Hey, folks! It’s been a hectic month in terms of books: the first movie spin-off of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, was released on November 17; Carrie Fisher released her new Star Wars memoir, The Princess Diarist; and The Light Between Oceans by M.L Stedman and Looking For Alaska are slated for movies adaptations.
Our editors have been very slowly getting through our own slew of books. Let’s face it; books are always better than the movie versions… There’s no limit to the imagination that way.
I’ve just started reading my review copy of Rough Honey by Melissa Stein; another Copper Canyon Press poet. The oxymoronic nature of collection’s title certainly offers you a glimpse into the nature of the collection; raw, honest, and unstifled emotion pour out of every page like water (impossibly) on fire. I read each page and feel like I’m reaching into another world where my emotions are heightened and everything I feel, I feel shamelessly and with integrity. It shows that someone sweet can also be someone emotionally toughened by life’s struggles and its many unanswerable questions.
As the school semester is coming to a close, my Women in Literature professor chose Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer as one of our final readings. Kingsolver’s novel is her ecofeminist manifesto written through the eyes of three alternating protagonists, Deanna, Lusa, and Garnett. Kingsolver tries to awaken a deep desire within her readers to set aside the urge to dominate nature and just embrace its natural balance between beauty and power.
Deanna, having been left by her husband, secludes herself in nature by becoming a forest ranger. Her journey begins when a handsome stranger, Eddie Bondo, intrudes on her neck of the woods and insists on tailing her as she quests to protect the coyotes he wants to kill. Lusa, a tri-religion city-slicker, married into a typical Southern, close-knit family and must learn to navigate the eccentricities of her husband’s farming world. Throughout the novel, the reader watches as she finds the balance between her new home and her old. Garnett is a cranky old, sanctimonious man who constantly bickers, in the most hilarious way possible, with his eco-loving neighbour, Nannie. His life’s mission, besides criticizing the younger generation, is to crossbreed chestnut trees to repopulate the forests that his family had destroyed.
Kingsolver beautifully weaves these three different stories into a web that parallels, but never quite touches. Each protagonist has a connection to all the others, although they do not know it themselves. As their stories unfold, the reader is left gasping for more of their quirkiness, oddities, and all-around great characterizations. Kingsolver excels at creating three characters so true to life that it is hard to remember that they only exist in the fictional realm of Zebulon County.
I just started two books — both of which coincidentally involve the number one hundred.
The first is a Isabel Greenberg’s latest graphic novel One Hundred Nights of Hero, which I’ve only just started but so far is beautifully drawn, smart, and takes on the admirable task of giving a feminist interpretation of the Arabian Nights.
The second book is a translation from Swedish: a novel called The 100 Year Old Man who Jumped Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. I’m a few chapters into this book, and so far its amusing and whimsical, sort of the Swedish version of Forrest Gump with a lovable, relatively clueless protagonist who makes the impulsive decision to go on an adventure just hours before the city celebrates his hundredth birthday party.
Both books so far have been a wonderful escape from the world of politics and the winter blues, and I am excited to keep reading.
This month, I’ve been reading Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford: a memoir focusing on Ford’s female centric experiences growing up as a young girl, a teenager, a young adult and now a mother. She juxtaposes her personal experiences with body image, socialising, bullying, boys, female friendship, sexuality, work, pregnancy, motherhood and more against the backdrop of patriarchal structures. Ford exposes the influence of these structures in her staunch pre-feminist life and post-feminist epiphany; how feminism informs her work, her life online and the decisions she makes daily.
Fight Like A Girl is a fearless exploration of the female experience that holds no punches, and does so with an endless supply of wit and humour. If you ever wanted sincere honesty from a writer while they deconstructed the fragile state of our patriarchal world, you can’t go past this book.