It’s been around a month since I finished this novel and I still don’t know exactly how to say how I feel about it. This articulate, funny, intimate, and authentic novel is about the depression and breakdown of Esther Greenwood. But through that, it’s about the inescapable confines the expectations of being a woman in Post-modern Western society.
Esther is a studious and successful nineteen year-old. She’s in New York for wining a writing contest and is enrolled in an advanced English program where she can devise her own curriculum. She constantly feels he pressure of her future. She doesn’t know what she’s gong to do after college except get married and have children, like all of the other women around her. She also feels the fruitlessness of her degree. It seems like just something to do until she can perform her feminine duties.
I chose this novel for our book club. I didn’t realize that it was going to hit home for all of the women in our group- albeit in different ways. We all took different parts of this novel very personally and identified with it. We all felt like this was a novel women in our situations should read.
I loved this novel. I feel like I read it for the first time at the perfect moment. I’m sure I’ll reread it in a few years and I’ll get something else out of it. It may not be technically flawless, but it affected me deeply.
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson is her memoir about her relationship with Harry and her journey into motherhood. This book examines theories on gender and social identity that stem from Nelson’s personal experiences.
While I enjoyed the theoretical part of this book, it felt like Nelson was constantly quoting other authors and people. This strengthened her arguments and assertions, but it made the book slightly inaccessible. To me, it felt like the target audience was the intelligentsia. I completely support trusting your readers, but it made Nelson’s story more removed from the common sphere, something that it needed no help doing.
Overall, I loved listening to this book. It was utterly absorbing. I just wish that it didn’t have such an academic tone.
This classic thriller by Patricia Highsmith is the basis for one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock films by the same name. In essence, the title mostly describes the plot of the book- it is about two strangers who meet on a train. But that’s also where they discuss murdering people in their lives. Bruno wants to kill his father and Guy his wife. This one-time encounter means that they can both have solid alibis for committing the other’s murder and never be a real suspect.
Guy is a normal man currently going through a divorce- because his wife cheated on him. He fantasizes about killing her, but not in a serious way. Bruno is obsessed with killing his father. But as the novel goes on, that obsession is redirected towards Guy. Bruno stalks him and inserts himself constantly into Guy’s life and mind.
I thought this novel was going to be about the murders and the plotting. It was, but it was more about the psychology of a killer and what circumstances have to arise for a typical man to commit a murder. Especially a murder for someone else.
This novel wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. But I still enjoyed listening to it. I would want to read more of Highsmith’s work, especially The Price of Salt.
This collection of fictional short stories by Roxanne Gay centers on a variety of women that have suffered hardships. When I first started the collection, I thought that it was non-fiction and I was horrified that Gay went through that situation. Then I started the second story and I realized that these must be fictional stories about different women. But none of them are dramatized, and similar, if not exact replicas of these situations, happen every day.
While I wouldn’t call any of these stories ‘happy’, some of them did have hope. My favorite was “North Country”. This is one of the longer stories in the book and follows a woman who teaches engineering at a college in the Midwest. Due to the dark color of her skin, people assume time and time again that she is from Detroit. Like most of the stories in this collection, the plot revolves around a traumatic event that occurred in this woman’s life. But unlike most of the other stories, this one ends with a hopeful tone. She is able to find love again and is part of a healthy relationship.
My biggest problem with Difficult Women was that every story had the same themes and tone. There was a variety in plot, but Gay centered on the same themes of trauma and the crimes against women. These are extremely important topics, but it was difficult to read stories about them over and over again. But Gay is a fantastic writer and I moved through these swiftly. I can’t wait to read her novel, now that I’ve finally finished one of her works.
This horror/thriller was my first time reading Joe Hill. While I thought that certain sections of the book could have been condensed, I liked it overall. I especially enjoyed listening to the audio book for this title because the narrator, Kate Mulgrew, was awesome.
This novel is the story of Victoria “Vic” McQueen, a woman with a special talent- she can find lost things. Opposing her is Charlie Manx, a man who steals children and takes them to Christmasland, a place where they can always be young and never have any responsibilities. Both of them are able to do this because of their imaginations and the strength of their interior worlds. This concept was one of my favorite things about the novel.
There are some scenes in this novel that are truly terrifying. To me, the scariest character in the novel was Bing Partridge, Manx’s helper. He’s just a sick and twisted man who likes killing and sexually abusing women, even after they’re dead. Those were the parts that made my stomach turn.
Overall, I enjoyed listening to this novel. Mulgrew is a talented narrator reading Hill’s great story. It was a little longer than it had to be, but I enjoyed all of it.