Category Archives: Bookishness

Streetfight: Trumpocalypse Vs Gilead

I read The Handmaid’s Tale this week and anxiously calculated the chances of Atwood’s theocratic/woman-hating coup manifesting in the Donald Duck era.

Atwood’s dystopia sorts women into four classes: Wives (duh), Marthas (domestic servants), Handmaids (pregnancy surrogates for infertile Wives), and Unwomen (“gender traitors” and dissidents). But as Foucault taught us, exceptions to the (gender) rules better enforce the (gender) rules. Though she fears for her life under the brutal regime and is coerced into breaking more and more of its codes, Offred (“Of Fred”) finds herself wresting what pleasure she can out of a system that denies her autonomy, sociality, love. The book is about how much we will give up to stay human.

Thus follows a catalog of qualities our current government may or may not share with Atwood’s Gilead. Which totalitarian, repressive regime wins?

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Some Days

Some days it really does feel like Voldemort has taken over the Ministry of Magic.

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TfH Reads Harry Potter!

Because I prefer my pop culture moldy, I finally read Harry Potter this month. In 2017. And after months of reading jokes about how Trump is like Voldemort, I’m here to tell you that:

HOLY F**K YOU GUYS TRUMP IS LIKE VOLDEMORT.

Except he’s stupider. And has a nose (I think). And probably can’t talk to snakes (but if he could would the MSM be brave enough to report on it do we need frickin’ crowdfunding to maintain the basic functions of a democratic society’s media infrastructure that could accurately report on the presence of parselmouths in our government?!?!?!?!!?!?!??)

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Benevolent Avenger Angela Carter Still Watches Over Us

Jenny Turner’s review of the new Angela Carter biography provides a specific kind of succor during a dark, dark election season of the soul:

  • Someone else in the universe matches my passionate investments in Angela Carter
  • “You’re not what you like, you’re what you’re like” is some BS. Loving Angela Carter was who I was at 20 and must be who I still am now, even if I spent 10 years studying neurotic white guy writers instead of fulfilling my true feminist socialist surrealist satirical gothic destiny as a Carter scholar
  • “It simply happens, when writing about times and figures who are, as Hill says, still ‘on the cusp’ of living memory’, that one’s relationship with one’s material becomes ‘semi-detached’. And not like a house, more like a hangnail. It’s not just what you think you see in the material you’re dealing with, but actual bits of yourself.”

When a TfH holds an interesting but nonetheless noncreative job, and when she celebrates a decade-birthday, and when her experience of selfhood thus consists of flailing about for ever-receding glimpses of meaning/purpose, this reminder of her past bookish love seems an awful lot like stability. An awful lot like returning home.

Now I know how I’ll spend my holidays.

 

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Book Reviewlet: Maddaddam trilogy, Margaret Atwood

Need a break from the election? Let Margaret Atwood take you to an apocalyptic near-future where biotech companies have taken over all civic functions and disaffected young nerdlingtons plan to destroy all of Earth’s stupid, stupid people.  

Oryx and Crake, the Year of the Flood, and Maddaddam: the Maddaddam trilogy, Atwood’s foray into a surprisingly joyful eco-dystopianism.

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TfH Summarizes Critical Theory

Friends, I’m in the muck of drafting a study of Dana Spiotta for the Gale American Writers series and thought I’d share what’s been happening in contemporary literary studies since I’ve been gone.

Postmodernism: No stable, coherent subjectivity is possible given the way media technologies, the war machine, capitalism, racism and sexism have colonized everything about our experience as humans.

“Post-postmodernism” (no non-dumb name for this yet): Yeah, but we have to find a way to live anyway.

This is why people get so worked up about David Foster Wallace saying fiction is about what it means to “be a fucking human being.” And why people talk about feelings affect as suddenly mattering. And why the canon got splintered by people with non-normative experiences like being LGTBQ or black or women or generally  people who’ve had their identities smashed by mainstream culture forever and were like yeah, duh, when the white straight guys realized this in the 60s-90s.

Finding an ethics within fragmented subjectivity–> That’s Dana Spiotta’s work.

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