lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New EroticismPleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism by Deborah Lutz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this one. I knew a little bit about most of the people discussed in this book (you can't study Victorian literature without knowing bit about Richard Burton or Swinburne or the Rossettis, for example) but only the very superficial. This is a really interesting look at several loosely connected and intersecting groups of people (the pre-Raphaelites, the Cannibal Club, and the Aesthetes) and how their art and lives were focused on their sexual experiences. The book is written much more like creative non-fiction than the usual academic book, so it's incredibly readable. Every now and again, the author uses an awkward turn of phrase or says something in a confusing way or gets out her thesaurus just to remind us that we are reading the work of the erudite, but on the whole, the style is very readable and accessible and the subject matter is deeply interesting.

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Oronooko: The Royal SlaveOronooko: The Royal Slave by Aphra Behn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not one I'll be rereading. I somehow missed reading this in college and wouldn't have read it now except that I'm teaching it. I know it's an important text, and I'm glad I've read it, but I found it very underwhelming. Also, the almost complete lack of dialogue made reading it fairly tedious.

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lunabee34: (food:  sushi color by cattyhunts)
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary UnderbellyKitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

I loved No Reservations and watched its entire run avidly. Anthony Bourdain is extremely charismatic, interesting, attractive, funny, and witty on that show. I also appreciated that the show took such a political turn in the last season or so. Given my love for his TV persona, I expected to really like this book, but it didn't grab me.

Kitchen Confidential is a good look at what being a chef at the end of the twentieth century was like. It's got fascinating insider info and really gets across what a grueling life the food service industry is.

However, I kinda bounced off the persona Bourdain creates for this book. He, and pretty much everyone else around him, are so off-puttingly drunk and high and worthless for so much of the book that I got pretty bored with the degeneracy fairly early on. I also bounced off the casual sexism and homophobia that permeates the kitchens of the restaurants Bourdain writes about. I believe him 100% that this is an accurate depiction; I also believe him when he says he's not sexist or homophobic. But his attitude of "it is how it is with the sexism and homophobia" rubs me the wrong way. I also got my hackles up at (I must admit the relatively few; it's either just one or two) small comments he makes about people with dietary restrictions. Yes, Anthony Bourdain, I have celiac because it's inconvenient for YOU! *sigh* I realize this was written quite some time ago, but knowing that chefs at restaurants are full of contempt for those of us who would like to eat at restaurants sometimes (and sometimes even NEED to) but who have allergies or other dietary restrictions is so maddening. I believe a lot of this has changed; the book now includes an afterword where Bourdain talks about women getting into the boy's club, and I think attitudes toward gluten free menu items has definitely changed because so many places are offering gluten free now.

Tl;dr: Interesting book in which I did not care for the protagonist much.

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lunabee34: (reading by thelastgoodname)
A Room of One's OwnA Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm teaching an excerpt from A Room of One's Own this semester and thought I should read the whole book. Now that I have, I do not like the way The Norton Anthology of Literature by woman excerpts this piece; it contains most of the third chapter but leaves a few pages from the end of the chapter out and then tacks on the last couple pages from the end of the book without any indication where the break happens. The whole book is so short, I don't understand why they don't include the whole of it (especially since so many of the other selections in the book like Rich's "When We Dead Awaken" deal specifically with parts of A Room of One's Own not included in the anthology).

I can see why this book became so important to feminist scholars and writers. It articulates clearly the obstacles that women who want to write have faced over the centuries and offers some solutions. However, I didn't expect Woolf's criticisms of Charlotte Bronte and George Eliot; I was really put off by her assertion that gender ought to be invisible in writing and that when Jane Eyre decries the lot of women or chafes at the role she's been given that Charlotte Bronte is committing some kind of hideous effrontery against writing for having her female character talk/think about issues that real women in the 19th century were dealing with. I'm glad that the women writers who followed her did not feel the same way (and did Woolf even follow this advice in her own writing? It's been almost twenty years since I read Mrs. Dalloway, but I remember it containing some ruminations on the role of women in the early twentieth century). Woolf also thinks that anger has no place in women's writing, a thought her literary descendants thankfully do not share.

Very interesting commentary on education for women and opportunity for women from the time of Shakespeare to the early twentieth century.

I'm teaching this in conjunction with Rich's "When We Dead Awaken" and Walker's "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens;" I would highly recommend reading these together. Rich and Walker acknowledge the debt women's writing owes to Woolf while also criticizing her argument (for example, the way in which A Room of One's Own is entirely bereft of a discussion of race).

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Also read this week: all five introductions to the different time periods represented in the two-volume Norton Anthology of Literature by Women, "When We Dead Awaken," and "In Search of Our Mother's Gardens."

Up next: some Bradstreet and Atwood poems and six academic articles (all of which must be read by end of business Monday); for pleasure, Wilkie Collins's Man and Wife.
lunabee34: (reading by tabaqui)
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four MealsThe Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. I was first introduced to Pollan's writing in The Botany of Desire, and I liked that book so well that I looked for other books he's written.

The Omnivore's Dilemma raises fascinating and often disturbing questions about how we grow our food, about the way agriculture as an industry is harming our planet, and about the potential ways we might go about solving these problems. As Pollan says over and over again in the book, learning about the way we raise and slaughter meat on a mass scale in the U.S. is guaranteed to ruin the appetite. And yet, Pollan asserts that some of the ways people have tried to circumvent this problem (going vegetarian, only eating organic food, buying meat that comes from animals that were treated well before slaughter) come with their own sets of problems (like the large carbon footprint incurred by shipping organic fruits and vegetables all over the country/world, for example).

This book was very informative, but my favorite parts were the moments of introspection. I particularly enjoyed the part where Pollan turns up his nose at what he sees as off-putting machismo in "hunter porn" and then has to admit to his chagrin later that he can kinda see where those writers are coming from when they write about how hunting engages them on a primal level even while acknowledging how profoundly uncomfortable that realization makes him.

As someone who never ate a tomato from the store until I was an adult and who mostly ate protein as a child that was fished or shot by my dad, I appreciate stories that are about people eliminating the middle man between them and the food they eat.

Very highly recommended.

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lunabee34: (are those men kissing? by animekittysama)
The Style Checklist: The Ultimate Wardrobe Essentials for YouThe Style Checklist: The Ultimate Wardrobe Essentials for You by Lloyd Boston

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think this is a very solid book centered on building a wardrobe. Although most of the clothing and accessories featured are what I would expect to see in this sort of book, Boston includes several wardrobe elements that wouldn't have occurred to me otherwise. The photography is beautifully done as well. I would have appreciated more concrete information on which brands to choose (the only brands Boston really mentions are Chanel and Tiffany which need no recommendation), what to look for in terms of fit for different body types, what to request in tailoring for garments based on body type, and how to care for and store the garments.

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This is one of the books [personal profile] executrix gave me for Christmas. She has single-handedly kept me reading for the last couple of years.
lunabee34: (reading by thelastgoodname)
1. I've been thinking about writing an essay about why I think evangelical Christians are so willing to vote for Trump. I was raised in that tradition (Southern Baptist), and it makes no sense on the surface why people who not only say they are Christian but who claim to make every decision in their lives based on that Christianity would support Trump, but having been a part of that culture for the first 18 years of my life, I have some ideas about why they're doing so. But I've also been thinking that plenty of other people have written about this, and I don't know that I have anything new to say or offer about the subject, so. IDK

2. We finished our rewatch of Treme. One half of the couple we watched it with used to live in Louisiana and is an accomplished musician who often played gigs in NOLA. So that added an extra layer of fun to the rewatch; they'd often comment about places featured, or he'd have stories about the musicians in the episodes. SPOILERS )

3. We are almost done with Downton Abbey season two. We finished all the regular episodes and only have the Christmas Special left to watch.


I can't wait to see where the story goes. I am actually sad that Walking Dead is resuming because it means no more Downton Abbey for awhile.

4. [personal profile] executrix sent me a biography of Jane Austen (Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin) which was really interesting. I knew nothing about her life, so everything was pretty much new to me. This is a very thorough, heavily researched book which I would recommend to anyone interested in her. I have to admit that from time to time I got a little confused because the cast of characters, so to speak, is so large and so many people in her family and life shared names; I just wanted to read it for entertainment and not take notes or anything, but reading it that way did mean that I was a little bit lost from time to time.

I have two main takeaways from the book. First, how horrible that so many of her letters and documents were destroyed. I wonder if they were truly scandalous (I doubt it), or if that notion of privacy (that regardless of their content, the public at large shouldn't be able to read her letters and that wanting to do so was born of prurient interest) which was beginning already to erode with the explosion of celebrity culture and mass media was largely responsible.

Second, I wonder if she was happy to stay single or if she considered her life tragic. The book posits that her first, truncated romance with Tom Lefroy was very dear to her and that she was very hung up on him and hurt when he was essentially forbidden to see her. Tomalin offers some evidence that Austen was thinking about him three years after that romance had ended. It also mentions that she initially accepted and then turned down a proposal from a man she was friends with but had no romantic feelings for. My take on it is that she'd watched all the women around her have ungodly amounts of children and a number of them die in childbirth and maybe she was grateful to escape that horror. IDK I mean, it can certainly be both. What do y'all think (about anything relating to her life)?
lunabee34: (heart by jjjean65)
1. I wore the necklace and bracelet that [ profile] shaddyr made me yesterday and felt so pretty.

2. Josh's mom is doing well. Turns out that she didn't have any sort of cardiac event but it was something GI-related, so she's following up with a gastroenterologist, and it's not a big deal. Dad is doing well; he finished one complete round of chemo, and his only side effect has been fatigue. Excellent news on both fronts.

3. I finished Cheese and Culture: A History of Cheese and Its Place in Western Civilization, a book that [personal profile] executrix sent me. The topic is interesting, and I enjoyed learning about milestones in cheese history, but boy is this book a slog to read. So dry. So boring. I wonder if this guy's college lectures are as tedious. LOL However, I have started another book that [personal profile] executrix sent me that is wonderful and a joy to read, a biography of Jane Austen.

4. Coming up tonight: a perfume review and swaps post

5. Coming up tomorrow: Letter Writing Challenge Assignments go out!
lunabee34: (reading by thelastgoodname)
I just finished rereading volume one of Saga and reading volume two for the first time. I know what I want for Christmas. :) I really like how funny and irreverent these comics are and how strongly they tug at my heartstrings. No spoilers for future volumes, please, but I'd love to talk about the first two volumes with those of you who have read (second volume ends with SPOILERS )).

I also finished reading a book [personal profile] executrix sent me called What We Wore: An Offbeat Social History of Women's Clothing, 1950-1980. It consists of four chapters--one each on the fifties, sixties, and seventies--followed by a very short chapter about the role of magazines like Mademoiselle in disseminating fashion. The book is very focused on what young people were wearing, mostly focusing on high school and college-aged women along with what young women would have been wearing as they started their careers. The longest and most comprehensive chapter is on the fifties, but each chapter contains lots of photographs and ends with snippets of interviews with women about what they wore during each era. Some of the women are celebrities whose names I recognize, but I think most of them are just regular people. I can see this book being an invaluable resource for people who want to write about young women in those decades. Anybody can google images of clothes from each era (and I suggest you read this book with google images handy because the author talks about a lot of styles and people that aren't pictured), but what What We Wore contextualizes the clothes: why were they worn that way, what inspired them, how did people who couldn't afford certain clothes go about imitating the style, what physical or other consequences wearing certain garments entailed, and the little quirks of dress that no series of google images could impart (like how many petticoats girls were wearing under their skirts in the fifties and how they cut up their legs or what wearing certain pins meant, etc). I think the book ended abruptly; I read the last sentence and then turned the page to find that it had ended. Other than that, I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in fashion from those time periods.
lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
1. We watched Solaris on [personal profile] tamoline's recommendation that it was very reminiscent of Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach trilogy. I also suspect that whoever wrote Event Horizon was familiar with one of the first two versions of the film that precede the Clooney version we watched. SPOILERS )

2. We also watched Lucy a couple of days ago. Man, Scarlett Johansson is a good actor. I have loved her in every single thing I've seen her in, and she was exceptionally good in this movie, too. I must admit, though, that I enjoyed the first and second acts of the movie far more than the third. SPOILERS )

3. I finished How to be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman, a fascinating book that is structured around what Victorians from different classes and parts of the country would be doing throughout the day from getting up in the morning and washing and dressing to work and school and meals all the way to bedtime. What makes this a truly engaging read is that the author isn't just a historian; she's someone who tries out most of the activities she discusses in the book. So for instance, many Victorians did not bathe with water. They bathed using a combination of dry brushing the body and applying ammonia or vinegar to armpits and other potentially malodorous areas. Goodman went for four months without bathing with water and was happy to report that she didn't stink even once. She made many of the recipes for household goods like toothpaste or lotion or shampoo and tried them out herself. She frequently wears Victorian clothes and sews them herself in the Victorian manner using Victorian patterns, etc. I also found an answer to my previous question about exercise; Victorian men were being heavily encouraged throughout the entire period to exercise in a variety of ways. Women were discouraged from exercising at the beginning of the period because of the whole wandering uterus theory; scientists and doctors were genuinely concerned that vigorous exercise would damage a woman's ability to have children. However, as the period progressed, the benefits of exercise for women became more apparent and walking (which women had always been doing a lot of), some sports like archery, and calisthenics became popular for all classes of women.

4. Penny Dreadful, OMG, what are you doing? I love it! SPOILERS )
lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
1. I finished To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl and Carol Wallace which is about the rush of American heiresses who married into English aristocracy in the late Victorian through Edwardian period. Excellent read. I especially loved the copious photographs of the glitterati of the time, their gowns by Worth, and their homes. What constitutes beauty in any given era is always so interesting to me; more than half the women pictured in this book would probably not be considered beautiful by modern standards (and I'm not talking about weight or figure; I'm talking more facial features although to be fair, those horrific Edwardian hairdos flatter no one's facial features).

That leads me to another question. How did Victorian, aristocratic women keep their figures? Exercise in the way we understand it now was not appropriate for women to engage in, and the aristocratic life was one ball, dinner, and banquet after another. I suspect a fair amount of just not eating was responsible as well as corsets, and women could walk and ride horses. IDK I am just imagining women secretly doing push-ups in their bedrooms at night to work off the breakfast of ortolans and champagne.

2. Lucifer continues to be enjoyable. SPOILERS )

3. Emma and I went to go see Hail Caesar. I was surprised she wanted to see it in the first place, and doubly surprised when she ended up enjoying it rather than being bored. The movie was hit or miss for me. SPOILERS )

4. We started watching Daredevil which I enjoy. SPOILERS )

5. In the past couple years, I've gone for long stretches where I don't read books and only read stuff online, and then binge read like 10 books in two weeks. This has been one of those stretches where I've not been reading much, so I'm resolved to start reading books again. Here's my To Read list:

The Mechanical
Ancillary Justice
Goblin Emperor
The Game
Irving book
3 Body Problem
the final Mortal Instruments book
Stephen King books on Kindle
lunabee34: (gay agenda by jjjean65)
1. I'm reading a fantastic book that Executrix sent me about the way that American heiresses started invading Victorian England because they couldn't achieve social recognition or make good marriages in an American society ruled by stuffy old birds like Mrs. Astor. Anyway, fun factoid: kid gloves were worn by both men and women at society functions so that flesh never touched flesh while dancing; the gloves were thin and tight enough that the outline of the fingernails was visible through them, and they only lasted for a single use. Talk about disposable income.

2. cut for discussion of exercise, weight, and mental health )

3. cut for discussion of dieting )

4. cut for discussion of sartorial woes with a side of self-loathing )

5. Getting to Know You Meme: Ask me a question, and I'll ask you one in return.
lunabee34: (meta foucault by jjjean65)
1. In my New Year's Resolutions, I committed to posting at least once a week. I've been feeling disconnected from fandom for a long time now and not truly actively fannish about anything except maybe reading FFA, and I don't know if you can call taking a vicarious interest in the mean things people want to say to their bosses a font of fannishness.

In a fit of curiosity about how often I'd actually been posting last year, I went to the archive only to discover to my surprise that I'd posted a hell of a lot more than I thought I had. I posted at least once every week in 2014 with the exception of one week in February, one week in March, and a four week stretch that lasted from September 19 to October 18. I averaged about two posts a week, and posted six times! one week in May. I am truly shocked, y'all. I expected to see that I'd been posting about once a month, maybe twice.

So now I'm not sure how committing to do a thing I'm already doing is going to have any impact on feeling disconnected from fandom in general and y'all in particular. LOL

I suspect that a lot of what I miss is getting feedback on fic, so committing to posting one fic a month should help there. And if I make weekly perfume posts, I might continue to meet people in perfume fandom and generate interesting conversations as a result.

2. I'm reading an academic book right now that could be so interesting. The author is talking about the significance of the blush in Victorian novels, and in the introduction she references Cher and Estee Lauder ads and an interesting documentary about skinheads that came out shortly before she wrote her book, and I should be digging this--except I'm not, and here's why. There's a way to talk about important stuff without sounding like an asshole, and this lady is not accomplishing it. Especially if you're throwing around pop culture references and making jokes with them, doing so in the middle of a sentence about the reification of the Foucauldian rhizomes and the textures of the evaluative binary (note: I just made that shit up and it sounds about like what she's writing LOL). It's like tonal whiplash. I do see value in specialized language in my discipline; however, I am a firm believer in writing as clearly, concisely, and plainly as possible (all while still using big girl vocabulary words!). I feel like many more people agree with me now than otherwise as I find much of the recently published scholarly stuff I read very approachable. But, man. The nineties. So much ridiculous posturing and saying everything in a much more complicated way than necessary.
lunabee34: (help by jjjean65)
One of my dearest friends received this book for Christmas this year. Saturday, she gave me my very own copy because she has found it valuable in helping her deal with what has been an extraordinarily difficult year for her.

The Happiness Project is just what it sounds like on the tin. Rubin--married mother of two, successful writer and lawyer, and economically comfortable New Yorker--decides that while she doesn't necessarily feel unhappy (in fact, she generally feels pretty okay in the happiness department), she'd like to try a year-long experiment designed to increase her happiness. She devotes each month of the year to a particular area of her life and makes three to four goals for that area. She charts her progress on that area and attempts to maintain growth even while transitioning to the next month's focus.

I haven't quite finished the book, but much of what Rubin writes speaks to me. I think I want to start a happiness project of my own, and not because I feel pretty okay in the happiness department, which feels like a good thing.

So much navel gazing and rumination on the nature of happiness )

I will welcome any suggestions or discussion on how to make this project work for me. Since these are areas I struggle with, any advice is welcome and appreciated.
lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
Josh is doing well; they're still pumping him full of Heparin, and he seems to be having less trouble breathing now. I have pretty much stopped freaking out that he's going to drop dead (yes, that is how my brain works, thank you LOL) and moved on to the he's going to be fine even if it takes awhile to get there portion of the proceedings. Blanket thanks for all the hand-holding, well-wishes, and prayers. Y'all are my support network, and I appreciate your friendship more than I can say.

This hospital is much quieter than the one we were in last week AND it has a full length couch for me to sleep on! We both got about 6 hours of sleep last night. It's a hospital miracle!

In other news, [personal profile] sholio has crawled ahead of me in our geriatric race to the finish on the 100 Things Challenge, so I'd better update.

Victorian People and Ideas is an oldie but a goodie (which is true of a lot of the scholarship on the Victorian era; while some of it is dated, a fair amount of those works are still relevant and interesting). Altick's work is very accessible; I would totally assign this book in a junior or senior undergraduate seminar. I think it would also be a good read for a casual reader interested in England in the nineteenth century.
lunabee34: (writer by sukibluefiction)
This is the first writing manual I ever encountered. I first read it as part of the curriculum for a summer camp for writers that I attended as a middle schooler. I had to read it again in grad school in a class on pedagogy. Now, I cringe when I read this book (and that feeling is absolutely reflected in the marginalia which dates from the grad school reading experience). It's definitely a hippy-dippy, granola, artsy-fartsy approach to writing and teaching writing that is extremely difficult to implement in an actual academic setting (and, say, not a summer camp or writing institute type experience).

I do not think of writing as cooking (really, Elbow?), but I'll give him the growing metaphor, and that last one is what meant so much to me as a adolescent writer. Elbow's work appealed to me first because its very premise is that you can become a good writer without the tutelage of a teacher, and like most other adolescents, I was totally on board with the idea that I didn't need the instruction of any of the authority figures in my life to be completely awesome. I kinda have issues with his pedagogy now that I've been teaching college writing classes for more than a decade, but I have to give the man credit where credit is due. Although writing pedagogy has moved on since 1973, a great deal of what Elbow preaches (and this is totally a sermon) in this book is very good advice and has informed the way we continue to teach writing in higher education (I'm thinking of peer review of student essays in particular here).

Writing without Teachers is dated, but for a long time, it was my go-to writer's block destroyer. If you're interested in the evolution of the pedagogy of writing, or if you're interested in a quick read that's sprinkled through with concrete writing suggestions, I'd recommend this book.
lunabee34: (ds9: alcohol by icons_of_isis)
Drabble of your choice for the person who can finish that lyric without google.

Josh went over to Daxton's, and I seem to be getting over my debilitating fear of using the internet. Whoooooo! So talk to me, people!

1. We recently re-watched Dragonball Z with Emma because she had gotten hooked on Dragonball Z Kai on Cartoon network. So we watched like all four million episodes of this show, and for the most part I was as charmed as I was on the first go round as a wee baby undergrad. But somehow on the first go-round, I missed the last episode or else did not want to come down from that cloud long enough to ponder its implications. Why oh why does Dragonball Z end with Goku turning into a douchebag? It's like he came back from Underworld an infantilized idiot. Am I wrong? Thoughts?

2. We are watching Inuyasha now with Ems, and I did not remember how creepy and scary the show is (monsters of ewness) but Ems has nerves of steel (she just recently told me, "Mom, I'm not sleeping with a nightlight anymore. That's for babies, just so you know). If you watch it streaming through Netflix you can only get the subtitled which at first I was irritated about, mostly because you have to have your eyes on the screen the whole time and can't go check on dinner or do other things while watching but now I am digging it. I love hearing the original voices.

3. I cooked spaghetti squash. It was awesome. I cut the squash in half lengthwise and baked at 375 covered in foil and cut side down for 45 min and then turned it over and baked 15 more covered in foil. Then I removed the seed and pulled the flesh away in strings from the rind. I put it in a pan and tossed over medium heat with butter, a little sesame oil, and some soy sauce. It's like the perfect canvas. You could do anything to it. It tastes like a milder and slightly sweeter yellow squash but it has the awesome crunchy noodle texture. What have you cooked awesome lately?

4. I just finished reading The Help. Also Joan Didion's Slouching Toward Bethlehem. Thoughts?

5. We watched Hugo. Lorraine cried. What did y'all think. ;)
lunabee34: (disney hair by phchiu)
I have been away from LJ/DW for some time now, in a larger sense because of the seemingly ever-increasing demands of my job and my family and my desire to actually finish my dissertation, but in a smaller and more local sense because of traveling over the holidays and school starting once again and a fannish trajectory that has me reading far more often than producing or commenting on source material. Add in an anxiety disorder which has in the last weeks blossomed uncomfortably, and I have not been around very often. I sometimes feel as if I'm standing on the shoreline of fandom, right where water eats sand, sinking further and further into the sandy slurry over the last four years while fandom slowly, slowly recedes outwards. Pretty soon I'll be perched on dry dunes and watching the surf crash in down the way.

All this to say, what I miss most about fandom is talking to you guys. On a regular basis. About things. :) Josh is watching Oz with Dax, and I have a whole evening to spend wading back into the waves. So talk to me. I have talking points.

1. Let's say you fall through a whole in the sky into the Potterverse when Lily is pregnant but before the prophecy is made. Let's say you help defeat Voldemort before Harry can even be involved and while you are angsting over time travel and universe hopping and mostly not-angsting over becoming the filling in a Sirius/Remus sandwich, you are asked to teach a Muggle literature class at Hogwarts to the seventh years. Now remember, the objective of this class isn't merely to showcase excellence in Muggle literature. The texts you choose have to do something more--they must illuminate the Muggle human condition. They must offer some commentary you feel necessary for this class to understand about what it means to be a Muggle or perhaps about the Muggle perception of and fascination with magic. The texts don't have to be readily accessible to the wee wizards; part of what you'll be doing as a teacher is providing context for the Muggle history and situations they don't understand. This is a Muggle world literature class that spans all recorded history. What text(s) do you choose and why?

2. [personal profile] executrix sent me the most marvelous parcel of books this Christmas, truly her most inspired assortment yet (and believe me, this lady is no slouch in the book delivery dept). In this parcel was Very Far Away From Anywhere Else by Ursula K. LeGuin. Clocking in at about 80 pgs, this novella is a lovely slice of adolescence. I think it does a very good job of capturing the peculiarities of being a teenager--the way everything feels so very terribly important, the sense that you are disconnected from and different than those around you, that what you are going through is unique to you and you alone and the select few individuals you find along your journey, the notion of life as some kind of quest for an answer, a thing to be figured out, a puzzle. I love it. It's really more of a postcard of a book than anything, but UKlG's prose is as fine as ever. Also in the box: Aimee and Jaguar: A Love Story, Berlin, 1943 (which is about the love affair between a German woman and a Jewish woman who has gone underground in Berlin; has anyone read this book? I have interestingly mixed feelings about the author's epilogue) and Love in a Dark Time which tries to force intersections between homosexuality, Irishness, and Catholicism in a discussion of a set of artistic figures with varying degrees of success. The chapter on Wilde is the most successful, the chapter on Almodovar the least. He seems pasteded on, yo.

3. Adam and Joy gave us Never Let Me Go which OMG, y'all. Wow. I mean. I knew that Remains of the Day is supposed to be awesome and a pinnacle but I'd never read or seen the movie, and now I just want to devour everything this guy has ever written. Never Let Me Go is haunting and creepy and ambivalent and so overwhelming sad that it instantly jumps into favored status with Lorraine. I think it's been made into a movie. Anybody seen or watched?

4. Finally, seen any movies? Read any books? Heard any songs? Cooked anything awesome? Been thinking thinky thoughts about a thing? I wanna know.
lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
I'm putting the finishing touches on my [ profile] femme_fic tonight (expect something in the next 7 hours or so, [ profile] ariadne!) and then I am watching last week's SPN and curling up with The Victorian Frame of Mind.

I just finished The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar. I skimmed small sections of this book for my MA thesis but in no way read the text (which is highly unfortunate because I think that ultimately, G&G's methodology is probably superior to what I used of Elaine Showalter's at a critical juncture, but that's neither here nor there). This book was published in 1979, which is significant for me because that's the year in which I was born. I have a profound respect for these two women who engineered a way of reading 18th and 19th century women writers that is still valid and compelling thirty years later--no mean feat in academia. In fact, if you are going to talk about women writers from those two centuries, you *have* to acknowledge G&G, even if it's only to refute them.

Charting the themes of imprisonment and escape, ice and fire (snow), madness and sexuality, this book offers a female literary history of these two centuries. In addition, there's a lot of really, really exciting word play going on in this book. One of my favorite instances is the one in which they discuss Heathcliff hanging Isabella's dog on the bridle (bridal) hook.

I think that G&G rely far too heavily on autobiographical readings of these women writers' texts, but given the nature of their project, that predilection isn't surprising. This book also reminded me how much I really don't care for Emily Dickinson's poetry. Isolated poems I enjoy; her autobiography I find very interesting; but when forced to read twenty or so of her poems in a row, I find myself wanting to tear out my hair. Although G&G make a really fascinating argument for Dickinson's bizarre punctutation (all those dashes) as analogous to a sewing stitch that links different ideas, bottom line is that it throws me out of the poem, every damn time.

Thoughts? I think some of you have probably read this book and if you haven't and you are at all interested in women's writing you should. It's very accessible in my opinion to readers from a variety of fields and interests.


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