Tag Archives: Women Writers

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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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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Book Reviewlet: Spiotta Squared (not Square!)

I’m writing another essay for the Gale American Writers series, this one on Dana Spiotta: bard of hidden histories, sane conspiracy, and minor fame.

Bard of Los Angeles.

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Reading Women’s Anger

Highlights from what I’ve been reading:

The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud

This novel launches auspiciously with a rant by a self-identified middle-aged angry woman, about the nature and depth of her anger. Methought “yes, please!” And I enjoyed it. Lovely sentences, interesting characters. But the symbolism was too on the nose. An unfulfilled, meticulous, self-contained woman artist making meticulous, self-contained dioramas of famously unfulfilled women artists. Her foil, a fulfilled, vaguely exploitative, worldly woman artist making room-sized joyful worlds out of “trash” and, it turns out, exploitation. Didn’t you hear? The Art Machine grinds people up! OTOH, Alice Munro said that all the women she knew upended their lives between 36 and 45. This is a decent story about that.

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Book Reviewlet: The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt

Setup: a wealthy white genius daughter/wife, pissed at the patriarchy and tired of exclusion by the Art World, plots a long con. She secretly hires dudes to pretend her work is theirs. After three, she’ll unveil herself in triumph to prove to the Patriarchy that the Patriarchy exists.

The Patriarchy’s like, uh, yeah? What’s your point?

And the world blazes on. With footnotes.

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#mommyblogging with Ferrante

I raced through the final Neapolitan novel, as forewarned, guided by the suspicion that there is no Lila Cerullo.

That:

  • Lila and Elena are so thoroughly twinned
  • Ferrante’s deftness with a style many have tried to name and I’ll try calling “hallucinatory realism,” ie the portrayal of the hallucinatory state as fully enveloped in the real, is well known
  • And Lila is so extremely Large and In Charge as to have exceeded the bounds of the human

that Lila makes the most sense as Elena’s fantasy other self. Not as a functioning, psychologically realistic, humanlike character. Rachel Cusk also said this.

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