Review | Quarterly Literary Box | Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

The Quarterly Literary Box is described thusly on their website:

Receive three books a quarter, including a brand new release annotated by the author with hand-written notes, two more curated titles and delightful bookish goods—all delivered to your doorstep.

Obviously I’m down with the idea of this box but I gotta start out by taking umbrage in the “delightful bookish goods” included in this box. This quarter’s “delightful bookish goods” were better than the four-pack of crayons we got last time, but are still nothing like the truly amazing bookish goodies most boxes give. This month it was a very cheaply made metal water bottle that says BORNE and has a bear on it (I’m assuming it has something to do with the main book, also called Borne, I’m very smart) and a rubber pen that’s designed to look like a quill. Again, they just feel like extras and not thoughtful parts of the box. I wish they’d just do away with them altogether and not promise something they aren’t delivering.

This box costs $49 when you buy it quarterly. I think I got a small discount for paying for the entire year – plus I got that free book that I loved.

I haven’t read the books yet and will update with full reviews when I do, but I can tell you what they are and we’ll take a brief look at what we can tell of the diversity stats by the books themselves.

Borne Jeff VanderMeer coverThis box was curated by Jeff VanderMeer, who is apparently a science fiction writer that many people love, though I’ve never heard of him – SciFi isn’t historically my jam but I’m excited to check out a book that was also the book of the month for Powell’s IndiespensableBorne.

As with all books by the curators in this subscription, VanderMeer annotates this book with post-it notes throughout. I just glanced a few (I don’t want no spoilers!) but they seem amusing enough: “Look, I’ll admit Rachel probably hasn’t encountered brandy or waffles recently, but it was the right smell!” 

The books he chose are Gutshot by Amelia Gray, which appears to be a book of short stories, and The Blue Fox by Sjon. It appears that all three authors in this box are white and one out of three is a woman. Sjon is Icelandic so we’ve got some work in translation, which I’m always down for (also, I seem to have read a lot of Icelandic lit lately? Is it having some kind of import at the moment?) but I would have rather seen an author of color represented.

I can’t comment on the rest of the diversity things I’ll eventually talk about ( Bechdel–Wallace testmain character stats, etc.) but we can talk about the fact that there have been zero authors of color among the six books in their boxes this year. No bueno, Quarterly. No bueno.

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