Tag Archives: Kayla Rae Whitaker

Housekeeping: First Quarter Roundup

This quarter saw the usual discussions of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology and sociology.  There are an increasing amount of academic studies of this technology (finally!), which are producing important findings.  Not that the enthusiasts are paying attention.

There is also a constant stream of discoveries and studies of dinosaurs and ancient birds, which I enjoy reading.

And, as usual, I regularly review books I have recently read.


The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell
Good Guys by Steven Brust
The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
The Cackle of Cthulhu edited by Alex Shvartsman
A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman
Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw
The Pope of Palm Beach by Tim Dorsey
The Man From The Diogenes Club by Kim Newman
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
Dark State by Charles Stross
The Bomb Maker by Thomas Perry
Quillifer by Walter Jon Williams
Celestial Mechanics by William Least Heat-Moon

Non fiction

How To Plan A Crusade by Christopher Tyerman
The Earth is Weeping by Peter Cozzens
Ada’s Algorithm by James Essinger

The ongoing list of great names for a band continues, inspired by Dave Barry. Here are a bunch, mostly taken from real scientific or technical papers.

The Adversarial Patches
Psychedelic toasters (this one has probably has already been used)
Judicious Design of Nanofins
        (or perhaps, Righteous Design of Nanofins or just Nanofins)
Rapid genome downsizing
Diffusivity of Water in Air
The Gymnosperms
Pulsar Positioning System
Galactic Positioning System
Mushroom Body
A Spritz of Octopamine
Hebbian Learning
The Possible Ecologies of Mars
Ornament Evolution



Book Review: “The Animators” by Kayla Rae Whitaker

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

The Animators is Whitaker’s first novel, a story of two young artists out of the American South who meet in college, and become deep friends and artistic partners.  Whitaker portrays their intense drive to create animated cinema, and the complex and tangled personal and professional partnership they seem to need to make this happen.

The story covers their early career in New York, Florida, and Louisville Kentucky. A lot of stuff happens, and a lot of it is pretty awful. They work like crazy and, well, live like crazy, too. I’m assuming that this is a realistic portrayal of “the artist as a young woman.”

The artistic achievements cannot be separated from the deep, confused, and troubled friendship.  Sure, they need each.  And they also want each other and love each other (not sexually). But it’s not clear they understand each other, despite their intense close work together.

Whitaker tells about the deep personal meaning and the deep personal cost of their art.  Mel and Sharon are all about ‘courage’, and both think that telling their innermost secrets is important, because that is the only way to break out of their horrible past.  If this sounds painful, it definitely is.

There is a lot of pain in this novel.  Mel and Sharon achieve considerable success, but success is no shield from bad things happening.

I know what Mel and I did with memory. We ran our endurance dry with our life stories, trying to reproduce them, translate them, make them manageable enough to coexist with. We mad them smaller, disfiguring them with our surgeries. We were young. We did not know what we were doing” (p. 351)

If there is a lesson in this story, it has to be to be good to the ones you love right now, because they may be gone soon.

Your life is the people you fill it with….And nothing’s good without them.” (p. 308)

I found this a well written and haunting story.  We care about these two kids, smile for the good times, root for their loves, cringe at their mistakes, and ache with their pain.  It is excruciating to watch in places, because they really, really, didn’t know what they were doing.

I certainly look forward to more from Whitaker.

  1. Kayla Rae Whitaker, The Animators, New York, Random House, 2017.


Sunday Book Reviews