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Wednesday, 2 July 2014 21:47
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Right, okay, this is just getting RIDICULOUS -

One paragraph book reviews!

24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep, by Jonathan Crary.

I read this for one of my classes, so possibly it doesn't really count, but whatever. Anyway: read Megan Heuer's review of it, lots of my opinions are cribbed from it and her commentary on Crary's elision of the genderedness of affect is especially brilliant!

Relatedly: I am so sick of Important White Men opinions.

The Psychic Life of Power, by Judith Butler.

It's weird how much I've taken to Butler given that until I actually read her I kept loudly proclaiming my distaste for psychoanalytic theory and I think she writes very much in that tradition. My friend said, "I wish she would give some examples of what she's talking about," and I didn't proffer the jerkish opinion that I thought examples would have ruined everything.

Whatever, have another cool article off the Internet: TransAdvocate interviews Judith Butler

Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasie.

Critically acclaimed debut, but I couldn't get into it much. Selasie was a poet before she published this novel, I think? And that shows: the prose is just that side of too overdone to really tell a good story effectively. That being said, I liked Selasie's sardonism and how she intended it to highlight the fact that conceits like humour tend not to surface in Very Serious Novels Set in Developing African Countries.

Trumpet, by Jackie Kay.

THE BEST LOVE STORY EVER. I LOVED IT. What a good tender sad little story. Jonathan and I took a walk in the cemetery in his neighbourhood, several months ago now, and I was telling him about the scene where a dying Joss tells Millie, "I don't want to go to the doctor's," and she strokes his hair and tells him, "I know you don't want to go to the doctor's." Then I smiled creepily at him and said, "I want to do that for you." So. Bam. If you're interested in families and quiet little love stories and the lives of trans people you should maybe read this novel.

Nervous Conditions, by Tsitsi Dangeremba.

Here, kind of the same sardonism that Taiye Selasie attempts to achieve except done so much better. I was thinking about Ghana Must Go and how you can understand the irony as an effect of the adult narrator remembering her child self, except the two are never quite sufficiently distinguished, I think, but here Tsitsi Dangeremba explicitly has her child narrator come into "Western" or Western-adulating society as an innocent and have the irony be implicit in the situation itself, which makes more sense, although this might just mean that Ghana Must Go is just a more challenging novel in ways I haven't quite grasped yet.

O Pioneers!, by Willa Cather.

I REALLY LIKED THIS. I liked the description of the land and the stoic characters; I feel like I hadn't read a novel with a really satisfying stoic protagonist in a while. So this was good!

Especially liked: the thing where her family started ~disavowing the old ways~ once they became wealthy. I do love a good bit of linguistic snobbery being showed up.

Disliked: the textual approbation of honour killings D: D: D:

Brighton Rock, by Graham Greene.

I liked Ivy, even if Graham Greene didn't, and I enjoyed Greene's descriptions of 1930s Brighton, even if he intended for them to be monstrous. Reading comprehension fail? Whatever, screw you Graham Greene :D

Affinity, by Sarah Waters.

I READ THIS ON HOLIDAY AND COULDN'T STOP THINKING ABOUT IT. I love this novel fiercely, in a way where I can't stop thinking about the plot and Selina and Ruth and Helen: how queer it is, how pointed the hysteria over the subtexty lesbianism in the criminal trial and - ! Idkkkkkkkk, maybe it's just not having read any Sarah Waters in a good long time / or any mystery novels / or indeed any novels at all, but I forgot how a big central mystery being dangled throughout the entire novel can really hook you in for an unputdownable read. And people never talk about how good Sarah Waters can be about plot, too: this novel is kind of like Fingersmith in terms of intricacy of plot except, again, even better, because of the Big Mystery, which I don't recall being as urgent in Fingersmith.

The Virgin In The Garden, by A.S. Byatt.

I enjoyed Frederica A LOT but skipped most of the chapters with Marcus. So.... mixed feelings?

Poor Cow, by Nell Dunn.

Brutal, realist look at a working-class young woman set in the 60s. I liked this novel well-enough, and it was too short a read to become tedious, but I think that the Ken Loach film adaptation is better. (Most reviewers including Roger Ebert panned the film - so take from that what you will, although I do think that the film is pretty good.)

Also, thoughts about the challenges of portraying the expression of characters with limited education and who aren't supposed to be very articulate, esp in a feminist novel that is in some ways All About articulating a woman's experience, and the way Nell Dunn slips between first and third person narration and present and past tense

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