caitri: (fandom is like rl)
So through happenstance I've recently read several novels in which fandom takes on a large role, so I have some random thoughts on it.

1) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. (This one is actually a reread because I like this book.) Main character is a fangirl who writes slash for the not!Harry Potter of her universe as she navigates her first year of undergrad. Fannish interactions--excerpts from fic, fan sites, fan conversations--all ring pretty true, but the "great leap" is at the end when she writes and then publishes her own original short story that echoes all her growing pains heretofore. So fandom is great but something that must be grown out of.

2) Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson. I had high hopes for this one when I read about it and largely enjoyed it. The entirety of the story is told through online postings and comments (mix of pseudo-lj and pseudo-Tumblr), IMs, texts, fan art, etc. Two fangirls bond over their favorite show and flirt with becoming more, and then not-quite-implode. The two main characters go from the "gosh it's so weird talking to someone real on the internet and having feelings" (which I'm not sure people still have those? it being 2016?) to "I can't live without you I might break up with my boyfriend over you" stage ~really quickly. Spoiler alert, they don't end up together, which makes me sad. One of them has a mental illness that really explodes when a traumatic event happens; anyway, she starts the book with her rl friends and family AND DOCTOR saying "you should be off drugs by now" and then when she goes off the drugs she absolutely relapses, and this affects her relationship with her fellow fangirl who decides she probably wants the bf after all. Which I also thought was too bad, and almost flirted with biphobia? Like, sure you can "like" girls, but boys are what you settle down with for "real life." Ugh. Ditto the ableist aspects of "you can love someone with mental illness BUT IT IS SO HARD." Which, yes, but also? Ugh. So I have very mixed feelings about it.

3) Scarlet Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw. High school fangirl dealing with high school and her fav tv show being cancelled. Also the former best friend/boy she's had a crush on forever dating a popular girl and acting like a tool. She decides to cope with both by writing a spin-off fic with OCs--because ~as we all know~ fandom gets really excited about fic with all OCs *snort*--that are also, functionally, RPF AUs. Hijinks ensue when because reasons the real kids find out about this and are justifiably hurt...and then the dude eventually ends up dating her anyway because reasons. So fandom is a high school thing that is fun and verges into creepy and is then abandoned for Real Life. Ugh.

4) Arkwright by Allen Steele. So this one is a bit different but I actually quite enjoyed it. It's a series of linked novellas; the first being about a granddaughter finding out about her grandfather's legacy and his story told in fun fan history flashbacks to the "First Fandom" of the 1930s. Lots of rl fan history cameos by guys like Sam Moskowitz and Forry Ackerman; one token woman fan who ends up being an agent rather than a writer, so, could be worse. Anyway, the guy writes a series of highly popular sf novels--sort of Star Trek meets Foundation etc etc--that inspire the later generations of his family, who end up in other stories building an interstellar spacecraft that goes to another planet and settling it. So it's about how fandom effects science effects real life, which was a lot of fun. But--notice how because white boys and science fandom is treated as much more useful and "normal" and even, dare I say it, worthy? That's kind of...not cool.

Anyway, so I'm fascinated by this new trend of representation in pop culture. Anyone else have any observations? recs?
caitri: (Mochi rockets)
I am very tired and should probably just go to bed and try again tomorrow, but that's what sane people do. So:

1) I've decided this will be The Year that I try to get into the Book and Paper Intensive, which is an epic eight-day book arts workshop where they do different classes every year. So for half of it you do a basic course in the morning and then another in the afternoon, and in the second half you do a hardcore all-day workshop. Everyone I know who has ever been has flailed and sung its praises. And they have a scholarship, and the scholarship application period is December 1-31, and they only sent out info about it yesterday.

So to apply I have to put together a portfolio of ten things to basically show-off my skill level and interests. And write a statement. So today I scanned a bunch of stuff and started to think, "Hey, this doesn't look bad. There's a nice variety of papers here, handmade and marbled. That one broadside that has a poem I wrote looks decent. Those two artist books, um, don't look awful. Etc. So I waffle. And then the statement. It only has to be 200 words, but still. "I want to learn to make more things. Also better. Better and prettier than I make things now. You show me how? Please?" Yeah, needs work.

2) Also working on a side research project with a friend of mine, and something I've been trying to figure out for ages is when the shift of meaning occurred with "fanfiction." Originally back in the 1930s-1950s, it just meant fiction written by fans, not derivative or transformative works, which came later. Well lo and behold the OED has an entry, and mentions the 1944 Fancyclopedia as documenting the first meaning, and Jacqueline Lichtenberg writing in the 1975 anthology Star Trek Lives! about the latter. Now I suspect this latter citation is because it appeared in a mass-market book, so obviously it was in usage before then, but when? And so there's a Fan History group on Facebook and I thought I'd be bright and pose it to them.

WELL. A bunch of cranky old dudes. "What are you talking about?" "Fanfiction has always just meant amateur writing." "Where are you getting this from?" ... Uh, the OED? Also, have you read anything in the mainstream media in the past fifteen years, or hell, the last three? JUST CURIOUS.

Anyway. That's been my day. Well, no, I got other things done, and other things need to get done but still. I'm tired. So. 
caitri: (books)
Bold what you've read; italicise what you've started but not finished.

1 - Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 - The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 - Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 - Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 - To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 - The Bible
7 - Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 - Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 - His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 - Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 - Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 - Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 - Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 - Complete Works of Shakespeare (I'm good with the plays, less so the poetry, especially Venus and Adonis)
15 - Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 - The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 - Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 - Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 - The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 - Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 - Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (BORING and also fucking racist)
22 - The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 - Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 - War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy (BORING)
25 - The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 - Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 - Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 - Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 - Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 - The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 - Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 - David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 - Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 - Emma - Jane Austen
35 - Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 - The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis (Why does Lewis get to double-dip?)
37 - The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 - Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 - Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 - Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 - Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 - The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (I know)
43 - One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 - A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 - The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 - Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 - Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 - The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 - Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 - Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 - Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 - Dune - Frank Herbert
53 - Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 - Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 - A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth.
56 - The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 - A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (Seriously, this is the third Dickens, what is UP with this list?!)
58 - Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 - Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 - Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 - Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 - The Secret History - Donna Tartt (BORING)
64 - The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 - Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 - On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 - Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy (TRAUMATIZING)
68 - Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 - Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 - Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 - Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 - Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 - The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 - Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 - Ulysses - James Joyce
76 - The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 - Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 - Germinal - Emile Zola
79 - Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 - Possession - AS Byatt.
81 - A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 - Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 - The Color Purple - Alice Walker (Thank fuck we got a POC in here, Jesus, even if it is at 83!)
84 - The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 - Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 - A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 - Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 - The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom (List, I am judging you so hard right now.)
89 - Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 - The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 - Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 - The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 - The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 - Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 - A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 - A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 - The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 - Hamlet - William Shakespeare (Well if Lewis and Dickens get to do it, why not?)
99 - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 - Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
caitri: (Mochi rockets)
Because it is cold and snowing and I have been procrastinating.

I read Cherie Priest's Maplecroft in preparation for a SFF book club I'm starting locally. It's a Lovecraftian historical AU, in which we find that Lizzie Borden killed her parents to stave off their demonic possession, and she and her sister research and fight evil. It's very Buffyesque, not least because the axe reminds me of the Scythe. Told in alternate points of view, Priest really nails that nineteenth century voice and mixes it with Lovecraft very well. Highly recommended.

Last night, on Todd's recommendation, I read Julie Schumacher's Dear Committee Members, a very short epistolary novel told completely through a beleaguered professor's recommendation letters over the course of a year. I was quietly laughing to myself because the prose so exactly gets right academic life, and was rolling along up until the unexpectedly emotional conclusion, at which point I texted Todd and said Why didn't you warn me that I was going to be emotionally devastated?Spoiler Alert/Trigger Warning )
Still a fun novel, but aww.

I reread a couple of Anne McCaffrey's novels over my break, including the first two Freedom books and half of Killashandra and just, man, either I didn't get the total rapeyness of these when I was a teenager or I totally repressed it. I couldn't even finish the last as it was just too WTF for me; basically Killashandra gets kidnapped because reasons, rescues herself, later runs into her kidnapper and ends up having A M A Z I N G sex with him, and all is forgiven and lols. Such eighties. Much painful.

I started rereading Bradley's Mists of Avalon because I've been wanting to do that for months, but had also been deeply squicked by her scandal this summer. But I decided to sit down with it because I also recently finished reading Mercedes Lackey's Gwenhwyfar which is a sort of revision of the revision, and I wanted to compare them. Bradley's book is as much about the struggles between early Christianity and Celtic paganism as it is about King Arthur and gender; in her book, Gwenhwyfar is a fearful Christian who has internalized a lot of misogyny with her faith, and her great tragedy is that--in addition to being in love with the wrong man, more or less--she's not able to forgive herself or others for their sins.

Lackey's plays on the concept of multiple Gwenhyfars; there's Arthur's first queen, who dutifully marries him and has kids and then they all die; his second queen, who gets kidnapped and later goes into a nunnery; and then the protagonist is the third queen, a Gwenhwyfar who is a ruler and a bit magicey, and who also gets married off to Arthur. Gwenhwyfar is pagan but has an interesting friendship with a Christian priest that I found fascinating, especially in contrast to the priest in Bradley's book (they share the same name, but are otherwise quite different; the one in Bradley's book is a misogynist dick whereas the one in Lackey's book is much more accepting of goodness/alternative paths. .Triggery things happen but largely offpage, so be aware of that, but I think one of the single best moments in genre literature happens when, after there has been shenanigans involving Gwen being kidnapped for months (replaced by a magic double) and rescued by Lancelot and THEN they get brought in because OMG CHEATING or whatever Gwen freaking punches King Arthur in the face and calls him an idiot for NOT NOTICING SHE HAD BEEN EXCHANGED FOR SOMEONE ELSE FOR MONTHS. It was glorious. Also full points for having a heroine going "fuck men, I have shit to do, BYE." Highly recommended, needless to say.
caitri: (chris vocabulary)
Not only because they have actual laws about protecting their independent bookstores, but because when the Minister of Culture admits she hasn't read a book in two years, people are fucking outraged.

Writer Tahar Ben Jelloun, who is on the jury for France’s prestigious Goncourt literature prize, told France Inter radio that Pellerin’s lack of knowledge was “shameful”.

“It’s very sad,” he said. “It is a culture minister's political duty to delve into literature. It is not possible that she hasn’t read a single Modiano novel. It is lamentable, but then we live in an era when culture is not taken seriously at all.” ...

“If you can be a culture minister without reading books, what we are reduced to [culturally] are technicalities and budgets,” he wrote. “Nothing will uplift us, the soul is an illusion and all the great works are reduced to less than the minutes of a cabinet meeting.”

I'm trying to imagine an American equivalent, but all I've got is our intermittent arguments about the "appropriateness" of adults reading YA. Pfft.

caitri: (Cait Yatta!)
This morning was the last day of workshop, and in an hour I'll catch the shuttle to the airport and thence home. Some last photographs:


We had book-decorated cupcakes as a final farewell.


We also made enclosures to take our projects home in safely. Hard to believe this little box carries everything I made this week, but it does!!!!!

Leaving is bittersweet because I'll be glad to be home again tonight, but I've really had so much fun here this week!!!!1
caitri: (charles write)
I feel extra guilty and sad at her passing because I've read so little of her. I read a portion of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings when I was in...middle school, or possibly a freshman in high school. It was the Rape Scene, and it was upsetting, and I couldn't go on. For ~20 years I meant to pick the book up again, but I haven't, because cowardice.

When I was a senior in high school, we had to write papers for some contest on government something something. You were required to do it if you were taking Government that term, and I was assigned to take Gov the spring term, so I didn't have to do it. But there was a cash prize, and I was anxious because not only did I want to get into a good college, but I also had an inkling (an inkling that wasn't even a drop in the ocean of the reality) of the problems I would have once in university because of my background (rural, middle-class in the sort of way that would be coded "poor," as I would find a year later). So, a writing contest, a cash prize, and me.

And let's not forget rural South.

So: I remembered Angelou, and I wrote a paper around the theme of the caged bird:

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

I wrote about women struggling for the vote and a place in the American political landscape. I wrote about feminism, and how in 1998 there was still no Equal Rights Amendment. I wrote about being a young woman struggling to find her voice even as what we had to read and write about all the time were dead white men. (Oh, I was an angry girl, and I wish I had a copy of this essay still, because it's funny how I've kept the same preoccupations even as I've learned how little I know, and how I've tried to remedy that ever since.)

This went about as well as one would expect.

My Mom didn't like it. (She also mocked how I read poetry, and her saying back to me my own words of I like reading it that way have stayed with me all these years.) (She was also freaked about how I ordered copies of Camille Paglia's literary criticism, because one of the titles was Sexual Personae. Look, I was a baby feminist AND a baby literary critic, I didn't know better!) She wanted me to change it, and I refused.

We had to read our entries in the Gov. classroom. I remember going up, reading the paper, and as I left, a student whispering, "She used words I've never even heard before."

I heard at some point that my paper upset the voting committee, who I think consisted of three old white men and one white woman. I don't think I ever learned what upset them, though let's be honest, it could have been just as much a white girl quoting a black poet as much as anything.

Needless to say, I didn't win the cash prize, or any prize for that matter. But what stayed with me was, at least, the visceral power of words, and how the right ones could make people--teachers!--so very angry. This may have been one of the first times I understood the power of the status quo, and how much I wanted to tear it to pieces.

So I've not read as much Maya Angelou as I should, but she still means a lot to me. She showed me the world as it is--full of struggle, sometimes violent struggle, and sometimes an intellectual struggle that cuts to one's heart. This is a very simple gift, and one that brought my eyes wide open. In short, I think a lot of who I am is--accidentally, tangentially, and perhaps serendipitously--because of her.
caitri: (Status is Not Quo)
So I've had my mind on writing this post for a few weeks but I just haven't quite crystallized all my thoughts, but then I decided better to get it out and screw it up than never get it down at all.

Okay. So. This post is brought to you by a few different moments in the past weeks.

1) A conversation I had on Facebook about YA literature in which a male acquaintance (with all best intentions; I mean, he loves Tamora Pierce so he's not all bad, he's just...misplaced) said multiple problematic things, of which the one I found most irritating was a statement that he doesn't like the trend in YA novels of having romance plots/focus, because he didn't find that empowering for women at all. (Subquestion: How does a man even get to talk about women's empowerment? I mean, really? Skipping Joss Whedon who, while problematic, still gets 90% more than everyone else with a penis.)

2) In a Romance Studies panel at PCA, a speaker mentioned teaching a class where she asked her students to name their favorite books/writers, and all the women gave answers like Fitzgerald and Hemingway and other white male western canon writers, whereas the men were all over the place, and when they talked about it in class, esp when they broke out into gendered groups, that a lot of the young women were giving performative answers because of fear and shame. (Subnote, the area co-chair of Romance Studies at PCA is Eric Seeger, a dude, who is one of the few/only male academics I have seen who does everything RIGHT when interacting with women scholars and letting them talk and then responding, and basically I want to sponsor a session where he can teach other men to do that, because damn.)

3) My interests in fandoms, book history, women's writing, etc. just really highlight the gender divides of how we deal with women writers and publishing etc. I posted on FB about the recent SFWA fracas and an article talking about how much more professional the Romance Writers Association is in championing their writers and publications, and another guy I know wanted to have the lolz. And it's like, um, hey that romance genre that is so derided? Yeah, it is responsible for 55% of American/British publishing. That means that more romances are published and sold every year than textbooks, religious texts, other fiction, and nonfiction com-fucking-bined.

And so there's a lot of things going on, and so I want to kind of break them down a bit.

What women write/publish, esp. with regards to genre.

There's a great quote that I can't remember, but it's about how if a man writes a book about war, it's touted as being a universal tale of experience, but if a woman writes about family, it's drivel. And I think that is probably one of the best and most cogent appraisals ever.

Henry King has that seventeenth century dedication "To a Lady" where he talks about how women aren't allowed to write anything but romance (and so we know how far back that goes, at least) (and for context the poem is part of a gift of a blank book with the rest of the poem being about how he hopes the recipient will fill it whatever characters and fancies she likes), and I think there's way scary truth to that. I mean, look at those few women we have allowed to enter the western canon:

*Jane Austen
*Charlotte Bronte
*Emily Bronte
[poor Anne Bronte always gets left out, doesn't she]
*Mary Shelley
*Virginia Woolf

So that's three writers of what we would call romances, an SF writer, and a writer whose best-known work, A Room of One's Own, eliminated the women writers of the past. Damn, guys, agenda much?

Why women write/publish genre.

Er, see above? Self-fulfilling prophecy, in many ways.

(See also, What If All Book Covers Were Given a Chick-Lit Makeover. See also, Joanna Russ's How to Suppress Women's Writing, come to that.)

There's also this whole thing of, okay, women aren't going to be "allowed" into conventional/respectable literature, so they end up in the genre ghettos, and then the corollary of the recent John Green saved YA backlash. (*Note: I have not read any John Green, nor do I want to. From what I've seen in articles and Twitter he seems to be a white dude trying to be an ally, BUT, he is also a white dude getting exorbitant praise from the establishment at the expense of women and POC writers.) Which, can we even really talk enough about just the IDEA of a man "saving literature"? Oy.

And then the flip to that is of course Nicholas Sparks as the "only" writer of "love-tragedies." Erm.

The very vocabulary of our publishing and genre discourse.

Where the word "hack" used to mean prostitute and so "hack writing" is cheap and unartistic writing.

Where "streetwalker" used to be the term for the women who were out in the streets selling the pamphlets that they often also wrote and published and now that's a term for prostitution.

Where "gossip" used to be the term for a community of women, often professionally, as of midwives, and is now a term for scurrilous information.


"Book clubs" as a feminine activity, with the addition of "book club guides" in published volumes often being in fiction, very occasionally nonfiction, and *always* being tied in to books by or about women. Like, seriously, ever notice how heavy political books never have book club guides? Not even the scary far-right ones? I'm just saying.

Book and literary histories that try their best to deny the agency of women in all levels of book publication and production. The "stigma of print." The history of removing women from public discourse/vilifying them if they ARE in public discourse.

What it means.

The social expectation of denouncing popular writing by women, whether romances, SF/F, whatever, while often at the SAME TIME those same books sell immensely and get book deals. I can literally name on one hand the times I have heard someone SAY they actually liked: Twilight, Divergent, FSoG, etc. JK Rowling and Harry Potter and Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games are the ONLY ones that have gotten free passes, I assume because male protagonist one the one hand and dystopia on the other. That's "cool."

The flip side being if you DON'T denounce them or don't denounce them quickly enough, you'll get ragged on for low tastes, etc. etc.

Basically we're reinforcing the cultural capital of elite white male writers at the expense of all else. Good job, team.


Where do we go from here?

Well, Tumblr. >_>

Seriously though, if you look at the creation of "safe places" for women to talk about writing or to write, it is online space, frequently LOCKED space (back to that public/private discourse again). There are probably arguments to be made about zine culture too, but I know zine culture best through the lens of SFF fandom, and, well, hey, what do naked collating parties in the 70s say about the culture of women's writing then?

(And of course, zine culture will be trashed at the expense of artist books and arguments about vanity publishing, etc. etc., but that's a WHOLE OTHER ARGUMENT about means and ways of production.)

Anyway, to conclude: There are very specific histories and stigmas associated with women's writing and reading, even before we get into specific genre stuff whether romance or SFF. The farther you go back, the more you can see about acknowledgements of what's going on as well as the attempts to subvert it and create new spaces, which are then often taken over themselves to that they can "be saved." Think of the "Fake Geek Girl" phenomenon despite the open history of women saving Star Trek or even that a woman INVENTED SFF (whether or not you want to specify whether that woman was Mary Shelley or Margaret Cavendish). So.

I think I may have just made a book outline. Shit.
caitri: (books)
Oh look, another case of "transformative work becomes literature when a white man does it."

Mammy Revealed, and Not Just Her Red Petticoat; ‘Gone With the Wind’ Prequel Coming in October

Mitchell was criticized for the one-dimensional nature of many African-American characters in the book, particularly Mammy, who cared for the fiery Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara. An unauthorized parody of the classic novel, “The Wind Done Gone,” published in 2001 over the objections of the Mitchell estate, was told from the perspective of a slave whose mother was Mammy.

Mr. Borland said the new book addresses those criticisms head on.

“What’s really remarkable about what Donald has done is that it’s a book that respects and honors its source material, but it also provides a necessary correction to what is one of the more troubling aspects of the book, which is how the black characters are portrayed,” Mr. Borland said.

In an email, Mr. McCaig, 73, who lives on a farm in Virginia, said that he was drawn to write about Ruth because there are “three major characters in ‘Gone With the Wind,’ but we only think about two of them.”

“Scarlett and Rhett are familiars, but when it comes to the third, we don’t know where she was born, if she was ever married, if she ever had children,” he said. “Indeed, we don’t even know her name,” he said. “Ruth’s Journey” also fleshes out the story of one of the more compelling figures in “Gone With the Wind,” Ellen Robillard O’Hara, the matriarch of the clan, who dies at the Tara plantation during the Civil War. Among the other new plot twists Mr. McCaig dreamed up: Ruth, has an early marriage that was not broached in “Gone With the Wind”; and she has a connection to Rhett Butler’s family that explains her hostile behavior toward Rhett later in the classic novel.

You know, I'm really fascinated by this, but my hackles are up that they hired an OLD WHITE MAN to tell a BLACK WOMAN'S STORY. Now in fairness, from the article it sounds like they hired McCaig to do a prequel, and he said that he wanted to do it about Mammie, which is a little different, but still. I really, really want a serious treatment of this issue (the parody The Wind Done Gone was a story told from the POV of Scarlett's mulatto half-sister, which sounds GREAT, but the excerpts I read online were TERRIBLE, without--as near as I can tell--any historical understanding or reflection on historical race issues etc etc) but I don't think this is it.

Let's consider Django Unchained as the other recent black slave's story told by a white man narrative (note: I enjoyed parts of the film and what it tried to do, but damn it went wrong in so. many. places.). Here's Jesse Williams's (yes, the actor, who used to be a history teacher and who is also just a fucking brilliant author and analyst) essay on Django, In Chains

In the film's opening sequence, shackled blacks literally hold the key to their shackles and don't use them, choosing instead to trudge forward, hindered by biting chains, to kill a white man. In the third act, after seeing Django kill the Australians, the blacks sitting in an open cage neither communicate with each other or consider stepping outside of the cage.

In fact, in this entire, nearly three-hour film, there are no scenes with black people interacting, or even looking at each other, in a respectful or productive way.

If only one black person (Django) displays the vaguest interest in gaining freedom, while the rest consistently demonstrate that they wouldn't do anything with that freedom, were they to obtain it, then we're not able to become invested in them or their pursuits: We can't relate to shiftless characters. Being illiterate, and/or brown, does not remove the ability to think, or observe or yearn or plan or develop meaningful relationships.


"Django" is just a random guy, who, to no credit of his own, was plucked from slavery by an impressive white man and led on a journey to save his wife.

Co-opting narratives is always problematic, but even more so when it's white authors co-opting racial narratives in a country that is still dealing with these issues. (As Aasif Mandvi recently pointed out on The Daily Show mock-seriously, we're "still reeling from a civil war.") You only need to consider the problems of stories like The Help (in which the Civil Rights movement is personified through the voice of a white woman) or, Gods help us, A Song of Ice and Fire (you know, Daenerys having to explain to all the brown people that slavery is wrong. *headdesk*). Or, even better, the yet more recent case of 12 Years a Slave posters focusing on the white stars:

I especially love Brad Pitt's halo.


Now, all of this isn't to say I don't think white writers can tell the stories of non-whites effectively, or with care. I think it can be done, but I think A LOT has to go into considerations of cultural appropriation, historicity, and think-checking one's own privilege, and all too often, neither of things happen. Hence we end up with Racefail and, you know, The Last Airbender *shudder*


This book is problematic.
caitri: (Cait Yatta!)
Sending it by my committee again but I think this is The One!

Sharing because I'm inordinately pleased.

Read more... )
caitri: (Charles mouse)
So yeah, hi, been a while. Here's a wicked round-up of lots of things.

[ profile] marthawells's new book is out!! Go get it!!

[ profile] reena_jenkins did an awesome podfic of one of my Avengers fics. Give it a listen and feel holidaysey!!!!

A friend has a tutorial on woodcutting and letterpress printing holiday cards that is exceedingly cool. I added a link to Jen's blog for Anise Press over to the left, but if you find you need some holiday prezzies let me recommend her shop; she and Todd have a cool selection of broadside posters, prints, and cards!

Uh, what else. Oh! So my next exhibit at work is coming along. The official page of Deeper Than Swords is up and running, and I have a resource page with bonus info at the AggieScifi blog. [ profile] gadgetorious is doing some of the artwork for us, so you should also go scope out her tumblr. If you're a local, help us get the word out!!

So it's break. I survived the semester. Yay! Next term I'm signed up for Translating Beowulf, Early Modern Lit and Culture: 17th Century Religious Radicalism, and Conflict in Creative Writing.

Has everyone seen the Trek trailer? The Japanese version made me lose my shit, no lie. There was some intense feels last week, let me say.

Okay, that's all for now. I think. Maybe. I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!!
caitri: (Cait Yatta!)

Yes, this is going into the XMFC bookstore AU of doom.
caitri: (books)
I meant to do it over the weekend but forgot. My bad.

Also I hear tell there's going to be a fan version of the poll/list, and anticipate many more fun books, and gods willing, less DWGs.

Now then. Meme!

NPR conducted a poll to determine the top 100 SF/Fantasy novels of all time according to participants.

Bold for read
Italics for intending to read
Underline for partial read series/books
Strikethrough for never ever reading

1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien (Fuck yeah.)

Read more... )
caitri: (books)
Reading the newest Reboot book, The Gemini Agent. It's pretty good but I get distracted by little things, like Spock using the word "okay" and stuff. But I need my Trek fix. Sigh.

I'm not getting any writing done and I'm trying to not freak about stbb or the kushiel fic I'm trying to rewrite. Nothing is coming easily and I keep trying to figure out a way to jumpstart my brain.

ETA: McCoy is NOT from fucking Mississippi! There are Trek WIKIs out there, contract writers, USE THEM!
caitri: (Obscene)
For a final teaching demo this am I used a copy of Jane and the Master (a retelling of Jane Eyre with highly sadomasochistic erotic....everything). I explained the appropriation and transmission of texts over time, the use of pastiche, etc etc. Then Iconcluded saying that ideally I'd like to teach the book with a 70s K/S zine.

My teacher the Jesuit priest was deeply entertained. The rest of the class was completely bemused cos they had all gone for the older, respectable stuff. Yep. Must be Friday.
caitri: (Eomer)
111 Male Characters Of British Literature, In Order Of Bangability

Eomer is number 16. *G*

Aragorn is number 2, Legolas 45. However, Tom Bombadil is 21, Severus Snape is 33 and ASLAN IS 32?!

Who the bloody fuck thinks about banging Aslan?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Also, Othello is 35 (that seems like a bad plan), Will Ladislaw is 84 (really?), Sirius Black is 26 (somehow I would have thought he'd get a little higher, but okay) Peter Pan is 68 (is that even legal?!), and Mr. Rochester is number 1 (and Darcy is close at 3).

I was getting really worked up about this and then I reminded myself that I'm getting worked up over pretend people.

Also, I really want an American lit list now. (Joscelin Verrai is number 1 forevs.)
caitri: (Screw Subtext)
Ok, so despite the fact that I swore to not do it, I caved and got the new reboot novel, The Edge. It's so much better than the first book, but even better, there's a scene where the boys look at each other and Uhura and the OFC are all, what was that? McCoy responds that Kirk is just so dreamy. *_*

Right, this is officially my new favorite tie-in novel. The end.

ETA Kirk just admitted to doing a Stupid Thing for Bones.

Okay, I bought the ebook, I officially now need the hard copy.
caitri: (bullshit)

Dear Dudez,

Please, please stop trying to write stories in which dystopian worlds are best articulated through who owns the female body. We realize that as bearers of penises, the thought of one's body not belonging to you is exotic and more than a little bit creepy, but to FIFTY PERCENT of the POPULATION of the fucking GLOBE, it's a brutal fact of life that is a very real struggle.

You realize the shit you write about is real, yes? That women are raped every day? That in an "enlightened" (ie "Western") culture, we are "only" held up to impossible standards of beauty, BMI indexing, expectations of dress and hygiene, social mores, and that AT ANY FUCKING TIME AT ALL, a man can decide that we don't meet them and then write about it on the internet or on newsprint or talk about it on the air, or physically accost us (and again, thanks to rape culture, it will ALWAYS be our fault), or hell, go into the fucking gym and shoot us. This doesn't even touch on issues of obtaining birth control, rape kits, health care,etc ad nauseam.

And everytime you say what you're doing is a "critique", even as your main characters are flawlessly sexualized or appear to have minimal problems dealing with their horrible pasts, I really just want to throttle you.

(And yes, Mr Itoh, I know you died of cancer two years ago. YOU ARE NOT EXCUSED.)

So, in short: Dudez? Go fuck yourselves.


It's Out!

Mar. 8th, 2011 01:31 pm
caitri: (books)
And I'm holding it in my hot little hands!

My chapter is 'Does the Doctor Dance? Heterosexuality, Omnisexuality, and Spontaneous Generation in the Whoniverse.'
caitri: (Default)
So I got an unexpected get out of jail free card and have been enjoying it.

Varamathras looks like I feel.

Scott called this morning from the Barnes and Nobles in Atlanta. We've been working our way through io9's 14 Best Speculative Fiction Books of 2010. He finished The Wind-Up Girl which I'm still stuck on--I like the chapters with Emiko but I loathe everyone else. Grr.

Anyway he was calling cos B&N had like none of the other books and he was about to give up and go to Amazon. He did pause to ask if I wanted to read Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian with him.

Me (reading from web review): "If what we call "horror" can be seen as including any literature that has dark, horrific subject matter, then Blood Meridian is, in this reviewer's estimation, the best horror novel ever written. It's a perverse, picaresque Western about bounty hunters for Indian scalps near the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s--a ragged caravan of indiscriminate killers led by an unforgettable human monster called "The Judge." Imagine the imagery of Sam Peckinpah and Heironymus Bosch as written by William Faulkner, and you'll have just an inkling of this novel's power." Llama, this sounds horrible!!!
Scott: Yeaaaaaaah... that was a bad choice wasn't it?
Me (laughing): YES! This is a HORRIBLE choice!
Scott (sheepish): Yeaaaaaah. Okay I'll get this for me and then see if they have How To Live Safely In A Science Fictional Universe.
Me: Yes please!!!


Saw this NYT article about some coffeehouses banning ereaders and found it deeply amusing. I know I'm really in the minority but I do LIKE ereaders: I like that I can carry a bunch of books with me very easily. I don't like that I can't mark them up, deface or improve the text, or a dozen or more years from now look on one fondly because it holds special memories (like the copy of A Moveable Feast I took to Paris, or the copy of Inglorious I read in Japan while contemplating marriage to Scott), but that's why it's possible to have BOTH things.

(And I've said this before and will say it again: I would totally have my iPad's babies if I could. So there.)


I crossed the 10k line in my novel. I know it's a drop in the bucket/average size of a Trek story, but it's still something all my own and I feel proud. I've created a file that's a sort of appendices as I work out additional things. Most recently I've been trying to figure out the religion of the people on the planet of Uir. (See, it has a name now. Well that's what the inhabitants call it, not sure what the Terrans call it yet...) Since I'm talking about a half dozen countries on the main continent, I'm thinking there's got to be at least three biggies. Now how do they all interact???

Working, working...


caitri: (Default)

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