Helter-Skelter is a very interesting manga that has a lot to say. Ririko, desperate to become beautiful, submits herself to several expensive full-bod...moreHelter-Skelter is a very interesting manga that has a lot to say. Ririko, desperate to become beautiful, submits herself to several expensive full-body surgeries--all paid for by some mysterious woman who exploits her for all she's worth, but keeps her as an 'investment'. Ririko, of course, becomes a famous model, but starts to realize that it's going to end sooner than she feared as her new body starts falling apart. Ririko starts to desperately pursue anything she can to hang on to her fame as she dies away--vendettas with younger models, meaningless sex ("I just want to use my body and destroy the bodies of others", she says), drugs...whatever she can get her hands on. The manga itself is deliberately drawn in a very hurried style that, like Ririko, is extremely rough and disjointed most of the time, but alluring in others.
Reading in translation, the quality of the English is better than most done by other publishers, though (being a professional in this kind of thing) I could spot some needlessly awkward phrases and minor mis-steps in the translation, but probably not anything that someone who isn't paid to nit-pick like I am would notice.
Certainly different from a lot of the manga out there, for sure...this one isn't pretty, but it's a compelling look at the price of fame and just how fickle fame in Japan is in particular.(less)
2.5 stars...ish. This could have been an amazing book, full of fascinating information about the various uses of donated cadavers...if the author wasn'...more2.5 stars...ish. This could have been an amazing book, full of fascinating information about the various uses of donated cadavers...if the author wasn't so full of herself. Not only are we asked to endure I'm-so-funny jokes and "cheeky" references to previous jokes she feels are hilarious, often within mere sentences of each other--there are also these little starred asides for the look-at-how-smart-I-am paragraphs that she just couldn't quite cram in the actual text but couldn't swallow her pride and just ditch entirely--or, you know, include the information, but without the conspiratorial oh, dear reader, since we shall never meet in person, let me take the opportunity to impart this information to you schtick.
The other thing that really bothered me was the overall tone in general, that seemed to be judging those who do choose to deal with the bodies of themselves or their loved ones in the traditional methods of burial or cremation, even following organ donation. She comes off as very condescending toward them, as if to say that a personal choice not to see oneself or loved ones used as crash test dummies, anatomy studies, or any of the other myriad of methods in which cadavers are used, means that you are somehow at best less enlightened, and at worst downright selfish (even for partaking in spreading of ashes of a loved one, instead of making them into a tree or something).
While I do agree that there's not enough earth for burials the way we do them now, people still have rights to mourn and/or choose what they wish for their own bodies or those of the ones they love. Despite saying that there are purposes for which she would not like to see her own remains used, she appears to kind of turn her nose up at those who are not comfortable with whole-body donation despite her concession that it is only in a very rare set of circumstances that the to-be deceased or their families have any say on what their body will be used for...and that hypocrisy, in addition to her attempting to be the best dinner guest in the world, apparently, with all these fascinating stories she and only she has (even though I basically heard her chapter on cadavers used for religious research in a much more entertaining fashion on an episode of Penn and Teller: Bullshit!) is what really turned me off of this book in the end and made me glad that a sizable chunk of the back pages are bibliography.(less)
I actually borrowed this book from a friend, who brought it with him the last time we exchanged books. The edition I read had the cool rose and snake...moreI actually borrowed this book from a friend, who brought it with him the last time we exchanged books. The edition I read had the cool rose and snake motif on the cover, and was so, so seventies. I admit, for me, the old printing was part of its charm; reminded me of when a neighbor had acquired all of the James Bond novels in their older printings before they were rereleased.
Anyway, on to the actual book. It is a very quick read, and rather intriguing. Unlike so many other books about mental illness, this one presents the illness (in this case, schizophrenia) as just part of the narrator's world. She identifies the voices she hears by name, and introduces the reader to the lush world of escape and torture that her illness has created for her; if you didn't know that she was mentally ill thanks to her interactions with other characters, you may just think that this woman isn't so much ill as she is creating her own fantasy story that gets violently away from her from time to time.
It's refreshing in that it does not ask for the reader's pity or sympathy for the protagonist's illness, nor is the illness itself presented as something bad to be defeated or a good defense. It simply is what it is, and the protagonist endures what a schizophrenic would have in a mental institution in the 1960s...and responds in a way that, once you get to know her, you would expect.
A really quick read, to be sure, but unexpectedly satisfying in its different approach to portraying mental illness.(less)
Burana's book is refreshing in that, being that she is simply writing about her life at the same time as she is exploring her personal reasons for bec...moreBurana's book is refreshing in that, being that she is simply writing about her life at the same time as she is exploring her personal reasons for becoming a stripper, she does not fall into the pitfalls that other strippers' memoirs have in which they try to justify their profession through an overly-protesting, cloyingly feminist stance on the matter. To Burana, stripping is what it is, and it has its downfalls as well as advantages--as well as a history that she explores through speaking with other strippers. All in all, a very good read.(less)
I thought this would be an interesting book, and for a while it was--Levy attempts to approach the overly sexualized American culture from the perspec...moreI thought this would be an interesting book, and for a while it was--Levy attempts to approach the overly sexualized American culture from the perspective that women allow themselves to be sexualized, which is a valid argument...until about three chapters in, when she makes no effort to hide the fact that she is actually one of the women that makes the thinking woman hate the word feminist--though women are somewhat to blame for the sexualization of women in culture for allowing it to happen, she claims, it is ultimately the man's fault for giving her an outlet with which to do it (which is, in my opinion, complete and utter crap). If you really want to get pissed off, keep reading until her chapter regarding FTM transsexuals; oh, yes, she is indeed one of the people who believes that transsexualism is simply a social device, that biological females who wish to become male have no other reason for doing so other than The Man telling them that men are afforded higher social status (and that, on the flip side, MTF transsexuals simply want to change physical sex to invade female spaces).
Sigh, yet another book of "feminism" that shows exactly what's wrong with feminism--too much bitching about how the man's keeping us down, and no effort expended in showing him how we can work just as well alongside him as we can against him.(less)
Audacia Ray, staying true to herself as a sex-positive blogger with a casual, interested tone when it comes to sexuality and the internet, presents th...moreAudacia Ray, staying true to herself as a sex-positive blogger with a casual, interested tone when it comes to sexuality and the internet, presents this book with a wit often absent in women's studies books. She covers a basic history of sex on the internet, beginning with the earliest listservs to camgirl blogs and support groups (with a full index of terminology and URLs, which thankfully there is no need to flip back and forth between as you read).
It is quite refreshing, for me, to finally read a book that broaches internet sexuality (and yes, the large amounts of pornography that stem from internet sexploration) in a manner that is more reasoned than the approach of most sociologists who also bill themselves as feminists--Ray sees nothing degrading about women exploring their sexuality through pornography or even being a camgirl or self-employed pornographic actress--so she does not act as many do when they write books about pornography, touting it as the single most common sexual deviance, something that destroys the family and leaves the door wide open for sexual addiction and lack of communication between partners (a notion, mind, which is utter crap).
In short, this book is a wonderful resource to learn about the history of sex on the Internet and several of its facets, from the internet pornography industry to Internet-enabled sex toys and the quest for the "perfect" cybersex experience that combines the audiovisual with the mental and physical, and a very intriguing and well-rounded read.(less)