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Women & Men Chapter Discussions > 0100 What Found Grace Kimball, Goddess Quite Much Taken

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message 1: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments Discuss.

message 2: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments Besides the birthing beginning, this is my favorite section. I think it's because, as a woman, I can connect better with these chapters.

I used the wrong expression when I said that I was going to blast through the book, although when I'm in the flow, it feels like I'm blasting through the book. This is a positive thing. I meant that I wanted to read the novel as a story, enjoying the flow of each scene opening to me, instead of as a text book, where I have to answer questions at the end of each chapter. I am now getting into the flow of the book doing that. This is a novel, after all, not a text book. I want to see what the story is about. My commentary will be spotty until I'm done with the book, depending on which section I want to comment on.

This may be an accretive novel in which the experience of the novel involves gathering sources from differing areas, including the reader's consciousness. This book is dated, though. It was first published in 1987.

My best friend from long ago was a mature divorced woman in her 40s who achieved her freedom during that time. She became a sex-oriented feminist, basically saying the things that Grace Kimball was saying. She was also into anti-apartheid and prefers romance with black men. She was of conservative Ohio Dutch descent. We became friends when we were in the same company where I was earning money for tuition in the summer for college. She was into the metaphysics and spotted me as an old soul. She liked my aura. Reading this passage made me remember fondly of my friend and women she associated with who had to redefine who they are and their role in society. Yes, my friend also believed in the goddess and went through a croning.

message 3: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments See, I think you've got the right thing with this thing here, Aloha! I will look forward to your Spotty commentary, but I've already given up on keeping up with yourself and Jonathanself. I'll be happy to dine at your dusts and play the catcher-upper. A) I look forward to your (now not so distant in the future) review of W&M and B) your returning to reread W&M and C) your second review of W&M. It's gunna be an excellent few months.

But I can't be all positive, so I'll disagree with your hypothesis about the book being dated. Frederich Engel's work on the origins of family, private property, and the state is dated, but only by its anthropological data (and my edition of it is even more dated although more recent (1972)). Women & Men takes place in the 1970's and elsewhen, but I think its mythic form makes it timeless; it uses (orchestrates) a 1970's Grace Kimball, but does not resolve her. (By the way, Marx/Engels has to say that the first "division of labor" (unknown?) is that between the sexes.)

message 4: by Aloha (last edited Oct 10, 2012 07:42AM) (new)

Aloha | 497 comments You're great in guiding us, Nathan. I like your inputs. I'm trying to get a grip on this book before things start to go crazy, which will start on Friday with my sister flying in. I want to be addicted to this book so I won't let go of it, despite the commotion.

I definitely do have to take a look at the outside materials. Engels *sigh* I haven't had to think about him in a long time. In fact, I haven't had to think of communism in a long time since the wall fell. Luckily, there's Amazon. They have his books for free on Kindle. I do have a social science encyclopedia. Can't I just get all my info. from there? I'll have to see whether I agree that its mythic form is timeless. Sone things remain the same, but others are different, especially with the transformative power of things like the internet. I understand very well the varying sides of how women think, even if I don't agree with some of it, from the submissive/conservative to the radical feminist. I've been exposed to them all. That's why I said it's dated. As far as women go, it did not and could not have covered today's women. Also, most of the anthropological analysis (with the exception of Margaret Mead) have been done from a male point of view.

message 5: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments Jonathan wrote: "Not that I can decode every single sentence, but I'm shocked to find myself with no HUGE Qs this time around, like I was throughout some parts of Choor Monster."

Another excellent write up. These scene guides are precisely what is missing from W&M secondary lit. I hope you are keeping your own file on your hard drive; I don't trust goodreads to preserve these threads for posterity. From what I've seen of your chapter summaries so far, you have a good basis from which to publish a readers guide on the internetz one day; perhaps upon a second reading one day you can fill in those gaps and Q's with retrospective knowledge.

Don't be surprised when McElroy writes lucidly. He can do it. When it's not lucid, it is to a purpose. And there is a lot more Choor mythology coming up. It's almost disappointing when 100's of pages later the Choor story starts to take on a lucid style; something so bewilderingly wonderful how the Choor story builds and builds without using that traditional temporal structure.

I suspect that Stephen M and others will have some great stuff to supplement Jonathan's excellent notes here. Anyone interested in taking up the task of creating a cast of characters and their various relations and interrelations?

message 6: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments Wonderful notes to review post-reading, Jonathan. They seem rather complete to me. Certainly not exhaustive, but complete. Maybe, rather than trying to get a single summary woven together out of each of our disparate readings, those who are of the note-taking variety might post up their own set of notes independently from Jonathan. We can accommodate a multiplicity of small-scale chapter summary units.

message 7: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments I'm looking at the passages again and it's even better now that I've read Proust. In W&M, the bicycle has a deep meaning. In Proust's In Search of Lost Time, the bicycle meant something that became a part of a person, mobility, in particular as applied to the modern woman Albertine. It's the bicycle that transformed the 19th century woman confined by the long skirt into a mobile, independent woman. That made me look again at the passages with Grace and her bicycle.

One of my favorite chapter is 0783 rent, the one in which the father was considering renting a bicycle for his daughter, and considering the economics of renting vs. buying. Although I don't think feminism applied here, I noted that he was pondering the cost of his daughter renting him.

message 8: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments Love it! Thanks, Jonathan.

message 9: by Post Ironic (new)

Post Ironic (theghostoflaszlojamf) Aloha wrote: "I'm looking at the passages again and it's even better now that I've read Proust. In W&M, the bicycle has a deep meaning. In Proust's In Search of Lost Time, the bicycle meant something that beca..."

This is great and very perceptive. I never thought about the correlation of bicycle as symbol in both ISOLT and W&M. It'd be interesting to look at the simultaneous rise of the bicycle and early feminism/suffrage, and the prevalence of this in relationship in literature.

“The safety bicycle fills a much-needed want for women in any station of life,” said The Bearings, a cycling periodical, in October, 1894, “It knows no class distinction, is within reach of all, and rich and poor alike have the opportunity of enjoying this popular and healthful exercise.”

I saw Evalyn Parry's Spin a few months ago. An excellent piece of theatre performance and quite relevant to the above.


message 10: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 497 comments Thanks for the link, Post Ironic. I found a site on Annie Londonderry that was very interesting:

Annie Londonderry

Women were/are cruelly suppressed in some areas of the Middle East just for protesting by driving, Limiting mobility creates dependence on the men, which is exactly what the men wanted.

message 11: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments Jonathan's deleted posts.

The unknown sound morphs into the last seconds of a vibrator's buzz as the chapter begins, as it (the 'meaning of the day') came after her and found her alone on her great uninterrupted carpet in her fully mirrored Body Room...' Grace pieces things together...

Grace is a feminist, she runs a workshop to put woman in touch with their bodies and their re-birth, to empower them. She also does speaking events. She even gets visited by a sociologist from Denmark.

Let's look at some other new characters, and see how they fit into the meaning of Grace's day:

--Maureen is Grace's assistant, a 'baby's breath stormtrooper', but a certain Kate is gunning for her job.

--Cliff is an old friend, a 'brother-sister', a sculptor. He's on suicide watch.

--Cliff know's Dave Shae. Cliff is 'keeping' Dave from Maureen. Dave is a sculptor too. Dave recalls a natural birth he watched. Does this connect him to chapter one, if not the birth, then maybe the party where they are discussing them?

--Sue is part of the workshop gang. She just came out. She has a son named-

--Larry (probably a lot more of him on p.285).

--Merv is Sue's husband. Grace, this morning went to his office to pick of a tape of one of her speeches.

--Lou is Grace's ex-husband. He now has three kids with his Hungarian Catholic wife.

--and most importantly for this particular day is Clara, last name MACKENNA. Wife (99% sure) of the Chilean. Grace imagines him at one point 'loom[ing] like someone dangerous in the other room'. Why is she at the worshop? Why didn't she call first? Why did she lie about calling first? (If she did, she would have gotten the messenger service)

Not that I can decode every single sentence, but I'm shocked to find myself with no HUGE Qs this time around, like I was throughout some parts of Choor Monster. I'm not too bothered yet to understand things like the various references to Clara and Grace recognizing each others' past lives. So, someone come up with some good Qs.

I do want to say that I've seen this type of feminist satirized plenty, and I'm glad to see that McElroy is not really interested in that. It's easy to do. Some of the terminology is silly and there is an overblown sense of self importance surrounding many of those involved in the subculture. I did laugh when Grace thinks of her mother's cornbread skillet as sex-negative, but in general what I'm doing is trying to 'project my mind to new people' like Grace does in the 'Black-Dude street', and that means seeing the world through Grace's eyes, and to her, this brand of feminism is her life's work. And really, what she's trying to do is 'help self or friend find self or just old words to get truth said.' And that is admirable.

How about that image of Simultaneous Reincarnation: the two phones ringing at once in the apartment. Stunning. Not sure I even 1/4th get what McElroy means by SR, but still, it's a start.

I do need to put these things on my USB, smooth them out later as we fill the gaps. Right now my process is to take tons of notes while reading, make as many connections as I can, then when I finish 10-15 pages smooth the notes into paragraph form on Goodreads. Thinking about the best way to organize it is impossible...

Here I try to focus on what I think I know I know. If I typed out my speculations too, I would be doing this all damn day...

I too suspect that Stephen M and gang will add some awesome stuff, and hopefully we shall figure out, but also think beyond, the major occurrences. I have tried to do a little more than summarize, even though summary has taken up the bulk of my efforts.

Usually if one is vigilant, McElroy will supply what you want to know in the clearest possible way. 'At ten-thirty this morning, Grace visited the offices of her last night hostess Sue's semi-busted husband Merv to pick up last night's tape.' Merv is not happy with Grace, as she 'undermined his life'. He blames Grace for Sue's coming out. He tells her, "You have your public, Grace, but you should try listening to yourself.'

Grace walks back from Merv's, gets harassed by men on the street, called a 'dyke-cock suckin' hooker circus'. She sees an elderly couple in front of a storefront. She thinks she recognizes the woman. Woman introduces herself as Martha and calls her partner the 'Hermit-Inventor' (whaaat? the dude gets around, and his presence is the biggest Q for me in this chapter). Grace eventually gets on a bus, snags a 'radiator seat'.

Grace listens to her tape, hears a bit on the tape about riding a bike, the empowerment of knowing how it works, knowing all the parts. That reminds her of a poem Cliff wrote for her which includes the line 'Tune up the absent bike'. This reminds her to go out, pick up the bike from the shop. So she goes out again, but is it really only to get the bike? She seems to have a fascination with the storefront she saw the elderly couple in front of, the storefront for a messenger service / psychic consultant business (or two separate businesses). Or is it a fascination with a black man she notices around that area. She sees a gray haired heavyset man turning toward her, and feels like she needs to vomit. (???)

She rides back on her bike.

She plays the tape again, we get the longest excerpt from it thus far on 132-133. Partway through there is an interruption, someone is at the door. My guess? Clara. There have been a few more details about the encounter with Clara scattered through this section. The doorman didn't announce her coming up. Maybe that's not too important, but something major: Clara sez, "I mean I want to survive- to leave".

'Sometimes the sharing is a simple comparing of notes to find out you aren't alone'

By this point in the chapter, we already have the basic outline of the events of Grace's day, the narrator fills us in on details about the various characters and events that surround Grace.

--We learn that Grace's father has been dead, and Grace's mother 'let go of widowhood and came up sex positive, though basically anti-enema cleansing'. She sometimes thinks that Grace goes too far, but Grace sez 'That's how I get known.'

--Grace's brother left home on a motorcycle, got married, had a kid. The kid was killed. (also on a motorcycle, maybe the same one)

--Larry is an expert on poison gas, chess, and can converse about the space program (121).

--Manuel just got fired. Why? He helped Miss Rain into the elevator and left his post. The Super came and fired him. Some of the other people in the building have got his back though he sez, including a certain Mr. Lustig, a Mr. Goody, and a MR. MAYN. Does Grace know Mayn at all? Nope, cuz when she thinks about who will go up to bat for Manuel she thinks of 'Mr. Goody and the other two'. Manuel also provided us with some new information on-

--Clara. She is moving into the building... So add her to the list alongside Merv and Sue, possibly Larry. Kate is trying to move there too! 'All these people [...] wanted apartments in this turn-of-the-century building, all coming toward Grace Kimball as if she had asked them?' When Clara talked to Manuel, she pretended she was already friends with Grace. Some other things she said include "we are political refugees" and "I am happily married". I thought she "wanted to leave?" Maybe she wasn't talking about her husband? The last sentence raises Qs as well. When it says that Clara was 'looking for someone else' and got Grace, it must just mean that Grace wasn't like she thought she would be, right? Thoughts?

'Sometimes she thought there would be peace on earth if we would just learn to breath'

Wheels and Wheels

The maiden with her wheel of old
Sat by the fire to spin,
While lightly through her careful hold
The flax slid out and in.
Today, her distaff, rock and reel
Far out of sight are hurled,
For now the maiden with her wheel
Goes spinning round the world.

-Madeline S. Bridges

message 12: by Robthebook (new)

Robthebook | 5 comments I now have the summer to dedicate to finishing the book. I am working my way through this chapter at the moment and it's been great to have you all as my tour guides thus far, as this is uncharted territory for me. I've looked at the supplemental reading section but I can't help but to notice that more outside material is discussed from time to time (e.g. Engels). I have a good bit of Marx and Engels on hand, as well as a plethora of social and political theory. I am wondering if anyone could cite a quasi-definitive list of imperative outside material to contextualize the novel?? Secondarily, it appears as if many of the posts have been removed/deleted, including acclaimed chapter reviews. Is there any way to access them? I don't expect to pick up everything the first time around but as you can probably surmise from my infrequent commentary and embarrassingly unorganized profile, I haven't had the time I would like to indulge in my reading over the last few years and with this book in particular I feel as though I may have missed important clues along the way. Are there any details I should be keenly observant of at this point in my quest?

message 13: by Jacob (new)

Jacob | 19 comments i recommend James Gleick's book CHAOS as a companion book; helps contextualize much of the book's subject matter

message 14: by Nathan "N.R.", James Mayn (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 662 comments Robthebook wrote: "Secondarily, it appears as if many of the posts have been removed/deleted, including acclaimed chapter reviews. Is there any way to access them?"

Apologies for being so ridiculously late in replying. All of Jonathan's deleted posts have been restored by myself. So even if it's a bit cumbersome to read, no content is missing. Message #11 above is an example of my restoration work.

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