In being honest with you, a more accurate star rating for this book would be 3.75. There are moments wherein the repetition of certain themes (the actIn being honest with you, a more accurate star rating for this book would be 3.75. There are moments wherein the repetition of certain themes (the actual word "gumption," for instance) is overkill, but the heart, grit, and joie de vivre certainly make up for it. In sum: a solid, breezy summer read....more
Textbook for my Teaching Practicum – jury's still out as to what I actually think, but it's an okay book? I dunno, might do another review after my seTextbook for my Teaching Practicum – jury's still out as to what I actually think, but it's an okay book? I dunno, might do another review after my second reading since I'm so ambivalent....more
Perhaps the most enjoyable thing about Bad Feminist is its approachability. In a world where most feminist discourse is heavily couched in the peculiaPerhaps the most enjoyable thing about Bad Feminist is its approachability. In a world where most feminist discourse is heavily couched in the peculiar linguistic patterns inherent in theory, Bad Feminist is a bit like your very clever older sister sitting you down for some real talk. She knows you're smart, but she knows you haven't the time to wade through some Judith Butler realness, so she tells you the truths she's absorbed in such a clear and frank way that you leave the conversation the better for it. As an academic, I worry about the fact that theory is sometimes a little too precious and held apart from the herd for this very reason; as such, I am thankful that a fellow academic decided to talk to everyone about this stuff, not just the academy. But then again, feminism is for everyone... right?
That's the conceit of Bad Feminist, though, that the reputation of feminism is that you have to be perfectly aligned into this very second wave stereotype. You must always know your theory, you must always live your truths to the exact degree, you must never live into the gender roles unto which you've been born. No wonder there are so many people terrified of being a feminist, then; who wants to live a life so rigid, so utterly constrained, that you're always on pins and needles? Suddenly screaming can I live??? seems so valid. Certainly, that's what Gay's asserting here: you don't have to be perfect to be a feminist. You can be bad at it, too. But it's sure as hell better than not being a feminist at all.
Her essays that fall under this framework are an arc; she hooks you with bright and bubbling stories full of humor, and we're better for it because she gives us some stakes before she delves into some seriously heart-wrenching shit. But we need to bear witness to it, to behold some of the truths she tells us within the cover's walls. I think that's at least part of the point of this new crest of feminism, anyway, to listen to all of our fellow human beings and realize we all suffer in different ways. Sometimes it's money and other times it's race. A large part of the time, it's definitely about the gender that we profess, whether we're born in it biologically or otherwise. And she weaves these stories in with the stories that pop culture is telling us, illustrating how the culture machine is pushing one side of the story while we exist in the lived experience in the other.
There's a reason why Bad Feminist is blazing all over the Best of 2014 lists. It's a solid little book, joyful and angry and smart and brazen and funny even when it's telling you the bad shit. It's charitable even to what it critiques in a way that reminds the reader of the opponent's humanity, which we forget a lot of the time when in debate. In that, Gay's raising the stakes of her rhetoric: she's trying to place everyone on even ground. Given that said opponents often don't give her the same dignity out in society, that makes Bad Feminist's messages all the more refreshing and important....more
**spoiler alert** Ah, yes: our ruthless and bitter conclusion. For some reason, I was silly enough to think that our rebels would be more sympathetic,**spoiler alert** Ah, yes: our ruthless and bitter conclusion. For some reason, I was silly enough to think that our rebels would be more sympathetic, that Peeta would somehow be healed quicker, and for that I give Collins great credit. I also give her credit for the tiny slivers of verbal condemnation from Katniss's mouth about our present straits (her particular damnation about her ancestors taking care of the planet SO WELL come to mind), of showing Katniss's growth as a person as well as an individual full of weakness. In this novel, Katniss is ruthless when it comes to her assessment of self: she's weak, she's bitter, she's changed. She really doesn't like herself a lot and has that teen voice of "ugh, I'm tough, the toughest; I don't deserve anyone, I'm broken goods, I'm messed up" that I think a lot of marginalized teens – fresh out of Hunger Games or otherwise – often feel. For me, this is the heart of the book, why I'm able to still love it enough for four stars despite the fact that I sometimes feel that I've seen teen dystopias with better dismounts. (The classics – Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and 1984 – come to mind.)
But it is the breaking and reassembling of Katniss Everdeen that makes my irritation at the ending so palpable – not her shooting Coin, but the fact that everything had to end with Katniss finally ~choosing the boy~. I don't deny that the pairing at the end was the obvious choice, but I think the sudden denouement between his arrival and their final and enduring embrace of love is abrupt, sharp. But maybe, given that so much of her short life was in front if cameras, this is the point: that we as an audience can't take away Katniss's private descent into love and trust on her own terms, that we don't get to see that. But as someone who is greedily invested: I wanted an end that read as if they were team members in rehabilitating each other as opposed to a sharp, hard drop into Loveville, Panem. Frankly, many probably interpreted that as occurring – and it probably did – but again: this is where the Hunger Games style comes up cold for me.
Compared to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire is considerably more spritely and surprising, thereby making it my favorite of the trio. (Indeed, if I couCompared to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire is considerably more spritely and surprising, thereby making it my favorite of the trio. (Indeed, if I could rate it 4.5, I would.) Most of this centers on the fact that the pacing is delightfully shifted from what I thought it would be; if you believe Tumblr and its gifs, the last third of the book is the entire movie. But it's not so book wise, which is a delight, as I yearned to know more about the world of the Districts themselves, to see what some of the Victors might have wanted to fight for in the first place. It also displays Katniss's gentle maturity in tone, in deciphering items and deducing this weird world around her. It would be wrong to say she becomes tender – I don't think a kindly Katniss are what this story is about, nor is it particularly accurate in terms of portraying world-weary teenagers – but she starts to look outside of herself, which usually happens at that age. It just so happens that to look outside of herself also means to look at a vast, terrifying, and grotesquely injust world that makes our present problems look like child's play.
Which, admittedly: maybe that's why these books are so captivating. We're fuck-ups, but we're not Panem-levels of fuck-up. ...more
I have a feeling that rating this as low as I have will be seen as some kind of sacrilege amongst the present taste. That said, I also live in a worldI have a feeling that rating this as low as I have will be seen as some kind of sacrilege amongst the present taste. That said, I also live in a world that is more or less impossible to keep spoiler free RE: the plot of this book and its successors in the trilogy. I mostly read it to see if I would still appreciate and enjoy the story that so many of my friends have even after knowing all of the essential punches. I mean, the same thing goes for most classic literature: you know what happens to the whale after Moby Dick, you're aware of most of Sherlock Holmes's verdicts, and so on. It isn't about the destination but the journey.
And, well: without the surprises and The Hunger Games's journey is okay. Not awful, but okay.
A lot of it has to do with the simplicity of the prose, but I don't really fault Collins for it: in many ways, it's very indicative of the point of view and internal narration of a teenage woman, especially in as extraordinary conditions such as Katniss's. In that sense, I admire the style; Collins knows her way around suspense and the psychology of characterization, to the point where I would argue that it's one of her greatest talents. But compared to the later installments and The Hunger Games doesn't have any moments in which I have to pause, to gasp not necessarily of what's occurring (see: above) but how Katniss reacts to the events as they unfold. That's the beauty of Catching Fire and Mockingjay, I think.
Admittedly, to the tale's credit: still gripping pacing, despite my knowledge. (SEE: speed of reading.) Also, the recurring anger of teens being lied to by adults? God, THAT FEEL, AM I RIGHT, FELLOW DIRTBAGS? Anyway, ready for nerds everywhere to sue me, bye....more
It took me a while to read Les Misérables, but part of it was a bit of proverbial coitus interruptus. First a book club book (a weak excuse) and thenIt took me a while to read Les Misérables, but part of it was a bit of proverbial coitus interruptus. First a book club book (a weak excuse) and then life being very life and I ended up waiting to read Book V roughly 10 months after I had finished Book IV. It is a credit to Les Misérables that I was able to jump in with only a little bit of turbulence over my winter holiday and able to come through strong and with the same emotional attachments as I had the winter prior.
Before I get too ahead of myself: I hear it's important to get a solid translation of Les Misérables in order to get the wonderful reading experience that I did. There are people who compare translations like it's a sport; I remember reading an article someone posted to me where a devotee had lined up different editions and was comparing them to the sentence. Apparently, I happened into a wonderful translator with Denny; he professes in the forward how he was committed to preserving the poetics of Hugo's words if not the exact language, and the playfulness shows.
What snared me about Les Misérables was that rambling bit of poetics, of attempting to scramble to the end of each sentence just to see what Hugo was attempting to twist next. It's true that it's a book about excruciating hardship and loss, of love and duty, of piety and blasphemy, of revolution and conservatism, of the heartbeat of a nation itself – the themes are so well-loved and well-covered that we know them from film and the stage. But reading Les Mis is an act of meandering through language, of exploring every nook and cranny of an idea and seeing it to fruition. Hugo was a completionist; his tangents in Les Mis are legendary and often relegated to appendixes in the back. (Full admission: I read them. I am also a completionist.) For those who want a well-gleaned story that gets straight to the point, I would heavily suggest you look the other way. This book is not for you, although I maintain that this particular translation is fast-paced even as it maintains the spirit of Hugo's twisting, brambled prose. True, Hugo is saying things in ten sentences that you could probably say in one, but he's displaying an insane tale as he does it. Everything is so high-stakes that you're persuaded to push on and on until it's three in the morning and you've wiled away far too much time. It's dense, but it's a nail-biter.
And even as you are attempting to find out when you might meet whom and when so-and-so might be saved, back to that language: it blossoms and bubbles, unfurls into moments that you wish you could quote instantly at any point. Hugo can make anything sound beautiful, from Waterloo to the sewers of Paris (of which he devoted an entire chapter – did you know the word cloaca? doesn't it sound gorgeous? especially when you consider that it's discussing your actual shit?). To gallivant through his paragraphs is to go through the Tuileiries, to the halls of Versailles; each sentence is so plush, so verdant, so tangible as they run through your head. For such exquisite agonies, I still want to live inside these words, to rattle them off at a moment's notice in order to take me to that place where they first took me when I absorbed them off the page.
I am neither a person who cries at the end of books nor one who vows to re-read things unless they are exquisitely important, but the end of Les Misérables sent me into hysterics as I realized that this would be the last time that I would ever experience this book for the first time. Now I get another experience, which is to revisit this book and to grow old with it over time. What a treasure to be given, to have a book that you know that you will love forever, that will become your old friend. This book is making me want to reclassify what I consider books that are beloved to me, that's how formative it is. Even though it took me ~1 year to get it done, I'm happy for the journey it gave me regardless....more