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 f...moreProper 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.(less)
It is difficult for me to say why I found I Capture the Castle so personally meaningful, which may mean that I will be falling all over myself in this...moreIt is difficult for me to say why I found I Capture the Castle so personally meaningful, which may mean that I will be falling all over myself in this review. When I first started reading I was bored and feared that the poverty of the characters would become dirty and depressing for its own sake, as in Angela's Ashes. Instead, it's more like a lovely BBC movie where people are always chewing with their mouth open, but somehow it is only charming. At first I resisted liking anything about it, including Cassandra's repeated use of the word "capture", but now I find myself thinking about how to describe this or that and involuntarily using the word "capture" in my thoughts. The story is at times screwball and at times elegant but always delightful and completely won me over.
Perhaps part of the reason I resisted this book is that I came to it thinking it would be romance (because of the movie poster cover of the book, which says something like, "A well-loved classic that has become the most romantic movie of the year" - hate those movie poster covers), but it is actually, more than anything, a coming of age story. I say this because I think that whether you prefer coming-of-age or romance, it helps to know what you're getting into when you start a book. In my experience, romantic novels solve the problems of life by bringing characters together in true love. I Capture the Castle is written through Cassandra's eyes, so it does not rely on romantic satisfaction to tell the story, as, perhaps, it would have if it were told by another character in the same book. Rather, like any good coming of age story, develops through revelations of the unreliability of people around Cassandra and her discovery her own independence and capabilities.
I must confess that what first hooked me on this book was Simon's beard. I have said that I am a sucker for a good fish story, and it turns out that I think I am a sucker for a good beard story, too. I thought the girls' fascination and horror over his beard were both hilarious and correct. I wonder why I don't see beards in stories more often. Really, when anyone I have known has a beard, it comes up in conversation almost any time the person is mentioned - and rightly so. I once asked a friend of mine, who had a bushy beard before he met his fiance, why he would have chosen to grow it out like that. He said that the reason any man who can grow a big bushy beard should is that the bigger your beard, the more authority you have over people in general and specifically over other men. He said there is something almost magical about having a big bushy beard that makes other people have to do whatever you want. I told him that was absolutely silly. Then, about a week later I was at the grocery store deciding which line to go through, and one of the checkers, who was otherwise very ordinary looking, had an enormous, bushy beard. I instinctively went to his line, and then a second later was shocked to realized that I had only done that because of the beard. I don't know if that proves my friend's point, but it has to mean something. I wonder if the castle girls weren't experiencing something like this beard-hypnosis in the beginning of the novel.
To go ahead and beat this beard point to death: I also thought it was lovely how Dodie Smith developed the beard's story. I always see authors showing the physical changes love supposedly brings to women, but not men. The women are pale and thin until they fall in love, when suddenly they become healthy looking. In I Capture the Castle Simon looks suspiciously like Satan, until he falls in love and shaves the beard. Brilliant! Also, it has the self-serving overtones of Elizabeth Bennet's visit to Pemberly in Pride and Prejudice, when the mansion shows Mr. Darcy's manners in a different light. Beardless Simon makes even his actions when bearded much less sinister. Love it.
You may not believe me, if you have read this far, when I say that Simon's beard was not what was personally meaningful to me about this story. Not surprisingly, I think it was Cassandra herself who seemed so profound. In many ways I did not identify with her, but I loved her. I found myself crying at times, not necessarily because her growing pains revealed my own, but only in sympathy for this new friend I found, who I love so much. I loved how wise and kind and scrappy she was. I actually loved every character in this novel, though, as they all had some kind of magical and hilarious individuality. It is tempting to copy some of the most beautiful moments here, but instead I think you should just read the book. On the one hand, I am sad that I did not read this in high school, when I think it may have been a more cathartic experience, but I wonder if its honesty might have hurt my feelings then. As it is, I found it both refreshing and comforting.(less)
It is not possible for me to talk about this book without somehow spoiling it. I’ll hide the main spoilers, but there are some pretty awesome twists a...moreIt is not possible for me to talk about this book without somehow spoiling it. I’ll hide the main spoilers, but there are some pretty awesome twists and turns in this book, so I recommend reading it with eyes that are innocent of review spoilers.
I have had this weird experience lately where books or movies or TV I watch are almost always either uncannily similar to my life – like, exact words I’ve said recently or experiences I’ve had – or totally offensive and appalling to me. I think it is doing damage to my nervous system. I have a weak and brooding constitution, anyway, so recovery calls for those new episodes of Arrested Development to come out ASAP. No, jk, I don’t have a weak and brooding constitution, but seriously, I may take to swooning and weeping soon enough if this crazy pendulum doesn’t stop swinging so wildly.
Villette was the uncannily similar variety of story. It is so eerie to read books from almost two hundred years ago and see my own thoughts and experiences. It is both comforting and totally exhausting – comforting because we have always been like this; exhausting because, well, we have always been like this. Bronte’s description of Lucy waiting by the phone for a dude to call, or, in her case, by the door for a letter to arrive, is chilling. Lucy’s conversation with Dr. John, when she points out the hypocrisy of his ability to see shallowness in men but not women, is absolutely hilarious. Lucy’s delicacy about describing her own loneliness is beautiful. Charlotte Bronte writes a really killer antiheroine, and it is always easier to identify with an antiheroine than a heroine, I think, because it is easy to see our own flaws.
While this book easily stands alone as a lovely study on humanity, it also evoked comparisons to Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice for me. It was the last book Bronte published before she died. As is so common, Villette, the later book, is a less tight story than Jane Eyre – it was more meandering, and where Bronte wants to dwell, she will dwell. In some ways, though, I think Villette is more successful than Jane Eyre in distinguishing antihero from hero because Bronte is kinder to the heroes in Villette and lets me feel a little bitter at them without really despising them here. Dr. John, in contrast to St. John, does not creep me out. Paulina is a traditionally heroic heroine. This works in Villette because it provides a more clear contrast between the traditional hero’s story and Lucy’s antiheroine story. On the other hand, Jane Eyre allows flaws in everyone, whether they are golden or dark, so that has a nice subtlety. At the same time that Jane and Rochester are the more clear antiheroes, St. John is so determined to crush feelings and be unhappy that he is not so much the golden hero as Dr. John. In Villette there is a clear line between hero and antihero; in Jane Eyre the line is more blurred, though the physical descriptions signal a distinction. It might not be useful, though, to compare the two books because they are both wonderful, and I don't know that I prefer the clear distinction or the blurring.
In some ways, I think this story is a Bronte Pride and Prejudice. All of the couples are parallels: (view spoiler)[Paulina and Dr. John are Jane and Bingley; Lucy and M. Paul are Lizzy and Darcy; and, of course, Ginevra and de Hamal are Lydia and Wickham (hide spoiler)]. In many ways that comparison fails because the interaction of the characters in P&P forms a cohesive plot, and Villette is not really about any particular plot, I think, but it was interesting to see similar couples described through more brutal eyes.
Both Charlotte and Emily Bronte, also, always seem more exotic than Austen because the aesthetics of their heroes are described so much more like an emo band. While Austen captures that subtle loneliness of unreliable family, the Brontes go straight for explicit isolation in a cruel world. I doubt I could love either Austen or the Brontes so much without the other. And it was beautiful to read about the couples from Pride and Prejudice with the severity and stifled animal cry of Charlotte Bronte. I see Virginia Woolf’s point that sometimes Bronte’s failures as an editor interfere with the story in a way that you don’t see in Austen, but it is still beautiful.
Probably my favorite thing about this book is Lucy’s shiftiness as a narrator. This girl is going to tell you what she wants you to know and she is going to leave out whatever the fuck she wants. It was totally hilarious that she (view spoiler)[didn’t even tell me that she knew the whole time that Dr. John was Graham Bretton (hide spoiler)]. That little minx! (As they say.) And then the way she ends the story is just (view spoiler)[heartbreaking – you can’t even handle the cruelty of her life, so she won’t force you to listen to it (hide spoiler)].
I was not in love with any of the heroes of this story, and I kind of liked that, too. It was more like a soul-mate friend, of whom I am completely in awe, telling me about the people she loved, and how she understood them and their faults, than a con game of trying to get me to fall in love myself. It is interesting because usually we are meant to fall in love with the romantic lead (and I’mma be honest, I totally swoon for Rochester), but I do not almost ever swoon for my irl friends’ love stories. In this way, I felt that Lucy was completely her own person, and even though I identified with her in this sometimes-creepy way, she was not a stand-in for me in the love story. I thought (view spoiler)[both Dr. John and M. Paul were kind of douchebags (hide spoiler)], but that was fine because Lucy was smart about all of them. Honestly, I didn’t notice (view spoiler)[M. Paul (hide spoiler)] for a long time, and I am usually really good at picking up on romantic leads, so when I re-read I will have to pay better attention to what he does in the early part of the novel.
I really loved this book. As I got to the end, I panicked a little because I remembered that I had always partly been reluctant to read it because I will use up the possibility for a new Bronte story soon, and what a sad, bleak time that will be. I still have a couple left, though, so I will hoard those for later. I wish Bronte would email me new stories from her austere, Protestant heaven.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
It’s been a weird year, you guys. I bleached my hair blonde again, and if I haven’t mentioned it before, people say the most ridiculous stuff to blond...moreIt’s been a weird year, you guys. I bleached my hair blonde again, and if I haven’t mentioned it before, people say the most ridiculous stuff to blondes. It’s crazy. It’s like people are standing in line to make idiots out of themselves if you have blonde hair. Blondes, you guys have to dye your hair brown for a while. Just do it to see what life is like on the other side. It’s real different. You can go places and not have people be asses to you. Samples of some of the weird things people have said (and these are not even close to the worst):
1. I was walking down a hall and a security officer in his fifties or sixties was walking towards me. I realized that I needed something back at my desk, so I turned around. As I was walking away, the security officer said, “Are you ticklish?”
I turned around, and thinking I must have misheard him, said, incredulously, “What?!”
“Are you ticklish?” He repeated.
“Huh,” I said, and walked away. Then I spent the next week trying to figure out if there is another, totally normal meaning to that question. People have not been able to tell me one, so if you know of anything, pass it along.
2. I was judging oral arguments at the law school last spring. I was wearing a judge’s robe and sitting on the bench in the school’s classroom that is set up like a courtroom. There were two other judges in robes, and the professor of the class was there. To provide context, when I was in school, oral arguments were the most terrifying thing I did.
The topic of the oral arguments was an allegedly illegal seizure, and one of the issues was whether the discovery of a warrant against the defendant, in the words of the Supreme Court, “purged the taint of the illegality of the initial search.” So, we had questions written out for us as suggestions of what to ask the students. I had to ask this one question about the warrant issue, and I was trying to say it in my own words, but I was stumbling. The student interrupted me, said he knew what I was trying to ask, and answered the question.
Then, as he was leaving the room, after his argument was done, he said in a low voice, but still TO A JUDGE IN A ROBE AND IN FRONT OF HIS TERRIFYING PROFESSOR, either, “Gotta purge that taint, huh?” or “I’ll help you purge that taint.” And he didn’t do it in so much of a come-on way, as much as he did it in this way like that was why I had stumbled over the question and we were sharing an inside joke.
We were so not sharing that joke.
So, those are just a couple of the less-lawsuit-material, less-totally-dehumanizing experiences I’ve had with this blonde hair business. I bet, at this point, you are seriously wondering how I am going to wrap this idea around to relate to the book. Here’s how: I think having blonde hair makes people associate me as a child, so they feel more free to say inappropriate things and show terrible judgment. And Jeannette Walls is so amazing at telling stories of what assholes people are to kids. She is a genius at telling these gut-wrenching stories without being maudlin. And lord knows I can’t handle the maudlin. So, like the people in Byler, I am left thinking that if some skinny kids can stand up for themselves in this way, I can. It was, you know, inspirational, without being sickly heartwarming.
The Silver Star is the story of two sisters who just experience life kicking the shit out of them, like ya do, and respond by being these brilliant, scrappy heroes. This story is not accusatory, and it is unflinching, and it’s not exploitative of the victimization of children, but it touches on just about every hideous topic possible. I guess something I love about Walls is that she isn’t writing for middle-class comfort, and to me that makes her stories more true and less manipulative than most. And this book touched on almost every hot-button issue: civil rights, Vietnam, corporatization, child neglect, and sexual assault, so it was rife with opportunities for me to get mad about exploitation and privilege comfort. But, Walls knows how to tell that stuff.
It seems like, at least on some level, this book is a response to The Help. Maybe Walls had this crisis of conscience and thought, “Eeeesh, someone needs to show this unfortunate Stockett woman how to write with a little humility about experiencing the South in the Civil Rights Era.” And this is how you do it. You know your own perspective, and you recognize that not everyone admired you. Not that this book is even really about racism, other than in a peripheral way, but that is what seems appropriate to me. Walls isn’t black, so she can only give the perspective of a white girl and her black friends, to the extent they tell her their perspective. But, Bean’s friend Vanessa had more dignity, in her small appearances in this book, than the whole of the black maids in The Help. And, good lord, these kids made some excellent points about To Kill a Mockingbird.
This was a lovely novel, and I appreciated all of its purposefulness and structure. This was how you should tell a Social Topics story. I would say I did not enjoy this, in a page-turning way, as much as I enjoyed The Glass Castle, but I did enjoy it, and the end really paid off. I know Walls is not for everyone because, where I experience beauty the most as overcoming and conquering evil, some people experience beauty as finding peace or reinforcing principles, or you name it. But, to me, these were wonderful, human characters. I’ll also say that a lot of things in here were weirdly reminiscent of my college days – from the baby left on the top of the car to the word-playing, to the emus. Just weirdly striking associations that make me look behind me to see if Walls is watching. Hopefully, instead, she is just breaking a path for me because I want to be her when I grow up.(less)
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 fail...moreWell, 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.(less)
It is a joke of a cliché to talk about the indefinable nature of love, but it is also obviously one of those things that is cliché for a reason. It is...moreIt is a joke of a cliché to talk about the indefinable nature of love, but it is also obviously one of those things that is cliché for a reason. It is so mysterious how love can suddenly appear in our lives and then, just as suddenly, disappear. I am a big believer in accurately and honestly defining relationships according to what they are, not what we wish they would be, and so I might be even more baffled than the average person by the relationships around me. How do some people cultivate and maintain long-term love in their lives without even seeming to try? How do others live with people whom they hate and who hate them? How do people use the words of love to describe what looks like contempt or addiction to me? Language isn’t enough.
I have a friend playing the part of Emma in The Language Archive in Seattle, and she suggested a couple of us read it and talk about it, so I read it. And I really loved it. For me, it is about the indefinable nature of love, and, maybe obviously, about language – how language is too broad, and not broad enough, to describe what love is. Maybe it is more centrally about how love is always about communication. George communicates through the study of languages, but struggles to actually express any emotion. Mary communicates through bread. Alta and Resten save English for their fights and speak in their native language when talking of love. Emma struggles to communicate at all.
It is not a long play. Mary and George are married; Emma works with George at the Lanugage Archive. Alta and Resten are a couple that has been married for years, and they come in to the Language Archive to record their native language, which is dying. Mary leaves George, and Emma struggles to tell George she is in love with him.
The rest of what I’m going to talk about is a spoiler, but I’m not going to hide it because, even though it tells you some of how the play turns out, I don’t really think that ruins the play. I think the play stands alone, regardless of whether you know the ending.
So, Mary leaves George, which devastates him, but which the play makes pretty clear is a good choice. They have this conversation at one point where George says to Mary that her leaving means that their whole language is dead. He says that sometimes one of them could say, “Did you take the garbage out?” or something like that, and it could mean many different things from, “I’m really angry that you never do housework” to “I couldn’t live without you” and those types of varied meanings created their language. And he asks her if she knows what he means. She responds that she doesn’t and that she’s never known what he’s meant. She says, “Here, have this bread and you’ll understand,” and the bread is meaningless to him. I think it is a simple, but beautiful, way of showing that they’re wrong for each other, that they could never understand each other.
And then, Emma and George communicate perfectly, but Emma tells the audience in the end that George never falls in love with her. So, that is something I keep coming back to. What does it mean that George and Emma communicate perfectly and work together for years, but that he never loves her? How does she know that? Does he know that? Was he actually in love with Mary, as he says he is, when he couldn’t understand or communicate with her? How is that love? It would be simple if you could say, well, he wanted to have sex with Mary and not with Emma, ergo . . . but that obviously makes no sense for defining love either. So, I keep wondering, over and over, and thinking about the relationships of these couples and the non-fictional couples I know.
It seems to me that every relationship exists outside of the naming of it, even though naming it can cause the relationship to change. People can be committed to each other in some sort of eternal way without calling it marriage, and people can be married without any kind of love or commitment. People can love each other without ever naming it, and people can hate each other and call it love. Even though the naming of it interacts with the experience of the relationship, I don’t think it creates the relationship. But, I don’t know what creates or maintains a relationship, and the way the naming of it molds and bends the relationship itself is a mystery to me, too. I have known so many couples where the woman told the man they were in love, and he believed her, and so their love existed. That is a mystery to me.
Because Emma tells us that George never loves her, and she tells us believably, I do believe her, but I don’t understand. If he had said he loved her, would that have made it so? Because he said he loved Mary, did that make it so, even though he never really saw her? I can’t wrap my mind around those ideas.
There is that monologue Nick Cage delivers so beautifully in Moonstruck, here. The play put it into my head, and it is something I understand about the play and about love, and it is something I love about love. It is something about love that you can sink your teeth into. It goes like this:
“Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn't know this either, but love don't make things nice - it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren't here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die. The storybooks are bullshit. Now I want you to come upstairs with me and get in my bed!”
Maybe George just needed to hear a speech like that, and he would have snapped out of it. Maybe not, though; I have no idea.(less)
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. So...moreThis 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.(less)
This was so vile. Like, SO VILE. This was gross. It was both gross like, EEEEeeeeeewwwwwwWWWWWWWW, and also like, CAN’T UNSEE! So, it kind of covered...moreThis was so vile. Like, SO VILE. This was gross. It was both gross like, EEEEeeeeeewwwwwwWWWWWWWW, and also like, CAN’T UNSEE! So, it kind of covered a spectrum of gross. My favorite part of Furry Piranha is the surprise, twist ending. My favorite part of The Curse of the Screwicorn is the long saga of the soccer field turned unicorn hideout. Shield your children from this book, folks. Cheerleaders were harmed in its making.
And animals. Animals were harmed.
And trees, and, like, parking lots, and things like that were harmed, too.
Also, it turns out Joel Cunningham is one fucked up mother fucker. But, possibly a genius.
I read a lot of this book at work on my lunch breaks, so that was a little weird. It wasn’t so much weird in the contrasts as in the similarities. Sometimes my job is a little bit like listening to an audio of a Guy and Campbell book. I love my job.
For those of you who insist on some kind of flap-copy summary in a review, Double Feature is a collaboration between renowned authors Vernon Burns and Albert Clapp. If you haven’t heard of those two, then you haven’t been paying attention. Pulp-literary movers and shakers. Furry Piranha takes place in South/Central/North America (in Brazil, where the Mexicans live). Or, does it? The Curse of the Screwicorn takes place in the frigid blizzards of San Francisco. Furry Piranha is the story of one man with a giant penis learning to see himself as he truly is. The Curse of the Screwicorn is the story of a woman taking vengeance against the men who ruined her life. It is kind of like the TV show Revenge, but with less kung fu and guns and more unicorns. Screwicorn is more of a boy book, you know, what with its more unicorns and less kung fu.
And, as always, if you’re looking for bestiality, Guy and Campbell is where to go.
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 bump...moreOH 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.(less)
It has been previously mentioned once or twice that Olivia is my favorite. It is true. Olivia rules.
In this one, my particularly favorite part, other...moreIt has been previously mentioned once or twice that Olivia is my favorite. It is true. Olivia rules.
In this one, my particularly favorite part, other than the end, which is awesome, is the Martha Graham page. Also, good use of the words "corporate malfeasance." And Ian Falconer's drawings are, as always, amazing.
1. Olivia And The Missing Toy. It has the fold out page, including the surprise, and that is difficult to beat. Plus, it has a premise that is compelling to for all ages. Or, maybe just me because I lose stuff all the time.
2. Olivia. A classic. Especially the parts where she moves the cat.
3. Olivia and the Fairy Princesses. This is ranking at a high third! Congrats, fairy princesses! Again, a compelling struggle, use of outstanding extra-textual art, and good vocab! Also, the use of additional characters as Olivia's audience is always really genius. Like, at the beginning, when Olivia is depressed, the way the cat and dog are watching her, concerned, really creates the sense of depression I think Olivia is looking for.
This is where I get a little fuzzy. I think my next rankings are:
"saves the circus" and "forms a band" are mixed up in my head right now, though, so I am having trouble remembering what happens in them. Christmas is a good one, and I think there's another page in the middle that folds out, which is always a win with me. "Goes to Venice" didn't have the pathos of the others, in my view.
Olivia is the best. ________________________ I received a free copy of this in exchange for nothing. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, me!(less)
This book is like if the best book in the world had a lust affair with the worst book in the world, and that affair resulted in the birth of two child...moreThis book is like if the best book in the world had a lust affair with the worst book in the world, and that affair resulted in the birth of two children, a brother and a sister. Then, those children had an incestuous affair with each other, which resulted in the birth of two children, a brother and a sister. Then, those incestuous children had an incestuous affair, which resulted in the birth of twins, a brother and a sister. Then those incestuous, incestuous twins had twincest with each other, which resulted in the birth of a child whom they named Quasimodo for no particular reason. Then, Quasimodo, the incestuous, incestuous, twincestuous child, committed bestiality with a giant, alien crab; and then the seed from that mating read a blog about oil shortage, watched Jurassic Park, and decided to write a book. In other words, this book is spectacular.
The funny thing about this book is that almost everything in the entire story seemed like an error, but nothing seemed like a mistake. So, goes toward proving what a waste of time this entire book is. I like that.
One of the best parts:
Axis[, chief warrior of the raptors,] stood on the hill overlooking the village. So many lives, all his responsibility . . . . [A] pyre was burning nearby, the bodies of raptors and Skjerdals piled high, a thick black column of smoke rising up. Looking at the column, Axis imagined he could see the faces of all those lost lives in that smoke: the face of Asnyllo, a good childhood friend. The face of Blasdij, a girl he once dated. He thought he saw some horses, too, and a clown, but it was the faces of all those dead raptors that really bothered him. And maybe that clown a little bit.
That quote would be akin to a spoiler if there was a plot in this book, but there is not a plot, so don’t worry. It’s all pretty much random stuff like that. And a lot of wild sex.
The rape was interesting in this book because it was mostly not rape in that it was sex with a blow-up doll who did not want sex, but begged for sex, and then strangely morphed into a “warrior queen” who begged for sex. So, that raises the question of whether prostitution can ever be voluntary and answers it with a no. There is also that . . . other rape scene . . . with the giant mole rat. So, there’s a lot of rapey, non-rapey sex with creepy blow-up doll people.
Also, there is a homosexual biologist, whose scorpion tail pusses and spurts ineffectually and who is a homosexual.
(view spoiler)[AND THEN AT THE END V.D. BURNS WRITES A BOOK CALLED BLOOD LUST ABOUT ME FALLING IN LOVE WITH A WEREWOLF VAMPIRE!!!!! So, surprise ending. Probably the coolest thing anyone has ever done for me. Thnx, Mr. Burns. (hide spoiler)]
Basically, this book is either the best or the worst ever, or some kind of incestuous spawn of the two, and scientists will study it for eons to come. I enjoyed reading it fully as much as I enjoyed reading Twilight, though I’d have to say I got more out of Twilight because this book probably is to dude culture what Twilight is to the ladies. I am not a dude. Also, there is no real, continuous story in Gods of the Jungle Planet, so there’s that. I probably laughed harder at this one than I laughed at Twilight, but that’s difficult to estimate. I laughed pretty hard while I was reading Twilight, but it does not have a part with a clown.
V.D. Burns, kids. Get tested; use protection.
A kindle version of this book was forced upon me by a lizard-like being with a scorpion tale protruding from his head. He was asking for meatloaf.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)