What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

Here are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  It’s a weird hodge-podge of stuff today, guys.

Being Counted: Reporting My Rape at a School Under Title IX Investigation (The Toast)

This is a really amazing piece of creative nonfiction, and is well worth your time.  In it, a professor at UNC prepares her notes about her experience being raped when she was a student at the school.  She struggles with how to prepare the notes, and how she will be seen when she provides the notes to the office she’s reporting the rape to:

The rape reporting people on campus will want details (details I won’t have.) They will want to tell me what to do with my report (and I will have to resist them.) They will quickly form ideas about what kind of person I am the minute I walk through the door (and those ideas will likely be wrong.)

The entire thing is moving and amazing.  Go read it.

Disrupters, Disconnectionists, and Dicks (The Hairpin)

This excellent, funny, searing piece about Nev Shulman, creator of MTV docu-series Catfish, is well worth your time.  In it, Emma Healey takes on Nev’s bizarre public persona and contrasts it with anecdotes from people who have experienced him in real life.  It’s also a review of his new book, which is, by most accounts, pretty terrible:

Tone-wise, this book is the literary equivalent of a clean-cut guy in a leather jacket sauntering into your classroom, turning a chair around so he can sit on it the cool way, and telling you he wants to have a serious rap sesh about the problems we all face, because he’s been there, man. In terms of genre, it’s either a memoir by someone who hasn’t had a particularly engaging life, or a self-help book by someone who has no idea what he’s talking about.

Healey has a lot of interesting things to say about Shulman (who is maybe the worst?) and about his “message” and what a complete douche canoe he is.  There’s a lot to unpack here, and I think I’ll be back to re-examine this piece again.

The Bechdel Test is Only a Small Part of Bechdel’s Genius (Vox)

This week, Alison Bechdel was one of the MacArthur Grant winners, which is awesome.  If you haven’t read Fun Home yet, go rectify that right now.  This short primer talks about Bechdel’s contributions to culture, and is really awesome.  Go read it, too.

A Brief History of White Privilege (Daily Dot)

I’m working to understand my own privilege every day and to more fully understand intersectional feminism.  I’m working to be a white ally to people of color.  It’s a lot of work, and I’m happy to put in the time.  This piece explores the concept of white privilege and how it’s gone from being an academic theory to a cross-cultural meme.  It’s worth your time.

Despite O’Reilly’s calls for personal responsibility, white privilege is our social responsibility because no one person created it, and no one person can defeat it. It is a persistent reality. It’s historical and remains a pernicious problem, one that eviscerates any hope of ethnicequality in America.

I’m sure this may surprise some, but I don’t blame white people for American racism. I singularly blame white privilege. It’s the idea—not the people—that affects everything. You can forgive a person, but how do you forgive a racist ideology?

Go read it.

What got you thinking this week?

Movie News and Randomness

Because there’s been a fair amount of movie news lately that excites me, I thought I’d forgo my previously planned book review today and talk about a couple of movie news items that have me all atwitter.

1. Dear White People theatrical trailer

It’s going to push a lot of buttons and make people uncomfortable, but I can’t wait to see this.  (Don’t read the YouTube comments because internet.)

2. I Know What You Did Last Summer getting a reboot

The plan is to re-adapt the 1973 novel.  Lois Duncan tweeted about it, saying the author is always the last to know, so I guess that means she’s not in on crafting the screenplay?  It will be interesting to see if they go the more psychological route that the original novel delved into, or if they go straight slasher-flick like the 90s horror adaptation.  Either way, I’m there.  (ComingSoon)

3. Two Night Stand trailer

The movie stars Miles Teller (LOVE LOVE LOVE) and Annaleigh Tipton and looks pretty silly but sweet?  I don’t know. I love Miles Teller so much that it hardly matters, because I will see it regardless.

4. New Mockingjay Trailer

Not that this needs more publicity, but it looks pretty great.  Now with 100% more Katniss!  I sent it to my BFFFFFFFF with a question “We will see this together y/y?” and she was like “I DON’T WANNA WATCH THE TRAILER BUT YESSSSSS” so that’s happening.

5. This is Where I Leave You trailer

It’s based on the novel of the same name by Jonathan Tropper.  It’s got a pretty stellar cast and features a dysfunctional family, so you know I’m there.  I’m not sure it’s going to be a great movie, but it certainly looks like it will be entertaining.

What movies are you excited about right now?

Waiting on Wednesday: Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

Expected Release Date: October 14, 2014

Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities—but not for Glory, who has no plan for what’s next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she’s never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way…until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person’s infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions—and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying.

A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women’s rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she’ll do everything in her power to make sure this one doesn’t come to pass.

(summary via Goodreads)

This is probably one of the most-anticipated YA books coming out this fall, and it’s easy to see why.  Not only is King a powerhouse in the YA world, but the novel itself looks to be a fairly fresh take on the dystopian/post-apocalyptic genre.  There’s something about this one that reminds me of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which is one of my favorite books of all time.  So yeah, I’m looking forward to this one.

What are you waiting on this week?

Book Review: Some Boys by Patty Blount

Grace has been ostracized by her school because she spoke out about the jock who raped her at a party.  Tormented by her peers and ignored by the administration, Grace continues to face the world, feeling alone.  Then she’s forced to spend time with Ian as part of a school punishment, and she realizes that he might be different.  But how can he be when he’s the best friend of the boy who raped her?

It’s important to note that although this book seems to be framed as a romance with Serious Issues thrown in, it’s really much more than that.  The book has romantic aspects to it, for sure, but it’s mostly about a girl who was raped and instead of becoming the victim of sexual assault that she is, she becomes the villain.  It’s about rape culture and how it permeates every aspect of our lives.  It’s also a pretty great piece of fiction that should appeal to teens across the board.

What works well here is that both Grace and Ian are well-developed characters with authentic, realistic narration.  Told in alternating chapters, it’s clear who’s talking on every page, and both characters are given ample time and consideration to develop as fully-realized people.  Less successful are some of the tertiary characters who come off a bit flat, but the nuanced portrayal of both teens’ relationships with their parents helps counteract the less dynamic characters.

Although the novel doesn’t delve as deep into some of the issues as it could, it still packs an emotional punch that will both stay with readers long after they’ve finished the novel as well as keep them turning the pages.  A few missteps–there’s a bit where Grace dons a niqab as part of a protest, which offends a Muslim student–don’t derail the rest of the novel, which offers a nuanced view of a complex issue.  And although the end of the novel teeters on the edge of the unbelievable, readers should find it ultimately satisfying.

A strong novel about important stuff.  It’s timely, it’s authentic, and it’s perfect for teens.  Recommended.

Some Boys by Patty Blount. Sourcebooks Fire: 2014. Library copy.

My Weekend in Pop Culture

Without further ado, here are the pop culture-y things I consumed this weekend.

revengeRevenge: I started watching this show when I was sick with a terrible chest cold, and it just continues to get more and more ridiculous.  I’ve always liked Emily Van Camp, and my love for Nick Wechsler is well documented.  The show goes beyond sudsy drama, and while I feel like the second season lost the plot somewhat, I feel pretty committed to finishing it.  It makes for good background noise, at least.

I also watched Maleficent, the fractured fairy tale retelling of Sleepingmaleficent Beauty.  I’m not the biggest Angelina Jolie fan, but I love a good female-driven story, so I was willing to give this one a try.  But I was disappointed, even with the bar set pretty low: it was slow, it was overly long (and it wasn’t really that long, to be honest), and it reinforced why Sleeping Beauty is basically the most boring fairy tale around.  I don’t know.  It wasn’t for me.

unfinishedThe Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin: I read the majority of this book in one sitting on my deck this weekend (covered in a blanket with a glass of wine nearby, which is basically heaven on earth for me), and I sort of loved it.  I’ll definitely review it soon, but for the time being, I’m enjoying how the characters are staying with me, how I’m inspired to read more about art and be more creative in my own life, and how well Griffin (who is one of my favorite authors) managed to pull of a fake oral history.  It’s definitely a knockout of a novel.

What pop culture did you consume this weekend?

What I’m Reading and Thinking About

These are the articles that got me reading and thinking this week.

It Will Look Like a Sunset (Guernica Mag)

In light of what’s been happening with Ray Rice, there have been a lot of pretty good essays about domestic violence, etc.  Someone in the comments section of The Toast (my current internet obsession, sorry not sorry) linked to this creative non-fiction piece by Kelly Sundberg about her own experiences with domestic violence.  And it’s beautiful and incredible and completely riveting.  It’s well worth your time:

He only hit me in the face once. A red bruise bloomed across my cheek, and my eye was split and oozing. Afterwards, we both sat on the bathroom floor, exhausted. “You made me hit you in the face,” he said mournfully. “Now everyone is going to know.”

I mean, it’s obviously a hard read.  But it’s also beautiful and full of hope, I think.

The Root 100 (The Root)

The Root has published it’s list of 100 people that are movers and shakers, and it’s pretty excellent.  Shonda Rhimes and Laverne Cox are in the top 5, which is excellent.  My favorite, Roxane Gay, is on the list at #39.  Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of people I’ve never heard of, so there’s a lot to dig into and learn with this list.

Can a Book Ever Change a Reader’s Life for the Worse? (NY Times)

This piece is part of the NYT’s Bookends, in which two writers discuss a given topic.  This time, it’s about books that can make a reader’s life worse.  Is this a thing?  I think so.  Leslie Jamison discusses this concept:

I’m not saying that Salinger or Fowles are responsible for what Chapman or Lake or Ng did. Clearly, they weren’t. Their novels weren’t. I mention them only to suggest the ways that novels can become embodiments of our own worst impulses, can christen or distill or liberate these impulses…

Francine Prose mines her own childhood for such a book:

So what in the world were they thinking when they allowed me to read Howard W. Haggard’s “Devils, Drugs and Doctors,” an illustrated history of medicine that focused on plagues, venereal disease, mental illness and the horrifying extent to which women, in earlier eras, suffered the fatal agonies of unhygienic childbirth? Because I was a somewhat morbid child, this book, which I discovered in our attic, remained my favorite for years.

There aren’t any answers here, but instead thoughtful ruminations on the topic.  It’s definitely a topic worth considering.

“As a Father of Daughters, I Think We Should Treat All Women Like My Daughters” (The Toast)

Mallory Ortberg, absolutely killing it like usual:

Did you know that when you have daughters, it’s like making a woman you have to care about out of parts of your own body? Well, it’s true. Now that I have daughters (two of them, to the best of my knowledge), I’ve got all sorts of new ideas about how to treat women. Now that I’ve got daughters, it’s time for the whole world to make some changes.

What got you reading and thinking this week?

Waiting on Wednesday: Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham

Expected Release Date: September 30, 2014

“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told,” writes Lena Dunham, and it certainly takes guts to share the stories that make up her first book, Not That Kind of Girl. These are stories about getting your butt touched by your boss, about friendship and dieting (kind of) and having two existential crises before the age of 20. Stories about travel, both successful and less so, and about having the kind of sex where you feel like keeping your sneakers on in case you have to run away during the act. Stories about proving yourself to a room of 50-year-old men in Hollywood and showing up to “an outlandishly high-fashion event with the crustiest red nose you ever saw.” Fearless, smart, and as heartbreakingly honest as ever, Not That Kind of Girl establishes Lena Dunham as more than a hugely talented director, actress and producer-it announces her as a fresh and vibrant new literary voice.

(summary via Goodreads)

I’m a little nervous about this one, guys.  I don’t think this is a book that needs any more hype, since Dunham was given a hefty advance back when the book deal was first announced.  But I like Dunham for the most part, and I want this book to be good.  I am worried it will not be.  I guess time will tell, since it’s out in a matter of weeks.

What are you waiting on this week?