When a Thinker for Hire reads a book and doesn’t blog about it, does she really read it?
This is a down and dirty review. The last book review of the year. The last blog entry of the year (unless something nustobananas happens tomorrow). And the last time I strenuously avoid the year-end impulse to list the whatever-est things from 2012.
But I’m doing it fast. Gots holidays to prep for and such.
Zadie Smith’s NW: My favorite book about multiracial, multiclass, multicreed multitime London.
My favorite book about the complex friendship of a poor white woman and a wealthier black woman.
My favorite book about how sometimes women don’t want to be parents.
My favorite book about circumstantially linked neighbors having briefly intersecting adventures.
My favorite book about how if an upwardly mobile black woman smokes drugs with the homeless addict friend she used to go to school with, do you call it slumming?
My favorite book in which a totally obvious metaphor is rendered emotional, poignant, and downright mysterious. Linked to our deepest truths.
Does the Internet = Women?
Sometimes it feels that way, with vibrant feminist discourse flourishing online, women writers self-publishing and self-publicizing, my own (ahem) attempts to build a name outside the hallowed halls of print commentariaticity. With friendly ladies tweeting me important lady-news. With Facebook being about “relationships” and feeding me dark chocolate (fair trade, thank you!) through the screen.
This recent editorial from N+1 hyperbolized this notion. The notion that because women are way underrepresented in traditional publications they have grabbed onto the Internet like pit bulls on a peanut butter rubber squirrel, and that therefore the Internet is implicitly feminine and the print mag remains implicitly dudely.
What do women have to do with the internet? We submit that, at least in the eyes of media executives, women are the internet. Women, we mean the internet, are commanding a larger share of the traditional print market. The internet, we mean women, is less responsive to conventional advertising than to commenting, sharing, and other forms of social interaction. Women, we mean the internet, are putting men, we mean magazine editors, out of work. The internet, we mean women, never pays for its content — or for their drinks!
True confession: I have no opinion one way or another about memoir. I have liked some and forgotten others.
But for a time, memoir was literature’s for-profit college. Its orphan home for the can’t-quite and never-will.
The worn-down casino where the addicts, the terminally ill, and the refugees from strict religion go to gamble their pain into royalties.
The genre where women can get published.
But these politics of memoir were subtext, at most, in Sarah Hepola’s recent essay on xoJane it-girl Cat Marnell. Cat Marnell spectacularly gives beauty advice couched in writing about drugs, addiction, and pain. And she recently quit to get high and write a book.