Sunday, November 23, 2014

Franzen, lady writers, and self-censorship

This short post is an interesting assessment of Jonathan Franzen's career, warts and all.

I can't talk about Franzen without losing what little feminist credibility I have, so I'm not even going to pretend to be unbiased. He and I share the same hometown, and, I think, we share a somewhat contentious relationship to said town. I count The Corrections, a late-20th century, pre-9/11 doorstop of a novel, among my favorites. Freedom I liked too, but books about aging gen-x'ers are candy for me, so it's not like I read it with a critical eye. (I liked Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings more, for what it's worth.) Unfortunately, most of the criticism I've read in the past few years wasn't of his work, but of his white guy entitlement, which has more to do with the lack of parity among male and female writers in the world of serious literature. Franzen is an easy scapegoat. His -- and it pains me to write such an inglorious phrase -- "lady issues" seem more foot-in-mouth than malevolent.

For this one, scan to the part about self-censoring.

It's baffling to me that a reader would think that an author would necessarily endorse her character's racist views. Call me idealistic, but I don't think readers are that daft. I've written many time about the dangers of self-censorship, particularly for novice writers, and the hell of culling through your words for even the slightest offense. I think art should be off limits -- at least in the production stage. It's not a popular opinion anymore, but I'll live with it.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Links & Bits: 11/21/14

Bill Cosby's upcoming series has been canceled due to rape allegations.

Flavorwire wants you to know these 10 female outsider artists.

Are skinny women allowed to hate their bodies?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Normal" Barbies, complete with zits, tattoos

Pft, I was drawing zits, freckles, scars, and tattoos on my dolls thirty years ago. Color me revolutionary. (Note: I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one. Dragging my Ken dolls was another story.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ferguson Updates

As of this writing, we're stil awaiting the grand jury's decision, but governor Jay Nixon has preemptively declared a state of emergency, while protests continue in Ferguson and around the St. Louis area. Here are some of latest links:

Raw Story: Missouri governor declares state of emergency ahead of Ferguson grand jury decision

Colorlines: 75 Planned Actions For Darren Wilson Grand Jury Decision

In These Times: Whether Darren Wilson Is Indicted Or Not, The Entire System Is Guilty

Gawker: Man Releases Video of Confrontation With Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Leslie Feinberg, R.I.P.

Leslie Feinberg, author of Stone Butch Blues and Drag Queen Dreams died this week at the age of 65 from complications from Lyme Disease and other tick-born infections. From AfterEllen:
Leslie was best known as the author of Stone Butch Blues, a legendary novel about a working class butch woman who struggled to find herself as she worked in factories and blue collar jobs in the 1960s. Part autobiography, the book introduced Leslie as a pivotal voice in the LGBT movement when the book came out in 1994, and has continued to be cited as one of the most important pieces of written work about lesbian women.
R.I.P.

Monday, November 17, 2014

NaNoWriMo, Week Three

Entering week three. So far, on time. NaNo novels are ridiculous by nature, so I'm letting this one be ridiculous (instead of trying to create literature or something).

Another thing that's a bit of a challenge is having enough political acumen to know that not everything I'm writing is "politically correct," but not wanting to stop the flow to check over every word for possible offense. I don't think writers should concern themselves with social justice -- at least not during the drafting stage.