Published by Month 9 Goodreads
The path west is long, but despite Selena’s progress, New Canaan is never far enough behind her. It was there that her parents were killed, forcing her and her little brother Simon to flee the tyrannical state. Now, New Canaan wants control over every last inch of America-That-Was. Only the Republic of California can stand against it—but not without the data stick in Selena’s pocket, rumored to contain vital information about New Canaan’s deadly new weapon.
As winter closes in, Selena races south in search of an open passage to the coast. She must pass through Nuevo Juarez, where a ruthless leader named Thorin has seized power. Selena runs afoul of Thorin’s men and is separated from her brother, captured, and auctioned off at the city’s thriving slave market.
Her only way out is through the Iron Circle, a fighting ring where the city’s most fearsome warriors pit their skills against one another. As the populace and Thorin watch Selena rise through the ranks, Selena earns a reputation she doesn’t want and the attention of man with the power to destroy her and what’s left of America-That-Was.
Justin Joschko is an author from Niagara Falls, Ontario. His writing has appeared in newspapers and literary journals across Canada. Yellow Locust is his first novel. He currently lives in Ottawa with his wife and two children.
Top 10 Favorite Movies
10) Manos: the Hands of Fate – Filmed on location in a vacant lot. I love bad movies, and this is one of the best bad movies out there. Immeasurably improved by the MST3K treatment, where it laid the groundwork for the best episode in that show’s history.
9) The Empire Strikes Back – The best Star Wars film, moody and funny and sad. I’ve got no time for CGI Yoda. It’s puppet or nothing.
8) The VVitch – A masterful period horror set in the woods of 17th-century New England (and shot in Ontario, which out-New Englanded New England in terms of forest primeval). The looming trees magnify the family’s superstitious dread, and the tension builds on tiny things until it becomes almost unbearable.
6) Yellow Submarine – My favorite film circa 1991. I re-watched it decades later with my 3-year-old daughter, unsure whether I’d enjoy it as much as I had, and quite certain she’d get bored 20 minutes in. Turns out I liked it, and she loved it, re-watching it several times since. Surreal ,quirky fun, and the original songs are rock solid—Hey Bulldog might be my favorite Beatles track, full stop.
6) The Sword and the Claw – A Turkish action film set in the Middle Ages. Earnest, schlocky fun. Fight scenes don’t use enough trampolines these days.
5) The Endless – Time travel is an overdone trope in fiction, so new twists on the idea strike me as particularly impressive. The Endless isn’t a time travel story in the traditional sense, but it plays with loops and the interconnectedness of time and space, suggesting concepts without explaining them into an interminable pulp of exposition. The scene with the Victrola horrified me in a way I didn’t quite understand until I reflected on it afterwards.
4) Superbad – great, filthy fun. I didn’t gravitate to earlier high school raunch-fests like American Pie, but the dialogue in Superbad pushed it well above the pack. McLovin and the cops stole much of the limelight, but my favorite element has always been the friendship between Seth and Evan as it undergoes the convulsions of nascent adulthood. Their handshake at the end is touching and, in a small way, quite sad.
3) Army of Darkness – An A+ among B movies, it manages to have a load of fun while taking itself seriously—an essential aspect, as nothing kills kitsch quicker than too much winking at the audience. I know critical consensus states that it pales in comparison to Evil Dead 2, but I love it best of the whole series and that’s never going to change. Shop smart, shop s-mart.
2) The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – A masterpiece of Western filmmaking. Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name is the archetypal gunslinger, so monolithic in his squinting silence he would go on to inspire Stephen King’s own gunslinger, Roland of Gilead. The villainous Angel Eyes is dread personified, his ruthlessness simultaneously undercut and sharpened by his Stalinesque smile. But the heart and soul of the film belongs to Tuco Ramirez. Perhaps my favorite movie character, Tuco is a bastard in the most endearing sense of the term. Humbly cited in Yellow Locust through his surname, which is shared by my own semi-villainous sideman, Marcus. If you have to shoot, shoot; don’t talk.
1) Stop Making Sense – Concert film of Talking Heads’ tour for their Speaking in Tongues album. Strips the concept of a set down to its bare minimum, with a focus on musicianship and movement. These elements would become staples of David Byrne’s concerts for years to come, and they are captured with elegance and minimal fuss by Jonathan Demme. The famous Big Suit features here, becoming so associated with Byrne that it may be surprising to note it only appears for a single song.
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