Book Review


All sixteen years of it, begging to be immortalized in black on a white pages.

I shouldn’t poke fun except at the lunacy behind the notion that a 16-year-old teen idol with a combover has anything to add to life’s discourse that he couldn’t just croon to little girls who will outgrow his feminine-tinged attractiveness soon enough.

Dee expressed mild interest in Justin “Beaver” recently. Her best friend, Tina, let her listen to the collection of Bieber tunes on her iPod.

“The other kids on the bus make fun of her and say that Beaver sucks,” Dee commented.

We were watching a clip of the boy on You Tube. He is very young and not the least bit masculine in the way of most teen idols. I remember a distinct preference for slightly girly boys myself when I was young – longish hair, trendy dress, no facial or chest hair. My, how I have grown up.

“Well,” I said, “what do you think?”

“I think his music is okay,” she said.  She did not comment on the boy himself. This past year she has abandoned her chatter about boyfriends and husbands and even babies.  She is “just friends” with boys because she is “too young to date” and anyway “I am never getting married or having babies.  I will have a dog instead. Only after you are gone, Mom, because of your allergies.”

I didn’t query about where I might be going.

“You don’t have to like the music that other kids like,” I said. “If you like his music, then don’t worry about what other kids think.”

“Oh, ” she said, “I don’t. That’s just what kids tell Tina. That Justin Beaver sucks.”

Dee begged for Miley Cyrus‘s autobiography, which interestingly was written when she was sixteen as well. A milestone year for the too famous/too early crowd. I don’t think she’ll be asking Santa for the Life of Bieber for Christmas though.


Seated Yoga Meditation - mantra

Rebecca Traister has a book out, disseminating the 2008 Presidential election in the U.S. and its beneficial fallout for women.

Mostly it retreads the worn “old lady feminists versus younger women” wars. I am sure you remember. Women of a certain age support Clinton while the youthful and hip females supported Obama. It’s generational twaddle that misses the point on both ends. The bra-burning demo can’t understand the lack of gratitude and reluctance to carry a torch that handed women as many new issues as it alleviated – temporarily – old ones. Younger women, on the other hand, are too complacent and too eager to look at the side-effects of the women’s rights movement as “improvements” when the reality is that we are still as second class as we ever were – our cages are just roomier and furnished with IKEA.

But that’s not what I want to talk about.

Jezebel interviewed Traister and asked the following:

J: Instead, you write, what ended up galvanizing young women and others around Hillary was seeing how she was treated in the media… It’s still amazing to go back and watch that footage. It’s interesting that these were mostly older guys on MSNBC and Fox, and yet you also argue that there was also sexism among younger male Obama supporters when it came to Hillary.

And Traister rehashed the sexist old codgers at the major news outlets but added this bit about younger men that really annoyed me:

RT: At the time, I wrote about what I perceived as a complicated misogynist vibe coming from some of the young male Obama devotees in the last stages of the primary cycle. I think one of the reasons that I was so struck by it — and this is not to give some pass to all younger men — is that there is such a marked generational change among men. There’s more of an awareness of gender, they’re often raised by feminist moms and working moms. Men who are [at least] used to the idea of equally splitting domestic duties; they’re active fathers.

I had actually come to expect much more from young men. We’re very lucky to live with a new generation of men, and I think our kids will be luckier still. But this was an instance in which some old attitudes seemed to bubble up among younger men.

What?

Why are we so lucky exactly? Men are granting us the rights that were ours all along anyway, and we should be grateful? That men are finally actively raising their own children, picking up a tiny bit of the housework slack and not total douches á la Mad Men? We should be grateful when men behave as though the women in their lives are valuable, smart, and they are damn lucky that anyone so awesome would agree to share a bed with them? Gratitude for what simply should be?

Give me a break.

I’m not going to pat a guy on the head and say “good boy” for doing something he should do without thought.

Like Obama.

Man‘s done so little for women that I can’t fathom any woman voting for him in 2012 without getting in writing how he plans to show his gratitude.

I can’t speak for all women, or any women at all really, but I am done with the grateful. All the “nots” on the list of what should be “givens” for females puts “grateful” in an harsh ugly light, but isn’t that the way of reality?


Garden Spells Collage for blog

Image by The Daring Librarian via Flickr

OPHELIA (from Hamlet, Act IV scene IX)

There’s fennel for you, and columbines.—There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me. We may call it “herb of grace” o’ Sundays.—Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference.—There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died. They say he made a good end (sings) For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy
That’s one of my favorite bits from Hamlet. I have favorites within Hamlet. I just think the character is a pathetic whinger.
It’s the symbols. I love symbolism. In this case flowers and herbs are likely as medicinal as they were moral rebukes though 16th century folk aren’t likely to have benefitted much from herbs. The church had done a good job of demonizing anyone (and by “one”, I mean “woman”) who practiced medicine via herbs.
I thought about Ophelia‘s little monologue when I sat down to write about the book, Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, because one of the main characters practices a form of magic using plants and herbs she grows in her back yard garden.
It’s a delicious little read. Southern simmered and magically realistic, it centers on the Waverly family and the strange magic that emanates through them via their family roots – figuratively and from their enchanted garden.
The garden is a hoot. It writes thank you notes and is watched over by a petulant apple tree that throws its fruit at people, trying to get them to eat of it and dream about the greatest moment in their lives.
Something that the Waverly family strives to prevent. The sisters scold the tree and bury the apples that it throws. Eating them is no joke because the greatest moments in the lives of most people are their deaths.
In typical women’s literature fashion, there are rivalries and man trouble. Sex looms and lives are … not so much transformed but freed of self-restraint and resumed.
I don’t want to say too much more and give it away as the story is formulaic enough that it telegraphs a tad bit more than it should, but I throughly enjoyed it. Coming in at 286 pages, it’s light and warm and perfect for the late summer.