Category Archives: Bookishness

Mary Karr 2020 Why Not?

Mary Karr* is the only writer I’m reading lately whose sentences are so good that I stop reading to write them down. These are from Cherry, her memoir of school years, which perhaps if you’ve never read Mary Karr you may think a dull premise for a memoir. Like, in third grade I loved Garbage Pail Kids but my mom wouldn’t buy them because they seemed to reject classical Western/religious principles of personal/godly dignity and ennoblement (Hi Mom!), now buy my life story!

But Mary Karr’s alchemic pen spins sand to gold and writes a memoir backwards and in heels:

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T-giving 1-line Book Reviews

Here are some books I’ve lately enjoyed, boiled down to concentrated truisms useful for holiday table talk, you’re welcome.

Octavia Butler: Young black women should rebuild our communities.

Wild Seed: The real fantasy here is that a woman can make herself wonderful/beautiful/powerful/loveable enough to ensure the dude won’t kill her or those she loves.

Fledgling: White supremacy is as timeless as a vampire’s ability to survive it.

Colson Whitehead: White capitalist supremacy has poisoned our land.

Zone One: Our consumption-fueled society undeads us, undeads everyone, transforms our sense of time, suffocates relationships, spreads gore and death, and FILLS NEW YORK WITH ZOOOOOOOMMMMMBIIIIEEEEEEEEES.

The Underground Railroad: Black communities engineer their own survival, and our country’s truest beauty, wrested from this desperation, steams along out of sight; bonus Holocaust reference reminds us of the universality of racial domination.

Claire Messud: Women’s primary relationships are with other women.

When the World Was Steady: Middle-aged sisters can take their mom’s advice, flirt with criminals, abandon their religion, repress their lust for women, fight and reconcile, and do any other damn thing a teenager can do thank you.

The Burning Girl: Class determines the life choices available to you, sure,  and women’s lives are forever obscured by our fabrications about them, yes, but no way can a high school junior write like that narrator.

 

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Ottessa Moshfegh Proves I’m the Zeitgeist

Note: this post was composed almost entirely before nearly every person I know, women or not, carrying a traumatic past or not, was triggered all f-ing day yesterday and most of today by the spectacle of a composed, poised, intelligent woman trying to fight an iceberg of low-information, woman-hating PEOPLE WHO RUN OUR GOVERNMENT. However, perhaps a literary theory-type post celebrating as heroic a woman who withdraws from this constant heartbreak in a yearlong chemical haze may be well-timed?

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TfH’s 1-line reviews

Solo: I’d rather have watched a whole movie about Chewie freeing his enslaved wookie comrades, gently touching foreheads with them, joking freed wookie jokes with them, dancing freed wookie dances at freed wookie parties eating freed wookie electric blue antennaed hor’s oeuvres.

Tully: Our country’s so crap about families that when a whipfirecrackingbadasssssss lady has a surprise third baby, she is in such desperate need of care that her personality cleaves, like a car floor string cheese divided and knotted over onto itself in something like a salty, half-melty, lint-riddled hug.

The Americans series finale: Marriage is hard, but nationalist violence is harder.

The Mars Room: WHY ARE THERE SO MANY STORIES OUT ABOUT PARENTS LOSING THEIR KIDS ABOLISH ICE AND WAREHOUSE THEM ALL WITHOUT RIGHTS OR DIGNITY IN A MAX SEC PRISON IN THE CALIFORNIA DESERT PLEASE THANKS

Ursula Le Guin’s Hainish novels and stories (which include The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed): The strand of US ideology encapsulated loosely now as “Trumpism” is terrible, which we’ve known since always but especially since the Vietnam War, and which advancing technology may only reinforce if we don’t put the anthropologists and artists in charge.

 

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Come-uppensating

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH William Saletan over a decade later admits that, oh yeah, “race” science is not science. I read his original Bell Curve post back then and was so alarmed that I stuck it in my dissertation as a footnote on the perils of oversciencing society. And have since refused to read a single fucking word by that man.

His mea culpa is decent, but it still trucks in the dubious tendency of science discourse to delegitimize other ways of learning and knowing. Continue reading

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The Joy of Cooking Facts

This lovely paean to Joy of Cooking  crushes both the bogus science critiquing the cookbook and the broader cultural problem of trying to get reliable science about food and health. Continue reading

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