Though written in 1915, reading it in 2014 it feels neither modern nor dated. Gilman (yay!) flawlessly captures the sense of a narrative from the pastThough written in 1915, reading it in 2014 it feels neither modern nor dated. Gilman (yay!) flawlessly captures the sense of a narrative from the past (vividly in the style of "Lost Horizons"); and with a masterful awareness, deliberation, social insight and wryness so continually spot-on, it might come from the future.
Update: Finished 12-21-14. The only thing more captivating to me than the novel itself—with perfect, priceless excerptable quotes, observations and witticisms every other page—is the brief biography of Gilman in the introduction. How much of that women's life and death were not only ahead of her time but frighteningly relevant to this moment in ours? (re: current events and movements. They're probably eternal but our terms and understanding changes.)
Excuse me, must add "Yellow Wallpaper" to my "to-read" list....more
Her description of the power of fiction, toward the end of the book, was struck me as similar to a definition of "divinity" I'd arrived at in collegeHer description of the power of fiction, toward the end of the book, was struck me as similar to a definition of "divinity" I'd arrived at in college Classics courses. What made the Greek Gods gods, since other than their power and immortality they behaved largely like humans, was how they embodied/encompassed opposites in a way that humans can't—and/or can't cope with.
I can't say anything more relevant to the main text right now except that I agree with the Newsday review on the cover entirely: "strangely enchanting… a controlled and meticulous account… she handles her subject with the integrity of a journalist and the care of a survivor."...more
(9/12/13, on p. 96) It's a golden rule of acting: "Don't comment on your character; be your character." It seems to me that for many, if not most, peo(9/12/13, on p. 96) It's a golden rule of acting: "Don't comment on your character; be your character." It seems to me that for many, if not most, people, this is also something exceptionally hard (harder?) to do out of character, outside acting. Not to comment on yourself. Not to apologize or justify or disclaim. Even for people who don't have any noted self-esteem or anxiety issues. And maybe particularly in writing?
At this point in the book, I can only imagine (and joyfully anticipate!) how far Portia has come in her own happiness in order to write this book at all. And despite that—because of that?—she never comments on her [earlier] -self. She's just alive right there on the page; a blazing picture of how easily we can believe in the necessity and normalcy of self-torture. How amazingly powerful, how affecting, how illuminating; what an accomplishment (especially considering how much she as a person did judge herself! But it was part of the character, not part of the narrative about the character. Which is definitely a distinction with a difference) and what a gift to the reader. I feel like I'm being given something so intensely valuable, with total generosity and lack of strings. Because in not commenting on herself, she does not judge the reader. All the applicability that can be found, and there's so much, is wide open to be connected with. No filters, no commentary. It… feels empowering in a way? A new meaning of "faith in the reader". I want to thank her.
And I want to keep reading! So I shall! /Bye for now, off to read./
(9/14/13, finished!) The ending of the main narrative is so powerful, and so simple in execution, I felt physically stunned.
The epilogue is pretty much the opposite of what I described while on p. 96. ;-) Mostly in seeming to have a switch of tense: the POV feels more retrospective, vs. the body of the book which feels so very tangibly in the now. Inevitably, naturally, there's a more commentating, occasionally didactic, tone to it. But it makes perfect sense. The whole point of the epilogue is to show the contrast between who she was and who she managed to become—something I'd have been dismayed not to read, and had awaited eagerly throughout the main narrative, and was grateful to know something about because it gave comfort and hope. Leaving it for the epilogue means anything didactic is completely earned, and you know exactly where it's coming from—and considering I want to copy a solid 3 pages as a "favorite quote", I obviously don't find it off-putting or less compelling. It also happens to be genuinely wise, and friendly, and cool. I'm happy to have words for things I already agreed with, things I hadn't quite made up my mind about, and things that don't really apply to me but I think about 'cause my goodness are they out there and pervasive.
I'm stopping in to the bookstore tomorrow, even though I don't have a shift, just to make this a staff pick.
One of the many take-aways of this book: our society/media's insistent, pervasive default setting is one to resist. This book is an amazing bolster to defense.
Update, 9/15/13: I just emailed my bookstore to ask them to make it my staff pick in my absence; I can't wait until I return from California to have it on display....more
The social observations (on people, relationships, culture, movements, cities) are fantastic. Awesome writing that's both incredibly witty and seems tThe social observations (on people, relationships, culture, movements, cities) are fantastic. Awesome writing that's both incredibly witty and seems totally natural and unstrained/unaffected. Visual style also great, characterizations tops. On the list of many books I've enjoyed that have knocked any real reviewing ability out of me....more
I liked "Are You My Mother?" better, but that might be 'cause I read it first, so it was more of a revelatory entry to Bechdel's novels. Or maybe, asI liked "Are You My Mother?" better, but that might be 'cause I read it first, so it was more of a revelatory entry to Bechdel's novels. Or maybe, as she says, because "the bar is set higher for mothers". Either way, still amazing, and also gives me a wonderful window into many other authors I haven't (yet) read....more
Even when you're already convinced of something, it's always good to keep expanding and refining your outlook. And sometimes it's just really cool andEven when you're already convinced of something, it's always good to keep expanding and refining your outlook. And sometimes it's just really cool and refreshing to hear/read things, which you may already think, expressed incredibly well. Plus, there's always more you hadn't thought of! Wahls's Speech & Debate and journalism experience show in his writing. Well constructed, well thought-out, well founded, and very engaging. There was a moment in the last third of the book where for some reason I felt myself lose momentum and wanted to stop reading, but I'm very glad I kept going to the end. (Keep in mind I read an Advance Reader Copy, which is not quite a final edit.)
It also makes me want to check out the parenting book he references, even though I don't have kids. Well done and very welcome!...more
11-18-11 : Three stories in a small volume I picked up in Edinburgh, "Exclusive edition for The Scotsman". Read "Tape-Measure Murder" in the UK, today11-18-11 : Three stories in a small volume I picked up in Edinburgh, "Exclusive edition for The Scotsman". Read "Tape-Measure Murder" in the UK, today read "The Case of the Perfect Maid" and "Miss Marple Tells a Story" in the bath - which is just perfect really....more