Tag Archives: Women Writing

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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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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I Have Thoughts on “Cat Person”

Some New Yorker fiction about a bad date went viral, in part because many content-absorbers thought it was non-fiction.

Much of the online fretting about the story focuses on the morality of the characters, the nature of the “consensual but unwanted” sex, the relative relatability of the characters (women relate to the woman, many men hate her, and also hate the man, inversely relating to them both, enraged as if she were a real woman person who dissed their dicks, as if they were Weinstein destroying Mira Sorvino’s career), the backlash about how relatability isn’t the point of fiction, and then defensiveness about how, actually, relatability is quite difficult to accomplish. Continue reading

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Bookishness Roundup

I wrote about whether or not Jewish people feel more anxious than others (they don’t, but don’t they?) (This mommyblog post does not refer to my dissertation, which argued that anxiety = contemporary culture and gimme a cookie. For my feelings.)

I recently enjoyed The Tiger’s Wife. Obreht’s magical realist novel uses the horror of ethnic violence to rip apart all the boundaries: between nations, ethnicities, and religions, between animal and human, between life and death. As editors are legit assigning stories about potential nuclear war not even a fucking year into this administration, it’s worth thinking about the senseless dehumanization of violent tribalism. Also, while I’m no expert in Balkan culture, the novel seemed to conspicuously, uncritically, surprisingly (given its investments) marginalize its Muslim characters.

I coulda written this about how the afterword in The Handmaid’s Tale (a bunch of historibros debating whether or not the account is valid) is the most important part of the book, by reinforcing the sexism that persisted before and after the Gilead period. Gendered knowledge practices delegitimate women’s experiences and silence their voices. But also: Gilead ended. Political eras end.

This story of Kathy Acker’s last year breaks my heart.

“Surrounded by friends, she began to stop breathing, intermittently. She asked Viegener to look for the list. What list?

The list to call the animals. Kathy, we didn’t make a list. It’s the list to call the animals back home.”

 

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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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