Monthly Archives: December 2012

Why I Never Got Around to Reading ON THE ROAD

This review of the movie adaptation pretty much covers it.

I’m proud of myself that even when I was young, impressionable and teen-y, I knew enough to avoid the toxic manrambling. It probably helped that I went to an all-girls high school, and none of my friends gave a damn about that crud.

Yeah, I called the book crud. What?

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I Known You From Time (NW Review)

This is a down and dirty review. The last book review of the year. The last blog entry of the year (unless something nustobananas happens tomorrow). And the last time I strenuously avoid the year-end impulse to list the whatever-est things from 2012.

But I’m doing it fast. Gots holidays to prep for and such.

Here goes.

Zadie Smith’s NW: My favorite book about multiracial, multiclass, multicreed multitime London.

My favorite book about the complex friendship of a poor white woman and a wealthier black woman.

My favorite book about how sometimes women don’t want to be parents.

My favorite book about circumstantially linked neighbors having briefly intersecting adventures.

My favorite book about how if an upwardly mobile black woman smokes drugs with the homeless addict friend she used to go to school with, do you call it slumming?

My favorite book in which a totally obvious metaphor is rendered emotional, poignant, and downright mysterious. Linked to our deepest truths.

Can she kick it? Yes she can.

Continue reading

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Shopping While Female

Even feminist parents can’t keep the marketing behemoth from swallowing their daughters. Sigh.

How to convey to him the genius of marketing aligned against the wisdom of feminist thought? How to refrain from weeping at my inability to win this war for my girl, to be her David to Victoria’s Secret’s Goliath? It’s hard enough just to get them to school on time.

via When Your Daughter Asks for a Victoria’s Secret Gift Card – Nanette Fondas – The Atlantic.

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A Year in Reading Women, Continued

The second in a 2 or 3 part series. Who knows what else I’ll decide I need to say about this?

On Friday I articulated the notion of Feminist Compromise:

That if you care about full equality for women (and other disempowered groups), and you also want to participate in the world like by watching TV or reading books,  you have to compromise.


In just about any experience with popular culture. Many workplace interactions. Flipping through any magazine with ads.

Once you learn how to see it, the feminist way of seeing disempowerment everywhere, you can’t unsee it. And you don’t want to. Even though this new sight—Femi-vision!—pretty much bars you from contented consumption of most entertainment.

However, the Bechdel Rule will only get you so far. Sometimes you just want a sitcom and a beer before bed. Hence the Compromise.

The real rules for women

Continue reading

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It’s Ok Not to Think about Newtown For a Moment

It’s OK to stop thinking about Newtown for a few minutes. Or several days. And read this meditation on joy instead of all the arguments about ammunition magazines and packing teachers.

I give you permission.

Here’s Smith in her youth in the early 90s. Can she kick it? Yes, she can.

Then suddenly I could hear Q-Tip—blessed Q-Tip!—not a synthesizer, not a vocoder, but Q-Tip, with his human voice, rapping over a human beat. And the top of my skull opened to let human Q-Tip in, and a rail-thin man with enormous eyes reached across a sea of bodies for my hand. He kept asking me the same thing over and over: You feeling it? I was. My ridiculous heels were killing me, I was terrified I might die, yet I felt simultaneously overwhelmed with delight that “Can I Kick It?” should happen to be playing at this precise moment in the history of the world, and was now morphing into “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I took the man’s hand. The top of my head flew away. We danced and danced. We gave ourselves up to joy.

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A Year in Reading Women

The first of a 2 or 3 part series. I gots to spreeeeaaaaaaaad out on this topic.

In honor of The Millions‘ Year in Reading series, my favorite of which were Zadie Smith‘s and Matt Dojny‘s—brevity!—I present here my discussion of a year of reading mostly women novelists.

First entry: Why did I make this commitment?

Partly this. Gender disparity in publishing. Dresses-and-heels book covers, no Time covers, not even close to 50% of book reviews and so forth.

Partly my guilt that after earning a Ph.D. in contemporary fiction, I was appallingly ignorant of living women fiction writers. Appallingly. Though I could, probably, blame the system as much as myself. A scholarly system that separates “race and ethnicity” and “gender and sexuality” fields from “contemporary US fiction.”

Partly post-academic burnout. I spent years investigating novels written by men. Mostly white men. No longer beholden to a professional agenda, why not take a break from my diss dudes?

Partly an experiment. Like a year of living biblically or a year of no sex or a year of eating only orange foods (yes, salmon counts). My year of reading only women writers.

Continue reading

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