Bitch is proud to announce our new book lovin' blog, Bibliobitch! To kick off our foray into the land of literature, here is an interview with author Kate Walbert by Bitch contributor Sarah Seltzer. Stay tuned for more, you bitchy bookworms, you.
Kate Walbert's new novel "A Short History of Women" follows the women in a single family down through the generations. The official synopsis of the book is: "From a lecture delivered to suffragettes in Victorian England to a playdate on Manhattan's Upper West Side, this provocative work chronicles four generations of women, their aspirations, the limits imposed on them, and the sometimes startling choices they make in the world."
Walbert's fictional family history begins with Dorothy Townsend, who starved herself for the British suffrage movement, and continues through to today. As Dorothy's name reappears in different permutations among her children, nieces and grand-nieces, so does her struggle with "the problem that can't be named," or the problem of how women can find fulfillment in an obstacle-filled environment. Dorothy's daughter devotes herself to science and shuns intimacy, even while serving as a role model for younger women. Her grand-nieces contend with an emptiness and lack of purpose and take that feeling out in myriad ways: trespassing on military property, blogging their feelings, drinking and moving through life as best they can. Walbert has been a finalist for the National Book Award, and the "playdate" chapter of this novel appeared in the New Yorker.
A few months back, Publishers Weekly published my interview with Walbert. However, I also asked her a few extra questions that were near and dear to my heart: namely, about the F-word. Here are her answers.
During the 1990s, while still in high school, Ariel Schrag produced a number of autobiographical comics — Awkward, about her freshman year, Definition, about her sophomore year, and Potential, about her junior year. The series started off as a relatively light, entertaining look at high school life — crushes, getting drunk, obsessing about bands, hanging out with friends. Over the course of the three books, however, Schrag dealt with more and more fraught material: her parent's divorce, her coming out, and finally her devastating relationship and break-up with her girlfriend, Sally.
Schrag finished the writing and drawing for Likewise, about her senior year, soon after she graduated from high school, but then college and life — including a stint writing for the L-word — intervened. She didn't complete the inking for another decade. The book was finally published by Touchstone this year. I spoke to Schrag about it on May 1.
Upon completion of Wetlands by Charlotte Roche, two major questions remain unanswered for me. First, what is it exactly about this book that made it the first German-language book to ever become the number-one Amazon.com bestseller, worldwide? And second: What in the name of Mary Wollestonecraft does a one-joke grossout book have to do with feminism?