I am a feminist. In college, I minored in women's studies, and I ended up taking lots of classes with some very earnest, intelligent women about vario...moreI am a feminist. In college, I minored in women's studies, and I ended up taking lots of classes with some very earnest, intelligent women about various "women's issues." Inevitably in these classes, the sex industry would come up for discussion at some point or another -- stripping, pornography, prostitution, etc. I didn't know what I thought about the subject back then, and I still don't today. I'm deeply ambivalent about it. On the one hand, I agree with the argument that says that all sex industry workers are being exploited, degraded, and objectified; on the other hand, I agree with the argument that glorifies sex industry workers for taking charge of their sexuality, and asks what's wrong with being (or being seen as) a sexual being anyway? I have absolutely no personal experience with the sex industry, so all this discussion was purely theoretical. So when I saw this book, I knew I had to read it. Surely I would find some clarification, some resolution to this conundrum, in the memoirs of an ex-stripper?
As it turns out, not so much. Lily Burana herself is deeply ambivalent about stripping, about what it means to her, to her friends and family, and to society at large. That's why she decided to write this book in the first place -- to get some closure on a sticky subject. In the end, she finds personal peace of mind, but no absolute answer, no epiphany. The truth, I think, probably lies somewhere in the middle of those two opposing points of view -- as well as at both extremes. The two different arguments are both true, at the same time. It's enough to give you a headache!
The book itself was very good, I thought. I found it entertaining, informative, and interesting. The author has a gift for descriptive prose, for immersing the reader in a particular time and place so that you feel you're there, part of the action. I enjoyed the parts about the various strip clubs she worked at and the parts about her personal life and history equally. Ms. Burana is a gifted autobiographer, and she wrote the book so that her personal journey interwove itself with the nitty-gritty details of what it's like to live as a working stripper seamlessly, each half of a larger whole.
An excellent book! Very different from my normal reading fare, but worth the trip!(less)
This was a wonderful first novel. I loved the characters -- Maggie (the narrator) in particular was just very vivid and real to me. I identified with...moreThis was a wonderful first novel. I loved the characters -- Maggie (the narrator) in particular was just very vivid and real to me. I identified with her quite strongly, to the point where I was recognizing some of my own character flaws in Maggie's personality. I hope I have the strength to do what Maggie did at the end of the novel and take charge of my own life and change those things about myself that I don't like.
This is, as the title suggests, a book about what it's like to life as a fat woman in modern-day America. It deals with issues of appearance, weight, and self-esteem. But it also is a novel about friendship -- about why people become friends, what friendship means, and what happens when a friendship ends. The death of Maggie and Olivia's friendship is just as sad and bitter and slow as the breakup of a marriage -- and just as poignant and important and life-altering to the people involved.
Conversations with the Fat Girl was funny, sad, uplifting, and depressing, but most of all, it was honest. This was a conversation I both and enjoyed and needed to have, and I will no doubt be rereading this book many times in the future.(less)
I really enjoyed this story of a broken, wounded hero and a lonely heroine reaching out for an emotional connection, family, love, and hope for the fu...moreI really enjoyed this story of a broken, wounded hero and a lonely heroine reaching out for an emotional connection, family, love, and hope for the future.(less)
I loved this novel. It was beautifully told, with some gorgeous language and amazingly distinct voices. I loved the structure of it, the way it was br...moreI loved this novel. It was beautifully told, with some gorgeous language and amazingly distinct voices. I loved the structure of it, the way it was broken into books like a bible, the way each chapter was from a different character's point of view. And the first few books were utterly engrossing. While I was reading about the Price family's journey into Africa and the time they spent on their mission, I could not put the book down; it was that good.
I do think that it went on too long, though. The last book or so is about the Price girls' lives after that experience, what happened to them, and so on. It was just unnecessary, and dragged a bit. It also got a bit didactic and preachy -- I felt almost like I was reading a history book in some places: Africa, and Why the USA Should Leave It Alone. Those same points were made much more powerfully and subtly in the first half of the book, I think.
But that flaw doesn't detract from the overall power and beauty of this novel. There is a great deal of complexity in these pages -- it's about all kinds of things, from spirituality, multiculturalism, religion, the way religion gets all tied up in cultural imperialism, race, gender, poverty, the politics and history of the Congo, self-identity, and more -- but it's all wrapped up in an engaging story and vividly-drawn characters. I highly recommend it!(less)
This was an excellent book, by turns thought-provoking, horrifying, and funny. Alexie does a fantastic job creating a very realistic teenage voice; Ju...moreThis was an excellent book, by turns thought-provoking, horrifying, and funny. Alexie does a fantastic job creating a very realistic teenage voice; Junior feels and sounds like a very real character, a smart, funny boy doing the best he can in difficult circumstances. Definitely worth reading!(less)
This is an excellent novel, action-packed, exciting, and deftly-plotted, with fascinating, complex characters and some interesting science-fictional i...moreThis is an excellent novel, action-packed, exciting, and deftly-plotted, with fascinating, complex characters and some interesting science-fictional ideas. I also enjoyed reading about Luna's culture; I thought the marriage customs were particularly interesting.
One thing I noticed right off was the way the Loonies use language differently than people from earth do. In fact, it threw me at first -- I couldn't figure out what was going on or why the language was so rough and unpolished and choppy. Eventually, though, I found the rhythm of it and settled in just fine -- I didn't even notice it after a while. It makes sense; Luna started off as a penal colony and has since developed completely separate from Earth and relatively unmolested. Of course they would have their own dialect and speech patterns! To my mind, their language seems to be as efficient as possible. They trimmed away any unnecessary deadwood -- they don't use articles, for example, and very few personal pronouns, and they seem to prefer to use fragments to complete sentences. Only the essentials remain, much the same as the original colonists/prisoners had to start their lives over with only the bare essentials and sometimes not even that.
This book was written about forty years ago, and it has stood the test of time quite well, but there are some aspects of it that do seem rather dated. For example, the idea behind the character of Mike -- the computer that is connected to everything and has "woken up" or become alive -- is one that is very familiar to modern readers, one that we accept easily. Apparently, we accept it much more easily than Heinlen expected his readers in 1965 to accept it, because he spends more time explaining it than he really needs to. When Mannie, the narrator, tells Wyoh about Mike and introduces them via a telephone conversation, she is shocked that Mike already knows what she looks like. He looked up her medical records and found a picture of her immediately after being introduced to her. To modern readers familiar with the internet, this is an obvious step and hardly shocking; we expect it, and Wyoh's shock and apparent need to have every detail and implication of Mike's "life" spelled out for her makes her seem a little bit stupid to us. If we don't remember that Heinlen is using Wyoh to explain things to his 1965 audience that his 2005 audience intuitively understands, then we'll get a little frustrated with Wyoh's denseness.
All in all, though, this is a novel about politics -- a very complex, deep, intellectual and sophisticated look at politics, government, revolution and war. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress has a very definite world-view and political philosophy, some of which I agreed with, and some of which I really, really didn't. My agreement (or lack thereof) with the politics espoused in this book didn't seem to have much bearing on my enjoyment of it. This is a book that requires the reader to think. And that, I think, is why I loved it so much.(less)
Well, that was just fun. This was a delightfully weird book, full of antics and shenanigans, but with some pretty sophisticated commentary on colonial...moreWell, that was just fun. This was a delightfully weird book, full of antics and shenanigans, but with some pretty sophisticated commentary on colonialism and the history of the USA's treatment of Native Americans slipped in there, too. It's told in the first person from the point of view of Gratuity Tucci (her friends call her Tip) through the medium of a school essay on the theme of (as the title says) "the true meaning of Smekday" (which used to be called Christmas before the Boov renamed it in honor of the anniversary of their invasion of Earth).
Tip is an amazing character; she may be only eleven years old, but she is smart, determined, and resourceful, and I really enjoyed getting to know her. She takes charge of the narrative right from the beginning and doesn't let go, bringing the reader along on her road trip across the country to find her mother. We travel from Pennsylvania to Florida to New Mexico to Arizona with Tip and her cat Pig, meeting all kinds of interesting people and aliens along the way. Early on in the story, Tip meets and starts traveling with a Boov who goes by the name of J.Lo. J.Lo is funny and sweet, a completely irrepressible character. In fact, he occasionally takes over the story -- literally! -- in short segments of illustrated pages, graphic novel style.
In short, this book was a delight and you should go read it!(less)