Tag Archives: The Wimmins

This American Life Defines Privilege

I keep wanting to blog about Mad Men, but I haven’t the time to do it properly! And as Momma always told me, if you can’t blog properly, don’t blog at all.

Meanwhile, I caught the first act of the latest TAL on my commute this morning. An aimless, laid-off white dude walks across the USA: “Walking to Listen,” as he puts it. On a sign. To avoid looking homeless?

And gol dernit if he didn’t remind me that every “American” story is a white straight man’s story.

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Sometimes People Have Both Jobs and Families

Oh boy, the number of blog posts I wrote in my head while I was gone easily exceeded the number of justices who will probably vote to uphold the health insurance mandate tomorrow.

Should I comment on Jim Fallows’ provocative assessment of the Roberts Court? And Ta-Nehisi Coates’ corrective re-contextualization of Fallow’s observations from the perspective of our racial history? And the continuing discussions between them?

Nope.

Because I am not saying anything about the Supreme Court, or health care, or even about democracy until the decision tomorrow. Not even about democracy.

I also read this whole magazine while I was gone. The cover story, about how it can be hard to be a mother with a job, inspired some reactions.

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Smart Girls (Alice Munro Review)

I finished this book this weekend:

It’s a cycle of stories about Del Jordan, a smartypants in rural Ontario in the 40s and 50s, trying to figure out how to grow up by closely observing the women in her life. The book’s title is a convenient summary of Munro’s entire oeuvre. However, this book feels younger than her later work in some surprising ways.

I love Alice Munro. I love rich stories about smart girls. I love feminism. I loved this book. But it surprised me.

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Getting the Milk for Free (Mad Men Tuesday)

Peggy roasts a ham! She wears a retro dress! Look at how good a homemaker she is, with her era-perfect Kennedy portrait and textile exotica. Her proto-Anthropologie oven mitts and apron:

Poor Peggy. She can serve a ham to her Jewish boyfriend (“It’s my favorite!” he said a little too eagerly), she can banter with the boys about playtex bras, and she can agree to shack up. But she can’t get herself to feel good about her liberation. And if she can’t feel good about it, in the pop-psych, trip-happy style of the 60s, she ain’t liberated. It’s all in her head, man.

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On Being a Jerkface (Jonathan Franzen)

If you can get past the annoying new Salon design, this is a pretty level-headed review of Jonathan Franzen’s new book of essays.

Level-headed? Is that my greatest compliment? Well, Franzen seems to inspire levels of vitriol usually reserved for actual family members. Or exes. (Ex-lovers, ex-presidents, extreme makeover shows.)

And you know, he brings it upon himself. He publicly hates lots of things that people love: Twitter, e-books, the late capitalist civilization that has fatally encroached upon innocent nature. He wrote a less-than-hagiographic essay about the suicide of his best friend, a writer who is nearly sainted by the smart, passionate people he wants to read his books. He protested his inclusion in Oprah’s book club and then whined about how he was so misunderstood for it.

The New Yorker’s illustration of his infamous essay “Farther Away”

In writing that essay about mourning his best friend and rival, Franzen has deliberately created a discourse comparing him to David Foster Wallace. Which was a dumb idea. He’ll lose on nearly every measure of literary quality. But I’m not interested in comparing them. I like them both, and find both problematic.

Instead, I want to ask what Franzen gets out of being such a dickhead.

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A Fairytale of New York (Mad Men Blogging)

No, not the Pogues song. I’m talking about the scariest, darkest Mad Men ever. And that’s saying something. An episode that did a pretty good job of both indicting and reveling in all those ancient stories of violence against women. Stories that stick around. Stories we hear every day.

That’s Sally hiding from her evil crone-mother figure–the one on drugs, grasping a butcher knife, telling her horror stories. She’s hiding from the fairy stories, too–trying to stay alive like the lone survivor of the true crime story at the center of the episode. And when her parents come home, she stays in her hiding spot.

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