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Showing posts from September, 2014

Frances Willard Weekend in Evanston, Illinois

Some of you might just possibly be aware that I have a passing interest in 19th century feminist and reform leader Frances Willard. And by "passing" I mean I volunteer with her house museum and archives and do some of their social media and spent eight hours this weekend at events for her. Because it was her BIRTHDAY! 175 years old and still no one outside her own century really has any idea who she is, BECAUSE -- because she is linked to the temperance movement, and people think the temperance movement is a buzzkill. I mean, as they probably should, since the point was to stop people from drinking. But what people now do not care to think about is the fact that this wasn't just a group of hundreds of thousands of women who suddenly decided alcohol was evil and people should stop having fun. Men were drinking three times as much as they do now. They were usually the sole providers for their families. Domestic abuse, poverty, starvation, all these could be linked bac

The Mississippi is Huge and Maybe Books Should Make One Travel

I went to Iowa this past weekend, and while my girlfriend drove (...the entire way), I fell asleep, because that is our division of labor. BUT! She is very nice and woke me up when we crossed the Mississippi, because MISSISSIPPI. I very much like lakes and rivers. Ohh so very much. And I never see the Mississippi even though it forms the western boundary of Illinois because I go west Approximately Never. BUT IT IS SO BIG. The Mississippi is massive and awesome and MARK TWAIN I still do not like you very much, but I understand your weirdo fascination with it. If someone had then said "Hey, I have this raft made out of slightly unstable logs; would you like to go down this giant river on it?" I would say "YES YES I WOULD" because with the current state of water traffic it looks extremely possible to float down this wide wide river unmolested by barges and other large watercraft. YOU ARE SO MAJESTIC I wonder if there are other literary places where when you

Their Eyes Were Watching God: Some people could look at a mud-puddle and see an ocean with ships

Their are certain books that appear to exist solely to speak the truth about humanity. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of these. Their Eyes Were Watching God is another. The narrator is Janie, a woman in her 40s, who comes back home and tells her story to a friend while they sit on the porch. The best description of her life, I believe, is the following. It's one of many examples of Zora Neale Hurston taking words and shaping them into something real and beautiful. It exemplifies why we need poets and authors, despite them being increasingly devalued in our society. Who else is going to carefully articulate how we feel and give us the unified thought of "THAT'S it; I thought it was just me." Writers help bind us and let us understand each other in ways we sometimes cannot through simple conversation. When God had made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over. Then after that some angels got jealous and chopped him into mi

Books for RIP except I don't quite remember what RIP is

I am informally MAYBE participating in RIP. I don't even remember who hosts it. Or if it's hosted anymore. BASICALLY, these're the September/October, kind-of-scary-I-guess books I'm hoping to get through. Because themes are the best and I love them. NUMBER 1 . Is Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix, which I have already begun and it looks like an IKEA catalogue and is an enjoyable experience. I'm 100 pages in and waiting for it to get scary, though. So in that respect it feels like Night Film , and HOPEFULLY THINGS WILL CHANGE. NUMBER 2 . Eat Your Heart Out by Dayna Ingram. Someone posted the back of this book on Tumblr and I said I would read it, because lesbians fighting zombies. It's a novella, and I will finish it by Halloween. NUMBER 3 . No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale. I LOVE KATHLEEN HALE SO HARD. She's super-weird, which I appreciate, and she wrote that defense of YA that was hilarious and wonderful . This is about the murder of a girl in

Book Survey That People I Esteem Have Done

1. What is your favourite fictional food or drink? C.S. Lewis made Turkish delight sound so badass and then you get some for real and it's gross and you're like "Is this because there was a war on and no access to actually good candy?" And I guess it's not fictional food anyway, it's just IN fiction. Ummmmmmmmm. Omg I'm gonna be terrible and cliched and say butterbeer. Awesome picture taken from  here 2. How long did it take you to finish your last book? I finished Their Eyes Were Watching God on the Metra to Kenosha, WI and I think it took at leeeeast three weeks? Because it was on Oyster and I don't binge-read on there. But. Amazing. Amazing book. Obvs. Will review soon. 3. How many times do you stare at your books or bookshelves each day? Most are in one of the apartment's front rooms, which has no working lights in it right now because #lifepriorities, so...maybe a few times a week? I'm usually reading other stuff. It's onl

Criminal Minds, Currently Reading, and It's Getting Cold

You know, I've been watching Criminal Minds on Netflix, and I don't know how the later seasons are, but season 1 seems...weird. Weird in that no one aside from the profilers seems to know these incredibly violent crimes are happening. "IT'S JUST US, YOU GUYS." There was one case where all these upper middle class women were being murdered DURING THE DAY in their nice suburban homes, and it was something ridiculous like six in a five mile radius and women were STILL LEAVING THEIR PORCH DOORS OPEN. I'm sorry. A guy tried to break into my apartment ONCE, did not even succeed or murder anyone, and I still wouldn't let my roommate put the air conditioner in the window all summer. (love you, roomie) In another one, whole families were being murdered and the news was seemingly just NOT AROUND FOR IT. Yeah, I guess that's kind of boring. People probably shouldn't be told. I'm seriously worried about the world in which Criminal Minds takes pl

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters: Do Lesbians and Good Writing Outweigh Anxiety? (maybe)

Sarah Waters is The Lesbian Author to Read. Other than Michelle Tea. And maybe Alice Walker. When you consider the number of people in this world and then the number of authors and then the number of GOOD authors, think how much smaller that last number is going to be for particular subgroups. Sarah Waters gets extra points because she usually sets her novels in the 19th century and also wrote an entire book about different types of lesbian relationships in Victorian England (see: Tipping the Velvet , which you should read yesterday). And then they made movies of them! Her newest book, The Paying Guests -- which I stalked my way into getting at Book Expo America -- is set in London in the 1920s. An upper middle class woman and her mother have to take in lodgers to get out of debt, and when a married couple moves in, romantic shenanigans ensue. AS WELL THEY SHOULD. Then a crisis of course arises (someone gets straight-up murdered sort of) and the rest of the book concerns sa

First 50 Pages: Look, these're all good

Due to my subscription to Oyster, I have all new ways of starting books and not finishing them. EXCITING. But here's the deal on some books I have begun: The Cuckoo's Calling , Robert Galbraith (hahaha we know who you are, Robert). I have avoided this book for so long! I don't know why I'm always so suspicious of J.K. Rowling's books that are not Harry Potter, because I have never (read: the one other time) started and then hated them. But I kept expecting not to like this. And then -- AND THEN -- I am liking it so much. Sooo much. I am slowly realizing I'm totally a fan of the mystery/thriller genre and I just always dismissed it as Not Literary Enough. Boo, Alice, boo. This has the unkempt private detective Cormoran Strike as a main character and WHO DOESN'T WANT TO READ ABOUT THAT GUY nobody that's who. Adam , Ariel Schrag. I got a review copy of this and then they also put it on Oyster. Tumblr is PISSED about it, which probably means I need to ju

Neverhome by Laird Hunt: Lady Soldiers and All the Stoicism You Could Want

Little, Brown sent me Neverhome on a whim, probably because it's about a lady dressing up as a Union soldier and going off to fight. Yeah, that sounds like it's in my wheelhouse. I honestly didn't have high expectations for it, because I've never been THAT into the women-disguising-themselves-as-men thing, but when I started it I basically couldn't put it down. Think The Sisters Brothers and True Grit , but set during the Civil War. Those types of narrators are my favorite. Calm, unruffled, just there to tell you their deal and be done with it. So like the opposite of this "Gallant Ash," as she becomes known, fights in battle after battle and makes the Civil War much more real than it's usually portrayed, as here it's seen from the point of view of a soldier instead of one of the now near-mythic generals and their overarching plans for the war. It's not "[Massive number of people] died at Bull Run," it's someone who

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo: Plains of the Dead, paper servants and other fun things

So the HarperCollins imprint William Morrow gave me some options for books to review and I said THE GHOST BRIDE, because an 1890s Malaysian woman having to marry a ghost because of Chinese custom sounded damn interesting. And it was. Except for the main character. Ok, so it's the 1890s in Malaysia ("Malacca" at the time) and Li Lan's family has fallen from their wealthy merchant status to barely hanging on to respectability because her father smokes opium all the time due to sadness about his wife's death like 15 years ago. Li Lan's 18, which means damn, she needs to get married. Her nurse/nanny/similar role is pushing for this, but then she gets an offer from this wealthy family to marry their dead son. WHAT. Yeah, apparently even then it was a weirdass thing to ask, so they're like "Thanks, but no." THEN Li Lan meets the dead son in a dream where he's all like "So I guess we'll be getting married hehehehehe" and she's

I did stuff on Labor Day and also there is Emma Goldman

I was going to do a summary of Labor Day weekend because BOY THAT SOUNDS EXCITING DOESN'T IT, but then I remembered Labor Day and thought I should say something about Emma Goldman. But also here's a summary of Labor Day weekend: Friday - drank with roommate and watched Darren Aronofsky's Noah . SO DRAMATIC I have no idea it's because I got progressively more intoxicated, but I started out making fun of the movie and then got really invested. Also there is attempted baby-murder, so. Be warned. Also they made up a bunch of shit. But again -- I became PROGRESSIVELY MORE OK WITH IT. Like "Hey what if some fallen angels helped man survive outside the Garden and then they were made out of rock and stuff." Yeah all right. Also there's nothing about Noah saying his ENTIRE family has to die, but if you watch the destruction of all humanity and it's just you, your wife and kids and a bunch of animals on a boat, maybe you start thinking that God just