Tentatively, Convenience's Reviews > Chimera

Chimera by John Barth
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it was amazing
bookshelves: literature

Ok, the 1st review in the front of my copy (actually a paperback) is from Playboy, the 2nd is from Cosmopolitan. Playboy is hardly representative of my idea of sexual politics.. & neither is Cosmo: to the editors of the latter: How many times can you rehash X # of tips for pleasing yr man? Really, it's sickening. Let's just FUCK, shall we? Remember INSTINCT for fuck's sake?!

ANYWAY, at 1st I was disappointed by this: I've just recently read "The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor" by Barth & given it a positive review. I hadn't realized that it had a predecessor in "Chimera" - from 19 yrs before. SO, I thought something along the lines of: "Oh, 'Chimera' explored this retelling of tales &, therefore, "Last Yoyage" is less interesting b/c it's a remake". Well.. that's not really what I 'thought', that's a drastic oversimplification - but it's somehow relevant.

On p 20 of my edition, Barth has the "Genie" (hypothetically Barth himself) essentially reveal that: "his two-decade marriage [was:] but a prolonged infidelity to her [Scheherazade:], his own fictions were mimicries, pallid counterfeits of the authentic treasure of her Thousand and One Nights".

&, yes, it takes off from there. There are enuf levels to this to astound me. I've even given it a 5 star rating ALMOST against my 'will'. It also made me wonder (not enuf to research the question) how Barth's presumed marriage(s) fared?

It's funny: I note that the GoodReads reviews that I've skimmed thru call it "postmodern" & I reckon that's 'right' - but is it more accurately 'pre-post-modern'? Having come out in 1972 or thereabouts? Whatever. There's plenty of fucking w/ conventions of narrative, times & places mixed together, etc.. - & Barth does it wonderfully - w/, to use a cliché, 'consummate skill'.

There's also a VERY heavy dose of sexual politics - Barth tries to address issues of equality & role models, etc, but there's still a rampant male ego at work - not that I mind, mind you - I just wd like to read a feminist critique of this.. instead of a Playboy review..

& I DON'T MEAN a knee-jerk feminist review - I mean a feminist review in wch it's admitted that PMS exists, that SOME women have rape fantasies, etc. I shd know: after sex w/ a former president of a state chapter of NOW, she wrote a rape fantasy inspired by our sex for an arts journal - they denied it publication. I'm not a rapist - but describing me as such got HER off - not me.

SO, I look at some of the GoodReads reviews: women love it, women don't love it, men love it, men don't love it. I only superficially looked at the reviews but I saw nary a mention of the sexual politics of the bk - wch seem to me to be a central theme.

The bk addresses SO MANY THINGS that I cdn't help but give it a good review. Barth, why weren't we friends when you taught at Hopkins & I lived in Baltimore? B/c you lived the safe life of a well-compensated writer of fantasy & I lived the REAL dangerous life of a street adventurer? It's ok, I like you anyway.
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Reading Progress

June 2, 2009 – Shelved
Started Reading
June 19, 2009 – Shelved as: literature
June 19, 2009 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Paula (new)

Paula Gillen Michael, enjoyed your review, especially these lines: How many times can you rehash X # of tips for pleasing yr man? Really, it's sickening. Let's just FUCK, shall we? Remember INSTINCT for fuck's sake?! -pretty funny.

PMS is real. I had the worse case known to humanity, that and artist narcissism helped to keep me single until the safety of menopause washed ashore. My hormones inflicted mental illness once a month. Psychologically it was painful to myself, my ex boyfriends, and my poor colleagues. Acupuncture, exercise, vitamins, nothing helped. Sleeplessness, mania, exhaustion, severe irritability, anger, spurts of pure creativity, and lots of crying. It was all there once a month. I popped open a bottle of champagne when my hormones said goodbye, with a good F***King riddance!

Hormone replacement is for those who nuts who would trade youth for insanity caused by the female curse.

Tentatively, Convenience Ha ha! Dear Paula! The day you lose yr sense of humor the Moon will crash into the Earth! Hhmm.. I shd fire off a letter to Obama ASAP warning him of the potential disaster yr death will cause (assuming you lose yr sense of humor then?) & strongly suggest a government program to resarch making you immortal..

As for PMS & yr claim that "I had the worse case known to humanity" - I'm impressed by yr audacity here but, hhmm, I think there're quite a few contenders for that! I wonder if anyone's ever compiled a collection of PMS HORROR STORIES - like all nightmares of feelings-gone-berserk they cd be alotof fun to TALK ABOUT AFTERWARDS once they're at a safe distance. &, of course, w/o having ever had PMS personally, I HAVE HAD PLENTY of feelings-gone-berserk that might be comparable!

None of the above, of course, being particularly germane to Barth's great novel "Chimera" - but here we are, nonetheless, adding our tangents in a public place where people seeking opinions on the novel will get hereby sidetracked! That, in itself, is pretty funny!

Who knows, maybe these comments will lead to a PMS Anthology someday called "Chimera" [wasn't that neat the way I tied it all together at the last minute - you can tell I'm a formalist at heart!:]

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