    I love Jackson Galaxy!


    • I’ve never take philosophy either, but when I was teaching at one college, they had a thing they called “The W,” meaning writing proficient. Students in different types of classes — English, Religion, Sociology, Philosophy, etc — would submit a portfolio of their best writing from that class and other professors would give feedback on their proficiency. I was always nervous when I got the philosophy prof’s class because I’m sitting there reading 10 papers on how you can tell you exist. The religion class I’m interested in because I think knowing things is important, even just for understanding. I wish the three religion courses were Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, but they’re intro to Christianity, Old Testament, and New Testament.

      I found the audiobook of Galaxy’s life is read by him, so I’m going to start listening to that as soon as I finish the zombie season of my podcast.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, I also enjoy Double Love, though I rarely listen to a whole episode as they’re so long (I never listen to any other podcasts at all…). I made an exception for the two episodes which covered The Evil Twin, though, just because that book is so delightfully ridiculous.


    • Just the two of them giggling and being so Irish makes my heart happy! They read the quote so fast, adding an extra silliness to it all. I wonder if people could listen to the podcast and follow along without reading the books. I can’t tell because I’ve read most of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I tried manga once a few years ago, I don’t remember the title, it was a series that took place in a bookstore and I thought, yes, the will fun! But I didn’t even make it all the way through because it turned out to be a manga bookstore and so much of it was about the differences between porn manga and regular manga and violent manga and I just couldn’t. One of these days I will try Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind because it’s SFF manga with an environmental theme. I suspect I might like that better!

    Wow, you don’t get a break between semesters at all. I hope you can somehow fit a little downtime in there for so rest and rejuvenation. Well done finishing your Zora paper! Good luck on all your upcoming exams!

    Also, Cat Daddy has some pretty amazing facial hair!


  5. Oh wow, Cat Daddy looks like a trip! Please let me know of any cat-pleasing tips, I need these haha

    I haven’t read Women Talking yet, or seen the movie, but us Canadians are very proud of this book, so I feel bad I haven’t gotten to it yet. Have you read Sarah Polley’s book yet? Her memoir? She talks about a man named Jian Ghomeshi who assaulted her, it’s a big Canadian scandal b/c he was a minor celebrity here. I met him for a short time, and he was awful. Anyway, Miriam Toews is a lovely writer, Canadians are very proud of her too LOL


  6. I really want to read Women Talking. I love Toews’ books but had to pass on her last one (I think it was) as I’m not good with the theme it had. My best friend saw the film and loved it. It’s good they have an external examiner for your ASL but I can see how nervewracking it still is!


      • Oh best of luck! You’ll be excellent at it, I know. And fine with rape (well, you know what I mean). Last one had a suicide theme and thanks to a couple of events in our close circles, I find that hard to deal with. But thank you for the note.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoyed Philosophy when I took it a hundred years ago – had Australia’s #1 Existentialist for both lecturer and tutor – but Introduction to Christianity, really! (My father finished his BA when I was 15 or 16 and I did read some of his Middle Eastern thought & culture texts).
    Your summer semester sounds relaxing though, no commutes for a few months.
    (I feel vicariously nearby this week. My youngest brother’s in Chicago and sending photographs daily)


    • So, what you’re saying is philosophy has changed a lot in the last 100 years? I kid, Bill! I know how you feel about religion. I’m eager to learn more from different perspectives for learning’s sake. See where folks are coming from.

      Does your younger brother want to come to South Bend? I can show him around if he’s interested.


  8. Any series that seems like it has 20 books seems overwhelming to me so I’ve never been tempted by manga.

    I really want to see Women Talking but I also know it will be intense so I’m reluctant. It came to our local theatre but we were away that week so I’ll probably watch it at home sometime.


    • Yes, I try not to get into any series. I have a few that I enjoy, but most are also broken up into mini series, meaning you can take an extended break if you wish, or read only one mini series. Nick said he read something like 138 manga books about a man who wanted to be a boxer. Which blew my mind.

      For me, I think because the book Women Talking spent more time on religious and moral qualms than on describing the assaults, there was some distance. I do wonder if the movie has flashbacks or anything that brings the violence on the screen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s good to know. I guess my worry was that the movie would overly dwell on the assaults themselves. Though knowing a little about Sarah Polley and her work, I wouldn’t expect her to be gratuitous or go for the shock factor.

        Liked by 1 person

Insert 2 Cents Here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s