Had heard of this, and formed and impression of this, based on other things I read in Women's Studies in the 80's. But for the first time picked up aHad heard of this, and formed and impression of this, based on other things I read in Women's Studies in the 80's. But for the first time picked up a copy at my daughter's school library, waiting for a meeting to start. I really like the tone of it.. Another Chicagoan! Looking forward to reading it all.
Her description of the way the ghetto-izing schools of Chicago intentionally robbed their students of an education, and the effect on her, is shocking. Also her description of her Dad's efforts to gain justice the 'right' way, and, again, the effects on her, hard to even imagine.
The format - part prose, part play - is jangling, but worth it of course.
It's sooo tragic how young she died (at age 34 in 1965)! All sixty-one of the artists who took place in the telling of 'Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words' to commemorate her on the second anniversary of her death, including Anne Bancroft, Lauren Bacall, Ralph Bellamy, Bette Davis, Ruby Dee, Colleen Dewhurst, Rita Moreno, Paul Robeson, Sidney Poitier, Maureen Stapleton, Rod Steiger and so many more - I'm even bigger fans of all of them....more
Clearly this is one of those areas where written material exists mainly in left-wing newspapers and magazines and websites etc.. more than books yet.Clearly this is one of those areas where written material exists mainly in left-wing newspapers and magazines and websites etc.. more than books yet. Books are much easier to store though. Hence, this in case is of use. ...more
Having seen multiple films lately about the WTO Seattle event, and remembering the 00 election - so affected by Nader - and then of course living throHaving seen multiple films lately about the WTO Seattle event, and remembering the 00 election - so affected by Nader - and then of course living through everything since as well, I'm really interested in learning what those who have been fully involved in these efforts throughout this time are thinking since the Iraq occupation and everything else.. Seems like the whole context has changed hugely now atleast 3 times since Seattle (9/11, Iraq, Global Recession) and so am wondering what the progression has been like for those much more involved that I....more
Just watched 'the Take,' awesome work on a really exciting set of happenings: the rebuilding of Argentina by the workers via 'recovered' factories, afJust watched 'the Take,' awesome work on a really exciting set of happenings: the rebuilding of Argentina by the workers via 'recovered' factories, after its collapse due to globalization. Must read this! This is written by one of the guys on the crew for the film. They taped 200 hours worth of footage. Amazing. Must also truly actually read shock doctrine now. I didn't realize watching the film that it was Naomi Klein, that that was her throughout it all. So, that's that, now....more
'The Help' is one of those gently brutal books that makes it possible to sit still for the telling of a terrible reality. It is about women in the Sou'The Help' is one of those gently brutal books that makes it possible to sit still for the telling of a terrible reality. It is about women in the South in the 60's.. turning on the dynamics between the white housewifes and the black women who were their maids and nursemaids. This book rips away the veil on this set of amazinly intricate emotional interactions.
For, you see, these ‘maids’ are also entrusted with the children of the household had the option/opportunity/requirement of caring - really caring- for the children. Yet, the parents were racist. Yet the children weren’t yet. While the children grew up though, they would slowly imbibe the mindset of their parents and community.. and in their eyes, the black woman who had been often their most favorite adult would be transformed into someone ‘stupid,’ ‘dirty,’ and ‘bad,’ to the heartbreak of the women themselves.
Partly this affects me perhaps because of my teenager, who has provided a first-hand lesson on how relationships are transformed as the child ages. There is a natural separating of course. But to go through that transition when the end point is that much more brutal.. mutiple times. really hard to imagine.
And yet the central character of this book, Aibileen, has done just that. She raised 17 white children, and in nearly every case, they turned against her to some degree starting at around 10.
And she was somehow able to go ahead and begin that journey again with the next one. How? How could she do that? How could she open herself to love that new baby, love it with all her heart, focus on filling every need and healing every owie or illness.. when it isn’t even hers, and she knows more likely then not they’re going to turn from her when they become aware of things? That sort of strong tenderness is among the main flavors of this story.
But Aibileen does find that ability slipping away from her, mainly when her one child of her own - her son Treelore, died at age 24 in an accident at work. After a brutal grieving period, she comes into another household, begins to bond with another child, and that is where the story of ‘The Help’ begins.
The second of the three alternating first-person points of view in this book is that of Minny, the quintessential ‘angry black woman,’ one of the richest characterizations I’ve ever read. What she endures, what she does when she breaks, and how she keeps going and eventually makes a mind-boggling sacrifice for her community - these aspects and others coalesce the character of Minny into as full a human being as ever has been in literature.
The third character is ‘Skeeter,’ a white woman who has just returned from gaining her degree at college to find out that her beloved nursemaid, Constantine, has disappeared. It’s unclear if she quit or was fired, nobody will tell Skeeter what happened, and she’s crushed because they had written all throughout Skeeter’s college years and had corresponded last only weeks before Skeeter’s homecoming. How something so amazing and dramatic could happen in such a short period is beyong Skeeter’s comprehension.
Skeeter’s desire to write for a living is the thread that draws these three women together. Initially they obey the lines drawn by their community across their lives, and follow the rules of distrusting each other and expecting the worst. In time, as their lives intertwine, all of them progress through a series of changes. Those intimate, personal changes are set against a backdrop of the social change taking place around them - in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962. Which, according to the Governor, is ‘heaven on earth’ and he has no intention of allowing change to occur.
What I realized as I read this book was that I had no picture in my mind of the white women in the South at that period. The only films I’d seen - like ‘Mississippi Burning’ or ‘Paris, Texas’ or ‘A family Thing’ of ‘The Long Walk Home’ included female main characters who were conscientious and passively entrenched in the way things were, but not actively involved in it. In ‘The Help,’ a very different reality is illuminated.
And through the course of the book, the choking fear that Minny and Aibileen and the others like them is described and substantiated and fully realized. Which showed me (more than I’d known before) again just how deep the pot of pain is between the races here in the US. How much there is to move through and heal. I believe that this book plays a vital role in that process, by saying out loud that which is more powerful when silent.
One of the main cornerstones of this story is the tenacious drive of Hilly (best friend of Skeeter and daughter of the woman who Minny takes care of) to pass the ‘Home Help Sanitation Initiative’ - a bill that would require every white home in Mississipp to have a separate bathroom for the colored help. Her reasoning? That Colored folks carry diseases different from white people, and white people don’t have immunity to those diseases. Miss Hilly is the personal face of batshit crazy hating people, and this story kinds of arches off from her in various directions. She forms the nucleus of personality that explains much of the South, in particular the Jim Crow laws and other manifestations of bigotry and tyranny.
Skeeter at one point discovers a pamphlet of those laws at the library, and reads:
It shall be unlawful for a white person to marry anyone except a white person. Any marriage in violation of this section shall be void. No colored barber shall serve as a barber to white women or girls. Books shall not be interchangeable between the white and colored schools, but shall continue to be used by the race first using them. The Board shall maintain a separate building on separate grounds for the instruction of all blind persons of the colored race.
Skeeter, reading these laws in a pamphlet she found at a library, thinks, ‘Negroes and whites are not allowed to share water fountains, movie houses, public restrooms, ballparks, phone booths, circus shoes. Negroes cannot use the same pharmacy or buy postage stamps at the same window as me. … We all know about these laws, we live here, but we don’t talk about them.’
And as Skeeter, returned from college, sees her community with eyes that are more and more open, she sees the wider pattern of oppression extending into the actions of those who had been close to her. She becomes more and more separate from all she had known and all of the identities she had created for herself. Aibileen continues to deal with the death of her son, while loving the little girl she cares for who’s mother, Elizabth Leefoldt, is best friends with Skeeter and Miss Hilly. Minny, who Miss Hilly has fired when she puts her mother away, finds a new situation thankfully - but one with many challenges. To her gratitude, since her husband’s salary is not enough to support them and their five children, ages 17 to 5.
The ending of this book disappointed me, but it may be an instance where there’s no way it could have ended that I’d be comfortable with. I very very much want to continue reading these three first-person accounts, I want to know what happens next in all three of their lives.
Also though I had expected the author to tie in what the characters were going through with the bigger picture, right there at the end. She did do that earlier in the book - the assassination of Medger Evans is set right smack in the middle of this story, and Minny and Aibileen are both very much affected by it. More than any of the white characters of course. But I was waiting to see if the author would tie the bigger picture to the sorts of personal changes in the book or not - and she didn’t. Not in the way I wanted. Which was some complete sociological inventory of how much each component of the community changed over a 5-year timegraph, numerically.. I guess that’s a bit unrealistic? Sigh.. That topic, of the interplay between personal change and community change completely fascinates me.
Anyway, this book is a superb mixture of intense content and gentle, sweet delivery. Highly recommend! ...more
This is really more a set of annotated lists, a resource guide. It also has some very intense personal content, that is part a bit of see-how-cool-I-aThis is really more a set of annotated lists, a resource guide. It also has some very intense personal content, that is part a bit of see-how-cool-I-am, but mostly purports to be a how-to guide to move from paralyzing grief at the state of our Earth into action. And in that, it has some interesting content, if you can mold yourself into the whole being-a-fire-dog posture.
The resource lists, around energy alternatives, global-healing strategies, and global activist groups, are alone worth getting a copy....more
This book was like becoming able to scratch that one spot on your back that was always out of reach - very satisfying despite the relatively inapproprThis book was like becoming able to scratch that one spot on your back that was always out of reach - very satisfying despite the relatively inappropriate method used.
The review had set it up for me incorrectly though. It wasn’t that her tone changed towards the end, in fact it stayed perfectly consistent: brutally T.M.I.-ly honest. The sort of honest where it makes the tell-ing one feel better, and the listener feel possible worse. Because you really didn’t want to know those sorts of things, which range from superfluously excessive food-messiness to body smells and sounds to hysterically crude sexual references (for some, completely over-the-top I’d imagine), to biting class and other social human misbehaviors and eccentricities and religion and all that; all delivered with a clever deadpan wit that somehow brings us to the other side of the deeply plunging colorfully strobe-light-blinking abyss. With Heather as our guide, we do want to know all she tells us, and it feels great at the end -because- we know and because psychological slapstick can be as funny as physical and (likely most of all) because it wasn’t our life.
Heather’s writing style is impactful, constantly lobbing excrutiating moments at you (the reader) that take your breath away with how awful they are. And the way each episode is structured is like a multi-part firecracker. It starts with one single ingrediant. If you’ve caught on by this point, you’ll create images and arcs around what could happen based on that element. Then, she throws in two or three more. Then, she takes your story arc, bends it into some Escher creation, and the outcome is so -amazingly- much worse than you first thought of. It’s really mind-blowing, since it’s all relatively firmly anchored in the kind of mundane day-to-day real life aspects we all experience. Then it ends and the coast is clear until the next outbreak moments later of some other unadulterated catastrophe. Best of all, unlike shock-for-its-own-sake, Heather’s writing has a purpose and leads towards a great (albeit tragic) conclusion.
Excuse me a moment. Heather? Are you there? Listen, if you take reader requests, could you PLEASE write a sequel? Or a hundred sequels? I’m relatively fixated on the various potentials involved in what might happen … Next. Oh, god, I shudder to think, to an extent. But would really love to know. Of course, I’ll read anything you write at this point, starting with your previous book. But thought I’d put in my vote - a sequel would be awesome! Some things I was thinking about - insidious rebellion, maintaining meaningful ties despite certain bonds, and all the other parts of how she does do it (all the rest that lies ahead).. Since they only care about appearances after all, seems it would leave Jennifer with worlds of opportunity.
Ok, I’m back. So, here’s the story (in addition to what’s in the official review): Jennifer Johnson is the least prissy women either side of the Mississippi, and you’d better follow her example if you follow this invitation into her world. She has seen and experienced a lot, and processes it all with the jaundiced eye and crudely accurate and complete conversations with herself and her friends. Her closest friend, Christopher, is the ultimate gay bee, always true to her and their friendship. His partner Jeremy is sweet and well-meaning, but needs to read expiration dates more closely. Her work mate, Ted, has let himself blend in to the environment too much, and doesn’t rise above until really too late. Jennifer’s family is a cacophony of friction and distress but nonetheless, she is true to them when push comes to shove. Brad Keller? Oh, that’s Prince Charming. You know, like in the fairy tale. The fairy tale where the one-dimensional (and, to review, that one dimension is beauty of a thinness variety, certainly) girl finds her Prince Charming and lives happily ever after. This book is about that, only different. Much, much different: it’s a rework you could say, a customization to fit the modern day; or to fit as much as possible anyway.
One lesson I came away from this book with: there are two kinds of people in your life. Those who care and will become uncomfortable for you if it helps solve a problem or ease a pain, and those who are oblivious. And important distinction.
So this book, in reworking Prince Charming, is split into sections: find him, hunt him, nail him down. Your reaction to that? If you don’t think this book is for you, you’re probably right. Oh and by the way, this book has both women and men in it, and I’m sure there are men out there for whom reading this book would not cause any permanent damage. And I’d love to read the reactions of such men afterwards. I really think some would like it as much as I do, since they’re alive as well and everything.
Moments I loved (not in order): The dog eating what it shouldn’t have thing her dating profile-to-English translation phrasebook how much it is true that saying “atleast life can’t get any worse” is always a bad idea the clarity around the wrongness of the word ‘nuptial’ the employee team-building exercise the muffin scene the list of first date do’s and don’ts the wedding Jennifer shouldn’t have tried to go to the heavy-partying pity elf the scene with Jennifer breaking up with Brad, especially the third person also there Jennifer’s doll house catharsis activities the Heart Bears thing the green fluid explosion the skeweringly accurate capture of the flavor of discourse about women ‘losing a little weight’ the firemen scene, which was part of an action that I feel really did move Jennifer forward, no matter how messy it got. It just simply was useful for her, despite all that.
and so many more
Personal gain: the insight into the choices I have in the workplace to try and work up from least useful to most useful emotions, the healing aspects of curiosity, and the power of ‘chunking-it-down.’ Wow!
Wow, looks cool. I was just talking to my Mom about how we've lost the wisdom of the generation before her, who lived through the other depression. LiWow, looks cool. I was just talking to my Mom about how we've lost the wisdom of the generation before her, who lived through the other depression. Like, I was saying, how her Mom would boil spaghetti by bringing the water to a boil, put in the spaghetti, then turn the heat off. I thought she did that to save energy. (it cooks still, just takes longer). But my Mom said no, it wasn't for that reason - was just thought to be a better way for a while. So who knows. But her mother saved everything, used everything, etc.. And here is a bit of those ways, captured forever. Perfect!...more
And it actually has Finnish in it? Or it has some language and calls it Finnish? Or refers to their language as Finnish? Fascinating, puts this way upAnd it actually has Finnish in it? Or it has some language and calls it Finnish? Or refers to their language as Finnish? Fascinating, puts this way up on my ranking due to family members of that persuasion....more