I read the Metamorphosis when I was 18 or 19. Liked it then, and I liked it this summer, too ... but not as much as In the Penal Colony! Wow! I've bec...moreI read the Metamorphosis when I was 18 or 19. Liked it then, and I liked it this summer, too ... but not as much as In the Penal Colony! Wow! I've become a pretty blase, detached person in a lot of ways. In the Penal Colony was a nice little recess from that mindset. I was 100% there.
Overall, however, 4 out of 5. 5 for In the Penal Colony (do I even have to say).(less)
Some of the essays written for this book are *excellent.* Others are weaker, but none are not worth reading. The line that divides the excellent essay...moreSome of the essays written for this book are *excellent.* Others are weaker, but none are not worth reading. The line that divides the excellent essays from the others often has to do with the salience and staying power of the topic (the first publication was approx. 1993, and so a few pieces will seem old hat). The tone of the book ranges, but for the most part it moves between personal reflections, academic writing (citations included), and activism.
If you think you don't have to read this book because you've seen/read The Vagina Monologues, give it another thought. If I had to summarize the difference: The Vagina Monologues are great for raising awareness and eliciting emotion, but Transforming a Rape Culture does all that AND substantially digs into the psychological, historical, and philosophical roots of sexual violence; moreover it presents alternative social/interpersonal schemas. The personal reflections are not written by your average joe/josie selected off the street (as in the Vagina Monologues); they are profound, insightful and interspersed with cultural examination, written by those who deal with these issues in some aspect of their professional lives. In other words, they're more like guides or maps than personal reflections.
Another thing I like about this book is that you can read it in bits at a time. The writing is meaningful, direct and transformative, so it's best to absorb it in bits. You can read an essay a day, like a meditation, without having to devote long periods of time to it. I dog-eared a number of pieces to revisit after finishing the whole book, which turned out to be a good idea.
A final note: some of the best essays in this book were written by men.
My favorite essays ( *** ~ capital-F Favorites):
***Religion and Violence: The Persistence of Ambivalence (Joan H. Timmerman) Outside In: A Man in the Movement (Richard S. Orton) ***The Lie of Entitlement (Terrence Crowley) ***Seduced By Violence No More (bell hooks) Radical Heterosexuality (Naomi Wolf) ******In Praise of Insubordination (Inés Hernandez-Avila) A Woman With a Sword (D.A. Clarke) ***Up From Brutality (W. J. Musa Moore-Foster) Whose Body Is It, Anyway? (Pamela R. Fletcher)(less)