A commentary on 2022’s reading habits.

As it stands, John Langan’s The Fisherman was a key component to my blog writing renaissance of 2022. It hurled me back into the world of fiction and literature, a creative pool I’m familiar treading. My Grade 10 summer nights of young adult fantasy, rented from the local library, were the best. Consider this blog post a reflection of my own reading habits last year, also serving as sampler to my personal philosophies. Healthy doses of retail therapy has transformed my living space into a library and a curated retail store display. The current assessment is that the library needs more inventory. You can take the sales associate out of the mall, but you can’t take the mall out of the sales associate.

Published by Word Horde in 2016, The Fisherman uses German-American painter Albert Bierstadt’s Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast (1870) as its art, depicting a luminous storm on American shores. I’ve read through the book twice and somewhere in the historical recounting of its setting, the Ashokan Reservoir in New York, Langan’s convinces me that inexplicable, fantastic stories can hold true for different places. Every culture has its creation story, and every continent has its geological framework. Who’s to say how these stories can transpose through epoch and space, to reach different minds and times. Posthumously, Bierstadt’s work went largely unnoticed in the 1900’s, but had a resurgence in the 60’s. The hyperrealism of these landscapes, the technical minutiae, remind me of how surreal videogames can be – digital, non-existent spaces only available after the touch of man, or even, machine.

Bierstadt’s paintings aren’t simple, classic observations of landscapes, but purist fantasy, set in our own world. Scenes painted with heart-shaped hands, the luminosity of his work speaks hopefully to me, a Great Beyond smiling with the raspberry-tangerine sorbet of dusk. I read somewhere that Bierstadt’s style was soulless and corporate, but contradicting opinions are missed messages in the ether to me. Luminism, an American art movement of landscape paintings in the 1850’s, has this transportive quality to it – details finely hoevered over, even the least romantic heart would flutter. Videogame enthusiasts of the romantic persuasion will find the same escapist quality of Bierstadt’s landscapes in Guerilla Games’ Horizon franchise. I spent a chunk of time barrelling through the robodinosaur post-apocalyptic plains of California, Utah and Nevada, in awe of how wondrous and terrifying it must truly be to a puny human in a world beyond a bombed out understanding.

It’s probably a similar or comparable feeling Frodo and Samwise’s final stretch within Mordor, a sopping wet rag of dread, accompanied with their already heavy task of destroying that damn Ring. Tolkien painted its desolation is such musical beauty, the typical heaviness of description-heavy prose was instead arresting. The reason why readers and fantasy enthusiasts would continue to plow through this over 900-page epic is because Tolkien’s worldbuilding is bar none. I wouldn’t have felt so invested in Sam and Frodo’s journey had I not been with them since their worried squabbling, in the Shire. Many complain that the Shire bits of Lord of the Rings can be meandering, but that’s the point – Fellowship of the Ring can be seen as a literary portal, a hole into the Middle-earth dimension, through the rollicking medieval fields of the Shire.

Worldbuilding and painting seem to fall in the same spirit realm, creation through large swaths of colour, but details peppered in like ants in a colony. If large swaths of blue were a landscape, Yann Martel’s depiction of the Pacific Ocean in Life of Pi would be a character all its own. The spiritual trials of Pi Patel requiring their own writing, but Martel’s blue ocean is truly a god. Pi and his tiger are simple lifeforms against the vastness of the ocean, and the story delivers into its oceans watery depths, as if like Pi himself, it is all that we can see.

They say the ocean is humanity’s final frontier, the truest portal to a dimension before our land-dwelling ancestors. Should humanity conquer that dark fantasy? 2022 leaned heavily towards painterly scenes and escapist themes, mostly involving the ocean, already a motif in the horror I enjoy. Some epic fantasy was enjoyed, and I hope to tackle Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry or C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, at least for the sake of ticking off the big box fantasies. I’d like to make an honourable mention to my favourite author of that year, Haruki Murakami, I love the style and respect he has for mundanity. I need a 300-page J-Horror.

Additional reading:

“About Jamilla Wu”

“Dreaming of Leviathan: John Langan’s The Fisherman and American Folk Horror” by Alexandra Hauke (University of Passau), for Revenant Journal

“A commentary on Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Sides by SOPHIE” for Windhill Journal

2 responses to “A commentary on 2022’s reading habits.”

  1. […] am no stranger to visual novels, let alone actual hard copy literature, so Citizen Sleeper‘s comes down with a satisfying gulp. Released on all major platforms […]


  2. […] “A commentary on 2022’s reading habits” for Windhill Journal […]


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