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Pickle Me This

December 2, 2016

The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold

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I full-on believed in Santa Claus until I was eleven, mostly through sheer force of will and because I was a strange child, and I’ve actually kind of still believed in him ever since then. If asked if there is a Santa, I’ll never say one way or another, because there are some kinds of magic that are beyond our understanding. If asked if I in fact partake in performing the duties of Santa, I may concede that I do, but that such partaking is in fact part of the magic, but no one’s asked me that question yet. There have been other question though, and I will answer them carefully, recalling my own longing to believe that so preoccupied me as a child, a longing that had me actually making notes on the books I was reading and tallying those in which Santa was confirmed as real or otherwise within said books (and there became more of the latter, obviously, as I became actually eleven—I think I was actually reading Sidney Sheldon novels when I was eleven, although Santa rarely came up in these).

The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold, by Maureen Fergus (Buddy and Earl) and Cale Atkinson (If I Had a Gryphon) is definitely pro-Santa, and the perfect book contending with these sorts of questions who’s just not quite ready to give up yet. Santa, it seems, has stopped believing in a child called Harold, because the letters Harold writes to Santa are penned by Harold’s mother and Santa’s snack each Christmas Eve is actually catered by Harold’s father. Santa’s wife tries to convince him otherwise, but Santa will not be deterred, and resolves to wait up until Christmas morning so he can see Harold for himself and finally discover whether or not he actually exists…

I bought this one to commemorate the beginning of the Christmas season, a new title for our Christmas book box, and we absolutely loved it. It’s sweet, silly, and the perfect Christmas book for the savvy kid who wants to go on believing just a little bit longer.

December 1, 2016

Swimming Lessons: Addendum

img_20161014_145046Full disclosure necessitates I update you on how things have proceeded since I read about exiting Guardian Swim and the beginning of my new career reading on the poolside. I thought I was being so clever this time, not keeping my child in Guardian Swim until she was five, which was what happened last time. Never again was I going to have my school-age child in the same swimming class as an infant, and so Iris was enrolled in Sea Turtle. This time we were going to do it right, and it was so right, for the first two lessons, at least. Iris is part mermaid and was happily floating on her back, and she had the most excellent swimming instructor in the entire history of our life in recreational programs…and then, for absolutely no reason, when we arrived at class for Week 3, Iris refused to get into the pool. And there we’ve been ever since, Iris screaming whenever forced to come into contact with the water, turning her body into a plank or a noodle, whichever would prove most inconvenient. And when you’re a parent who’s been expecting to spent 30 minutes reading poolside, the prospect of a screaming kid refusing to enter the pool is most frustrating. There was swearing.

Last week was the second last class, and there was finally progress. Iris got in the pool, but in order for this to happen I had to be crouching at the pool’s edge, basically sitting in a puddle and being splashed whenever anyone practiced kicking. There was no reading.

All of which is to say that this underlines my growing suspicion that there is really no way to do parenthood right. No matter how you swing things, they’re probably always going to be a bit annoying.

November 30, 2016

Books of the Year (and on the radio too!)

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49thShelf’s Books of the Year list came out on Monday, and I’m thrilled with it. It turns out that 2016 has not been a total disaster—maybe the books will save us after all? And I was on CBC Ontario Morning today talking about some of the picks that would also make great holiday gifts. You can listen to the podcast here; I come on at 37.30. 

November 27, 2016

Swing Time, by Zadie Smith

swing-timeI can plot my adult life with Zadie Smith novels. I first read White Teeth during the summer of 2001 when I had a job that was in proximity of too many bookshops, and it was the first time it occurred to me in an undergraduate English stupor that there was such a thing as contemporary literature. (I reread it years later and the book was still brilliant, and shockingly prescient.) I got The Autograph Man out of the library a couple of years later when I was living in Nottingham, and I didn’t think much of it, and wasn’t the only one, but that didn’t matter much because On Beauty would come along in 2005, the year we moved to Canada and this modern take on Howards End would continue to expand my ideas about what contemporary literature could do. I bought her last novel, NW, the day that Harriet started playschool in 2012, when I was five minutes pregnant with Iris, and I can’t remember it so well now, partly because I was pregnant, but also because it was a difficult novel to hold in one’s grasp (as suggested by the surprisingly articulate review I wrote, but have no recollection of). And four years and a few months after that, it would be time for me to pick up my pre-ordered copy of her latest, Swing Time.

It took me nine days to read Swing Time, which for me is a literary eternity. Thankfully, I’m not pregnant, but I was busy and also distracted, and it’s not a novel whose plot exactly rivets. It’s also more than 400 pages long, which is heavy to lug, but I did so. It was not that I didn’t enjoy reading it, but sometimes I wondered what the point was. If NW took its reader up and down the streets and alleyways of northwest London, Swing Time transports across continents via jumbo jet and through decades too—its canvas is immense. It’s a novel about girlhood, friendship, race, dance, musical theatre, social media, celebrity, and social mobility. It’s more White Teeth than NW, and Irie even makes a cameo on page 34. And in all its material, I kept waiting for patterns to emerge, for parallels, binaries.

It’s the story of two girls, our unnamed narrator and her childhood friend Tracey who meet at dance class, and they’re both mixed-race children growing on the same housing estate. The novel moves between chapters that take us through their shared history and another contemporary storyline in which the narrator is a personal assistant to an international pop star, Aimee, modelled on Madonna and Kylie Minogue, and helping to establish a school for girls in an unnamed West African country. The notion of time is important through the book, in terms of music and rhythm, narrative time, and also just chronologically. Swing as in swing music, but also in how time swings back and forth between the two narrative threads. (Swing Time is also a 1936 movie musical starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire). Common to both threads is the narrator’s relationship with women—to her mother, to Tracey, to Aimee—and her tendency to lose herself to another’s command. Except that such self-effacingness seems more like a convenient front than actual reality—the narrator is thoroughly in command of the 400+ story she sets out to tell, bending time to suit her own sense of things. Her tendency to not be present is a curious aspect of the book—to the point where other characters are replying to things she said that we never get to read, and what is her name?—but she’s also everywhere, in charge of shining the spotlight even as she ducks out of its glow.

For me, Smith has always been a masterful novelist whose works just kind of peter out before the end, and my explanation for that is that her stories are so excellent that the endings are always going to be a let-down and/or do we really expect her to come up with a novel like that and properly end it too? But in her fourth book, it seems she’s finally got the conclusion that comes with a gut punch, the last fifty pages or so finally bringing the pieces together, the patterns emerging. The conclusion of Swing Time is wonderful, devastating, and ambiguous in the most engaging fashion. Yes, the book is a bit bloated in the middle, but reading any of Smith’s prose is a pleasure. And all of it matters—you just don’t know how until the end.

November 25, 2016

How Do You Feel?

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“So, how you handling your feelings of existential dread?” is the new “So, what are you working on?” —Jessica Hische

I’m going to say it—it’s been a rough few weeks. Yesterday I asked a parent in the school yard if he was American, intending to wish him a Happy Thanksgiving, and he looked so upset when I asked him. “I’m not accusing you of anything,” I said. “I’m just trying to create some distance from that mess,” he responded, and I got that. I’ve been trying to create some distance too. I took Twitter off my phone. Between conspiracy theories, white supremacy and CanLit ridiculousity, the platform has ceased to have much value except for to constantly have me exclaiming, “What that actual fuck?” I’ve tried telling men’s rights activists to eat various bags of dicks, and attempted to engage with a woman who insisted that the patriarchy wasn’t real (“That’s what they want you to think,” I told her, with a winky face, which she didn’t think was very funny, and my goodness, I thought feminists were the humourless ones) and watching what’s happening at Standing Rock just causes me to despair.

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There are a whole lot of people on Twitter who, before November 8, I’d been in adamant disbelief that they were actually real. But it seems that they exist, human bots. Who refuse to read anything but Wikileaks emails, have eggs instead of heads (remember when once upon a time that implied intelligence?) and have no passion for anything except the things they hate. Which is anything the least bit challenging. And there is this atmosphere of disdain for feelings. Slinging “crybaby” like an epithet. This from people supporting a man whose supporters had been stockpiling arms for the event of their disappointment—and suddenly crying was something terrible? Speaking of alternate universes.

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Who are they, the people who make fun of feelings. Do they not understand that it’s feelings that underline the dangerous fabric of nationalism? That there is nothing rational about screaming nonsensically at a rally, or screaming, “Kill the Bitch? (I am never going to forget that phrase.) That the notion of safety has become a joke. Why would denying others such a thing be the hill you’d choose to die on? And I keep getting emotional—of course I do. I feel terrible. I am sad, and angry, and frustrated, and disappointed. And really, really confused by the determination of others to put our precious, fragile, precarious arrangement in peril.

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Pendulums swing though. And back. It’s the way of history. And it’s healthy to keep asking ourselves questions. “How do we keep what we believe in and know it’s right from becoming dogma?” I asked my friend May yesterday, and that’s a whole other blog post. We talked about how apparent injustices are now, all those things we were able to ignore before that have risen to the surface. To be acknowledged, looked in the face. Finally. It’s all very hard, but necessary. And in the meantime, the question of feelings are going to be more so. (See also this post: What are you going through?)

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On Thursday I went to the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards Gala, and drank all the wine, which helped a bit with the whole feelings thing. And in my silly bubble of happy, I felt grateful to be surrounded by people who acknowledged the power of books and of story and truth and history. We need books more than we’ve ever needed them, books to keep us asking questions, books to make sense of the madness, and to underline to our children the things that are important and ever shall be.

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Harriet remains a hedgehog fanatic, and therefore we have all become fond of the book, How Do You Feel?, by Rebecca Bender. I love the double meaning of the question (because anything that teaches that a single thing can have two realities is important), and that the answers to the questions are all about words and similes. The whole book is about connection, and it’s sweet and lovely, and also powerfully subversive in the most important way.

November 23, 2016

Mini Reviews

the-keys-of-my-prisonThe Keys of My Prison, by Frances Shelley Wees

I loved this one, a reissue of a 1956 novel by Wees who wrote more than 20 romance and mystery novels. The Keys of My Prison fits comfortably into the contemporary craze for domestic suspense novels; its a terrifically Toronto book*; and it reminds me of Hugh MacLennan’s The Watch the Ends the Night in a vague kind of way. It’s the story of a young wife and mother (and heiress!) whose husband is injured in a car crash, and when he emerges from a coma, he’s not the man he was before. Could the man in the bed really be Rafe or is he an imposter? Or is it possible that none of them really ever knew Rafe at all? *Had a bone to pick with the jacket copy though, which describes the family as residing in their Rosedale mansion, but they in fact live north of St. Clair on Russell Hill Road. There is also a mention of the “Bay Subway” which someone takes downtown (and which stops on the surface at the corner of Yonge and St. Clair?) and I couldn’t figure out what that was all about. But that I cared so much is a testament to the book’s appeal. Heartily recommended.

*

cluckCluck, by Lenore Rowntree

I liked this novel a lot, and it’s a story that will appeal to anyone who appreciated Jessica Grant’s Come Thou Tortoise a few years back, another story about a quirky character with an affinity for a non-human creature. Structurally, Cluck is a bit lacking, a big and sprawling narrative that could use more focus and tautness, but it has charm and the twists are interesting, and I appreciated the humour throughout, as well as the sensitivity with which Rowntree writes about mental illness and social exclusion. (She previously co-edited an anthology of stories about mental illness.) It begins with Henry playing with his farm set at a young age, and moves through his life as he struggles to find a place for himself in the world, build his own community, and discover an outlet for his passion for poultry. In a hopeful and realistic way, Rowntree depicts the complicated experience of a character for whom conformity is not an option, and has her readers plotting along with her on the road to his ultimate triumph.

*

sex-and-deathSex and Death, edited by Sarah Hall and Peter Hobbs

This book was so good. I must confess that it initially gave me a case of CanLit Inferiority Complex, because the internationally-authored stories were so stellar I wondered how poor old Canada could ever compete. BUT…then I realized that it was just that the pieces in this anthology were so well selected (by acclaimed writers including Ben Marcus, Claire Vaye Watkins, Kevin Barry, Taiye Selasi, Ali Smith) rather than the rest of the world setting the bar so high (I am sure there are middling short story writers in the UK; I just never have to hear about them). AND Canadian literature has two stand-out contributions to this anthology, the amazing Lynn Coady and Alexander MacLeod (whose own story is worth the price of the entire book). My favourite story is Ceridwen Dovey’s “Fixations”, however, which is one of two postpartum stories in the collection and the best story I’ve ever read about an anal fissure. I also appreciated the badassedness of flashing this book’s cover on public transit. Funny too how much the thematic concerns of the anthology cease to be the point, partly because the stories are just so great, but also because sex and death pretty much covers everything you’d ever want to write about.

November 21, 2016

Destination Bookshop: Hunter Street Books

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Saturday started pretty badly: literally seconds into our road trip to Peterborough, I hit a bollard while backing out of a parking space and took the front bumper off a giant Toyota. How was this even possible? My front wheel well hit the bollard and away went the bumper, and this was as upsetting as you might expect. I tried to put it back on myself, but it turned out the car wasn’t made of lego. I’m going to be getting an unpleasant bill. I cried and two teenage boys came over to marvel at the damage while I cried. Miraculously, the car sharing company gave me use of another car, however, and this one I managed not to destroy. And so we were off, flying down the highways toward Peterborough’s brand new bookstore, as planned, and we were talking about how I’d never had a car accident before, and if one has to have such a thing, this one is probably best case scenario, and how nobody was hurt, no other cars were involved, and even the bollard was unscathed. How the Toyota was too big anyway.

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And so the stakes were high. This trip to Peterborough has now cost us perhaps $1000. Hunter Street Books had better be worth the journey and the damage. But I had a feeling it would be. A brand new bookstore in the city I’d grown up in—I knew how much downtown Peterborough needed a store like this. I knew how excellent it was that writer Michelle Berry had taken a chance on a new business. I’d seen photos online of the space and it was beautiful. Though, as always, a true mark of the store’s goodness would be the quality of the books on the shelves.

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Well, Reader, I bought them. The books, I mean. The books I’d planned on buying, because Michelle had them in stock and facing out even—did she knew I was coming and was intending to purchase a copy of Elena Ferrante’s The Lost Daughter? And Hot Milk, by Deborah Levy? And then I ended up buying I’m Judging You, by Luvvie Ajayi, which I hadn’t known I’d needed, but Michelle made me realize. I bought Marnie Jackson’s new book too, because I’d only had an ARC and it’s stayed on my mind in such a way that I realized I needed something more substantial.

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I go to a lot of bookstores. I’ve been to ones that are good, bad and middling, and my standards are higher than most people’s because I’ve been around a bit and because I have a million books at home already. You have to be more than adequate to satisfy me. You have to stock small press titles and prize lists and the books everyone has heard of and those we haven’t yet. You have to have both of Anakana Schofield’s novels and Double Teenage, by Joni Murphy, facing out. You need mysteries and commercial favourites and Maria Semple and books in translation. You have to stock all the books I love best, and the ones I’m still looking out for. And Michelle Berry has done it all—Peterborough is so lucky.

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Check out the curated shelf, with picks by Dave Bidini, Esta Spalding, Eden Robinson and Madeleine Thien. (Madeleine Thien used to have more books on her shelf, but people bought them all). These books are selling well, Michelle Berry says—and then she asked me to curate a shelf of my own for January (and just you wait and see what I’ve come up with…)

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The space is big and airy and full of light. My husband reports that the chairs are comfortable—and he’s sat down in a lot of bookshops. More than that, he also had a good time browsing—the Oliver Sacks book in our stack was his pick. And then he sat down and waited for me to finish exploring, and he was happy to do so. He saw it coming when I hung up my coat on the rack by the door—we’d be there for a while I perused every shelf. A small table and chairs is set up in the back for littler readers. There will also be space for events in the New Year, and I can foresee this being a very good spot for literary-minded people to come together.

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And they already were—coming together, that is. I took a photo of the line at the till, for lines at tills in bookshops are my very favourite thing in all the universe. I’d happily wait in one forever. Well done, Michelle Berry, for supporting local authors, boosting your downtown community, putting more books in the hands of people of the world, and for doing it all so well. You’ve made the world a more beautiful place, and I can’t wait to come back.

Although next time I’ll try to drive more carefully.

November 18, 2016

Missing Nimama

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Congratulations to Melanie Florence and Francois Thisdale, whose hauntingly beautiful picture book, Missing Nimama, about a murdered Indigenous woman won the TD Children’s Book Prize last night at The Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards. This book is an extraordinary demonstration of what the picture book can be and do; you can read my review here. I’m also thrilled for Danielle Daniel who won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Prize for Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox, another book we’re big fans of at our house.

A complete list of winners is here. It was a terrific night.

November 16, 2016

Notes

9781771662567_cover_coverbookpage-v2-modalOn the evening of Friday November 4th, I was walking down the street with a copy of Erin Wunker’s Notes from a Feminist Killjoy in my bag. Striding with purpose, something vital playing through my headphones, and a man on the street approached me. He was holding a clipboard, wearing a vest that identified him as a fundraiser whose job it is to get passersby to sign on in support of a charity. The kind of person I tend to smile at, shaking my head, as I keep on walking. Usually I am also herding recalcitrant small children, which makes me less of a target. But that night I was unencumbered, and although I gave no indication of wishing to engage with this person, he wouldn’t relent. Walking alongside me, asking questions, even though I was listening to music, never made eye contact, never answered him.

He didn’t stop and finally I had to say to him, each word delivered with such deliberateness as I waited at the intersection for the light to turn green: “I don’t want to talk to you.”

The light turned green, and I stepped into the street, and I could hear him behind me: “Oh, that’s really nice,” he was calling out to me, as though I’d refused him something he was entitled to, as though his invading my space necessitated a kind of niceness that ought to be returned.

But, No, no, no, I was thinking. I’m not having any of that.

*

There is something about notes. Notes have an irrefutability that a manifesto lacks, albeit in a shrugging-off kind of womanish way. “When I started this book, I wanted to write something unimpeachable,” writes Erin Wunker in the  introduction to her Notes From a Feminist Killjoy, but her book turned out to be something very different. Or not. “Unimpeachable” is like a red rag to a bull in the realm of discourse. You’re going to go out and build this solid thing just to have someone break it. They call this “debate”. It’s logic, rhetoric. When you debate you’re not meant to get emotional, to remain at a remove, which is easier to do when you’re not personally invested. When it’s theoretical and you can examine it cooly, not getting all hysterical. Okay then, let’s talk about you policing my body, for example. About campus rape. Let’s call abortion a debate.

It’s back and forth. It gets you nowhere. Turns my actual life into a game of ping-pong. I get hysterical.

Notes, on the other hand. Wunker: “I remember that I tell my students that reading and writing are attempts at joining conversations, making new ones, and sometimes, shifting the direction of discourse.”

*

“Notes” is a way of ducking.

Also, ducking is a mechanism of survival. What is wrong with being unwilling to be a target, with refusing to play that game?

“Notes” is different game happening on a whole other level.

*

If I wanted to “impeach” Notes From a Feminist Killjoy, there would be a couple of points I’d start from. The chapter on feminist mothering, for one, which seems to be unaware or else does not to take into account the substantial body of scholarly work on this subject—Sara Ruddick, Andrea O’Reilly, my friend May Friedman, for just a start. Although the chapter poses something familiar to those of us who’ve lived it—the woman on the verge of discovery of this vast world of motherhood and feminism, the questions motherhood necessitates and the unfamiliarity of it all. The complete inapplicability of everything we’ve ever learned before to serve as solutions to our problems. This is a chapter written by an author who is still lost at sea. And there is usefulness in that kind of documentation. But yes, it might have been helpful to have some suggestion of the shore.

My other problem with the text was with the nature of the killjoy, whose moniker I’d wear with relish, actually. Particularly a feminist killjoy. That IS the kind of no-fun I most want to be. (Wunker takes her title from Sara Ahmed’s blog, feministkilljoys, which has been a tremendous discovery for me since reading her book—”joining conversations, making new ones.”)

But I kept being tripped up by the noun becoming a verb—the killjoy actively killing (patriarchal) joys. For a few reasons, one being the violence implicit. I don’t want to kill anything. And also that I have certain amount of reverence for joy. (One of my daughters’ middle name is “Joy.” The other’s middle name is “Malala,” which means sadness, so don’t think I don’t get the whole picture, but she gets to be named for a kickass feminist heroine so it all comes out even.) Joy and happiness, which Wunker writes about as a socialized and commodified product, a social imperative. “Happiness as restricted access. Happiness as a country club, a resort, an old boy’s club for certain boys only.” Happiness as an impossibility.

And yet it’s that notion, not of happiness itself but of its impossibility, that chafes me. Partly because I believe in (even insist on) a genuine happiness that need not be commodified at all—the way the afternoon sun shines right now on my cup of tea, for example. It’s about being present, eyes wide, curious and ready to receive it. It’s about the peace of a moment. Happiness is small and it is slippery, but it’s real.

There really is such thing as joy, and to refer to patriarchal violence as such a thing undermines it. Undermines the spaces we need to create for joy to exist in our personal corners of the world.

*

Of course, there has been very little joy for anyone who considers herself a feminist in the past week. (It is November 15 as I write this.) That Friday evening as I asserted myself and said, “I don’t want to talk to you,” seems like a relic of a bygone age. When we were reading (excellent, amazing) news articles with headlines like, “The Men Feminism Left Behind.” When I was thinking that progress was slow, but how far I’d come to be able to speak up and say those words to the man on the street. To not have to worry about being nice. When I was taking comfort in my daughters coming into the world on the headwinds of so much necessary, vital change.

After I crossed the street that night and left the man behind, I got on the subway and read Wunker’s chapter about rape culture. The part about her running through the woods to flee a man who’d tried to lure her into his car on a country road. I remember the details: her Birkenstocks, the wound on her foot. The sense that all of us have had of being chased, the fear. Rape as a thing and rape as a sceptre, an inevitable that we steel ourselves for. By not walking at night, for example. There is no joy here either. There is darkness illuminated by streetlights, but even there you can’t be safe.

*

Notes is a way of starting. Trying. Essai. If a manifesto is a red rag, then a note is a building block, a puzzle piece. The reader responds not by charging, but by saying, Yes and, or Yes but. She doesn’t respond by tearing the whole thing down.

I love the way the narrative thread of Wunker’s book makes its way with seeming effortlessness. There is nothing laboured about how a discussion of rape culture leads to the Jian Ghomeshi trial leads to women coming together leads to a chapter on friendship. (Which references The Babysitters Club. Yes, and!!) Why are so few of our formative texts about female friendship? “What is it about female friendship that inspires such insipid descriptors?” What are relationships between women often so fraught?

“Is it too hard to write your own narrative and witness another’s, simultaneously?”

*

making-feminist-mediaAs I watched the election results last Tuesday night (and felt as heartbroken as I’ve ever felt in my life, perhaps, which is saying something for how lucky I’ve been in a world that’s notoriously hard to live in) I was trying to read the book I’d been reading for a couple of days, Making Feminist Media: Third Wave Magazines on the Cusp of the Digital Age, by Elizabeth Groenveld. I started reading it because those third wave magazines (Bitch and Bust) were what taught me to call myself a feminist, made me realize that I’d been a feminist all along. I’ve always loved magazines—you know, the kind that smelled like perfume—but then one day I stumbled into the magazine rack at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore and discovered there was a kind of magazine that didn’t make me feel like less than a person. That there were things other than just a boyfriend that could make my soul complete—do you know what a revelation this was to me? It’s still shocking to consider just how much.

I never noticed when I was writing them that everybody in the magazine was white. It would take me years to realize there was anything strange about that, what a departure from reality such whiteness actually is. I also recall reading letters in Bitch about whether this was a magazine for feminists or lesbians, and (I say this with shame) feeling similar consternation. I didn’t know there was such a thing as intersectionality then. I have learned a lot since I started reading these magazines a decade and a half ago.

What occurred to me though on the day after the elections as I finished reading Grovenveld’s book was the difficulty all these magazines have had in surviving—how the feminist message remains so niche. Considering this in the context of the number of white women who voted for a misogynist fascist seems sort of unremarkable. Why doesn’t feminism sell more? Thinking too about what Grovenveld writes about identity politics and how focusing on distinct groups creates a sense of community among the group’s members, but ultimately it keeps the focus too narrow for widespread change to occur. For the magazine to be sustainable, she means. (Although she writes that a magazine being short-lived is not fair as a standard of failure. The fact that it even existed at all, and was read, defies so many odds.)

On Friday morning I was walking with my friends and we were talking about that group of women who voted for a misogynist fascist, and one friend framed this too in the context of intersectionality, which I’d never properly considered. I’d been thinking about the failure of intersectionality as women break apart instead of coming together (although I understand entirely, and I get that #solidarityisforwhitewomen) but never thought about the troubling intersectionality of these white women with their allegiances to the patriarchy. No woman is a highway.

What is it that makes women go so far out of their way not to support other women? Why did so many people dislike Hillary Clinton so much. To the point of going out of their way to elect a fascist, I mean. Is it because of the lack of representation of female relationships that Wunker references? To the end of getting to the answer to that question, Sady Doyle’s Trainwreck came in for me at the library.

*

trainwreckTrainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear…and Why is a historical and pop-cultural look at the women who’ve stirred up shit from the margins and who (as Doyle posits) may have actually been prophets but it’s just that the world wasn’t ready yet. (Billie Holiday on rape culture, anyone?)

I needed a bit of levity these last few days, but also some more context as to how we’ve arrived here, and this book offered both. Why do we set up women to fail with impossible standards, and then decide it’s our job to punish them, to destroy them, when they do?

What the trainwreck shows us, Doyle writes, is that “in a sexist culture, being female is an illness for which there is no cure.”

*

Which bring us to here.

And no, no, no. I’m still not having any of that.

November 11, 2016

We All Count.

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Turning to books for comfort and wisdom this week. This gorgeous title is one of my favourites. At our play school’s blog, I’ve made a list called Picture Books for a Better World, of which We All Count is a part.

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