The Diary of a Young Girl,Anne Frank. If you are like me and somehow made it through high school without having read this book, DO YOURSELF A FAVOR. Read it. Make sure you read the unabridged version, where they left in all the catty things she says about her attic-mates. Because to me, the statement, “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart,” is that much more moving when taken in the context of her day-to-day anger and intense frustration about her life, a context that includes passages like, “Mother thinks that Mrs. van D is too stupid for words, Margot that she’s too unimportant, Pim that she’s too ugly (literally and figuratively!), and after long observation (I’m never prejudiced at the beginning), I’ve come to the conclusion that she’s all of the above, and lots more besides. She has so many bad traits, why should I single out just one of them?”
“Stone Mattress,” by Margaret Atwood. In this story a woman kills her rapist with a rock. Call me a misandrist (j/k, please don’t call me that), but I found it satisfying.
News from Nowhere, William Morris. Read for class. It made me pretty sleepy. I did laugh at the parts where Morris’s utopia turns out to be one wherein women do all the housework, because—as the narrator is told in so many words—women love housework! Duh!
Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Hilarious early twentieth century depiction of dumb bros.
Matched, Ally Condie. This is the first book I read for my teenage girl protagonists in contemporary dystopian YA novels paper. It was fine. My main complaint is that it’s a love triangle between one boring girl and two significantly more boring dudes, and the girl seriously can’t choose between them. “They’re both so nice and smart and brave but one is brown-haired and the other is not!” is the gist of the love triangle. Dull. Note to writers of love triangles: Always make at least one of guys a werewolf.
We, Yevgeny Zamyatin. This made me sleepy as well. Sorry, literature.
Quicksand and Passing, Nella Larsen. This has been sitting on my shelf since forever and because it was Black History Month and also because I had to read something that was not a dystopian novel lest I go crazy, I finally read it. It’s great! It’s just two novellas about black women living in Harlem and other places during the 1920s and dealing with awful shit. They’re beautifully written and you should pick them up when you get a chance.
“Girls Only," Karen Shepard. Last month when I complained about the dude-centric issues of One Story I had read, Steev Gillies reassured me by pointing out that the next one was literally titled “Girls Only.” I liked this story a lot! There were unlikeable characters whom I still somehow liked, and the dynamics of female friendship, and a chilling rape sequence, and a musical number set to “Brass in Pocket.”
Bumped, Megan McCafferty. The second book I read for my paper. I have to say that I kind of love this novel? There’s a lot of pure silliness, like a identical twin mixup plotline that just made my heart sink once it started, and some really grating faux-slang, but all in all it was brisk and funny and contains a pretty smart, teen-friendly discussion about girls and sex and the various ways in which they’re exploited.
“Creative Writing,” Etgar Kerret. Etgar Kerret is real good and all, but mostly this made me think about how much I am dreading AWP, which I have to get ready to leave for, like, now, so see you guys.
Ganz: In Episode 308, we had that thing about Shirley not wanting to get the “sassy note.” You had said to me that that had happened to you once.
Brown: Female friends that are in my tribe, black girls, we all have stories about that. We find interesting ways to make [directors] tell us to be sassy because they know that it’s racist. I say, “Can you show me how to do that?” They don’t want to do a black version of sassy, so then they move on.
Brie: You could say the same thing too about Danny [Pudi] and Abed. I mean you know Danny’s played four or five Sanjays.
Brown: It’s ridiculous.
Brie: Even still he’ll get called in for auditions and they’ll be like, “Can you do the accent?” We get to do different things in every episode, and it’s not just about gender or race. It’s about having well-rounded characters and a wide range of adventures so that we’re just never playing the same thing.
Brown: That’s what’s great about the show in general. Around [the study-room] table, you have a racist, a feminist, a black chick. There are all different types of people here, but we all keep coming back to the table.
“To be honest, I felt hysterical: that Victorian word for the tantrums of unstable estrogen-addled women, but that I know actually describes a rage forcibly contained, the hot burn of the involuntary tears, the snap in your composure when you are told for the millionth time that what you feel or think or say or do does not matter. I thought that complex, nuanced, funny, difficult, despicably lovable characters were the emblem of a good writer, not evidence of the insecure woman thieving our sympathies through sneaky writer-succubus tricks. And yet one hundred and fifty years after Edith Wharton wrote a number of canonical, excellent books, some rich white straight dude gets paid—what does the New Yorker pay for that kind of piece, like ten grand?—gets paid like ten grand to come to the riveting, breathtaking conclusion that she might be human, and maybe even A Writer, like him?”—
I am really behind on my New Yorkers (cool thing to say) and so I haven’t read the piece in question yet. The piece is by That Guy I’ve mentioned here probably too much already, whose name I will not write again for fear he has a Google Alert set up and will misinterpret my intense dislike for him as breathless preoccupation. Needless to say, it is crazy as balls to bring up the physical appearance of a writer in your critical analysis of said writer, but it happens to women all the time. If you want to argue that it happens to all writers, find me a New Yorker article written by a lady in which she points out that Mark Twain could have been way hotter, and I will renounce feminism as a way of life (no, I won’t, but you could still try to find an article like that).
Anyway, if you’re reading this blog, you probably already know this shit is disgusting, so go read Clark’s response because it’s exhilarating.
This essay hits a little too close to home. Recently I realized that the one thing my manuscript is seriously missing is a story about all-consuming fan love, a serious component of my girlhood. But maybe there’s a whole novel in the fact that, as Macgregor puts it, “some girls just want to go apeshit.”
The other day I saw that E!’s red carpet countdown starts at 1:30 p.m. rather than the traditional noon, and I said, “This is bullshit!” out loud and I think in the future when they write epic poems about our relationship, that will be the moment they record as the one in which Kevin lost all respect for me.
Just now in class I couldn’t concentrate for the last hour because I was thinking about the champagne I will drink and the buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese I will eat and the inane things Kelly Osbourne will say and the feelings I will feel about those things.
This quote from Judy Blume makes no sense: “I don’t like pretension, and I found [‘Tree of Life’] very pretentious. [But] you know what I liked about that movie? I loved the little family drama that was inside it, the scene of Jessica Chastain jumping on the bed with the little boys when the husband was out of town. I thought, this is the movie I wish I was here seeing.” Because that’s what The Tree of Life is about, right? What exactly is pretentious about The Tree of Life, is what I’m asking. The dinosaurs? The whispering? When people are like, “Ugh, The Tree of Life is pretentious,” I’m like, “Ugh, your face.” PUT THAT ON THE POSTER, MALICK.
Here are some movies I really loved from this year which are not nominated for Best Picture: Bridesmaids, Attack the Block, Contagion, Martha Marcy May Marlene, 50/50, Young Adult, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Jane Eyre, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two. Yeah, I said it.
As has been the case every year since I started caring about this thing (which—let’s be clear here—was in 1998 when Titanic won because it was ZOMG my favorite movie of all time), I am going to be beside myself with excitement until Sunday morning, and absolutely sick of everything about the Academy Awards by, oh, let’s say, forty-five minutes into the telecast. Billy Crystal’s face! Endless montages! Rooney Mara’s severe haircut! Everyone’s opinions but my own! The worst. The best!
My manuscript is starting to feel like a real book, with themes and a title and everything. The title of the book is the title of this blog post. I didn’t come up with it; my committee chair did. She found it in the story where the girl falls in love with wax FDR. Wax FDR finds her crying and she says it’s just girl stuff, and wax FDR says it’s human stuff. Girl stuff is human stuff, is the thesis of my collection of short stories. Would you want to read a book that posits this?
I am putting so much of myself into this revision that it hurts. I am listening to The Animals sing “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.” I am missing everybody I’ve ever met. Is this normal? I kind of don’t care one way or the other. Girl, there’s a better life for me and you.
In the first or second grade I sent a fan letter to the set of Full House and a few months later got, in return, a postcard with a picture of the cast on it and a message like, “Thanks for watching!” (and not “Why don’t you come guest-star in a three-episode arc as Michelle’s sassy but adorable new best friend?” which is what I had been, in truth, expecting [I also had dreams that they’d make a sequel to the movie Man of the House starring JTT and I could star as his girlfriend oh god why am I telling you this]) and I hung it on my bulletin board but first poked Lori Loughlin’s eyes out with a thumbtack, because I was obviously in love with Uncle Jesse.
“I think that’s one of the hard parts about being a teenager is you’re just old enough to see all the holes in the adult world around you. But you’re growing up anyway. And you’re not old enough to have any positive substitute, so it’s very bleak. So you don’t feel powerful enough to create an alternative reality, but you’re smart enough to see there’s so much wrong with the world your parents have created that you’re not eager to participate, you don’t want to join. It’s what makes adolescents so apocalyptic.”—Lionel Shriver