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272 pages, Hardcover
First published October 2, 2018
Nice cover. Bright, eye-catching, & full of activity. Great concept. Lots of potential in an idea like this. Content is full of short, easily-digestible stories, making it a nice book to digest as one's schedule allows. The 1st story about the divers totally drew me in. I was all set for this book to continue to be a winner, & I wanted it to be a success b/c books like this could potentially be gems for younger gals. After the initial story I had problems, though. I kept getting bored. Short tales or not, my mind was wandering before I could get through them. I skipped the last halves of the stories after the 2nd story (about the skiers), & just altogether skipped the final story in the section (the tennis one). I thought maybe I was just not connecting to the 1st section of the book, which was devoted to athletes. After all, I'm really not a sports fan.
Next section: Activists. "Now we're talkin'," I thought. It didn't get any better, though. I tried putting the book down & coming back to it a few times, but it was never again interesting to me after the initial story (about the divers). I tried to figure out why this was, b/c the subject matter was rife with interesting material for story-telling. I knew I wasn't sold on the writing style, & it bothered me somewhat, but I had been trying to look past that. (I tried really hard, even when the author tried to pull off a 2-word prepositional phrase as a stand alone sentence & every cell in my being revolted. I had to put the book down at that point before I set it on fire.) It's written in an effort that seems to be trying exceptionally hard to sound as if the author is talking to you, but I feel like that effort failed. (Irionically, the book I read following this one was written very successfully in that manner, so it's not like I am against the idea of that kind of delivery.)
I pressed on & found myself at pirates. Ooohhhhh. I like pirates. Wait. What's this? When discussing the motivation behind why the pirates did as they did: "But they didn't do so out of some anarchist, sociopathic love of murder and mayhem." Below, you will find a brief pictorial relating the barrage of emotions I very rapidly cycled through following the reading of that statement.
So, at that point I was done w/ this thing.
Besides things like starting sentences with conjunctions (see the quote above for reference), & trying to pass off prepositional phrases as sentences (we discussed this already), conflating “anarchy” with “chaos” is a serious pet peeve of mine. It is at the top of my peeve list (although, if I’m honest, it is most days tied w/ people who don’t yield for traffic). Being that I had already made great effort to overlook the (many) issues I’d had trying to keep my head in this book & read it with the spirit it was obviously intended, I absolutely lost my shit as I read that sentence. I hate that it has come down to this point, but sadly, here we are just the same.
It’s pretty simple.
More to the point:
To put it another way:
No one has to take my word for it, though. This bona fide smart person quite succinctly states the whole reason why false conflation of the two terms is such a problem. (Just F.Y.I., it existed to refer to the political philosophy long before malignant intentions began to confound it w/ the idea of chaos.)
Coming across this error in a book celebrating women really got under my skin, b/c the (long) history of the political philosophy of anarchy is riddled chock-full with some of the most bad-ass women one could ever hope to find. My personal favorite, Emma Goldman, publicly said things like this, back when women were still wearing hoop skirts, & child labor was seen as an unavoidable inevitability:
(She was deported for her efforts, of course.)
Confusing the work of liberation so many women thanklessly devoted their lives to with the “sociopathic love of murder and mayhem” in a book that was intended to celebrate women has obviously completely set me off. I’m just disappointed in the missed opportunity, b/c this really was a good idea for a nice book.
So, here we are. Now that I’ve attempted to explain myself w/o overly boring any dear reader who has stuck w/ me thus far, I will wrap this thing up. As I did not wish to be overly harsh, I waited some time to post my review. I wanted the opportunity to reassess the situation and come back to it. As stated, the premise was great, but the author’s voice was off-putting to me, regardless of content. Some of the people referenced in this book would be interesting for other authors to possibly flesh-out further into stand alone narratives. I mean, their tales are good stuff. That said, I should have enjoyed this more (before I got to the part that set me off on my above rant), so I can’t honestly say I was enjoying it at all after that initial story. It could have been great, but truthfully I just hated it…..& I hate that I hated it, but oh, well. I resented it for being so boring, for trying painfully hard to sound so chatty, & for failing to deliver interesting narratives about people who were (for the most part) actually pretty fascinating.
In fairness, I can only recommend this book to people looking for possible jumping off points re: women that might be worth writing full books about. Beyond that, it may unfortunately be another great idea that just didn’t quite land. I’ve no doubt if it were rearranged somehow, & done with a different voice, it’d be great. I also have no doubt that some people will love it as is. I can’t help walking away feeling that the women chosen as subjects in this book deserved a better presentation. There you have it, though. That’s where I’m at with it. Thanks for hangin’ in there with me. I’m done, now.
(Side note: The author herself seems really cool. So much so that I wanted to like this book in part just b/c I thought she seemed so interesting. Weird how things work out sometimes.)