Anton DiSclafani's new novel, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls (coming out on June 4 from Riverhead books), tells the Depression Era coming-of-age story of Thea Atwell, a complicated and willful 15-year old girl who is exiled to an equestrienne boarding school in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina for her role in a mysterious family tragedy. Thea is a nuanced character whose relationship with horses and riding lends a sense of power and steadiness to life as she confronts what it means to be a young woman of her time.
Anton Disclafani herself is a horse-lover herself and was gracious enough to take time off from her writing, teaching, and caring for her horse, Val, to speak with me about her new book and what horses mean to young girls.
The classic image of a cowboy is a wandering man. Symbolically, the American Cowboy has come to represent large, abstract values: freedom, honesty, bravery. In these stories, cowboys meander and conquer the open range alone with their trusty steeds.
But how do women fit into these pervasive stories of troubled, wandering heroes? Let's take a look at three western films: Shane (1953), Unforgiven (1992) and True Grit (2010).
The women in many classic Western films are rooted to one place: their home. Often in cowboy films, we see women either victimized or punished for venturing out as the cowboys do, serving as a warning to women.
We see the role of women at home very clearly in Jack Shaefer's 1953 classicShane. The title cowboy stays at the house of a homesteading family whose matriarch Marian Starett is firmly grounded in the domestic sphere. While the men, particularly Shane, are out protecting the ranch from cattle rustlin' men, Starett is the one being fought for, not the one doing the fighting. She is not the one wandering—she is the one left behind at home when Shane inevitably sets out for the road again.
Jane Austen has quite the hold over the contemporary imagination. Not only are her books still bestsellers almost 200 years after her death, but there's a veritable industry around adapting and appropriating her work. From The Jane Austen Book Club to Jane Austen's Fight Club, Miss Austen's influence reaches more widely than ever. So how did these books about young women searching for eligible gentlemen in the English countryside get to be so popular?
Iceland has been called the most female-friendly country in the world, and Scandinavia is world-renowned for producing perfectpopacts, so it was only a matter of time before my obsession radar brought me to female Icelandic musicians. Here are a very few of my favorites, some new to me (Ólöf) and some newly re-visited (Björk, dear Björk).