Oh my god, I love this book!! I love histories of women that make me freak out, and this one does that. This gives me goose bumpOH MY GOD!
oh my god.
Oh my god, I love this book!! I love histories of women that make me freak out, and this one does that. This gives me goose bumps. The descriptions of the conflict these women felt between wanting to be good girls and realizing that being a good girl means becoming a shell and disappearing are so beautiful and told so well. Povich is brilliant, and it’s clear that she has so much compassion and understanding for women who reacted very differently to the discrimination they all felt.
And look at that cover! That cover alone makes me freak out. AAAAAAAAAHHHHH. I am reduced to inarticulate babbling because of my love for this book. I love you, book! I love you and miss you! Don’t be over, book! I neeeeeed. I think this book is going to have to take out a stalking order against me.
Rather than only inarticulately freaking out, I will tell you something of what this book is about, I guess. It tells the story of the women who worked at Newsweek in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s filing class action lawsuits under the recently passed (1964) Civil Rights Act (Title VII). Mostly, though, it draws out all of this intense humanity from the internal and external conflict surrounding the women’s decision to sue and the reactions from the magazine.
It gets the sentiments from both sides so right, and it is compassionate, while still being direct. Povich starts the story with a few girls working at Newsweek in 2009 and waking up to the discrimination they were experiencing, and then it tracks back to the parallel story of the women in the ‘60s. You never want to hear a story like this told in a way that villainizes one group or another – the women or men or the advocates for racial equality, etc. – and this one so gracefully conveys nuance in the reactions from all sides. Oh my god, how is this story not well-known American folklore???
So, the women at Newsweek ultimately filed two class actions with the EEOC. Their attorneys, a pregnant Eleanor Holmes Norton, and, later, a pregnant Harriet Rabb, kicked negotiation ass. It is so painful to read men saying, “Well, we are trying to not be racist anymore. Isn’t that enough for you?” as though the main consideration of anti-discrimination efforts is to make white men better people. And it is painful to read women disappearing to accommodate society, but Povich tells both of those points of view smartly and compassionately. Of course, though, she includes Eleanor Holmes Norton responding to the men by saying, “The fact that you have two problems [race and sex discrimination] isn’t my concern.” And she also tells of the women she knew advocating for each other’s skills and abilities and truly creating a sense of sisterhood and comradery, once they dropped their mutual suspicion, that is true to my experience of women working together.
Povich is also really interesting about the interplay of race and gender for the black women working at Newsweek. Ultimately, the entire group of black women opted out of the class action because of the tension between advocacy for racial equality and gender equality. As I understand it, there has always been that pressure on black women to be loyal to race above gender, as though they are mutually exclusive. And the sense that white women are complaining about a gilded cage, while the black women experienced a dank, rat-infested torture chamber, overwhelmed any sense of identification with the white women who first thought of the lawsuit. Povich, also, though, very articulately describes Eleanor Holmes Norton’s take on race and gender advocacy, and that was absolutely brilliant to read. Oh my god, read this book.
When I first started law school, I was really surprised by a few of my women professors who were very competitive with women students in my class. I had just come from a male-dominated law firm in which women were relegated to a secretary ghetto, but most of the women in that ghetto were very supportive of each other. The more I thought about it, though, the more the competitiveness made sense to me. These women, becoming professionals in the ‘60s and ‘70s, fought tooth and nail to be where they are today. One of the professors who has been most competitive with me tells this story of how she was first in her class at law school, editor in chief of the law review, got the highest score on her bar exam, and she couldn’t find a job after she graduated because she is a woman. Women are not welcome in society. So disgusting. So, it totally makes sense to me that when society sets it up that there is room for one token woman in a company, you would turn against other women. And it is impossible for me to feel angry at a woman who experienced that kind of discrimination and successfully retained a professional status. That is incredible, and even if it has, at times, resulted in a bad experience for me, it is the discrimination, not the women, that I blame.
Every time I talk to a woman, I hear stories like those in this book. Every woman has these stories, and they are incredible. I love them. I do not, of course, love the way discrimination dehumanizes women, but I do love when it turns us into warriors and when it makes us think of the women who will come after us and hope for a better life for them.
Thank you! Thank you, Lynn Povich, for writing this book! Thank you, women, for living bold lives. Thank you for being good girls, but thank you, also, for giving up that idea for those of us who would come after you. It makes us more willing to give that idea up, too, and stop lying to ourselves about who we are and what we want. Seeing you advocate for yourselves and each other makes me feel like, I, too, can be a real human with a life and a passion. Oh, gush gush. Read this freaking book, women, if you want to hear stories of people like you! Read this freaking book, men, if you want to know about women. People, read this book!
____________ I got a copy of this book from netgalley....more
Well, I hate to be negative, but I think there might be some factual errors in this book. I don’t think a book that is about “World War 2” should failWell, I hate to be negative, but I think there might be some factual errors in this book. I don’t think a book that is about “World War 2” should fail to talk about the Great Depression in America because that is what readers can really relate to. I also thought it was incorrect to say that they found a spirit bridge without having to answer the three questions of the spirit bridge keeper, the Holy Ghost. I’m not saying the author, whom I believe to be a communist and possibly from Iran, like Barack Obama, needs to apologize to me about this because I haven’t written a bestseller, so who am I to talk? I am just saying that he should probably self-deport himself instead of taking hard-earned taxpayer dollars that I built to publish this spiritual self-help book. Other than the un-American parts of this book, I liked the more accurate parts, so I will tell you about them and hopefully you will love my “review.” LOL.
I like how there was a lot of good advice in here about how a woman can use her womanly powers to please men. I know that a lot of smart, sassy ladies wear their heels during sex, like the woman scientist in this story does, because, you know, it enhances the curvature of our calves and also because Jesus wants us to. The Eldridges describe the story of Ruth from this book called the “Bible” to tell us about that kind of thing. I’m just going to quote from the original work because it reminds me so much of the deeper spiritual message of Winged Leviathan.
Ruth, as you’ll remember, is the daughter-in-law of a woman from Judah named Naomi. Both women have lost their husbands and are in a pretty bad way; they have no man looking out for them, their financial status is below the poverty line, and they are vulnerable in many other ways as well. Things begin to look up when Ruth catches the eye of a wealthy single man named Boaz. Boaz is a good man, this we know. He offers her some protection and some food. But, Boaz is not giving Ruth what she really needs – a ring.
So what does Ruth do? She ‘inspires’ him. She arouses him to be a man. Here’s the scene: The men have been working dawn till dusk to bring the barley harvest; they’ve just finished and now it’s party time. Ruth takes a bubble bath and puts on a knockout dress; then she waits for the right moment. . . .
No, I do not think Ruth and Boaz had sex that night; I do not think anything inappropriate happened at all. But this is no fellowship potluck, either. . . . A woman is at her best when she is being a woman. Boaz needs a little help getting going and Ruth has some options. . . . She can badger him . . . [, s]he can whine about it . . . [, s]he can emasculate him . . . [, o]r she can use all she is as a woman to get him to use all he’s got as a man. She can arouse, inspire, energize . . . Ask your man what he’d prefer.
I am quoting Stasi Eldridge’s book of quotes from John Eldridge because this book has a lot of the same values as that, LOL. And, it is proper for a woman to quote a man about spiritual self-help. Some “feminists” (LOL, I mean “man-haters”) might say that the story of Ruth is not about that at all, but that it is about two women survivors protecting each other in a world that hates them. But, feminists are probably going to hell, LOL. They also probably think people care about ovaries or something. And also I heard that they want to kill babies. So, you should love babies and buy American.
The other thing I liked in this book was the funny jokes about duct tape. And I liked how the main character had problems with his dad, but they got to work them out through a spiritual journey. I also liked the funny jokes about the Leviathan’s butt and how the soldiers didn’t listen to the monks at the castle because they were probably atheists, LOL and prayers for them!
I didn’t like how there weren’t enough characters who turned out to be alive after we thought they were dead, but maybe they will be alive in the next book in this series. And how the main guy didn’t get married because he really needs one woman to arouse him. Amen....more
I do not love being in the desert, but I think I do love reading about other people being in the desert. Is that schadenfreude? I guess I kind of likeI do not love being in the desert, but I think I do love reading about other people being in the desert. Is that schadenfreude? I guess I kind of like reading anyone who really has the feel of a setting, and I think Nancy Farmer has that here. This was desolate and full of desert flowers, and just enough mystery and elusive environmental contamination to set the scene for a lovely dystopian world. This was a wonderful, scary, heartwarming, chilling, inspiring story.
While I was reading this, I kept wondering if maybe I was experiencing some of the pleasure other people get from Wither. Like Wither, this one had that genetic-manipulation future, with redesigned geography, and some gadgets, but still a mostly familiar setting. But, this one wasn’t stupid; it was really smart and amazing. It questions science, religion, politics, the nature of friendship, the nature of power.
This book follows the main character, Matt, a clone, through his childhood, as he experiences isolation, torture, rejection, lavish gifts and education, friendship, mentoring, and daring adventures. A lot of books feel like the author thinks her audience is an idiot, so she slooooows the character’s perception of the world down and throws in neon arrows with every reveal. This didn’t feel like that, and it was refreshing to read. Matt was smart, and he caught on to what went on around him quickly, or if he didn’t, it was because he was purposefully, and justifiably ignoring it for emotional preservation. Even if he wouldn’t acknowledge what was happening, Farmer still expected the reader to be in the know. And we were. Most of the time.
Although I have to admit that a couple of times I was like, Wait WHAT??? Ohhhhhh!!!! But, that only made it more fun.
I only have two complaints, having to do with the reductionist political messages I think are here in two places. First, there is a part where the eeeeeevil drug lord, El Patron, (view spoiler)[takes the brains of clone babies and Science inserts them into his brain to help him live longer (hide spoiler)]. That felt like a cheap dig at stem-cell research, to me. The book doesn’t dwell on it or make it a big point, but I feel like that is a complex issue, and it was a simplistic way to address it.
My second complaint is somewhat similar. Many people have complained that the last section of the book feels like an odd tack-on to the rest of the story. I agree to some extent, and I think it could have just as easily been its own book and worked better (like, if House of the Scorpion ended at Tam Lin taking Matt out, and the next book started with him at the oasis). But, I don’t really have a problem with it because, even though it was slower, I still really enjoyed it and all of the characters and the friendships with the boys. The thing I didn’t care for was the reductionist eeeeeevil of the socialist Keepers. That seemed a little easy and silly.
With both of those complaints, I feel like the topics are serious enough that they deserve a more complex characterization. Like, if you characterize your enemy as a moron, doesn’t that in some way reduce you to your enemy’s level and make you a moron, too, just for arguing with a moron? But, especially with new scientific and political problems, I think it benefits both sides of an argument to see the value, or at least the complexity, in an issue.
Anyway, those things didn’t really bother me that much, they were just minor issues. Overall, the story and characters were just wonderful. Cecelia and her bedtime stories, Tam Lin’s spelling, Maria’s Saint Francis, Chacho’s sympathy, Ton-ton’s slow reasoning. I loved them all. This was a really brilliant story. Straight, edge-of-my-seat fun. ________________________ I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for nothing.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This made me think of everything. Every single sweet and sad thing that ever happened. Still, it stayed its own, and I loved these kids like crazy. SoThis made me think of everything. Every single sweet and sad thing that ever happened. Still, it stayed its own, and I loved these kids like crazy. So stupid. This stupid book made me cry from the Donkey Waltz all the way till the end. But, it wasn’t a mean book that was setting out just to make me cry – it wasn’t about that at all. It was about how when you are in ninth grade, you see everything sad, and it is probably your fault, or you don’t see any of the sad things, and later, when you realize your blindness, it kills you. It was about how you are wrong, even when you were probably right. I love these sweet kids.
Anything I say sounds so dumb, and I just picture Dinah and Skint reading it, like overhearing your mom tell a neighbor you’re just going through a phase. No dudes, it’s not a phase. Things are just fucked up and it is your fault sometimes, or it is not your fault, but it still is your responsibility, other times. And sometimes none of it is your fault or your responsibility, and that is the worst.
I have this little notebook I started keeping in college, and at the front of it, I wrote, “Things to Remember,” and then I wrote a list of life lessons underneath. I’ll write something there when I think it’s important, though, admittedly, some of them seem dumb now, and some of them are so vague that I actually don’t know what they mean. But, one of the first ones I wrote was “Elizabeth Vogler,” so that I would remember the part in Persona when Elizabeth Vogler watches the monks light themselves on fire. This book made me think of Elizabeth Vogler watching the monks burn. It made me think of Giulietta Masina in La Strada, of Holden Caulfield waking up to loneliness. It made me think of watching my own parents and grandparents die. It made me think of being a kid and never knowing what it was that I did wrong, but always knowing it was something.
I get so hollowed out and cold when I see stories that use rape and death and violence against powerless people to further shallow plotlines about some idiot getting a girlfriend or a simplistic moral lesson about “Doesn’t that suck for me when other people get raped and killed?” This was the opposite of that. This was perfect. It was funny where it should have been funny. I might even say it was hilarious at some parts. It was crushing where life is crushing. It was interstitially crushing in the unspoken and unrecognized. It was ironically crushing in the things that Dinah didn’t see. It was perfect. It made me laugh and then cry, and then laugh and cry at the same time and generally lose control of emotional reaction. Ultimate FoE, but it was both fantastic and excruciating all at once.
I don’t think it is a good idea for everyone to read this book any time, all the time, because there are some trigger issues – the death of a beloved grandma before the book begins, child and elder abuse and neglect. It is all done so delicately, beautifully, respectfully, that I love it all, but those are not issues everyone needs to see at all times in their life, so judge for yourselves about where you are. If it won’t feel too hurtful to you in opening old wounds, it is so beautiful and so worth it.
I am going to do punching at assholes who say this beautiful, beautiful voice should have sounded less unique and more like, I don’t know, the Wall Street Journal, or something. I am going to do Mockingjay-style punching. Dinah and Skint remind me of everybody beautiful, and they also remind me of ninth-grade me. But, they are themselves, too, and so full and vivid as characters that I know I will come back to them like friends tucked into the beautiful, warm coat of this book. I love this stupid beautiful book. Thank you for writing it for me, N. Griffin. Better than a parcel of treats.
___________________________ I received an ARC of this book from a friend at a bookstore, and I did not exchange anything for it....more
This was the most gorgeous audio book I’ve listened to yet. I am wavering a little in saying that because it is up against Flo Gibson’s reading of WutThis was the most gorgeous audio book I’ve listened to yet. I am wavering a little in saying that because it is up against Flo Gibson’s reading of Wuthering Heights, Mia Farrow’s reading of What Falls Away, and Stephen Fry’s reading of The Hitchhiker s Guide to the Galaxy. But, this audio was outstanding. Let’s not compare them all to each other because they are all outrageously excellent, and I don’t want them to fight. But, oh, this book. So beautiful. So, so beautiful. Listen to the audio of this book.
I had pretty low expectations for this if we’re honest. Shiver was abysmally boring, and I listened to that on audio as well. Not even good readers could make up for how lame that was. But, you could tell Stiefvater could write a sentence from that one, so I decided to give her another chance, and, boy, am I glad I did. My only complaint is that, errrg, at the end of the audio is this recording of Stiefvater telling you her life’s story as it relates to the book, and apparently she wrote the awkward folk music that plays at the beginning and end of the story. . . . Stick to the sentences, Stiefvater! I tried to decide if those things ruined the audio at all, and even though they left a bad taste in my mouth, I decided they did not. Because this audio was absolutely beautiful.
This is one of those stories that has the Firefly curse, where you can’t describe what it’s about. Cowboys + space? No, thank you. But Firefly is the best show ever, amiright? This has similar issues. It is a retelling of traditional fairy tales about evil fairy horses from the sea. But, Stiefvater makes it her own in this painfully beautiful way.
[inarticulate noises of excitement!!!] This is the story of this wonderful orphan girl and her beautiful horse. It is the story of this wonderful orphan boy and his beautiful, evil fairy waterhorse. And both of them have to run this horrible race, the Scorpio Race, in order to earn their freedom from various entanglements. It all takes place on the island of Thisbe, which, how pretty is that? Oh, but it is about so much more. It is about grief, and what a battle life is. It is about loyalty and bloodlust. Every part of this book is beautiful (except the aforementioned awkward moments that really have nothing to do with the book.)
In the awkward author’s recording at the end, she mentioned that how there is so little making out in this book compared to the Shiver series (thank god!), and she said that because of the island she was writing, she realized this would be more of an Elizabeth Bennett/Mr. Darcy love story than a Shiver love story. And YES! That is what it is. These beautiful kids have that strength of Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy. They develop that slow, lovely understanding.
The central conflict here is whether Puck Connelly (our girl) can ride in the races traditionally reserved for men on waterhorses. And there is so much that is unstated there but painfully and articulately drawn, like it was drawn out of someone’s vein, in the association of Puck and her horse, Dove, as feminine, and the contrasting association of Sean Kendrick (our boy), and his waterhorse, Corr, as masculine. Puck and Dove live peacefully away from the sea and are somehow domestic, but not in a trapped way, in a warm way like tea and apple cake. Shawn and Corr are wild, like the ocean and magic. There is just something old-school feminine and masculine about those images, but not stuck and ugly. And Puck suffers all of the ridicule and violence of a girl running in a traditionally man’s race. And it is just beautiful. I hate even to say that, but there is something cathartic in this book about the violence of life and the way men and women experience that, and I love it.
Also, there is this rad, American character, and his last name is Holly, and holly berries are a magical tool to calm the waterhorses! Eeeep! (disclosure: Holley is my last name.)
I am appalled at how fewer people have read this than Shiver, even though I was one of them until now. I loved almost every second of this book, the sentences were so achingly beautiful, and I want you to listen to it if you are cool. ...more
If a reading experience could turn you into a butterfly, that would be the magic in this book. And would any of us be surprised by Proust having thatIf a reading experience could turn you into a butterfly, that would be the magic in this book. And would any of us be surprised by Proust having that kind of conjuring power, the wizardry to misremember us into flying, floating little bugs? No. There is surely magic in these pages, in its remembering and misremembering, in shaping and re-shaping: magic to move beauty marks all around faces, to remember dresses into petals and monocles to wings. In the end, Proust remembers us all into flowers and butterflies lounging in the shade near water, wrapped up and mummified by the golden sun of his memory.
These memories are my own, too, of friendships with boys and girls. They are the magic of wondering about and judging people before knowing them, finding out you are were wrong, and then, maybe, learning you were actually right. They are memories of the vulnerability of imagining another person’s life and then becoming a part of that imagined world. This book is the birds and the bees, only here, it is the butterflies and the flowers. It is more delicate, and it is about the show of courtship among all people (friends, family, lovers, etc.), not the mechanics of sex.
My friend who reminds me so much of Proust keeps including in his emails to me lately the qualifier, “I am telling you that to make myself ridiculous so you will laugh. Are you laughing?” We were talking about that, and he said, “That’s why Rosamond and I still talk. I make fun of myself, and she laughs. It is a pretty simple relationship. I can say just about anything to Rosamond to make her laugh. And I think I make cheap insults of myself that might kinda hurt, but I’d rather see someone laugh, cause then maybe I can be happy later.” I think that is a nice sentiment, which is brave in a certain way, and also rather specific. And with Proust, I do laugh. I laugh at his purposeful avoidance of Gilberte that he so deliberately expresses by hanging out at Gilberte’s house with her mom. I laugh at his falling in love with the big girl on the train, his love affair with Saint Loup, his social anxiety over procedures at the Grand Hotel. I laugh at his passage about throwing himself in front of a bullet out of the selfish wish to prove he would throw himself in front of a bullet. He is very funny.
When I am laughing at those things, it is partly because of their simple ridiculousness, but also because it is a ridiculousness I see in myself. Ludicrous daydreams and misunderstanding social cues. And even though there is a lot that is gendered in here, at the same time, I think at its base, it is more about difference, and not so rigidly gendered. Part II is a boy wondering about a group of girls, but it could just as easily be me wondering about boys. The details might be different, but the wondering is similar, I think. When Marcel imagines who Saint-Loup will be to him, he knows the answer; but, when he encounters the girls, it is all confusion and misunderstandings. And the divide of gender, whether created by nature or nurture, is so ridiculous like that. Does she want to kiss me or laugh at me? Does he want to hold my hand or beat me up? We must consult our research guides and use magnifying glasses to seek the answer. And most of us, like Marcel, are very ridiculous in the process.
I don’t think this book is so much about, “wimmin folks ain’t like men folks.” I think it is, rather, about how awkward we are in bridging those differences. I want to say, “how awkward we are in adolescence,” but I am still awkward in that, and no longer adolescent, so it still applies at least to me. With Marcel, though, it is so pretty how much he loves all of these people, how generous he is to them, while still making fun of his own self-interest.
And the stories about why, above all else, you must not be gay are such kicks in the gut and so knifingly told.
Like I say, I think there is a certain bravery mixed with the odd self-interest in Proust making himself ridiculous and vulnerable in the way he does in these books. Maybe I am wrong about this, but it seems like there is a tendency in the Proust readership to think that somehow reflects well, or reflects at all, on the reader. I kind of don’t get that. It seems to me like when someone makes himself ridiculous or vulnerable for our entertainment, a reader can react with a myriad of feelings, among which are, of course, sympathy; alienation; eye-rolling; distancing laughter; or self-importance, as though Proust’s vulnerability, artistry, and ridiculousness says something about our merits. As if our identification with him says something about us, rather than everything about him. We all react according to our own experiences, but I have been very surprised at how dissimilar my feeling about these books is to how I anticipated feeling.
Maybe part of this book’s magic is in being a different shady, watery place with different flowers and butterflies for every reader....more
I’m at a loss. I honestly don’t know what to tell you all, but this book was . . . good. It was like, good, you know? Like, when you are reading a booI’m at a loss. I honestly don’t know what to tell you all, but this book was . . . good. It was like, good, you know? Like, when you are reading a book that is mostly about girls looking for penises, but you want to know what happens next? And you don’t even want to throw it across the room a little bit? And then unexpectedly hilarious slapstick comedy ensues, but doesn’t lead to the most boring Scooby Do mystery resolution ever? No? You’ve never had that experience? Me either. It was disorienting. And I’m at a loss as to how to rate this. I mean, I have to give it five stars because I Laughed Out Loud at almost every page, and even though most of the laughter was in a WHAAAAT??? way, I don’t even really think that was unintentional. It was funny. I am going to have to watch Jersey Shore. You are here for a show-changing moment in my life.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, I’m going to spoiler one of the storylines. Let’s be serious though, once the characters come on stage, pretty early on in the story, you basically know how this storyline is going to go. So, one of the main characters, a kickass aerobics instructor, who took karate all her life, is named Bella Rizzoli. This creepy, asshole, voyeur Abercrombie guy latches onto her and his name is Edward Caldwell. . . . right??? RIGHT???
Yeah, so she kicks his ass in a pretty hilarious (and elaborate) way.
Mostly this book is about a coupla girls hittin’ the beach for the summer looking for some juicy guido gorilla juiceheads. It seems like simple quest, but it turns out life is never that simple. These girls have to work and work out issues with their families and kick the asses of people who have self-loathing body issues.
It’s my impression that people’s problem with reality TV, aside from the troubling voyeuristic aspect of it, is the shallowness of the people who make fools of themselves for our entertainment. That’s fair in some ways. And this book plays to a lot of that shallowness. There is a lot of funny stuff about tanning and shoes and fake eyelashes and cleavage. But, ultimately, I feel like it is a more complex issue than shallowness = bad. I am about to mount an obvious feminist soapbox, so be on alert.
I know we’ve talked about this before, but I have a problem with the idea that the accoutrements of femininity are shallow, while the accoutrements of masculinity are respectable. I think that interest in makeup trivia and interest in sports team trivia is not different, whether the person having the interest is male or female. Maybe it is shallow in the sense that it will not solve world hunger, but very few of the things any of us do every day solve world hunger. And sometimes world hunger needs a break, and we need to chill out and be okay with talking about dumb things we are interested in. So, my point is that even though there is a striking focus on pink fuzzy slippers in this book, that is something that I really like about the book, not something that makes the book itself shallow. Pink fuzzy slippers, cleavage, and four layers of fake eyelashes are a style decision, not a soul-changing decision. You could hate it, and I don’t have a problem with that, because WOW, but it seems unexpectedly shallow to make a judgment about another person’s shallowness based on their eyelashes and slippers.
Anyway, this book addresses both female and male body image, family dynamics, date rape, acceptance and rejection of personal weaknesses, and navigating the different expectations for women and men when it comes to career choices. And, seriously, it does it in this really respectable way. Of course, these girls are not wearing monocles and smoking jackets and explaining tautologies, nor are they having tautologies explained to them. They are mostly partying, scoping out guido gorilla juiceheads, and kicking ass. They are passing the Bechtel test. They are talking like girls talk and being friends to each other. I don’t know if this book went through a genius editing process, or what, but if I saw a high school girl reading this, I would be happy. The writing is not complex. It is more like reading a blog of silly quotes from teenagers, but let's be honest: I would read that kind of blog. It is sparkly, but addresses important issues without apology, equivocation, or lectures. It entertains, and ultimately has some really positive, thoughtful messages. I can’t think of what else I look for in a book.
This book was given to me by the publisher, and while I did promise to review it, I think we can all honestly say we thought I would rip it to shreds. Unexpected bonus for all. ...more
My mother died the day before my first law school final. Hope Edelman says, in this book, that partway through college she had a weird urge to walk upMy mother died the day before my first law school final. Hope Edelman says, in this book, that partway through college she had a weird urge to walk up to strangers and tell them, “My mother died when I was seventeen,” because she recognized that this fact about herself, this fact that alienated her from the people around her, had become totally definitive about who she was. A girl can’t tell people that her mother died because it brings only fear and pity, it doesn’t solve anything to talk about it. But, at the same time, no one knows you without knowing that you don’t, that you didn’t, have a mother. For the past few months I have had this weird compulsion, too, to walk up to people and just say, “My mother died the day before my first law school final.”
But, what do I mean by that? It sounds like I want to be pathetic or impressive, and I don’t mean either of those things. It sounds like I conquered life that day, or like I lost all hope of being a woman. It is ambivalent and loaded. I know that even talking about reading and reviewing a book that is “self-help,” even if it is about grieving, is loaded, too. It has a pastel cover and a sentimental name, but I kind of appreciate that about the book. It looks like only the fierce of heart, those who can handle reading sentiment without shame, should attempt this book, and I think that’s good. I think I benefited from waiting to read it until I felt like I could really listen to a sentimentally titled book without sneering.
At the same time, I don’t think emotions mature themselves, so I always remind myself that I’m probably not going to get very far sitting back and waiting for mine to suddenly do so. It would be like waiting for myself to spontaneously become a stellar lawyer without ever actually going to law school or reading any books about law. Or, it would be like waiting for myself to spontaneously become a marathon runner. Not all self-help books have anything worthwhile about emotional growth to say, but neither do all legal scholars have anything worthwhile to say about the law or all personal trainers about marathons. I don’t think the gaining-skills-by-doing-nothing strategy works with almost anything, so I’m pretty enthusiastic about smart books about emotions and spirituality. I’m pretty enthusiastic about counseling, too – it’s like getting a massage for the soul.
I’m being really long winded about saying that, while I don’t think every time is the right time to read this book, I do think probably everyone would benefit from reading this book at some point. I wish I had been prepared to read it sooner. The book is directed to women, obviously, but Edelman makes the point that we, women or men, mourn rejection (in whatever form, whether death or emotional or physical abandonment) from our same-sex parent differently than we mourn rejection from our opposite-sex parent, and the book is mostly about that. Even if you have not experienced rejection from a same-sex parent, I think it would still give you perspective on what you gain from that parent that you might not even be aware of. It also might give you perspective on why (at least some of us) women who have lost our mothers act the way we do when we have not known how to mourn.
The book is arguably as sentimental as its title, even just because it is about death and emotions, but it is so smart. Edelman surveys over a hundred women who lost their mothers at various ages, and she tells their stories in an organized, clear layout. She also talks about many famous women, including Virginia Woolf, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Madonna, and how they have reacted to the deaths of their mothers. In addition to hearing and recounting all of these stories, Edelman obviously did some pretty serious research into other studies about women and grief, and about family relationships in general.
For me, much of this book was practically a miracle. If you don’t mind my spoiling what the biggest revelation of the book was for me, I will tell you about it right now. I will not say it as clearly as Edelman, though, so you should still get her take on it, and it’s probably only a small part of the book, even though it was life changing to me. It is that when a mother rejects a daughter, whether she does it intentionally or unintentionally, such as through illness and death, the daughter starts to look for the mother relationship in all of her relationships. One woman in the book described it as a “cocoon,” another described it as “that family feeling,” which is something I have said, at least in my head, a lot. The daughter starts to think that any successful relationship ultimately has that particular form of intimacy – that the intimacy from a mother is successful intimacy.
I literally thought this. I had no idea that, ultimately, all intimacy, all sense of family, isn’t necessarily that feeling of a little daughter with her mother. I had always thought that because my relationships, whether friendships or romances, are not like that, it was like “people, iz doin it rong,” and that once I figured out how to do it right, my relationships would feel like that. I have been jealous of my friends, men or women, who have families (read: friends who have mothers) and their ability to do relationships right, shown just by the fact that they have a mother. And this intensity has created a completely unfair expectation for all of my relationships because then every time I experience rejection, it is the loss of my mom, the loss of my family, all over again. It means that friends living their own lives, not focused on me one hundred percent of the time, translated to rejection, and not just rejection, but also the death of my relationship with my mother all over again. It was basically a miracle to hear that I could treat the loss of that nurturing, cocoon relationship, that mother-child relationship, as a total loss, and not let that loss pile on to every other lost relationship I ever have. It sounds weird, but it is a relief to know it is not failure that no friend ever turns out to be my mom.
*facepalm* I totally love this book.
So, that concludes the review portion of your time, and the rest of this shall be a story with no real reviewing purposes in mind. It is more my experience of being a motherless daughter than a critique of the book. Even though my personal story, like anyone's personal story, is not the same as most other people's, it was really incredible to hear how similar my reaction to losing my mother is to the reactions of other women who lost theirs.
My mom died of Lou Gehrig’s disease, but as far as I am concerned, I lost my mom about twenty years before she actually died. I was six when my family first started listening to meditation tapes from the Foundation of Human Understanding, and when I was eight, we moved to Selma, Oregon, to join what we would later refer to as “The Cult.” Really, most of the diets or clubs or churches my parents joined ended up taking on a cultish quality once my parents got mixed up with them. First, that diet/club/church was the only thing that could save us from certain doom; later, it was evil. The Foundation is basically a Judeo-Christian group that teaches men how to stand up to the domineering women around them. It teaches them how to take the world back from the invidious control of women, and it teaches women how to overcome their natural tendencies toward evil (ya know, Eve, and all that).
This is my recollection of The Cult. If you look on the website, it mostly looks like stuff you’d get out of The Secret, but if you read through the call show questions, there is some stuff about bullying women that is more what I remember. I can’t find it now, but there was this cartoon in their magazine once, which to me symbolized the teachings. The first panel was a tiny woman and a big, strong man. As the panels (maybe six or eight panels) went along, the woman got bigger and stronger, and the man got smaller, until, at the end it was a huge, ugly woman sitting next to a coffin. Anyway, my mom and dad realized that my mom was the source of all evil in our family, and that if my brother and I were to grow up right, we would have to overcome the feminine influences in our lives.
My mom wasn’t allowed to touch us any more around the time that I turned seven. My brother had been nursing, and my mom cut him off from nursing without any weaning process. If I ran to my parents’ room because I had a nightmare, my mom had to put a pillow between herself and me so that she wouldn’t transmit her evil. I was a daddy’s little girl, so I understood that as long as I stayed that way, didn’t touch my mom, married young (it was understood that this would probably be to the cult leader’s grandson), and devoted my life to my children, I would avoid the pit of feminine evil to which I was otherwise susceptible. Years later, when a friend of mine went home early from a sleepover weekend because, she said, my parents never hugged us, my parents realized that still none of us touched each other ever, but it is difficult to change habits.
I am extra-sensitive to anti-feminist propaganda, I know, because of this upbringing. My mom continued to believe for the rest of her life that it was her job to repress any part of her personality that might conflict with my dad, the head of our household. But, I continued to look to my mom for the relationship I had with her when I was very young. I always hoped she would wake up and come back to me, until I realized a few years before she died, during her eight-year-long dying process, that she never would. I set some boundaries about what I could contribute to our relationship, and because my mom couldn’t contribute anything, we lost the façade that our relationship had been. At that time, a friend reprimanded me, saying that she cherished that special mother-child bond with her own kids, and I would regret not maintaining that before my mom died. I thought a lot about that later, and my inability to maintain that connection with my mom haunted me, even though I can’t say I regretted setting the boundaries I did.
From the time I was little and my mom emotionally vacated the family, I got so used to looking for that relationship from her that I also started looking to everyone for it. I thought it was intimacy. Motherless Daughters talks about how people often call motherless women “adoptable,” and this has been true for me. Many families have adopted me, and I love all of them, but I have always thought that I haven’t been able to re-create that specific form of intimacy because of my own emptiness and awkwardness. I knew I loved these people, but I thought it was not the right kind of connection. And, then, when they had to do normal things for their normal lives, which I completely want them to do, it was a betrayal to me that was its own, plus the loss of my mom. When friends would move away, or start a new relationship and get busy, it was a betrayal with emotional intensity far beyond what I actually expected from the relationship. This was true for both friends and romances, both women and men in my life.
So, I’m not totally sure how this mourning thing works, but Edelman says that for her it is like a companion – not in a morbid sense, but in the sense that she continues to be without her mother. I think it’s reassuring to know that when I feel disproportionately intense about some kind of failure or rejection, it could be part of mourning: I could need to step back and re-adjust myself to the losses I’ve had so they don’t get confused with the relationships I am having. I could need to recognize that not every action a dear friend takes for him or herself is a sign that I am a burden to that person and they secretly wish they could reject me. I’m not sure why, but recognizing this about my relationship with my mom makes it easier to accept that people I really care about could care about me, too, even if they are not devastated when I am gone, and that when life pulls us apart, they could feel the loss of me as I feel the loss of them. Each new love does not have to be the sum of all previous loves and rejections. No new love is what I lost from my mother....more
I’m one of those annoying people who, when someone else waxes nostalgic about a previous decade or century, is always like, “sexist, racist, no hot ruI’m one of those annoying people who, when someone else waxes nostalgic about a previous decade or century, is always like, “sexist, racist, no hot running water, cobble stones are annoying, smelly, wild animals, Hitler, and no zippers.” I dig simplicity, but that’s pretty much in the eye of the beholder, you know? For example, I could run around town, trying to find somebody who wanted to listen to my opinion about this book, or I could just post it on the internet, and see if anyone cares. The latter option seems much more simple to me. When people say they’re abandoning technology to simplify, I feel suspicious. I do not think life is simpler without technology. But, maybe they are not trying to be fashionably retro-counter-culture, and they just mean that they love enough people who they see in person that it is overwhelming to look beyond that. That seems nice.
Anyway, this book is a beautiful story that illustrates what I think about the “simple life” not being all it’s cracked up to be. It starts out like a funny, silly chapter-book experience. Like, Oh no! They fell in a river! Mamma, what are cow pies?! That kind of thing. Then, it goes pretty seriously into . . . well, life. It goes into how people suck and growing up sucks. It doesn’t do that in a whiny way, but it does do it in a somewhat adult way. The kids buy a dead man’s hand. There is swindling and rejection and murrrderrr. This is such a good book.
I think Holm does an excellent job at maintaining the Voice of May Amelia, while she obviously grows and changes. Her voice stays the same, but it grows with her. And it does that thing that old documents do, where they capitalize the first letter of words that seem Important. A friend of mine in law school always nerdily laugh about that. Like, whaaa, James Madison? Do you want us to notice the word Jurisdiction there? May Amelia does that, too. At first, it wasn’t my favorite, but it really grew on me.
I don’t know if I would have liked this when I was young. I think I would have. But, I like it now. It was a really simple, beautiful way to talk about being a girl in a world that doesn’t always love girls.
I received a free copy of this book from a book fairy. Thank you!!...more
In some ways, maybe, both love and destruction come to us, seek us out, and we are powerless to pursue or avoi (Painting of Swann, by David Richardson)
In some ways, maybe, both love and destruction come to us, seek us out, and we are powerless to pursue or avoid them. I tend to think that is not the case, but I am often wrong, and I am too willing to make grand pronouncements about life to be unwilling to be called wrong. Or, as my friend says of herself, I am never wrong because if I hear an idea that is better than mine, I change my mind to that idea, and then I am right again. Anyway, in Swann’s Way, Proust writes a museum of love and, the other side of love’s coin, abandonment, of comfort and loneliness. Every human relationship in this story is linked to some form of art, and I think the narrator gestures at this when he says,
If only Bergotte had described the place in one of his books, I should, no doubt, have longed to see and to know it, like so many things else of which a simulacrum had first found its way into my imagination. That kept things warm, made them live, gave them personality, and I sought then to find their counterpart in reality, but in this public garden there was nothing that attached itself to my dreams. (p. 565)
There is an inevitability to all of these art/human interactions, as though what is pre-written cannot be resisted.
I am going to talk in spoilers in this review, I think, but my own personal read of this story held most of it to be largely predictable, and purposely so. The beginning of the story is the end, and the end of the story is the very, very end, and all of the telling is wrapped up together. I don’t think I’m going to hide the spoilers, then, because the narrator tells you early on what becomes of M. Swann, and then he develops it carefully and delicately so that you know just how it should be told and how he has seen it unfold. It doesn’t seem to me that what I have to say will ruin any of it, but I like to come to books fresh, so I respect that, and if you feel the same, now is the time to exit.
Proust’s characters see life translated through books and paintings and music. In that way there is a sort of self-reflexivity in the story, but also something that feels resonant today. If we have seen it done before, if someone has recognized it before, we can do it ourselves. For example, the narrator’s Oedipal relationship with his parents comes to a peak (sorry) just before his mother’s censored bedtime read-a-loud of Francois le Champi. The narrator then develops a passion for the invented author Bergotte, and when the narrator learns that M. Swann is personal friends with Bergotte, he thereafter sees the Swann family through a Bergotte-colored monocle. He falls in adolescent love with them, the way he is in adolescent love with Bergotte.
Swann, likewise, uses art as a touchstone for life. Like men, or really both men and women, now, often justify a woman’s beauty, not by their own preferences, but instead through some expectation that Heidi Klum and Jessica Alba are the framework of beauty, Swann acknowledges a women’s beauty by association to painting. Swann’s kitchen-maid can be beautiful because she is Giotto’s Charity:
He finally reconciles himself to Odette’s beauty when he realizes she looks like Botticelli’s Zipporah from The Trials of Moses:
M. Swann’s very relationship with Odette becomes embodied in the little phrase from M. Vinteuil’s sonata. We ironically know from the story of Combray that M. Vinteuil died of heartbreak at least in part, presumably, because of his own “intense prudishness” and in reaction to his daughter’s lesbian tendencies – ironic, obviously, because M. Swann’s deepest disappointment with Odette is that she has ever been with a woman. Towards the end of Swann in Love, I kept picturing M. Swann's relationship with Odette as Love the Way You Lie. I wonder if the sonata sounded like that.
Swann handed over his preferences regarding beauty to painters like we hand over our preferences to movie producers and modeling agencies. M. Swann reconciled himself to owning Odette as a mistress while they both slept with other people, but if Odette slept with a woman, that was betrayal. Today, we can handle adultery, abuse, marital rape, and bride purchasing, but if gay people get married, that will undermine the institution. People never change.
Or maybe we change, but we change as individuals. This book made me love Proust. I think he captures all of this with the awe of adolescence and the cynicism of adulthood. I also love him because he reminds me so incredibly of one of my best friends from school. My friend, whom I am calling Marcel below because, you know, privacy, matches his polo shirts to his argyle socks every day. He is always on gchat, and some of us were planning to start a blog where we posted our gchats with him because we think they are so hilarious. Anyway, I am posting some of them below because I think they are how a modern day Proust would be. In our first year of law school, a lot of people thought that Marcel was a snob. But, I don’t think he is. Or, technically, he is, and his snobbishness might stand out more because of his money, but aren’t we all snobs about something? He is a snob about BMWs, and I am a snob about coffee and middlebrow literature. So, when people say Proust is a snob, I’ve started to feel a little defensive because, sure, but aren’t you? He is also sweet and witty and shy. And has more weird allergies than anyone you’ve ever met – or at least my friend does. Seriously, who is allergic to lettuce? But, now I am mixing up my Marcels. And, oh Marcels, why do you get so taken in by other people’s rules about beauty? If you think a girl is ugly, think she's ugly. And if you like her anyway, like her anyway! But, don't get so taken in by other people's ideas and expect them to be universal. But, ah, you do, and I love you anyway.
Some cattleyas for the bitches:
And the Marcel gchats (keep in mind that this person is like twelve years old):
Day 1: I'm including this one because it is probably Marcel's favorite, but I also really love it.
12:49 PM Marcel: our sea of whirly twirly lamps is a little too organized right now
12:50 PM me: i was thinking that too
12:51 PM Marcel: much better
1:17 PM Marcel: Rosamond wants me to be facebook friends with Octave and his girlfriend so she can creep on them that makes me uncomfortable
me: yeah, don't do it she will regret it later too
1:18 PM Marcel: i don't think i'm much of an enabler anyway i mean i wouldn't want that on my resume or anything
1:19 PM me: yeah, i hear firms look for "passive aggressive" before "enabler"
1:20 PM Marcel: i'll have to work on that then i'm not sure i'm good at being passive aggressive unlike some people...
Day 2: This is really more expressive of him as a person.
9:40 AM Marcel: this dude in front of me in admin law spends his time in class looking at assault weapons on his computer all class
9:42 AM me: whoa that is not good who is the dude?
Marcel: disturbing Albert something 2L
9:43 AM me: ohh, Albert Bloch?
Marcel: that sounds right
9:44 AM me: yeah, that guy is pretty weird. he dated mlle Lea all last year he's a big republican or, like, maybe just last spring
9:45 AM Marcel: crazies attract
9:46 AM me: so true
Marcel: i mean you should see the people i've attracted over the years i sadly mean that jokingly and seriously
9:47 AM me: same 9:48 AM literally, one guy who liked me went running through the streets of seattle naked because he made a deal with god that if he gave up everything, including his clothes, god would get these friends of his back together as a couple. He was a nice guy, though. 9:49 AM and, you know, that was a really good deal for god.
9:50 AM Marcel: you can't call someone crazy for believing in god joke i'm intentionally missing the point
9:51 AM me: bah dum tss
10:10 AM Marcel: i don't think i'm very comfortable with the expression that's how the sausage gets made
me: it's like "flesh it out" bad visual
10:23 AM Marcel: if norpois or cottard were in admin law i would actually skip this class but we still get bontemps so it's tempting to skip
10:25 AM me: who teaches that class?
10:26 AM Marcel: Mme. Verdurin i think i don't like her 10:27 AM but i'm not positive
me: huh, interesting i have never had a class with her, but she has always been nice to me
10:29 AM Marcel: i think she just annoys me in class and so far it has been unrelated to her red hair at least consciously
me: yeah, it is tough to separate that
Marcel: but maybe i've been seeing her red hair and just not liking her bc of that
me: definitely possible and not unreasonable
10:30 AM Marcel: i'm not sure where i picked up my default of strongly disliking redheads until i get to know them like gilberte and saint loup are great
me: true, but they might just be an exception to the rule
Marcel: fact 10:31 AM one of my business partners has red hair and i appreciate greatly when he wears a hat
me: "one of my business partners." please say more words about that.
Marcel: well one of six others 10:32 AM they're certainly not all redheads
10:33 AM me: "business partners." please say more words about that.
10:34 AM Marcel: Beta Cascade Ventures, LLC we're an investment company with focuses on philanthropy, education, and networking
10:38 AM me: huh 10:39 AM that is very 1% of you
10:40 AM Marcel: our logo is a sailboat
me: o m g
10:41 AM Marcel: i'll have to show you sometime...more
Proper British lawyers + orgies = win! I love these ladies like they were my legal sisters. My sisters-in-law, if you would. Bah dum tsss. Thank you fProper British lawyers + orgies = win! I love these ladies like they were my legal sisters. My sisters-in-law, if you would. Bah dum tsss. Thank you folks, I’m here all week. Anyway, they are so wonderful. Instead of hilarious Shakespeare jokes, like the first book had, this book has some impressive Homer references. I wouldn’t really say they’re Homer jokes, but it’s possible I’m missing some of the hilarity, not being the Homer scholar that I wish I was. It’s more like Homer wit. Like the first in the series, this is just a perfect book. No complaints that I can remember. Again, I can’t give it five stars, but this is a really, really, really high four stars.
You can read this one as a stand-alone. You will not know as much as you should about Julia’s clumsiness or passion for beautiful profiles, but I think you’d still be able to catch up. Likewise, you will not have a background in the particulars of the rest of this Scooby gang, but I’m sure you’d figure them out really quickly. The stories only build on each other slightly. And, if Homer’s more your man than Shakespeare, this one would be perfect for you!
Funny note about these books: the women lawyers are called by their first names and the men are called by their last names. I get this. We all have to call each other Mr. This or Ms. That in our first year in law school, so some people I still call by their last names. I wouldn’t say I tend to do this more with girls or guys, but I bet it was more natural, back in the dark ages of the 1980s, to call women by their first names because if they married, they would change last names. It is difficult to start calling someone a new name when you’re used to an old one.
Law is a difficult field for women, though, imo. I was talking to one of my women professors last week, and she told me that when she graduated, I believe in the 1970s, she was first in her class, editor of the law review, and passed the bar with the highest score, but she couldn’t get a job. That totally sucks. Even now, I think law is pretty entrenched in some insidious hierarchical ideas that the rest of society doesn’t necessarily buy into. So, there’s also the option that women were called by their first names as an unconscious disrespect. That would be sad. It’s not distracting in the book, though, because these ladies are seriously amazing. I really love them.
Seriously. A lot of people should read these books. Especially people on goodreads.com. These books are, like made for us. If there were LOL Cats in 1985, there would be LOL Cat references in these books, I’m pretty sure. Classical literature and comedy . . . AND! Even tragedy! And sweet political commentary, but in a funny way – not heavy handed. Come on, people! Why are you not reading these books more?! I know there aren’t faeries or vampires in them . . . but maybe there are!!! You don’t know! And there are hilarious stories that are mysterious, but have a point in the end. I am such a fangirl for Sarah Caudwell. If I’m ever a lawyer, I want to be just like her....more
I’m nearly caught up on all of the important law books I need to tell you about from this year. I’ve been saving this one because I love it so much, bI’m nearly caught up on all of the important law books I need to tell you about from this year. I’ve been saving this one because I love it so much, but now I’m in the summer. I’ve got my beach books, I’ve got my beer, and I’ve got my Bachelorette. I’m ready to tell you about constitutional law casebooks. It’s kind of like Jane Austen, where you have to give the ubiquitous hierarchy of favorites, so here it is:
Have I mentioned how lame the Sullivan/Gunther is? It’s really lame. The edits are the most mangled, choppy atrocities you’ve ever seen. They pulled out fingernails just because they didn’t like the nail polish. It’s the City of Bones of constitutional law.
This one, on the other hand, is like poetry. It’s beautiful. The edits are clean and powerful. I am glad I read the Braveman first because it has far fewer edits, so you have to work for the information you’re getting, but the Stone is like reading Hemingway on the Constitution. It’s lovely.
I read this one for the constitutional law class I was tutoring, and I loved every minute of it. Tutoring was fun, too, in the end. I don’t love teaching, but I love reading and debating constitutional law. The kids in my class are geniuses. About a third of them were political science majors in college, and they were all amazing. The guy I sat next to in the class looked like Marty McFly’s dad. Like, when you look at him, things turn black and white, and you transport into the 1950s. He wears a trench coat and a suit every day, and he carries a brief case, in which he has a tin where he keeps brownies that his mom made. And then he started bringing me coffee almost every class, so that was one reason it was awesome to be the tutor.
I’ve already told you tons about constitutional law, so I won’t go over it all again. Judicial review, separation of powers, federalism, commerce clause, the fourteenth amendment, etc. In this class, the professor, Dreamy McDreamerson, introduced § 5 of the fourteenth amendment before talking about due process, so that was confusing. Don’t do that.
And then there was the mistake about INS v. Chadha. That case is about the legislative veto. The legislative veto is where Congress passes a law that requires implementation by the executive branch, but then Congress gets to review the executive implementation. So, like, they said, in this case, that certain people have to be kicked out of the U.S. Then, the INS let this one guy stay. Then, the House of Representatives said, no, that’s not what we wanted, and decided to kick the guy out. Then, the Supreme Court said that the House of Representatives isn’t the boss of how the executive branch executes the law, and so the legislative veto is unconstitutional. But, Justice White pointed out that the decision is pretty wrong, and I agree. I won’t go into it now, but trust me. He’s not right about the whole thing, but he’s right.
Professor McDreamerson agreed with the Powell concurrence, though. That’s pretty legit. It’s a really well-reasoned concurrence. There’s this apocryphal story about it that I’ll tell you now, too. So, Justice Burger wrote the majority opinion (made me hungry every time we talked about it). And Justice Burger was totally pissed that Justice Powell didn’t sign on to the majority opinion and wrote his own concurrence instead. So, years later, Justice Powell was writing a pretty important opinion (I forget which one), and Justice Burger dissented from it. Justice Powell really wanted the whole court to agree, but he couldn’t get Justice Burger to sign on. After they issued the opinion, Justice Powell went to Justice Burger’s chambers and was talking to him. He asked if there was anything he could have done to persuade Justice Burger to sign on to the opinion.
Justice Burger said, “No, you were completely in the right. I agreed with you. I was just getting you back for the Chadha opinion.”
Or so they say.
Anyway, that’s not from the book. I just heard the story from an unnamed source this year and thought it was a good one. Oh, those silly Justices! I love ‘em. The lesson from all of this, though, is that if you read a constitutional law casebook on your own, in your spare time, read this one....more
Beautiful. I woke up on the morning I started reading this book and went down to my first breakfast at the new resort I was staying at for the last leBeautiful. I woke up on the morning I started reading this book and went down to my first breakfast at the new resort I was staying at for the last leg of my trip to Zanzibar. The girl I was with slept fourteen hours every night (hi, Miranda!), so I always had the mornings to myself at that resort. I went up to the waiters to find out how to order breakfast because it was never the same at any of the hotels.
The mustachioed waiter said, “This is where you write your order,” and showed me the sheet of paper.
“But what are my options?” I asked.
The non-mustachioed waiter said, “Optionsssssss! You have many options!” and then grinned at me conspiratorially because we were already kind of friends. I had a Spanish omelet, which they guarantied me was the best. I got to the table and pulled open my Kindle to take a look at the first couple of pages of Angry Young Man. My plan was to move on to something else if it didn’t catch my interest. I was immediately hooked, though, and spent the rest of the day inside of this so beautiful story.
As a sibling story, this reminds me of J.D. Salinger’s and David James Duncan’s writings. It has that cadence of family lingo built from years of affection and harassment. One brother is the sensitive one in this story – the Seymour Glass, Holden Caulfield, Irwin Chance, or Bill Bob Orviston – the magic brother. The other is the more mainstream brother, who has ancestors in the Salinger and Duncan stories as well. The mainstream brother tells the story, but with so much love for the heartbreak of the sensitive brother that I fell for them both a little. It seems more similar to Brothers K than the Salinger books because it pokes fun at the drama of the sensitive brother, even while sympathizing with him. Salinger takes the anger and alienation more seriously.
I think that this book has the potential to be controversial like Catcher in the Rye is controversial, though. The other day, a friend of mine posted a quote on facebook that made me think of Angry Young Man and Catcher. “Ultimately . . . any text speaks through its reader. . . . Consequently the meaning of the text is often only as moral as its reader. If the reader is intolerant, hateful, or oppressive, so will be the interpretation of the text." It’s from Khaled Abou El Fadl in an article titled “The Place of Tolerance in Islam.” It’s easy to blame books for violence, and this feels like a book that will get blamed for violence. I don’t think it should be, though.
I just found out that my financial aid for this term of school is set to be about one-fourth of what it was last term, and the aid office is being very frustrating about it. And it makes me so angry! It is so infuriating to have people be cavalier with your livelihood. I don’t think we’re intended to endorse or condemn the boys in this book, but they seem so realistic to me, so like how you react when your family and home is threatened. I get who they are and why they do what they do, and I am them right now, shaking my fist at the financial aid office. And they’re realistic in this lovely way. Lynch tells you just the right things about who they are and what they do.
Also, there are some great women in here, even though it is not about them.
Despite the ultimate seriousness and social relevance of this story to American society, which contrasted weirdly when I was reading it with drinking soda and cider in a tiki hut down by the beach, it was sort of wonderfully lighthearted and entertaining. I guess it kind of reminds you that most of us are somehow displaced and imposed upon by the injustices of the world. It made me look at the waiters, both mustachioed and non-, who worked from 6:30 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m., and wonder if they don’t feel something like the brothers in this book. Like you can’t just not do something about so much injustice....more
I totally fucking love this book. I’m not even lying to you because I’m trying to schmooze you into buying it or anything. People never want to read tI totally fucking love this book. I’m not even lying to you because I’m trying to schmooze you into buying it or anything. People never want to read the books I like, anyway. They always want to read the ones I hate and then tell me to read them again. It’s the cross I bear. So, I pretty much consider this, my choice to give The Egg a rave, the kind of ironic curse that I can only liken to a shadowed figure crouched in the hallway of this book’s apartment building, waiting to take its head off with a shovel. It’s circular and self-destructive like that. It’s a meta, testosterone-powered, masochistic bloodbath with a lot of thought-provoking insight into manhood and womanhood. Mostly manhood. Oh, I mean the book. This review? It’s nothing the book couldn’t take if it heard it sneaking up from behind.
This book is written by The O’Malley. It must be read.
Obligatory digression: I met this girl who is in my law school class. I really want to tell you her name, but I feel like I could get needlessly racist against redheaded people and strippers by doing that, so I’ll leave it off. She was the girl who first heard about the Zanzibar program that I’m going on over winter break, so I automatically liked her because of that. I have come to think that perhaps she is suffering from something like a girl version of the affliction suffered by the character in The Egg, so I’m going to call her Womanny (Caris, if you hate that I’m doing that because you are way subtle and I’m being way not subtle or totally misunderstanding you, tell me, and I’ll come up with something else). I invited her out to a movie with a bunch of girls and me in the summer, and she couldn’t keep her mouth shut during the entire show, so that should have been a sign, but I was giving her a benefit of the doubt.
I ended up at a restaurant with her later because we were supposed to be saying goodbye to a friend who was moving away the next day, only apparently Womanny hadn’t told him we were coming by, or something. I’m not totally clear on what happened, all I know is that it was very important to her for me to come say goodbye to this guy, and I ended up at a restaurant with this girl and a stranger 1L. So, Womanny starts going on about how she is an anti-feminist, and how she is in love with the sexist Mormon guy and is best friends with the pantsless Santa guy in my class. All horrors I had not previously imagined. The stranger 1L and I explained to Womanny that these things were impossible and do not exist.
A few nights later, Womanny sent me a text. “u awake?” she asked. “Yep, what’s up?” I responded. So, she called me.
In a reluctant and mumbley manner she said, “I just wanted you to know I didn’t mean to call you a hen.”
Because that is such a spectacularly awesome thing to say to a person, I started giggling a little bit. I figured that she was calling to tell me she didn’t call me a hen in order to let me know that she did call me a hen. So, I was already digging this conversation. “What? When did you call me a hen?” I asked.
“Well, earlier, when I said that thing on facebook, I just wanted you to know it wasn’t about you.”
I thought back and realized that I had clicked “like” on a post from [Betty White] to Womanny, saying that she had been accepted into the Zanzibar program. I had been out all day after that, and, though I got about twenty updates from that post, I don’t think I got the one Womanny was referring to, or at least I hadn’t seen it. So, I asked, “What are you talking about?”
She explained about the post and how a lot of girls had responded and said they wanted to come on the trip, and Womanny didn’t want to go with one girl because she complains too much and didn’t want to go with another because her porridge was too cold, or something. Finally, she responded to the entire thread, “I was going to Zanzibar to get away from all of you hens!” (I’m imagining that post was in all caps and that that she actually followed the sentence with a good ol’ “!!1/1!!?!g!!”)
I asked, “Why don’t you want [Betty White] to go on the Zanzibar trip?”
“Well,” explained Womanny, “[Betty White] and I were friends until she tried to destroy all of my happiness.”
So, I started laughing again at that. I was at the knee-slapping stage at this point. “How did she try to destroy all of your happiness?” I asked.
“I liked a 3L boy,” Womanny told me, “And [Betty White] told me that he was hitting on all of the red-headed girls.”
I paused, waiting for the rest of the story. When it was clear that she wasn’t planning to continue, I asked if anything else had happened and if [Betty White] possibly could have had motivations for saying that other than simply destroying Womanny’s happiness.
“No,” she said, “She knew I was happy, so she wanted to destroy my happiness.”
Since then, Womanny decided Zanzibar wasn’t for her (for logistical reasons, of course). [Betty White] and I are still going, and I remain pumped.
I partly tell this story because I wanted to, and partly I think it does relate to The O’Malley’s novella. There’s this whole wonderful criticism that Caris does here, I think, about how masculine self-loathing turns a dude in on himself. Maybe I’m reading too much into the story, but that’s what I took from it. I think the same can be true of women. With stereotypes of men, the shape self-loathing takes is physical violence, and with stereotypes of women, the shape it takes is cattiness and interpersonal paranoia. Are any of us really that? Do our parents make us that? Does society and ignorance? Does this review contain conceptual spoilers? This book will tell you the answers. No, just kidding. But you should still read it....more
Anyone who can tell a pretty hilarious Shakespeare joke is okay in my book. And this book is full of really hilarious Shakespeare jokes. Poor DesdemonAnyone who can tell a pretty hilarious Shakespeare joke is okay in my book. And this book is full of really hilarious Shakespeare jokes. Poor Desdemona. Oh, man. L, as they say, OL. And the slapstick. Oh, the slapstick! She gets it just right in that dry, British way, where you feel like she’s describing something really elegant, but actually it’s almost grotesque. This book was wonderful. I totally love it. I would give it five stars, except my undying devotion for Gaudy Night is making it impossible for me to do that. It’s completely unfair because this book is so perfect on its own. But . . . there is still Gaudy Night, which makes me tear up from how much I love it. So, the star system is cheating Caudwell in this instance. (Edited: I had to go back and give them all five stars after finishing the last one because they are all so wonderful.)
I know I’ve said it before, but I’m not, as a rule, a fan of mysteries. I don’t have a sense of suspense, so when suspense drags on for too long, I just get bored and stop caring. Mostly, though, it bothers me when I feel like you the author actually had nothing to say, but just picked out some random things, had the sleuth notice them, and then brought those things around in the end to be randomly the solution. I don’t know why I’m reading that because they could be any facts. Like, the lipstick-stained cigarette, or the broken nail, or the powder on the lapel, or what. ever. It seems like machine-generated stories, where the author really has nothing to tell me. This book is the opposite of that. In this book, when the mystery wraps up in the end, the solution is the meaning of the story. It is why to read the book. I mean, the rest of the antics are great, but the solution is the purpose. I like that.
Oh, and the art law! Yay! The art law! It is just lovely. Art law is so fun. Most of art law has to do with inheritance and cultural artifacts, like it does in this book, and I think it is such an interesting topic. Don’t worry, this book is mostly about cute boys and the silly antics of crime-solving lawyers and funny Shakespeare jokes, but the art law is super interesting and absolutely correct, if you’re into that kind of thing.
I read this over spring break, lying by a pool in Palm Springs, and it was just perfect. There was a cute baby there, doing cute baby things, and good friends, good food, good book. So perfect. This is a wonderful beach read. It’s put-down-able, but also pick-back-up-again-able. I wanted to know what was going to happen, but I didn’t feel like if I put it down, I would be unable to hear the words of my friends trying to talk to me. Sometimes, with a beach read, I don’t like to have something too engrossing because then if I start reading outside, I get sunburned because I forget I’m outside. Or, if I’m inside, I never see the light of day. Those books have their three-in-the-morning moments, but they are a commitment. They’re like a friend who I really need a play-break from after a little while. Too much energy. This is like a perfectly lovely, reliable friend, who I hope to be more like someday. I have passed to another friend the copy that Elizabeth passed on to me, but I’m pretty positive I will read this book again someday, if only to remember all the funny Shakespeare stuff. ...more
This was probably my favorite book I read in 2011. My friend gave it to me last year or the year before, and I always take a while to get to books thaThis was probably my favorite book I read in 2011. My friend gave it to me last year or the year before, and I always take a while to get to books that people have given me. I have to warm up to the concept of the book and get used to the cover and think about what mood would be the best for a read. I’m glad I waited so long to read it because the time/place for the read was perfect. I just enjoyed the hell out of this story. A lot of elements of the story hit my favorite things, and I loved its brightness and ease.
Ronia is a wild harpy of a little girl who runs through the forest, tames wild horses, and lives in a cave when she has a fight with her father. Her mother sings the wolf song at bedtime and Ronia teaches herself not to be afraid. But, sometimes she still is afraid.
I don’t have anything deep to say about this book, but for me it had just the right combination of reality and fantasy, sadness and hope. It didn’t shy away from harshness, but it wasn’t trying to beat me over the head with life. Maybe in another mood I would have been bothered by the fairy-tale quality of it, but I really loved that in this particular mood. It is also difficult to say how I would have felt about this as a kid, but I like to think I would have loved it. It has an unselfconscious wild girlness that I hope I’ve always loved....more
When I was between the ages of seven and eleven, my father was particularly ready to start a militia and secede from the union. I say "particularly" bWhen I was between the ages of seven and eleven, my father was particularly ready to start a militia and secede from the union. I say "particularly" because in one way or another he's always been a little paranoid and iffy on the subject of loyalty to his citizenship (except when republicans are elected to any office, then you are guarantied to see him sporting his American flag suspenders). My parents "home schooled" me for a few years (quotation marks indicate that you could take out the word "school" and the phrase might be more accurate), when not putting me in various, sometimes experimental, private schools, so I have a colorful educational background. I always loved learning, as Derrick Jensen would say we all do, but I loathed the educational circus that was my childhood. I say all this because I have a deep mistrust of people who, like my father, are excessively suspicious or critical of civilization. Jensen is one of these people, and so I am sorry to say that I am absolutely persuaded by every argument I have heard him make. He positively has me ready to march out and overthrow the global economy.
My first exposure to Derrick Jensen was at the University of Oregon's Public Interest Environmental Law Conference last year. My vegan friend and my noble-savage friend took me to hear him as a keynote speaker. When the girl introducing him to the standing-room-only audience and said something to the effect of, "Don't stampede out of here when you hear his crazy ideas. We need extremists like Jensen to make the rest of us look normal" I sighed and braced myself for chanting and rhyming gibberish (in Eugene that kind of thing, unfortunately, is not completely uncommon). Instead, I met this hilarious, kind, thoughtful man, who I believe is truly trying to help people - and not in a patronizing, rich-American kind of way, either (pet peeve of mine). He's obviously doing the things he does because he understands that making us better helps him. To give you an idea of the lecture he gave when I saw him, this youtube clip shows a small section of the beginning of the lecture, when he gave it elsewhere. In this clip he describes the original script for the movie Star Wars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwhL4L... .
Walking On Water is primarily about Jensen's experiences as a writer and writing instructor at a prison and a university in Washington state. Those experiences are really only the frame, though, in which he presents his criticisms of the American educational system, where Jensen says we are trained to submit ourselves to a society that turns us into slaves and masters. This book is what I wished Lies My Teacher Told Me would have been. Rather than focus on the details of misinformation in textbooks and the politics of the educational system, which bogged down Loewen's complaint against public education, Derrick Jensen tackled the larger problem of the systems in which we live. This book doesn't necessarily deal with all of the larger issues Jensen typically talks about, but I read it because it's . . . ummm . . . how shall I phrase this? It's about six hundred pages shorter than his other books. It seemed like a good place to start.
The thing that really makes me impressed with Jensen's writing and speaking is that I think he deeply believes in the destructiveness of industrialized civilization, and he is honestly fighting to save the things he loves. One of the points he made in the lecture I heard was that people used to get their food from forests and rivers, so we would fight to the death to protect forests and rivers. Now we get our food from supermarkets, so we will fight to the death to protect supermarkets and let the forests and rivers that actually provide the food be destroyed by the systems that created the supermarket. I mean, it's just true. They change the deli section at a grocery store and there's a public outcry from the same people who laugh at the major destruction of ocean mammal life. And I'm no different. The things I don't know or understand that are deeply important to the survival of the human race are staggering. I'm not willing to abandon civilization entirely, but I'm definitely a believer, if only from the arguments of Derrick Jensen, in the evils of industrialism....more
Alexandra looked at him mournfully. “I try to be more liberal about such things than I used to be. I try to realize that we are not all made alike.”
EvAlexandra looked at him mournfully. “I try to be more liberal about such things than I used to be. I try to realize that we are not all made alike.”
Everything in O Pioneers! is beauty to me. I am so in love with this book. Maybe it is because I have it in my brain that pioneers by definition suck that Willa Cather always catches me by surprise and turns me upside down. It’s like walking through an alien landscape and then running into my best friend. I thought what I would find was Michael Landon crying into a butter churn, and here you are, everything that is wonderful about humans. Still, I never know whether to recommend that other people read this book, or whether it is better to just keep it to myself. As Alexandra says, we are not all made alike, and maybe what is beauty and revelation to me is Michael Landon crying into a butter churn to you.
It’s so easy to say why I hate writing and difficult to say why I love it. I want to compare Cather to Hemingway because of how steady and careful their writing is, because of how speculation about their lives cheapens conversations about their stories, but no. I want to say Cather writes what is in my soul, but that’s not right either. What she writes is as much her own world as it is my reality, but that doesn’t make her wisdom easy or her power arrogant. She is not looking for my approval, but she is looking outside herself for some kind of truth.
At a particularly conflicted time in my life, I went to a club with some friends and I saw a girl dancing like I have never seen anyone dance in my life. She had cleared out as space for herself to the side of the stage, and it was like every part of her body was electric. It was not only beautiful, it was also full of life. Where I didn’t know which way to turn, this girl was in the Place, doing the Thing. Reading O Pioneers! is like watching that girl. Everything is alive in this book.
But, again, I’m struck by the feeling that it may not be alive to you as it is to me. I’ll give you a few descriptions as objectively as I can, and you can judge for yourself. It is about contrasts: country and city, speed and slowness, youth and age, passion and steadiness, inspiration and hard work, deprivation and entitlement. It is operatic. It is kooky at times and kind, but not funny. It is understated and even-handed. It is written by a woman. It is about women and men, who are all sometimes as passionate as people are, and other times as wise as people should be. It is specific, but not petty. There are awkward parts (specifically book 2, chapter 9, though I even think that scene is beautiful).
It’s difficult to talk about this book without spoiling it, and I think a spoiler would really spoil the story. So, I’ll just say one last thing that I hope won’t be a spoiler, but might, so be warned. People get angry with authors who won’t let their characters die and see it as a sign of accomplished writing to kill a character. I think, because of that, I see a lot of bad storytelling mistaken for good storytelling if the author tortures or kills the characters. I really hate when people think character abuse is maturity. At the same time, though, I think there is something right about trusting an author more if the author allows unhappiness into the story. Authors are writing to an audience, and I think they should be writing to entertain, so there is value to me in making stories better than life. At the same time, there is truth in sadness, and if a writer can’t look at sadness, she has sacrificed truth to entertainment. Cather balances truth and entertainment in a way that is completely devastating. She loves her characters, and lets every one of them grow as humans grow, with human joys and human tragedies. It is painful and beautiful to watch.
I almost want to read this book again right away, but too much wisdom in one month can’t be good for my health. I’ll take a little break first and watch some reality TV to balance out my wisdom intake. Just, you know, for my health....more