Jonathan Franzen’s <em>The Corrections</em> and contemporary women’s fiction
As every tabloid reader knows, it’s a short step from a celebrity marriage to a publicity-filled divorce. When Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, The Corrections, was published this fall, critics waxed hyperbolic over its wedding of character-driven family drama and up-to-the-nanosecond cultural commentary. Then Oprah chose the novel for her book club, and The Corrections seemed poised to bring about what many considered an even more unlikely union—this time of the lit-crit, severe-glasses clique and the suburban Barnes & Noble crowd.
Michelle Tea loves words, and it shows. As one of the founders of San Francisco's brilliantly loopy poetry slam-cum-cabaret Sister Spit, the 28-year-old Tea's flair for whipping tales of life and love into hilarious dramalogues have made her a local favorite on the spoken-word scene, and her gleeful energy and tongue-twisty stylings come through just as loud on paper.
Reviewed in this issue: Defending Pornography, by Nadine Strossen; Gender Wars, by Brian Fawcett; Talk Dirty To Me, by Sallie Tisdale; Going All the Way: Teenage Girls' Tales of Sex, Romance, and Pregnancy, by Sharon Thompson; and Unnatural Dykes to Watch Out For, by Alison Bechdel
This is the magazine I’ve yearned for ever since I realized how shitty Mademoiselle and Seventeen made me feel. A strongly womanist/feminist magazine for women of color, it succeeds where all others have failed: combining fashion and lifestyle topics with serious sociopolitical analysis in an ethnically diverse setting with both integrity and ads. Two of the editors are former Sassy interns, and it shows in the little things like the record review rating system and more broadly in the ironic co-optation of old-school girl-mag themes.
Coffee Will Make You Black, by April Sinclair: A black girl in ‘60s Chicago grows up and into her sexuality. One of the funniest and best-written books I read last year. And the sequel just came out, so there’s no more waiting to hear what happens to Stevie.
Makes Me Wanna Holler, by Nathan McCall: Eloquent, unflinchingly honest, politically astute. This book has a lot to teach me, as a white girl, about the lived experience of a black man in racist America.
This collection of 23 mostly new essays is required reading for anyone who seeks, to use hooks’ words, to “decolonize her mind.” It’s invaluable to the necessary process of self-interrogation that is part of any involvement in a feminist or anti-racist movement; she dissects racist and sexist thought so that you can both criticize it in others and identify your own complicity. She reminds you that anti-racism needs to be a fundamental part of feminism and vice-versa.
This book will remind you that when the mainstream media talks about post-feminism and the apathy of twentysomethings, you’re not the only one who responds by shouting, “What the fuck are you talking about?” Ok, some of the writing is disappointing—but some of it’s fabulous, and all of it’s thought-provoking. The ethnicities and sexualities of the contributors are more widely varied than in any anthology I’ve seen, and racism in the feminist movement is confronted with a directness and fierceness rarely seen in an integrated setting.
Silly blurbs about Manhattan bars; mocking interviews with bubbly young celebs; features on why you should quit your job, David Hasselhoff’s mall tour, the rampant hypocrisy among DC lobbyists, and the folding of Lies of Our Times. Oh, yeah, and ads. Lots and lots of ads. Issue #8, with an ad on the cover and a flap proclaiming “Might sells out,” goes where no magazine has gone before. Not only have they sold every bit of possible space (“Goldschlager would like to point out that you are on page 48...”), they write about it. “Might welcomes all correspondence.
Get angry all over again. An incredibly detailed historical account of the events leading up to Thomas’ confirmation, this tome gives you all the evidence you need to confirm your own sneaking suspicions about the rampant sexism and racism of our lovely political system. See how senators overlooked, hid, and distorted evidence; see how witnesses were ignored and manipulated. We all need to sort through the confusing maelstrom of rhetoric that was the Hill/Thomas hearings. Help is here.
Have you found that all the books you read on eating disorders and body image advance theories that don’t mesh with your own experience? Do the authors of said books make statements that make you feel like they live in an alternate universe?