Chauvinist

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch CultureFemale Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While Levy’s writing style is fluid and readable, many of her points are highly contradictory or subjective to the point of irrelevance. For instance, she demonizes her liberal arts literature education because she was taught to view literature as political; she goes on to implement a metaphor involving Uncle Tom’s cabin and its parallels in contemporary feminism. Wait, I thought we were supposed to appreciate literature for its objective aesthetic value, not its politics!

Further, Levy spends a lot of time lamenting her own dissociation from these FCPs, which comes across as more classist than revelatory. The sociological element falls short, as she does not discuss the obvious influence of social & economic class, even while she nostalgizes about the feminist movements of the 70s (largely led by rich, cis, white women).

At its core, raunch culture is largely consumerist and demands discussion. But Levy misses the mark by idealizing a certain (neo-liberal) branch of feminism while shunning any non-conforming views and approaches. There is more to feminism than heterosex education and preferring books to dance parties.

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AWP

I’m gearing up emotionally for AWP next week. What a brilliant coincidence that Seattle is hosting the conference this year. Still cannot get over the serendipitous nature of writerly things. 

I’m feeling pre-event jitters due to the sheer mass of people whose professional and creative work I drool over; both friends and strangers continue to jolt me out of my occasional stupors (see: House of Cards marathon) and demand more.

Professionally, I get nervous. I am very well equipped to mask my emotions and seem carefree and jovial; in truth, I get shaky and wild-eyed. 

Personally, I also get nervous. I am less well-equipped to diminish my personal feelings and cope with them enough to push onward. Yet I manage. I spend a lot of time alone to lick psychological wounds in between socializing with groups of people. Mostly these wounds are imaginary, but sometimes I struggle to recover from some fervor of conversation that stings and retreats, leaving me stunned into silence and conspicuous by my sudden quietude. 

I miss my writer community. Not that I’ve ever maintained a thriving one; they are by their nature fleeting. Writers have an itch to see other things; go where someone will feed them for free while they read and take walks, thinking in prose. 

It is strange to feel two conflicting emotions: joy at friendship; anxiety at potential snags. I should take my own advice and try to relax. There is always tomorrow.

Bone

The Bone PeopleThe Bone People by Keri Hulme
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Still probably the most overwhelming and spectacular novel I can conjure up. The prose is sometimes whimsical, sometimes bizarre, but always breathtaking. Hulme stirs up the overlays of dreams, fantasies, ghostworlds, violence, and healing in this massive, indomitable novel. A must for hybrid genre enthusiasts, as Hulme’s language is part-Maori, part-poetry, and miraculously fresh. This novel is like nothing you have ever read before, weaving dreamscapes into stories and harnessing the complex relationships that make us human, even while we are fraught with despair.

This novel rocked my world; even my language changed for the writing of this review, reconnecting to an organic flow that I usually suppress. Unbelievable.

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Wright

Native SonNative Son by Richard Wright
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Phew. This novel is exhausting. I needed to go for a run and have a drink after this unbearable tale of grief, hopelessness, ennui, and racism. Wright’s prose is sparse and philosophical, resulting in the sort of haunting, detached narration that makes this novel so successful. A great read for more cerebral folks; I will echo that the last third feels like Wright letting off political steam after the supercharged first two thirds of the narrative.

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Body

Today I joined a gym, went to a tanning bed (for vitamin D), and got acupuncture. I’m trying to give my body some more TLC in the hopes that it will balance out some of the volatile moving/stress emotions I’ve been carrying around for months. 

I’ve learned–sometimes the hard way–that I work and play better when I lift heavy things and make time to recover from lifting heavy things. Since I want to be sure to treat myself with respect in order to make the most of some of the difficulties I’m working through, I have to devote time to moving my body around. 

I told the gym manager that I needed a female trainer or a “totally not bro-y” male trainer. We’ll see what he’s come up with for me. No crazy fitspo dudes please!

Review

Just wrote a really mean review of Alison Bechdel’s latest book on Goodreads. I feel kind of bad. I’m sharing it here anyway.

Are You My Mother?Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Very sad to give two stars to Alison Bechdel’s anything, but this book was tedium incarnate. Things to keep: Alison’s deeply sad, fascinating mother. Things to toss: literally everything else, especially the pseudo-scholarship integrated throughout. Two stars go to the drawings.

As a big fan of hybrid genre (theory + nonfiction + comix), I was stoked at the potential of a book like this. However, Bechdel’s very poor choice and inclusion of critical texts really ruined any cool effect that a meta-memoir could have made.

Great for other fans of white male psychobabble about mommy issues and white female therapy transcripts, but insufferable for anyone looking for more.

Avoid.

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Journal

My belated New Year’s Resolution is to journal. I have historically been terrible about this: I would always rather watch sci-fi TV shows or read about other people’s lives. But I have regretted ignoring my own stories every single time I work on any piece of writing.

If I’m lucky, there was someone else there to call and ask about an event or moment. Usually, though, they don’t remember the details I’m interested in: smells and colors, rhythms and densities. You know, poet stuff. 

So far so good though. I’m trying to mesh all my existential musings with factoids: “Today Chett and I met our future cat Octavia Butler; she is the essence of the companion animal independence that I yearn for in partnering with creatures of any species.” 

That was a sample, not an actual excerpt. My journal is private!