Gather around, children. It's time for a story. Several, actually. I've been thinking about picture books, and how big an impact a story can have with just a few words. Get thinking about the picture book icons of your childhood while I take you through some of my experiences and what the kids are reading these days.
I was twelve or thirteen when I first started reading and writing fan fiction, and I can't see myself stopping any time soon. Fan fiction is not only creative, I haven't simply been a part of great communities, but there are some really interesting dynamics going on with feminist refiguring of literary icons.
Octavia E. Butler is most likely the best writer I've ever encountered. That's certainly true technically: she's flawless. I mean that there is literally not a thing I would change in her writing, and that is absolutely unique. But it's her incisive, loving explorations of a broken world that will blow your mind wide open.
I've always liked Eleanor Roosevelt because, unlike a lot of other first ladies, even in my dude-heavy history textbooks she was portrayed as having an identity beyond political wifehood. Why, then, did I decide to read a biography that is specifically not about Eleanor on her own, but instead focuses her relationship with that other important person she was married to? A biography that doesn't even list her name first? To be totally honest, I was convinced by the advertising. I heard a review that hailed Hazel Rowley's Franklin and Eleanor as a "crackling" account of the Roosevelts' "radical" marriage, written by an author who'd detailed other unconventional partnerships in the past. I never knew much about the Roosevelts' marriage before I read this book (other than the fact that the two were distant cousins who were both related in some way to Teddy) so the idea that their relationship was somehow "radical" was intriguing to me.
The reality of the book is a little disappointing.
Because I'm a slightly perverse creature, I'm going to start this series about feminist literary icons with a one you've probably never heard of. Written by a man. Featuring a woman who dies of longing when her dreamed-of lover doesn't materialize.
Hello, gentle readers. The good people at Bitch have made a terrible and now, I fear, irrevocable mistake, having hired me to write for you for the next eight weeks. There is an upside, however. I'm going to be writing about the greatest thing in the whole world: literature!
So, welcome to this here series called Iconography. We're going to look at the formation and celebration of feminist literary icons, both characters and creators.
A lot of complaints about MFA programs start with the assertion that writers should be "living," instead of going to school….If going to graduate school was supposed to provide me with some kind of injunction against "real life," against emergency phone calls from friends and family, physical and financial threats and challenges faced by people I love, money worries, racism, heartbreak, and the uncertainty of living in a world that seems constantly on the brink of large scale disaster, then the Iowa Writers' Workshop has some serious explaining to do, because I never got my exemption paperwork.
Evans doesn't spare the characters of her debut short story collection, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (Riverhead), from these problems either.