This week we talk with author Laurie Halse Anderson, who's written five YA novels, including the New York Times best-seller Speak, one of the most compelling depictions of the trauma of the interior space of a teenage sexual assault survivor. Anderson has been getting letters from teen rape and incest survivors ever since she published Speak, which was her first novel, ten years ago. Her latest,Wintergirls, covers the well-worn, adolescent terrain of eating disorders through the lives of two 18-year-old girls, Lia and Cassie.
Page Turner talked with Anderson about growing up feminist, what she loves about the teen audience, personal power in a consumer-driven culture, and how Wintergirls brought to light her own issues with disordered eating and body image.
What happens when a popular columnist and writer pens a "refreshingly honest--and brilliantly witty--celebration of the joys of getting wrinkly?" Nothing good.
Don't let the advance billing fool you--Virginia Ironside's new memoir is a misogynist, anti-sex turd wrapped up in fancy gift box of faux-empowerment.
What's an office with over 800 page-turning books to do? Lend them out to the public, of course! That's what we here at Bitch Headquarters decided to do after we realized that our 13-years-in-the-making book collection, covering topics such as feminist theory, media studies, art, queer and gender studies, history, and sociology, was too impressive to hoard to ourselves. So last summer, an admirable group of radical librarians offered to come into the office and catalog our books for us so that we could start lending them out. We got ourselves an account on LibraryThing.com (which you can use to view our online catalog by clicking here), designed some library cards, and now we're up and running. And don't worry--even if you're not in Portland, there are still ways to get involved.
"Rave On" is the Page Turner series that asks feminist writers, artists, musicians, activists, leaders, and scholars to talk about a book that completely rocked their world. Today we feature illustrator and writer Cristy C. Road on Assata: An Autobiography, by Assata Shakur.
I'm originally from Miami, where I felt frigidly alienated for a billion reasons, many of which were ignited by the republican Cuban-American community, which seems to run the social consciousness of every Cuban community there—despite class, neighborhood, etc. I left when I turned 18 and hung out around northern Florida in the punk rock community, and I felt very alive, but sincerely in denial about a lot of the new prejudices I was seeing in this new territory.
When I was about 20, I began feeling completely isolated from the punk rock community as well. I used a lot of denial-based tactics to feel "sane" back then, because I was so romantic about this community since it had salvaged me from preteen turmoil. As I grew older, it was becoming clearer that there was still sexism and racism clouding the positive effects of punk rock.
Most of us have that album in our lives, the one that's the instant open doorway to our core. (Mine is Joni Mitchell's Hejira…or is it P.J. Harvey's Dry? Never mind—what's that album for you, Bitch readers?)
Our ardent devotion to that watershed CD is the theme of the new anthology Heavy Rotation: Twenty Writers on the Albums That Changed Their Lives, edited by Peter Terzian. The collection includes fine essays by Sheila Heti (on the Annie soundtrack), Stacey D'Erasmo (on Kate Bush's The Sensual World), Asali Solomon (on Gloria Estefan's Mi Terra), and Colm Tóibín (on Joni Mitchell's Blue).
It also includes Alice Elliott Dark's stunning essay, "The Quiet One," which chronicles her obsession with the Beatles' Meet the Beatles! and George Harrison that intensified at a pivotal, tragic point in her girlhood. Page Turner interviewed Dark about writing "The Quiet One"; truth-telling in fiction versus nonfiction; sexism and the boy bands; Beatle wives; and why she abandoned her belief in pop culture.
Sara Zarr is part of a new generation of YA novelists considered the so-called heirs to grand dame Judy Blume. She is the author of Story of a Girl, (that is, a girl labeled the high school "slut"), which was a 2007 National Book Award finalist; Sweethearts, about the divergent paths taken by two social-outcast friends; and the forthcoming Once Was Lost, which chronicles a pastor's daughter's struggle with faith.
Page Turner talked with Zarr about teen sexuality, feminism, double standards in the YA world, and her own YA lit loves back in the day as a "smart-girl" teen. Read on for more (and please take two seconds to talk about a YA lit love that you want Bitch readers to know about or Page Turner to feature).
"Rave On" is the Page Turner series that asks feminist writers, artists, musicians, activists, leaders, and scholars to talk about a book that completely rocked their world. Today we feature writer Nona Willis Aronowitz on Rubyfruit Jungle, by Rita Mae Brown.
I was in the midst of a family vacation when I flopped on my parents' bed and gave my mom puppy-dog eyes. "I'm bored," I whined. "I finished all my magazines. My Discman is out of batteries. And there's no TV here!"
My mother, feminist writer Ellen Willis, smiled knowingly and dug through her book collection. "Here," she said, handing me a tattered copy of Rita Mae Brown's semi-autobiographical Rubyfruit Jungle. "I promise you'll love this."
It's hard to be a consumer of media these days and not encounter the work of author and multi-media journalist Farai Chideya. She founded the online journal Pop + Politics in 1995 (practically a lifetime ago in online years); authored three nonfiction books that chronicle some of the most pressing social justice issues of our time; appeared as a political analyst on CNN and other media outlets; and hosted NPR's "News and Notes," a daily program about African-American issues that ended too soon in a rash of budget cuts by the organization.
Now Chideya has published her first novel, Kiss the Sky, which is the story of Sophie Maria Clara Lee, a "book-smart black girl from blue-collar Baltimore" who graduates Harvard, achieves rock stardom, and then struggles with love, the music business, family, alcohol, and her own stubborn melancholy.
Page Turner talked with Chideya about her journey to publishing a novel, the autobiographical connections between herself and Sophie, feminism and personal accountability, her decision to talk more openly about her depression, and a crucial question for the next generation of feminists.
"Rave On" is the Page Turner series that asks feminist writers, artists, musicians, activists, leaders, and scholars to talk about a book that completely rocked their world. Today we feature FBomb founder and teenage feminist Julie Zeilinger on Full Frontal Feminism, by Jessica Valenti.
Many books have shaped my feminist identity. Gloria Steinem's Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions really helped shape my feminist voice and helped me understand where the movement had been before my generation even existed. Other books, such as Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation, showed me that youth has always been a part of feminism, recognized or not.
But the book that really prompted me to begin my own feminist journey was Jessica Valenti's Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism Matters.