a goodbye to summer; 8.28.19

Has this summer been brutal for *checks notes* everyone? It seems like it has and personally I would like to file a complaint. I find myself welcoming the chill in the air, which normally is abhorrent to me, signaling as it does the soon to be relentless onslaught of Minnesota winter. I spent a great deal of the winter of 2018/2019 thinking “well this is the LAST one and soon I will be MOVING!” and that has not been the case, and so I lie on the floor, appreciating a fall-themed candle, feeling feelings about the finale of Jane the Virgin.

That got way more dramatic than I intended, so let’s just go ahead and jump into those books!

It’s Not Like It’s a Secret – Misa Sugiura

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This sweet YA novel goes down easy and was a nice break from some of the more challenging stuff I’ve been reading lately. I read the majority of it on a quiet Saturday night with chocolate and the cat nearby and the experience was really lovely. Sana is navigating a new school, new friends, and frustrations with her parents, all while trying to figure out if the girl she has a crush on might just like her back. It’s a cute book and I enjoyed reading it, but by the end it mostly just felt ‘meh’ to me. Something about the plot just didn’t quite cohere smoothly and some of the “teen dialogue” felt a bit choppy.

Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty – Dorothy Roberts


A while ago I mentioned that I wanted to read some books about reproductive justice that don’t center white women, and since the internet is a place ripe with book suggestions, I landed here and WOW FUCK IS IT EVER GOOD. Roberts provides an enormous amount of history on the many ways that the reproductive liberty of Black women has been targeted and attacked, from slavery to the eugenics movement to insidious racist policies and attitudes at work today. The book was published in 1997, so it obviously doesn’t come all the way up to today, but the context Roberts provides and framework she puts forward is invaluable. I think I said, “what in the FUCK” at least 7 or 8 times per chapter. The book is much more expansive than just how the modern “reproductive rights movement” frequently outright ignores the needs and activism of Black women [though it certainly goes into that]; it dives deep into the necessity of understanding the many ways that white supremacy and misogynoir have shaped the reproductive conversation and reproductive policies.

tw: sexual assault

The Last Thing He Wanted – Joan Didion

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I thought about starting this section with “Baby’s First Didion!” but that seemed too gross even for me. As a mature human adult speaking of herself would say: this is the first full work of Didion’s that I read, and I really liked it. Hot hot take: Joan Didion is a good writer! Honestly I did not have a great grasp on the actual plot for a lot of the book — it’s about a scammy, shady deal that goes wrong and has a lot to do with political scandals of the 80s which I do not happen to be well-versed in. According to the podcast Little Gold Men, I was not alone in my confusion, but it didn’t really matter to me. The sentences were gorgeous and I was swept away by the tone. Apparently it’s becoming a Netflix movie soon [starring Anne Hathaway!!!], but there’s no trailer yet, so instead I’ll direct you to one of Daniel Ortberg’s excellent Joan Didion/Anna Wintour impressions.

Okay bye for now! I hope your Labor Day has as little labor in it as possible, and if labor is inevitable I hope it’s fulfilling or at least passes quickly!

a mini romance edition; 8.21.19

I no longer know how to start things without sounding like I’m opening an email, so “Hi all,” etc.

I’m in the middle of a lot of different things right now, so I decided to just talk about 2 romance novels I’ve recently finished, both of which I have some level of frustration with (and not the good kind), so….buckle in I guess. Both are written by goddesses of Romancelandia, which I still feel like I’ve barely tipped my toes in, so if you’re a romance aficionado please bear with me!

Devil in Spring – Lisa Kleypas

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Though this is only the second Kleypas book I’ve read, she has a special place in my heart, as Married by Morning was one of the first I read when I started realllllly getting into the genre. Though I feel skeptical about how many upperclass society young ladies in the Regency period (or….ever?) were named Pandora, I had a lot of fun with this book. The whimsically named heroine has set herself firmly against marriage, as she knows it will interfere with her entrepreneurial ambitions. Unfortunately, she’s caught in a compromising misunderstanding with Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, who just so happens to be an eligible bachelor with a reputation for being a rake (I don’t think I’ve met a single non-rake hero in these books and you know what I am COOL WITH IT.)

There’s a reasonable amount of push-pull between them, helped along by some intense chemistry, but [spoiler] when they do get married about halfway through the book, I felt a bit let down by the way the conflict took a SHARP left turn into action and intrigue. Pandora’s reasoning for not getting married was thoroughly thought-out, and she emphasized that even marrying a really really nice, supportive guy was going to hold her back as a Regency woman in ways that being single wouldn’t, and the second half of the book didn’t really deal with that. All in all though, a fun time was had by me, and that’s what really counts.

The Duke and I – Julia Quinn

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Okay so I was really really prepared to love this book. I EXPECTED to love this book. I bumped it up to the top of my list because it’s the first in Quinn’s 8-part “Bridgerton Series,” which is coming to Netflix as an 8-part adaptation, produced by Shonda Rhimes! Which is very exciting! And I really liked…..a lot of it. But something happens in the last third that threw me so off that I have a sour taste in my mouth about the whole thing.

Trigger warning for discussions of sexual assault ahead.

This is about the 4th Bridgerton child, the eldest girl, Daphne, who’s been having a spot of trouble getting one of her many pleasant and eligible male acquaintances to see her as marriage material. She thinks it’s some combination of her personality (which seems fine to me, but whatever) and her three large brothers (she actually has four brothers, a fact which she mentions, I swear to god, two or three times a chapter, but the fourth is only 11 so he’s not a hurdle here). Enter Duke Simon Hastings, whose stormy relationship with his recently-deceased father has caused him to swear off marriage and children forever, but who is nevertheless besieged by the mothers of the many eligible young women of the ton, including Daphne’s mother. Daphne and Simon decide to work together and pretend to be in a relationship, which of course becomes a relationship and things for the most part work themselves out from there. 

Though the book was enjoyable, I was already a little uneasy about an aspect of the book that seemed to dance on the edge (and perhaps over the edge) of ableism. NOW I get that most people’s attitudes about disabilities in the Regency era were pretty fucking bad, but a lot of people’s attitudes about disabilities TODAY are also pretty fucking bad and if the [able-bodied] author wants to use that card, they should be extremely clear about where their attitudes differ from the time period they’re writing about. 

AND ALSO…….so as I mentioned at the top of this section, there’s an instance in this book that just about made the whole thing fall apart for me. As an attempt to get pregnant despite Simon’s efforts, Daphne takes advantage of him when he’s drunk and half-asleep, which is just! so! not!! okay!!!!! The whole scene I was screaming “NO! WHAT??? NO!!!!” And I mean….later on they address what a “breach of trust” it was, but! it was assault!!! I really really hope the Netflix series goes in a different direction because holy hell. Nope.

Despite all of this…….I probably will read the other books in the series, or at least one more. I’m curious to see how the rest of the family fares, and I’m curious to see how the Netflix adaptation handles this stuff. But like….hopefully in the future I can tell you to go ahead and skip this one and start with book 2 in the series.

Whew okay that went on for way longer than I thought it would and I’m just going to leave it here on that double entendre. Bye!

dedicated, the blog post; 8.14.19

Whoo hi this is probably going to be a short one because for five hours today I solidly forgot about this and also there’s another writing project I really need to stop procrastinating on and this is basically the last legitimate thing I have to do before my putzing around starts to get really out of line. I’ve listened to the entirety of Carly Rae Jepsen’s Dedicated an innumerable amount of times and it has not made me more productive but it HAS filled me with a lot of general crush-like feelings with no one to direct them towards, so if one of you is able to introduce me to Jake Gyllenhaal today would be perfect, thanks. [I recently watched Love and Other Drugs for the first time and spent most of it horny-cackling.]

Three Wishes – Liane Moriarty

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Appropriately, this is the third Liane Moriarty book I’ve read, following Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret, although it’s the first one published. Unlike most of Moriarty’s works, Three Wishes isn’t a mystery, but it does give us a rather dramatic start and then back up to see ~how we got here~ [like Big Little Lies]. It’s a family drama about a group of triplets — Cat, Lyn, and Gemma — loosely following a year in their life, with lots of backstory. They deal with infidelity, parenting, anxiety, love, etc. I found it less compelling than the other two of Moriarty’s that I’ve read, but I did enjoy it and will continue to read her, hopefully by a pool and in anticipation of the Reese Witherspoon/Nicole Kidman produced adaptations of Truly Madly Guilty and Nine Perfect Strangers, because apparently those ladies cannot get enough!! [jfc when I was searching for the book cover I found out that THIS TOO HAS BEEN OPTIONED because we are living in the ~golden age of TV~]

tw: depictions of emotional abuse

How To Date Men When You Hate Men – Blythe Roberson

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People have had mixed reactions to this book, but I enjoyed it a lot! This is at least partially due to having been warned that it’s less a ~hard hitting analysis~ and more odd and nihilistic jokes about how shitty it is to try to date within the patriarchy, but that turned out to be exactly what I needed. Roberson writes about her own experiences, as well as the structural power imbalances and effed up cultural dating expectations we have about dating, specifically about women who date men.

Roberson is pretty clear that the book is mostly aimed at and centered around her own demographic (cishet, middle class, able-bodied, 20/30-something white women), but is clear that this is largely due to not feeling qualified to meaningfully analyze other types of experiences, and she does her best to use inclusive language and point out her own privilege whenever possible. Considering the tone of the book, I felt better about this than I would have if her aim was to be more critically thorough. A lot of the jokes rest on making fun of herself, and I found myself frequently reading them aloud to the friends I was spending the weekend with.

That’s all for this week! If you haven’t already read it, this month’s Pop Culture Pen Pals came out on Thursday, is all about Veronica Mars, and, if I’m being honest, is very very good. As Hannah’s aptly said, “Tinyletter is out for blood,” so if you’re subscribed and haven’t seen it in your inbox check your promotions or even (horrified gasp) your spam folder.

collections and injustices; 8.7.19

Hi all. Today starts with some sad news, that you may already know if you’re on social media. Earlier this week literary legend Toni Morrison passed away. So many people are beautifully expressing their love for her and the power of her impact, but Stacey Abrams’ tribute is one of my favorites:

Onward, to books! All three of these books were exactly what I needed after making my way through Black Leopard, Red Wolf, not because they were “easy reading” — they absolutely weren’t — but two of them are essay collections and one is a short story collection, and the packaging of shorter sections that all contributed to a whole was a relief. Also, they all grapple with questions of justice, injustice, violence, and healing.

Dead Girls: Surviving An American Obsession – Alice Bolin

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I first heard of Alice Bolin through an essay she wrote for what I could have sworn was Literary Hub, but I can’t find it anymore. Anyway, the piece was about the “Dead Girl Show,” which is also the focus of the first essay in this book, and I knew immediately after reading the essay I’d have to read the book, especially as I started to rewatch Veronica Mars. [p.s. the newest Pop Culture Pen Pals comes out soon and is allll Marshmallow content!]

As it turns out, the book covers much more ground than the Dead Girl Show, though the analysis she applies and draws in that section come up again and again. She writes about a culture that simultaneously panicks over and fetishizes violence against women, particularly white, cishet, thin, able-bodied, middle-to-upperclass women [or “girls,” as they’re more frequently thought of]. Bolin examines the culture and art that either endorses or pushes back against this violence, sometimes at the same time. 

A note: during the final chapter Bolin writes extensively about the work of Eileen Myles, a writer who for the last several years has used they/them pronouns. Dead Girls came out June 2018, but uses she/her pronouns when talking about Myles and their work. It’s possible that Bolin was unaware at the time of Myles’ pronouns [though that seems odd for someone so familiar with them]. It’s also possible that somewhere in the publishing process someone other than Bolin said no. Either way, I was disappointed.

[tw: sexual assault, suicide]

Friday Black – Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

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It has been A WHILE since I read a short story collection and this was a wonderful one to break the dry spell with! [I suppose Joy Luck Club is technically short stories, but it reads as such a novel/short stories hybrid that the structure of this felt super different.]

The collection grabs you in the very first story and does not let go. These are all, or almost all, speculative fiction, but in a very close to home way. Nearly all of them seem to ask, “what if right now, but with the tiniest tweak?” or “what if right now, but if something very particular was possible?” or “what if right now, AND this particular thing happened?” Adjei-Brenyah writes with particular poignance about the violence of racism and oppressive demands of capitalism, and the ways those forces intersect to make the world especially difficult and dangerous for Black people.

One of the stories from the book is featured at Guernica and you should definitely read it and then read the whole book. This story definitely skews closer to the sci-fi side of speculative fiction, so if that genre’s not usually your jam you should know that his stories cross an entire spectrum, and one of the joys of reading them is figuring out the parameters of each one.

The Reckonings – Lacy M. Johnson

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A couple months ago I read Johnson’s first book, The Other Side, a memoir of surviving being kidnapped and raped by, as she often describes him, “a man I used to live with.” Her follow-up, she explains, was formed in response to the question she often gets at speaking events, or online, or in conversation: “what do you want to happen to the man who did this to you?”

Throughout the rest of the essays, Johnson examines and works through questions of justice and injustice through lens after lens. There’s an essay on the fear of expected violence that comes with being a woman in the world, an essay on encroaching environmental disaster, gun violence, capital punishment, and one in which she works to resist her own whiteness and become a better ally and accomplice in the fight for anti-racism. 

I truly didn’t expect to be soothed by these essays? They’re full of ways in which the world is wrong and sad, but they have the effect of handing you a cup of tea or coffee and saying, “it’s okay and right to feel sad and angry and hopeless about these things, and also here are some ways to think about them that may help you gather your strength to push back against them.” 

[tw: sexual assault]

I’m going to close out with a couple of GoFundMe causes that are important to me. 

The first one is personal; some of you know that in early May my aunt had a very serious and unexpected stroke. Thankfully, she’s alive and recovering incredibly well, but to continue the recovery progress long-term is going to take time and many health expenses insurance won’t cover, and her page is here

[just gonna take a breath here again to stew about how EFFED health care in this country is and how it really, truly doesn’t have to be like this]

The second one is on behalf of my Twitter pal Shannon Dingle. A few weeks ago her husband Lee was tragically killed in a freak accident. In the midst of intense grief, Shannon is also having to work on figuring out how her and her six kiddos are going to financially hold things together and you can support them here.

breaking news and also books; 7.31.19

ONE DAY AT A TIME IS SAVED!!! Sometimes, sometimes we get nice things! This happened several weeks ago, so it’s very likely not breaking news for you, but if it is that sounds LOVELY. Today’s post will be a little shorter than usual (if I can actually stick to my word here) and I strongly urge you to go directly from this to a ODAAT rewatch!

Black Leopard, Red Wolf – Marlon James

Image result for black leopard red wolfI severely underestimated what a difficult read this would be. “High fantasy!” I thought. (correctly) “Escapism!” I thought. (incorrectly)

This 600+ page novel is the twisty story of Tracker, a man with the ability to find anyone via scent. Theoretically, the plot focuses on his search (among a group of other paid mercenaries) to find a missing boy, but the story is much more complex and dense than that, spanning countless cities and wildernesses and encompassing a cast of characters that takes nearly three entire pages at the beginning to list. There’s betrayal, witchcraft, sex, and a whole lot of “story within a story”-telling. 

As many on Twitter and Goodreads have mentioned, there are a lot of references to a variety of African mythologies that are likely helpful signposts for those familiar with them, which I’m not. However, there are also a lot of ways in which the dialogue and narrative seems purposefully meant to obfuscate and confuse, which absolutely adds to the tone of the book…and also makes for a complicated reading experience. In a reversal from my usual preferences, I really enjoyed the descriptions in this book, plus I absolutely respect a book in which I can feel the deliberateness with which each sentence was crafted and placed. 

Also it seems to be the week in which both authors happen to be faculty in Minnesota? (I think this is because these were on my list to read before a local literary festival, which…I didn’t do.) Anyway, James is Writer in Residence and faculty at Macalester, so that’s cool!

cw: violence, in particular sexual violence (like. A LOT.)

Dear Committee Members – Julie Schumacher

Image result for dear committee membersIt would be difficult to find a book more different in tone than this, which is the exact kind of passive voice that the professors at the book’s “Payne University” would hope to teach out of me and would also sneakily use themselves in passive-aggressive missives to the administration.

The book is structured as a series of (one-sided) correspondences between Professor Jason Fitger and everyone with the misfortune to hear from him, most of which are “Letters of Recommendation,” for writing programs, colleague promotions, supermarket jobs, publishing contracts, and the occasional plea for protection from building construction. Schumacher, a faculty member at the University of Minnesota, delightfully satirizes academia and its place in the world. As with Black Leopard, Red Wolf, there are likely particular signposts which, if you’re already familiar with them, will contribute to your enjoyment of the book, so I can only speak for myself, as someone who loved academia a lot as an undergraduate, worked in the administrative sector of it after graduating, and tried (and failed) to rejoin as a graduate student, I found it enjoyable and was glad that the book was short enough that it didn’t wear out the charm of its conceit.

Bye for now!

synonyms for hot; 7.24.19

Seems like everyone has had a devastatingly scorching weekend, and I am nowhere near emotionally prepared to talk about Season 4 of Veronica Mars, so instead I’ll just mention that this weekend I took refuge in an air-conditioned movie theater to see The Matrix for the first time and I’m pleased to report that not only did I enjoy it a lot (blistering Hot Take, exceptionally breaking news, The Matrix is a good movie!), it was not at all spoiled for me by the plethora of sermon illustrations I heard referencing it in my youth!

These two books delighted me even more than The Matrix, and you all should go out and get them into your brain right away!

The Wedding Party – Jasmine Guillory

I hope to be reading new Jasmine Guillory books until the day I die, at which point, with any luck, I will be resurrected into one myself.

Guillory’s latest returns us to Berkeley, the setting of her first book The Wedding Date (discussed here), and to Alexa’s best friends, Maddie and Theo, who happen to hate each other. They also super have the hots for each other. These two factors become extra-inconvenient when they have to spend more time together as members of Alexa’s wedding party, so they embark on an attempt to excise their mutual attraction [horniness] through a super-secret-sex-only pact to end when the wedding does. Of course, being the marvelous and hot people that they are, things don’t exactly turn out that way.

I am forever in awe of Guillory’s skill at creating characters the reader would go into battle to protect who also manage to be flawed enough to screw things up for a realistic and understandable third act conflict that nevertheless feels fixable in a non-toxic way. I mentioned a couple weeks ago when talking about Lucy Parker’s book Making Up that romance novels contain some of the most nuanced, thoughtful conversations about relationships (of all types) I’ve ever read, and Guillory does that beautifully, along with having a particular knack for keeping her heroines’ professional dreams and anxieties close to the center as well. One of my favorite newsletters, Two Bossy Dames, recently included a conversation between Guillory and Margaret H. Willison, which is wonderful both before and after reading the book.

Her next book, Royal Holiday, is coming out October 1st (how did we get so lucky???) which obviously means I’m going to tell you all to preorder it! It features Maddie’s mother Vivian, and based on her brief appearances in The Wedding Party I am extremely hyped. (Other appearances that I felt many warm feelings about: Carlos and Nikole from The Proposal!!)

How To Write an Autobiographical Novel – Alexander Chee

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This book absolutely tore me limb from limb. Chee’s essays cover writing, race, love, Tarot, growing roses, money, sexuality, and a feast of other topics, and I simultaneously dreaded the end of each essay while eagerly anticipating the start of the next. I mean, he writes about taking a writing workshop from Annie Dillard without me loathing him out of jealousy, which is impressive just on its own. The whole book was impressive (which actually feels like a gross, surface-y word to describe this gorgeous book), but the ways in which he wrote about his own writing and processes truly blew me away. There’s no pretension or self-deprecation, just emotion and thoughtfulness delivered with a precision that makes you set down the book occasionally just to say, “holy shit.”

I need all of my restraint not to just list out every essay in this book and what I loved about it, but honestly I think you should just read it yourself. On topic description alone, I don’t know if I would have been interested in some of the essays, but after spending even a couple of pages with Chee’s voice I not only wanted to know what he would write about literally anything, I came away deeply interested in the subject itself.

(cw: childhood sexual assault, police brutality)

That’s all for me! Pre-order a romance novel and sit by a pool for me if you can!

four ways of looking at Jane Austen; 7.16.19

A few months ago I realized that some books with a similar theme were rising to the top of my library stacks and I decided to aggregate them into a ~fun~ theme post! I guess if you don’t care about Jane Austen this might not be that fun, but this is MY BLOG, CHARLATANS. 

Anyway, it’s skewed mostly towards nonfiction, with a sci-fi novel slipped in there as well. As you’ll notice, there aren’t actually any books by Jane Austen in this post, which I regret, because as it turns out I enjoy reading Austen more than I enjoy reading about her. There’s a lionization that often crops up in works about her (including the sci-fi) that feels uncomfortable to me, because while I do feel she deserves it, it feels to me like its based in an insistence that she was SO brilliant as to be outside of her own time and place, which…that’s not how “brilliance” works! And, as I’ll get into when talking about the first book, there are several things that make it difficult to understand and interpret the “real” Austen, so my skepticism is always on high alert.

All that being said, I genuinely did enjoy this mini-deep dive and hope you do too!

Jane Austen At Home: A Biography – Lucy Worsley

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This is a pretty straightforward biography of our dear pal Jane, which Worsley structures around the various houses/homes that she lived in. As an unmarried woman in the late 1700s – early 1800s, she often lived on the generosity (and sometimes whims) of more well-off family members, and Worsley does a great job of contextualizing her life and how that life influenced her works without moving too far into the realm of speculation. Any Austen bio is tricky because after her death a lot of her journals and letters were burned by her sister and closest friend Cassandra, and because her extended family had a particular narrative of her life that they really pushed after her death, but in my reading Worsley did a good job of presenting ~the facts~ as we know and understand them with a healthy amount of shaping the narrative for peak readability.

I will note that having read both this and Claire Tomalin’s Jane Austen: A Life a couple years ago, I keep getting this itchy feeling that Austen biographers really have it out for Jane’s mother? And I can’t really figure out why? They just seem like they really don’t like her, and convinced that Jane didn’t like her very much either, which I’m never fully satisfied by the backing for. It’s true that they’re the historians and I have not dived into the primary sources that they have, but…my kingdom for an Austen bio that doesn’t treat Cassandra Leigh Austen like she’s a direct analogue for Mrs. Bennet!

The Jane Austen Project – Kathleen Flynn

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Now…to be fair. My standards for time travel stories are MUCH HIGHER after Doomsday Book. As I talked about last month, Connie Willis writes about it in a way that actually makes sense, partly because she doesn’t get too into the mechanics of it. And this book doesn’t get too into the mechanics of how the time travel works, but it does try to get into the travelers’ ability or lack of ability to change the past (and therefore the future) in a way that I…did not find successful.

Like Doomsday Book, the time travel in this book is largely an academic project, though with more of an espionage bent. Rachel and Liam are sent to retrieve [steal] Jane Austen’s unpublished draft of The Watsons so they can publish it in their time (set in an undefined future time, in which it really seems Some Shit has gone down, but Flynn doesn’t really get into it enough for it to matter at all). Now…I knew it was going to be a tough sell once I realized their mission was basically to Single White Female Jane Austen by getting close enough to her to have the opportunity to go through her letters and then publish something she didn’t mean to publish. I already feel kind of grossed out by the fact that we publish famous people’s letters and diaries after their death (doesn’t stop me from reading Kafka’s deeply, pathetically relatable Letters to Felice, but still), and if someone published something of mine that was unfinished when I died, I would probably die a second time, rise from the grave to drive them insane via haunting, and then die again.

Aside from my issues with the premise, I felt like the characterization was uneven, and, though y’all know I love a horny book, the horniness in this book was awkward and pointless. I probably wouldn’t have finished the book if I wasn’t already committed to this theme.

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical – Helena Kelly

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Now for another nonfiction! (Actually this one and the next one are nonfiction but whatever.) This is less a biography and more an exploration of how Austen’s specific time and place influenced her and what they can tell us about her books, especially what her contemporaries would have noticed that we don’t today. As I mentioned earlier, I’m often wary of lionization that claims authors were ‘ahead’ of their time rather than reacting to it, so I expected to be super into this book. Instead, I found another kind of lionization, one that found every possible way to position Austen as a rebel (or, by the book’s title, a radical). Sometimes I found the evidence compelling and sometimes not. 

The book was about 20% more history than I was prepared for, which is on me, but I had expected more integration between the history and Austen’s books, which it did…just not quite in the balance I would have preferred. Which is a ‘me’ thing! But I was definitely exhausted at the end.

Camp Austen: My Life as an Accidental Jane Austen Superfan – Ted Scheinman


This book really grew on me! By the time I got to it, I was suffering from some Austen Exhaustion, and the first time I picked it up I set it down after only a couple pages, shouting “I can’t! I can’t do it anymore!” But after giving it a couple days, and assuring myself that it really was memoir, not biography (though there’s some biography in here), I picked it up again and was very glad I did.

The core of the book is a tour through Scheinman’s experience working at a Jane Austen event that was part conference/part festival. A literature graduate student at the time, his duties included dressing as Mr. Darcy, putting on a play with his fellow students, Regency-style flirtation, and, of course, dancing. Scheinman, who grew up with an Austen scholar for a mother, explains how the democratic nature of the conference (open to academics and non-academics and expected to be accessible to all) lead to fascinating discussions and occasional arguments about Austen, her works, and how best to interpret and enjoy them in the 21st century. He’s thoughtful, and has a good sense of humor about the event and Austen, and I enjoyed the book a lot.

Farewell! See you again when I’ve watched the 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility a thousand more times!!

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