Best first chapter I've read in awhile. Excited to see where this goes. Love the writing style and first person stream of consciousness internal rant...moreBest first chapter I've read in awhile. Excited to see where this goes. Love the writing style and first person stream of consciousness internal rant as character development technique.
"For one thing, it is something none of her other fiction has been, which is an absolute page-turner, from its grab-you-by-the-collar opening—“How angry am I? You don’t want to know. Nobody wants to know about that”—to its final rumination on the creative uses of anger: “a great boil of rage like the sun’s fire in me.” For another, it may well be the first truly feminist (in the best, least didactic sense) novel I have read in ages—the novel, candid about sex and the intricacies of female desire, that Virginia Woolf hoped someone would write, given a room and income of her own. The Woman Upstairs takes on, at full throttle, the ways in which women are socialized into being accommodating “nice girls” and the ruthlessness—the “myopia”—that is necessary to pursue artistic ambition. It shows Claire Messud at the height of her considerable powers, articulating the quandary of being alive and sentient, covetous and confused in the twenty-first century."(less)
Sadly, Mia's family tragedy is based on a real life tragedy - this informs how I am reading - I knew Robert Christie and his wife Denise (but only met...moreSadly, Mia's family tragedy is based on a real life tragedy - this informs how I am reading - I knew Robert Christie and his wife Denise (but only met Ted as a newborn) - Robert and Denise and Robert's parents and the setting are all VERY present in this story (as Mia's family and home) but it's Mia, the fictional character, whose presence is the most haunting... it is such a terribly sad story and a vivid meditation on life and death, consciousness and free will. More to say soon.(less)
Owen King is Stephen King's son. I found this on the new bookshelf at the library I work at and, not knowing that, picked it up because it is about mo...moreOwen King is Stephen King's son. I found this on the new bookshelf at the library I work at and, not knowing that, picked it up because it is about movies and the cover caught my eye with a quote from Larry McMurtry (who I strangely like, I also like Stephen King but stopped reading him years ago). So far it reminds me more of Jonathan Franzen (who I don't really dig) than Stephen King. It's about a competitive father/son relationship, which I find compelling. The central character seems privileged & sexist and a bit whiny/narcissistic and I'm not sure if this is something the author is conscious of or not. I guess we'll see. The writing is skillful, well-done story telling so I think I will finish it regardless of how it is slightly bugging me right now... Ok now that I finished the book I have learned a few things 1. Owen King is not for me 2. Being a good writer is not enough, you have to have something to say. 3. I generally don't like books that represent a sheltered segment of society as if that segment is The World 4. I generally don't enjoy stories about men who are not self-aware and take up too much space 5. People who teach writing don't necessarily write great fiction HOWEVER... Owen King is a good writer in that this world he created with words was real and vivid to me, it just was not a world I want to spend time in ... his female characters were not real to me, they were idealized and two dimensional Etc So glad I am done and onto the next book - The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messaud(less)
The Riot Grrrl Collection: Preliminary Thoughts by Tobi Vail
INTRODUCTION: I am an author/fanzine editor featured in this book. My contribution includ...moreThe Riot Grrrl Collection: Preliminary Thoughts by Tobi Vail
INTRODUCTION: I am an author/fanzine editor featured in this book. My contribution includes excerpts from Jigsaw #1 1989, Bikini Kill #1 1991, Bikini Kill #2 1991, various correspondence and flyers/graphics. I am enjoying reading The Riot Grrrl Collection and I think it looks fantastic. I would like to thank everyone involved in making this happen. I appreciate all of your hard work. I fully support this project and I am looking forward to seeing what people have to say about The Riot Grrrl Collection after they read it. I know I am not alone in welcoming critical, analytical responses to this document and the history that it represents.
I will post a full review when I've finished reading the book but I already have a lot to say so I will start with the introduction. First of all, there are some factual details I would like to correct, question and/or add to the book. I am keeping a running list of mistakes or questionable claims, as I do every time a book is written that includes local history that I have witnessed/taken part in. This is one way history gets revised so I don’t want to just ignore errors or inconsistencies. History that is being written and recorded is contestable terrain.
So far this is what I have down -
Lisa's intro to The Riot Grrrl Collection ends with a quote from Girl Germs #3:
“If you are sitting there reading this and you feel like you might be a riot grrrl then you probably are so call yourself one” She attributes the quote to me, Tobi Vail, but this should be credited to Molly Neuman.
When I first read this I thought - I don’t think I would have ever said this, I don’t remember ever feeling this way about riot grrrl, I actually remember feeling like it was really important to acknowledge that many of us (myself included) were a bit apprehensive about calling ourselves riot grrrls for legitimate reasons.
This is obviously a-whole-nother article but, in short, some of these reasons included class, race, sexuality, gender expression as well as theoretical differences – for example, following feminist/political theorists such as bell hooks, Judith Butler, Alison Jaggar, Michel Foucault, Joan Cocks, Elizabeth Spelman, Angela Davis - not wanting to universalize a utopian idea of sisterhood or promote an essentialist idea of gender. I also had problems witnessing what I later learned is called the oppression Olympics (see Elizabeth Martinez) and some of the self-serving misuses of identity politics that I saw happening in the riot grrrl scene. There were also strategic differences – like wanting to play in bands and make zines but not wanting to go to C.R. type meetings (but still respecting those who did go to meetings, blah blah blah....) and in general, being focused on trying to build a culture of resistance rather than wanting to get involved in more traditional forms of political organizing, which, at the time, I felt were ineffective in that they no longer spoke to young people. Then the media coverage happened and it got even more confusing/alienating adding all these additional layers and layers of complexity...one being that I was not interested in being a leader or a star or taking part in a feminist movement that had leaders or stars. I was interested in encouraging and participating in radical, anti-capitalist, non-hierarchical, diffuse, localized feminist movement/scenes/action and was trying to help build an international network through punk rock /d.i.y. /underground music culture that connected us via bands and zine-making – I wasn’t really focused on A NAME, I thought there should be multiple names and mutability and when riot grrrl started to seem to represent something else it didn’t speak to me so much AS A NAME…I thought it would keep moving, evolving, changing, growing – now, of course, that whole time/place is known as “riot grrrl” and you have to just say, yes ok, that is the term, fine, I surrender.
This is all to say that YEAH - I understood the hesitancy to call yourself a riot grrrl as something to respect and not something to gloss over. You could be a feminist, a punk feminist even, a self-identified grrrl even, a member of a so-called “riot grrrl band” and not feel represented by that category.
I thought about it some more…
I thought, MAYBE, it is POSSIBLE that the quote is mine. MAYBE I felt this way once a long, long, time ago - way back at the very beginning of riot grrrl…the year before it started…the summer it started, the month it started, the week it started, the day it started…that long hot summer evening in Malcolm X Park…in a secret grrrl gang solidarity letter to Jen Smith that spring? Before meetings were happening and it all was just this big utopian dream of revolution that some of us girls were using as a metaphor - or maybe a dare - as a way to imagine and talk about what a feminist network of action would actually look like, as a way of getting to that next step, as a way to create a feminist future, as a way of asking for back up or to gather an army? When I look back at some of my writing in Jigsaws #2-#4 I see some of this kind of hopeful romanticism there in the form of sisterly sloganeering and it’s not totally formulated on paper yet but it is inspired and it did inspire others to action, it did get me from point a to point b to point c, and so - YES - maybe I could have written this but I don’t remember feeling it. That makes sense, as a lot of emotions you experience as a young person are hard to feel or even relate to later in life. Perhaps this is just something I blocked from my memory years ago? Hmmm.
But then I noticed that the quote was credited to an issue of Girl Germs. I didn’t write for Girl Germs. Molly Neuman and Allison Wolfe were the editors/main writers of Girl Germs and I don’t remember ever contributing any writing or being interviewed for Girl Germs but, again, I thought maybe I had forgotten? So I looked around and started rereading Girl Germs #3, which is included in the Riot Grrrl Collection in its entirety, and I found it - see page 78 of the book, page 27 of the fanzine - as a part of Molly’s Top Ten (Extended Dance Remix) under the sub heading "#9 riot grrrl".
I encourage those of us who were participants to comment on the historical record, to tell our version of what happened, to record our memories and thoughts and find a way to share them. If you are reading "riot grrrl" zines for the first time I look forward to finding out how someone in 2013 will hear what we had to say about the world 20 or more years ago when we were much younger.
Ok, that's it for now! Back to the book.
P.S. I don't think Kathleen Hanna ended up writing the preface for the book even though she is listed here. Her writing is included in the book.
P.P.S. I should add that Lisa did email me before the book came out to ask for my authorization to reprint my work and listed this quote in a long list of things she wanted my permission to reproduce. I just said yes to the whole email and didn't think about it too much until the book came out - so, in all fairness to Lisa, I want to say that I missed an opportunity to correct this mistake before it was published, which I now regret.
I also would like to thank Lisa and Johanna everyone at the Fales Archive and The Feminist Press and all of the contributors/participants made it possible for this book to exist. (less)