Tuesday, February 1, 2011

literature's androgynous name game, sci-fi & media


I feel like such an idiot. Ever since I was tagged in a post asking me to name fifteen of my favorite authors, and felt like shit because they were all virtually white and male, I've been trying to get more lady writers in my head for the new year.

I've been going to the library and checking out stacks of books penned by women: Grace Paley, Ann Beattie, even to go so far as including: A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert, which I have to admit I'm a little bit intimidated by. So then why am I an idiot? I checked out the Loved One by Evelin Waugh--is why, thinking he was a woman.
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I'm so embarrassed for myself I don't even know what to do now. This is worse than the time I flabbergastedly found out Harper Lee was a woman, and felt shame for my shock.

I tried reading the book anyway; I thought: it's short, why not? Waugh's a prolific writer; he penned Brideshead Revisited, Love Among the Ruins. Sadly, after the first few pages I had to put it down.
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Not only am I avoiding white, male writing, but I'm also avoiding thoroughly unmodern, or inapplicable writing to boot. Talks about knitted bow-ties and quick-change artists of vaudeville, in that sense don't do anything for me. If I was a burlesque dancer into antiques who felt as though she was born forty years too late...maybe.
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But I'm not. I'm more of a sci-fi chick who feels like the world around me is more dated-looking than it should be. I was one of those kids in the eighties, who thought for sure by the 2010's we'd be driving floating cars in silver rompers.

Now, at this rate, it looks like that'll never happen; our cars still resemble rubber and aluminum artifacts from forever ago, while people roll around moaning at any changes they have to make to accommodate progress, comfortable to see things as their parents saw them, spoonfed and anesthetized by the pulp trash we call news media.
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Tangents aside, I should walk to the library and get a new stack of books while the sun is out and the air is warm. It's early February in Los Angeles, and I'm not taking for granted the fact that it's 60 degrees and sunny when the rest of the country is worried about snow.
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3 comments:

Her Majesty said...

Hi Sabra, long time! Say... I read that you are seeking female authors. Here are a couple of recommendations: Anne Carson 'Autobiography of Red' and by Banana Yoshimoto: 'Asleep', 'Kitchen', and 'Lizard'. It's late, my brain hurts, but these are a few that come to mind. Enjoy!

-Anna "Your Favorite Quantum Physicist" Caramanna :P

Sabra Embury said...

Hi Anna, thank you!

I've placed those books on my "to read" list. Can't wait to see what they're all about.

David Streever said...

I know this is well old, but if you're looking for good women writers, this is a good time for it.

Rachel Kushner just had the excellent (and short) novel 'The Flamethrowers'.

Eleanor Catton won the Man-Booker for The Luminaries; it's long and convoluted. I loved it; it's not very modern.

Donna Tartt recently published The Goldfinch, which I enjoyed, but The Little Friend is maybe more what you're looking for; she wrote it 10 years ago.

J. Courtney Sullivan is usually listed as 'chick-lit' but her writing is very good; I'd say it's as serious as anything a man is writing now, and it's just sexism that gets her listed that way. 'Maine' was really good.

Hillary Mantel is great. She's a british writer; I loved 'A Change of Climate' by her. Of course, she's really popular now for her Wolf Hall trilogy, which is about Thomas Cromwell & set during Henry VIII's reign; obviously, not contemporary. Still amazing.

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