The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks deserves every ounce of praise that has been heaped on it. Rebecca Skloot has one heck of a story to tell, a story that actually belongs to another woman: Henrietta Lacks.
The book is partially a retelling of Henrietta's life and her death, but also a thorough chronicle of the history of HeLa cells (so named by taking the first and last two letters of the donor's name), which were developed after Henrietta's death. These cells (pictured above) revolutionized science in so many ways it hardly seems believable that we don't have a national holiday honoring the woman. HeLa cells were invaluable in developing the polio vaccine, they were the clue to unlocking the number of chromosomes in human DNA, they were shot into space, exposed to radiation and mixed with plant cells, mice cells, cloned and still contribute every year to the development of new cancer medicine and treatment methods.
Susan Douglas's seminal 1995 book Where the Girls Are: Growing Up with the Mass Media explored how woman see and are seen in pop culture, tracing feminism in
pop culture from the 1950s and '60s through the 1980s. Her newest book, Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism's Work is Done, revisits the subject of women's representation in the mass media, and finds a troubling series of mixed messages, empty "empowerment," and consumer imperatives masquerading as postfeminist power.
As longtime fans of Douglas's wit, irreverance, and spot-on critique, Bitch is thrilled to feature the epilogue of Enlightened Sexism. It's after the jump, as is an interview with Douglas by Andi Zeisler.
For a long time, one of my favorite vegan thinkers has been A. Breeze Harper, author of the Sistah Vegan website/blog and now the author of her newly released book of the same name—out this month! Harper also contributes to the Vegans of Color blog—see my last post for a Q&A with the blog's founder—and perhaps not surprising when you consider her blog/book's name, her work centers on the intersections of racial identity, gender identity, and veganism in the U.S.
Andromeda Klein is the second YA novel by Frank Portman, aka Dr. Frank of East Bay punk band The Mr. T Experience. Even the simplest plot description showcases how truly weird Portman's latest creation is: she's a high school student/magic disciple attempting to decode the dream messages she is receiving from her dead best frenemy. This isn't harmless, whimsical, nose-wrinkly "Bewitched"-style magic, and Andromeda isn't just quirky or offbeat – think more along the lines of deeply alienated and borderline schizophrenic.
Girl Comics Issue #1, a collection of comics written, stenciled, and illustrated completely by women, hit stores yesterday. It's one of three anthologies to be released this year by Marvel Comics. It's actually part of a year-long project of "Marvel Women," celebrating female characters and creators alike of one of the top comics publishers. It's also been wracked with controversy since its December announcement.
"I learn that black people don't have blue eyes. I learn that I am black. I have blue eyes. I put all these new facts into the new girl."
Even though the tone of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky reads like a young adult novel, told simply from the point of view of the characters--a young boy fascinated by birds, an immigrant mother, Rachel, the young protagonist--the book itself is drenched in disturbing realities and complex subjects, including race and identity.
Blogging as Ink-Stained Amazon on the Bitch blogs, Jennifer Stuller took on Barbarella, Lois Lane, and Tura Satana with her blog Grrl on Film. With her new book, Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology, released a few days ago, you can find even more on kick-ass women in popular culture. Read on for my interview with Jennifer about her new book, the cyclical nature of representation in pop culture, the women behind the superwomen, and future plans.
Have you been wondering what would be the perfect metaphor for being single in your forties? Well now, just in time for Valentine's Day, Lori Gottlieb and her godsend of a new book (Marry Him: a case for settling for Mr. Good Enough) have answered it: it's like irresponsibly drinking before driving, and then causing serious bodily harm to yourself or someone else in a horrific accident. No seriously:
Although Kathryn Stockett's novel, The Help, came out nearly a year ago, it remains to date on the New York Times Top 10 Bestselling Fiction list… Forty weeks of its shelf life in fact, it has spent jostling with other titles on the list, still sitting comfortably at No. 4 as of January 11th.
In this list-watching way, I waited patiently, patiently for my copy to move to number 1 on the library holds list. When I finally had the massive 444-page, hard bound copy in my hands, I grabbed a blanket, made cup after cup of tea and spent nearly two days on the couch plowing through Ms. Stockett's tale of black domestic servants in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s, and the white privileged woman who wants to write about them.