Read this for "Girls Only" book club (books are either about a woman or written by a woman) and it was good. Good recommendation Sherri.
I was discussRead this for "Girls Only" book club (books are either about a woman or written by a woman) and it was good. Good recommendation Sherri.
I was discussing this book today and I've been thinking that I like JWH because she was a seriously flawed heroine. She was snobby, entitled, and narrow-minded -- as was almost everyone else in her circle/class. She was ambitious, an extrovert, enjoyed public attention and admiration -- these attributes are neutral though usually condemed in a woman especially in the 19th century. I may not have ever been able to be best friends with this woman, but I can admire, respect, and appreciate her.
I especially loved Showalter's comparison of Walt Whitman and JWH who were born in the same year and both aspired to be poets, but she was an exotic pet in a gilded cage while he was free to roam the streets of Brooklyn and absorb its sounds, smells and rythms. If JWH had not been a slave, kept down by first her father and then her husband, circumscribed to a small physical sphere with limited experience and acquaintance, what brilliant and innovative poems might she have written? ...more
A lot of people found this book boring, blase, and unoriginal. I think they are much more familiar with this world than I am. Half the terms this womaA lot of people found this book boring, blase, and unoriginal. I think they are much more familiar with this world than I am. Half the terms this woman used I was unfamiliar with; I had never heard of lululemon, Birkin bags, and I did not know what a blowout was -- unless you're talking about rubber tires. It sounded kind of dirty, but it's just the 21st century version of going to the salon and having your circa 1950's bouffant puffed back up.
What I found most interesting were her comparisons of female human primates to other female primates especially at the end where she talks about communal mothering. And that is why I recommend it, especially chapter 6 Manhattan Moms on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and chapter 7 A Rainy Day. Chapter 6 discusses the recent change to solo parenting from the tradition that has been in place since time out of mind where women helped each other raise their children together. Chapter 7 is about how child death has been a reality since the beginning of human existence and it is still a part of our hardwire and affects us today where child death still happens if much more rarely in the western world. You can always skip the rest of the book if you are already familiar with the lifestyles of the Upper East Side, but it seems to me that Martin makes some interesting observations about gender roles -- it is amazing how nothing really changes -- especially for the wealthy.
I am interested in the advent of agricultural based societies and how they introduce inequality in wealth and between the sexes. This book offers a glimpse into the world of the Upper East Side, the highly stratified, patriarchal realities of an intensive agricultural/industrial society. The similarities between UES and the English Aristocracy of the 19th and early 20th century are striking and when taking a long view of history (I'm talking millenia here) it shouldn't be surprising since they are our cousins and all that happened just yesterday. This is basically the modern day Downton Abbey. I recently read The Edwardians by Vita Sackville-West and the rigid social rules and manners, the complete obliviousness of the wealthy class to the way everyone else lives is the same as the denizens of the Upper East Side.
The negative reviews seem a bit harsh, but on the other hand it is almost impossible to have sympathy for rich people. If they want sympathy they can go live in a trailer park . . . "oh you'd rather be hated in your million dollar condo? I thought so." Martin says some weird crap about her house being small, but she has a closet devoted to handbags -- you just can't expect these people to be normal or have any perspective. I think she was trying to making fun of herself, show that she doesn't take herself too seriously, but they just don't get that closets of handbags are not funny to people who got a $30 handbag from Target five years ago, that's cracked and falling apart and wouldn't dream of needing a new one, because $30 was way too much to spend in the first place. It's like telling a joke about how you threw away a bunch of expensive food to a starving person. That kind of shit starts riots. Because we're not talking about different perspectives or cultural diversity here, we're talking about life and death. We're talking about rich people stealing food from the mouths of the poor and that just isn't even haha funny....more
I feel like I need to re-read this, especially the Agatha Christie bit. It was a beautiful book. The first section resonated with me, the overwhelmingI feel like I need to re-read this, especially the Agatha Christie bit. It was a beautiful book. The first section resonated with me, the overwhelming bitterness, sadness, and the sense that all of life is just an exercise in futility. The second section is very symbolic and the comparative essay on Agatha Christie and Jesus Christ is delightful. The third section was poignant and meditative. His descriptions made me feel like I was in Portugal and I've added yet another destination to my travel list. It wasn't "plot-driven" I suppose, but I liked it. It was thought-provoking, beautiful, and absorbing. Good job Martel. Thanks for a great book....more