Warning: SPOILERS ABOUND in this episode!
Sam Rebelein and Mike Alvarez are back for an appropriately Halloween-y episode! Last time we talked about their horror inspirations; this time we’re talking about their recent (October 2023) book publications!
We talk about their books individually and together: how and why they use body horror to enhance their narratives; monsters as metaphors for grief, loss, and trauma; and the act of writing itself and how it can retraumatize or heal the writer.
From the episode:
“The thing about autoethnography is it’s autobiography, it’s using one’s personal experience to look at larger social, cultural, historical forces; but it’s also a method…we talk about writing not just as documenting things after we have done the analyses, but writing itself as a method, as a way of inquiry.” – Mike Alvarez
“At my lowest points in life, I think those are when you pay attention the most.” – Sam Rebelein
If you’re anti-spoiler DON’T listen to this podcast until you buy the books (spoiler: they’re worth it). If you don’t mind spoilers, take a listen and buy the books anyway!
Snag Edenville and check out Sam’s other work: https://www.srebelein.com/
Snag Mike’s Unraveling direct from the publisher: https://www.routledge.com/Unraveling-An-Autoethnography-of-Suicide-and-Renewal/Alvarez/p/book/9781032346519
Unraveling: An Autoethnography of Suicide and Renewal by M.F. Alvarez is an autoethnographic story that explores the intricate relationship among trauma, marginality, and mental health. It follows Mike Alvarez, a precocious gay teenager from an immigrant Filipino family, who loses his grip on reality as he succumbs to so-called mental illness. Divided into two parts, the first half of the book uses evocative storytelling and in-the-moment narration to capture the slow descent into anxiety, paranoia, depression, and suicidality, as experienced by the author during young adulthood. The second half of the book critically reflects upon the story through a series of analytic chapters. In these chapters, the author considers the role of narrative in cultivating empathy for the mentally ill, the psychiatric-industrial complex’s obstruction of that empathy, and the moral dilemmas autoethnographers face when writing about self, other, and the social world.
Edenville by Sam Rebelein: After publishing his debut novel, The Shattered Man, to disappointing sales and reviews, Campbell P. Marion is struggling to find inspiration for a follow-up. When Edenville College invites him to join as a writer-in-residence, he’s convinced that his bad luck has finally taken a turn. His girlfriend Quinn isn’t so sure—she grew up near Edenville and has good reasons for not wanting to move back. Cam disregards her skepticism and accepts the job, with Quinn reluctantly following along.
But there’s something wrong in Edenville. Despite the charming old ladies milling about Main Street and picturesque sunflowers dotting the sidewalks, poison lurks beneath the surface. As a series of strange and ominous events escalate among Edenville and its residents, Cam and Quinn find themselves entangled in a dark and disturbing history.
Transformative Language Arts Network: https://www.tlanetwork.org/
- Kathryn Harrison, The Kiss
- R.L. Stine, Goosebumps series
- Louise DeSalvo, Writing as a Way of Healing
Movies & TV
- Jeepers Creepers, Victor Salva
- The Babadook, Jennifer Kent
- Hereditary, Ari Aster
- Fargo (Season 2), FX, Noah Hawley
- The Last of Us
- The Witcher 3
- God of War