I keep trying to hook people with the concept. "It's about a person who used to be a spaceship! And all the corpse soldiers within it! But the ship waI keep trying to hook people with the concept. "It's about a person who used to be a spaceship! And all the corpse soldiers within it! But the ship was betrayed and is now down to a single body." And then I go on to mention Breq's chronic frustration with attempting to identify gender in order to use gendered nouns and pronouns. Humans from outside the Radch are so prickly when one guesses gender wrong.
And all of that is great, and exciting, and a true example of what science fiction can be... but the reason I read the book - devoured it, really - is much simpler: I love the main character. Breq, Justice of Toren's One Esk Nineteen, is interesting. Smart, of course, determined and focused, but also brave in ways she doesn't count, and caring in ways she doesn't expect. The Justice of Toren's multiple simultaneous viewpoints in the chapters set in the story's past serve as a slowly unfolding tragedy and provide a window on what Breq was and all (s)he lost.
I don't understand Seivarden (it would be difficult, since Breq doesn't understand him, and we see this universe through her eyes), but I somehow liked him anyway with all his character flaws and the risk he continuously presents to Breq's quest and even security. I wanted better for Awn. I was fascinated by the Radch, by the time she/he made a true appearance on the page.
And I loved the ending. Loved. I see that there is a "loose" trilogy planned, and I simultaneously want more of this weird world and its characters, and I want Ancillary Justice to continue to stand perfectly on its own, because what could possibly follow in these footsteps? ...more
A fascinating book, and a good reminder of how far we've come - and how quickly - for whenever the distance we have yet to go starts to feel overwhelmA fascinating book, and a good reminder of how far we've come - and how quickly - for whenever the distance we have yet to go starts to feel overwhelming. Oddly, I feel as though I came away from this book with a better understanding of my mom's (somewhat fraught) relationship with her mother. Highly recommended, easy to read in fits and starts due to the episodic and anecdotal arrangement of the chapters....more
I want to like this book more than I do. The profiled couples are interesting. The writing style, on the other hand, is very plain, almost perfunctoryI want to like this book more than I do. The profiled couples are interesting. The writing style, on the other hand, is very plain, almost perfunctory, with some repetitiveness in the descriptions and largely lacking in complex sentences. I've read about three of the fifteen couples, but don't think I'll finish the book before the digital ARC expires.
Honestly, I'm wondering if maybe I'm just not cut out for biographies. (The section on Whitman and Doyle makes me interested in reading Whitman's poetry, though. So I guess I've gotten something out of it?)...more
After years of running across references to How to Suppress Women's Writing, I have finally read it. (The timing on my acquiring and reading the bookAfter years of running across references to How to Suppress Women's Writing, I have finally read it. (The timing on my acquiring and reading the book and my involvement in certain online arguments that I've stumbled upon lately about how sexism really still exists, no, really is probably not coincidental.)
ANYWAY. About the book. First off, it's a lit crit book with everything that that implies. For those of us without the heavy-duty lit background, this means the reading will be slow. Interesting, yes. Easy, no. The references/allusions/name-checks come fast and furious, but if, like me, you've never read, say Margaret Cavendish? The frequent citations of her work that assume a certain level of familiarity will be frustrating.
Keep going. It's worth it.
It's worth figuring out what gets left out or deemed unworthy and how -- and asking why. Because
A mode of understanding life which willfully ignores so much can do so only at the peril of thoroughly distorting the rest. A mode of understanding literature which can ignore the private lives of half the human race is not "incomplete"; it is distorted through and through. Feminist criticism of the early 1970s began by pointing out the simplist of these distortions, that is, that the female characters of even our greatest realistic "classics" by male writers are often not individualized portraits of possible women, but creations of fear and desire.
Each chapter picks apart a tool/belief that keeps women's writing invisible and excluded from the Canon. Misattribution. Impropriety of subject matter. Unimportance of subject matter. False categorization (or judging pieces against the standards of a genre they don't belong to). Exceptionalism. Isolation from (feminine) influences. Denial of agency. And while the title clearly sets these obstacles up as something deliberate... the text itself does a fantastic job of showing how these beliefs permeate culture, how the ideas embed themselves in the minds of essentially well-intentioned critics/authors/readers, men and women alike.
She periodically points out how these same tools of suppression are used to deny a literary history to other marginalized groups -- she may have set out to expose the tools of sexism, but they are also the tools of racism and colonialism and heterosexism and classism and...
In fact, in the afterward of my edition, Russ acknowledged that she'd fallen into the same traps set along racial lines and added an "idiosyncratic" collection of quotes from literary works by members of minority groups that had been similarly ignored and excluded by the gatekeepers of Literature, including herself-as-critic....more
This collection contains paragraphs of amazing beauty and is of can't-miss historical importance within the science fiction genre.
Caveat lector: manyThis collection contains paragraphs of amazing beauty and is of can't-miss historical importance within the science fiction genre.
Caveat lector: many stories deal in death -- the death of individuals, the death of self in the face of the infinite, the death of species and planets. Perhaps not the best choice when one is already feeling a bit down....more
Loved the last chapter, which was the reason I became interested in the book in the first place. Overall, the book was informative, though a bit diffiLoved the last chapter, which was the reason I became interested in the book in the first place. Overall, the book was informative, though a bit difficult reading at times -- greater familiarity with Balzac might have helped....more
Grant Stoddard is only interesting because of his former job writing for Nerve. He knows this, so the book starts and ends with his unusual and perhapGrant Stoddard is only interesting because of his former job writing for Nerve. He knows this, so the book starts and ends with his unusual and perhaps metaphoric final assignment. Unfortunately, he can't write about his job, since he is/was engaged in a dispute with his former employer about who owns how much of those experiences.
Instead, in the pages in between, Grant tells us about being a loser who wants to score but can't in high school, then about being a loser who wants to score but can't in college. Then he meets an American girl, who sees through his loser ways to someone worth shagging. (I honestly don't know how. She may have been delusional.) He follows her home. He discovers that many American girls find accents cute and loses interest in the original one. There are visa issues, but a distinct lack of interesting hijinks.
Grant then becomes a loser who can occasionally score and works at Nerve. From what I've been told, his column was interesting.
From what I read in his memoir, Grant is a self-obsessed loser. His total focus on how much of a loser he is/was eventually caused me to believe it wholly, and he never redeems himself in anyway. By the end of the book, I could care less about him. May I recommend Candy Girl instead?...more
I wanted to like this book. And I did learn biographical information about Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict, and a great deal of historical informationI wanted to like this book. And I did learn biographical information about Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict, and a great deal of historical information about America in the early twentieth century, particularly between the world wars. Unfortunately, the sexual relationship between the two alluded to on the cover is not well supported in the text - the primary supporting source is a poem, Banner's interpretation of which left me scratching my head. Mead and Benedict's other romantic entanglements, however, are more clearly presented - both queer and straight.
It is also a slow read, quite dense with detail. During the month I was actively reading it, I sometimes refered to it as The Book That's Trying to Kill Me, because its endurance was clearly greater than my own. Honestly, I probably would have liked it more had I not been woefully misled by cover copy....more
Bisexuality in literature, history, boarding schools, psychology, biology... This book makes the invisible and marginialized visible. Every chapter adBisexuality in literature, history, boarding schools, psychology, biology... This book makes the invisible and marginialized visible. Every chapter added more to my list of books I need to read (and I've even gotten around to a few of them). It's definitely one I mean to re-read; I suffered informational overload the first time through....more