Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chick Flicks by B. Ruby Rich

A few months ago I checked out a bunch of books on women and film from the library, Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement by B. Ruby Rich being one of them. Since I was reading through a bunch of books at once (as usual) I am not sure which one is which, but recently a group of feminist readers in Olympia have started reading this one together and holding illicit late night screenings downtown. Last night we saw Das Blaue Licht (d. Leni Riefenstahl). If you'd like you read along, Kanako is in charge and I hear there might be another blog starting up...
Happy Chinese/ Lunar New Year...
Some of my favorite things I've read over the year
OR Re-read classics...

Space and Geometry (Mach)
All the Kings Horses (Michele Bernstein)
The Tiger in the House (Van Vechten)
The Mikado's Empire (Griffis)
Ezra Pound: Selected Cantos
The Uncertain States of America Reader
Selected Writings (Marx)
The Culture Industry (Adorno)
The Shape of Time (Kubler)
The Book of Intentions (F.R. David)
Charlotte Perriand, A Life of Creation
New York Times, op-ed
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (T.S. Eliot)
Against Fashion (Stern)
Some Social Implications of Modern Technology (Marcuse)
Irrational Modernism (Jones)
Make Your Own Life: Artists in and out of Cologne
Reena Spaulings (Bernadette Corporation)
The Aesthetics of Disappearance (Virilio)
Letters and correspondence between Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis @ Beinecke Library

Who Wants To Read Transnational Feminist Theory?

Yesterday I was checking out Zed Books and decided I want to read more transnational feminist theory If you are interested in this, let me know and we can discuss it here. I am going to read this first: Feminism and War: Confronting U.S. Imperialism It's not at any of the libraries here so I'm gonna order it. I guess this will be the book for March. Let me know if you're in...

Books Books Books

Hello Bumpidee Readers...

I read so much crap in the past six months that I was kind of embarrassed to even list it here. Then I was like, why am I reading crap? Why not just read better books, and that led me to a kind of reader's block. Let's see the last crappy novel I remember not wanting to post about here was The Secret Life of Bees, which is really just not a good book and I have nothing to say about. I read it because two different people sent it to me in the mail and because I was supposed to see the movie with my grandma and so I figured I might as well read the book first. Well it's very Christian, so I guess that is part of its appeal for some people.

Uh what else? I was reading a lot of books that were slut memoirs, seriously weird genre. Like where the female writer confesses all the bad things she did as a young woman and sort of analyzes it in a moral way that is slightly feminist but more often self-help-y and titillating. I enjoyed reading them because they are so weird and I thought I'd have something smart and analytical to say, but I really ended up just feeling kind of headache-y and gross when I was done, like I had just read a salacious gossip-y Hollywood exposé, except these were by people I have no reason to be interested in. The one I recall best is called Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity by Kerry Cohen, who also wrote Easy, a young adult novel about a girl with a bad reputation that I've been meaning to read. Loose Girl is one of those "poor little rich girl" tales of a party girl of privilege who hates herself. I don't really buy it when she says she regrets all of her sexual exploits, it sounds like she had fun and then regretted it later. Or maybe that she has low self-esteem and didn't know how to have fun. Either way, it's really not that interesting, but I still wanna check out Easy, because I think writing novels about girls getting bad reputations for teenagers to read sounds more compelling. It seems that she may have written Loose Girl as a way to promote her young adult fiction.

I can't remember where my reading took me after that exactly, but I re-read Pride and Prejudice after watching the BBC mini-series and the Hollywood version from 1940 starring Laurence Olivier.

Then watching the Lord Peter Wimsey series got me back into Dorothy Sayers, so I checked out her biography by Barbara Reynolds. It turns out she was a Christian humanist, as well as one of the world's leading Dante scholars and that writing popular detective mysteries was what she did in her spare time. If you read any of her detective novels, I recommend Gaudy Night, starring Harriet Vane. It's a really great mystery, partially because Harriet Vane is such a great female character.

I also read a little bit of Mrs. Woolf and the Servants: An Intimate History of Domestic Life in Bloomsbury by Alison Light, which asks the question--what were the role of servants in Virginia Woolf's life and how does that relate to her as an artist. Hopefully I'll finish ask the question complicates Woolf's feminism--did her female servants have "rooms of their own" for example? Did her feminism reach that far, or was it just for white, upper class/upper middle class women like herself?

I was drawn to this after reading Coco Fusco's A Field Guide for Female Interrogators, which probably deserves it's own is a component of a larger feminist art piece of hers that asks 'what is the role of women in war'? Since Virginia Woolf famously addressed this question in Three Guineas, Fusco frames her book as a letter to Ms. Woolf, getting her up-to-date on how women's role in war has changed in the 21st century, focusing on the role of the female interrogator at Abu Ghraib...if that sounds compelling it really is. Who can pretend that American women are innocent and powerless and that war is waged soley by men in light of their participation in the "war on terror"? Fusco argues compellingly that we can't and that in fact to do so is to fail to explore how gender/power/nation intersect and function at the level of international affairs. She's basically asking the same questions feminist theorist Cynthia Enloe asks, but from the point of view of a performance artist who is familiar with literary criticism. Her question resonates and explores what it means to be female and how systems of power operate in the 21st century.

Last night I started reading Straight from the Source by Kim Osorio, a music journalist who used to be editor-in-chief of The Source and famously sued for sexual harassment. So far it's a compelling tale of a woman inside the Hip Hop side of the music business who demands to be treated as an equal and hang out on her own terms. As with any male-dominated music scene, this is a struggle for dignity and respect. She wants to be taken seriously but she also likes to have fun. It starts out where she already has a "bad reputation" and then back tracks to explore, from her point of view, what that really means. There's also a lot of inside stories about famous Hip Hop battles between late 90's/early 00's NYC artists, so it's pretty entertaining as a music book as well.

There's more....expect reviews of The Cramps: A Short History of Rock'n'Roll Psychosis by Dick Porter soonish.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

vacation reading: modern latino american fiction, WWII thriller, Jane Austen

I guess it's really hard for me to read anything unless I get the fuck out of town. Living in NY and working full time and going to school part time has lead me to basically read the paper, some magazines and school work in addition to a gillion blogs, facebook and twitter. Sad.

Well luckily I'm addicted to the beach so I have been able to keep up with a decent amount of reading over the past year. Here's the latest installment. I didn't finish the last one yet but I'll try to finish it by years end.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
My classmate Vanessa let me borrow this and I enjoyed it mostly until the end. It's a funny depiction of a tragic sad sap Oscar Wao and his Dominican family and all of their comic tragedies, curses and disastrous love lives. It's got a lot of Spanglish and Spanish and I thought a lot while I was reading it that it might be really hard to follow if you didn't have sort of an idea of what was being said. At the end it just sort of dragged on and the characters really were sad and pathetic and tragic and I kind of just wanted it to be over.

Up in Honey's Room
by Elmore Leonard
I picked this up on my annual stop to the Cannes English Bookshop. I attend a conference every January in Cannes and a four years ago I found this shop and make it a point to visit every year. I pretty much make a random impulse buy and this year "Up In Honey's Room" was the result. This was the UK edition and it was on the discount table and had a cool cover so it was the winner. I dug the book and it's raunchiness and period thrillerness.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
I may have picked up this Signet Classics edition on last years Cannes trip? Anyway, I finally got around to reading it and honestly Jane Austen is sorta tough vacation reading because I really have to concentrate to make sure I know who the hell everyone is. I got about a quarter through it and am into it so far and have it on my nightstand now so I'm gonna try to knock it out. I think on the facebook "which Jane Austen heroine are you?" quiz I was Fanny Price and it makes sense so far.

east of eden

portia bought me east of eden so that is what i'm gonna read next. i'm bad at writing reviews but maybe i finally will.

my favorite american novel is "sometimes a great notion."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

invasion 68, prague

invasion 68, prague

this book is filled with big glossy photos taken over several days in prague in august of 1968 during the soviet occupation. the photos are large and beautiful and disturbing.

the book starts with an introduction that explains some of the events that led up to the occupation and a little bit about what happened during and after. the intro is only a few pages long but the pages are ginormous (because it's a big artsy photobook).

mixed throughout the pages of photos there are also pages of eyewitness accounts, official documents, and slogans that appeared on walls and posters during this time. the slogans are printed in czech and english.
"soviet exports: tanks, lead, death..."
"we do not want russian freedom"
"our dead don't need your wheat"

my favorite part of the text of this book was the part about the ghost town method of resistance to the occupation used by the residents of prague:
"Acting on an appeal from the free broadcast of 'Prague', the legal radio station in the occupied town at the end of Friday, hundreds of thousands of anonymous, unknown people tore down the signs with the names of streets and squares. Plaques with house numbers also disappeared. On some buildings there are no longer even the names of the tenants.... The Prague of names and numbers has become extinct. For the uninvited guests, Prague is a ghost town. Someone who wasn't born here, who hasn't lived here, will find an anonymous city of a million people, in which the occupiers may perhaps find only a wide variety of appeals written in Czech and the Cyrillic alphabet. On the roads we read 'Moscow-1,800 km'. Prague is defending itself. Against the tanks, guns and troops of the occupying forces. Without bloodshed. And against collaborators, who, by assisting in the arrest of honourable people, want to make the nation nervous. Let our watchword be: The
postman will find it, but the bastards won't."

the one problem i had while trying to read this book was a common problem i have with photobooks but it's not one that will make me any less likely to read them... the captions of the actual photos are extremely minimal and many don't have captions at all so the curiosity you feel about, for example, the kid sitting on the curb who has painted a target on her or his back is almost painful. who was that woman in the jackie o suit holding the little girl's hand outside of the bullet-ridden building and what exactly happened there and to them? did that old man actually throw the brick at the tank or was he just waving it in his hand... an angry gesture meant for the soviet soldiers in the tank to see? there are 250 pictures in the book and most of them left me with a hopeless kind of curiousity about the specific stories in them.

i highly recommend this book and i highly recommend getting it from your library since i think it costs about $60 to buy for yourself.

invasion 68, prague

invasion 68, prague

invasion 68, prague

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Happy Birthday to Gertrude Stein

2/3 is Gertrude Stein's birthday. She was born in 1874 and would be 135 years old today. I picked up a copy of Mrs. Reynolds yesterday and plan on voting YES on the library and staying up late reading to celebrate.