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The Spearhead on Lady Lit 3: Electric Boogaloo

This baby knows more about contemporary women's fiction than all Spearhead contributors combined. (As does the kitten.)

There are really few things quite so entertaining as watching people as ignorant as a box of pig shit offering their opinions on literature. Especially when the people in question are W.F. Price and his gang of misfit boys at The Spearhead, who are back for yet another take on the whole Women’s Lit question.

At this point I’ve run out of jokes on this particular subject, so I’m just going to let Mr. Price dig his own hole here. Here he is, trying to argue that feminism has made terrible lady writers even terribler.*

[I]t appears that since feminism’s triumph, female achievement in the higher arts has deteriorated substantially. When women no longer have to excel to be read and recognized, but simply have to advertise the fact that they are women to be celebrated for dubious achievements, they won’t put as much effort into producing anything of quality. So the sorry state of women today is a direct result of feminist privilege, which absolves them of all responsibility and deflects any criticism. …

Yes, feminism has wrecked Western womanhood, reducing the young women of today to spoiled brats who can’t take a hint of criticism, and immediately turn to authorities to bolster their self-esteem. No woman can be too fat to be beautiful, too dense to be intelligent, or too dull to be creative. They are all equally super-duper goddesses, before whom men must genuflect and heap up mounds of praise.

Price of course gives no examples to back up any of his, er, “arguments,” and somehow I suspect he hasn’t actually read any fiction written by women beyond an odd title or two he might have been assigned in high school. I wonder if Price could even name a half-dozen living woman novelists without having to resort to Google — excluding JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer and Jackie Collins (who hasn’t heard of them?) and Harper Lee (who wasn’t assigned To Kill a Mockingbird in high school?).

*I am aware that “terribler” is not a real world.

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Ami Angelwings
11 years ago

I can’t rly recommend much sci-fi/fantasy (and I have a real soft spot for the Tek novels, no matter what ppl might think or laugh at Shatner and the silliness of the novels xD I find them fun 😀 And the show being filmed in Toronto, and me knowing Eugene Clark as a kid, I think adds to that xD ) except Black Blade Blues by J.A. Pitts which is pretty fun and the main char is awesome 😀 (and a gay woman! :3 )

But I can recommend some dramatic non-fiction 🙂 Mostly of the sports kind xD Searching for Bobby Orr and Gretzky’s Tears by Stephen Brunt are amazing… he makes sports culture and business dramatic and fun, and weaves the interviews and information he gathered into something akin to fiction writing :]

Also I really enjoyed Fantasyland and Moneyball (both involving the whole statistics vs qualitative analysis thing in baseball) and if anybody’s a boxing fan, Brunt’s “Facing Ali” is amazing. And a book I just read “Sports From Hell” by Rick Reilly which is WAY more than the sum of it’s parts, which I thought was just gonna be mocking weird sports around the world, but he doesn’t mock at all :]

It’s actually rly fun and enjoyable, and he’s a genuinely funny guy, and he doesn’t mock the sports at all, and in fact you get to really know and appreciate the sport and the ppl who play it and how these are ppl who aren’t millionaires enjoying sports that aren’t famous b/c they ENJOY it and b/c they are competitive 🙂 And his experience with women’s pro football is also extremely well written and would prolly infuriate the types of ppl who need to believe that all women are fragile barbie dolls that even the weakest of men could crack open xD

I prolly am kinda on an island here, but those are some books I recommend 😀

ithiliana
ithiliana
11 years ago

Go, Trekkies!

The Unofficial ST Book Club 595 Books.

LISTS, lists of all of them, bwahahahah!

http://www.startrekbookclub.com/category/tos/tos-numbered-books/

Ami: Finally, VONDA MCINTYRE’s Trek novels (she did movie novelizations and also stand alone ones).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vonda_N._McIntyre

Um, and her original sff is good too — she has a great series with a totally queer polyamorous group and (SHOCK AMAZEMENT) a fat woman protagonist who is totally awesome.

Bee
Bee
11 years ago

Oh man, “The Enormous Egg”! I loved that book. And Amazon just took me on a little linky trip through “Homer Price,” “The Great Brain,” and “Dorrie the Witch.”

If people wouldn’t think I was a big weirdo, I’d totally put myself in the children’s section of the library tomorrow and just nostalge all over the place.

ithiliana
ithiliana
11 years ago

Ami: actually the TNG books I loved best had Q — I adore Q — OMG Q! I love the show, mind you, but the novels never really grabbed me the way some of the TOS ones did.

Especially beause of too much attention paid to (blech) Ryker and Troi, blech, and their awesome sauce romance *hairballcoff*

Ami Angelwings
11 years ago

@ithiliana I prolly would like her original work! :] Cuz I got to like her as an author through her Spider-Man trilogy (which are awesome, I haven’t seen nebody novel, movie, tv or comic book, write Peter, MJ and Venom that well) and so it’s not even Star Trek for why I like her! 😀

Thanks for the reccs! 😀

ithiliana
ithiliana
11 years ago

Bee, since everybody on my campus knows I’m a weirdo, I am so hitting our curriculum library (one of best in the state)–and I’d totally forgotten Homer Price.

But one of my TOTALLY FAVORITE books ever, and I still own a copy is THE WITCH FAMILY.

OMG I WANT TO READ THAT NOW.

http://inneedofchocolate.wordpress.com/2008/04/19/the-witch-family-by-eleanor-estes/

ithiliana
ithiliana
11 years ago

Ami: I love Duane’s SPIDERMAN novels as well (I was a huge fan of the comic strip Spidey).

And, well, all her stuff. Duane.

Easily in my top three writers EVAH.

*happy sigh*

Ami Angelwings
11 years ago

@ithiliana Yeah… I always hated that ppl kept wanting to put them back together : I LOVED the WorfxTroi thing at the end of TNG, and I always wanted them to end up together and happy 🙂 Esp since Troi is alrdy basically a mother to Alexander :] And I felt like Riker/Troi back together was so forced and (certain) fanservice :

I also always rly liked that they were an example of a break up where ppl were mature adults and ended up as rly great close friends who didn’t get jealous or upset and were supportive :]

ithiliana
ithiliana
11 years ago

Nobby: I loved the second movie (if brought together elements of the second and third books, if I recall correctly), and I thought they did a brilliant job of adapting it, and the Oz world was so much realistic. It’s too bad it didn’t get much attention–I guess everybody just fixates on first one.

Hippodameia
Hippodameia
11 years ago

Vonda McIntyre also did a wonderful alternative history piece set in the court of Louis XIV. (1638-1715) It’s called “The Moon and the Sun” and it’s absolutely fantastic.

I remember “The Enormous Egg!”

Ami Angelwings
11 years ago

AUGH

my internet hiccuped 🙁 David can you get rid of the 1st and 3rd posts? 🙂

ithiliana
ithiliana
11 years ago

Ami: re librarians. That’s an amazing stories.

I’m actually a huge fan of all librarians–the ones in a small town in Idaho in the 1960s are not and probably were not representative of the profession. I suspect there was some small town politicing going on (i.e. a lot of women who worked at the high school and the library and other places in town were married to men who were faculty at my dad’s university, and feuds–and the man could get into feuds–often resulted in crappy stuff happening). I just remember that so much because it was this horrible accusation about something I loved more than anything else, and it seemed so unfair! And I would never lie about books!!!!

Hippodameia
Hippodameia
11 years ago

“Return to Oz” was a wonderful movie. “Ozma of Oz,” which made up the bulk of “Return to Oz,” is my favorite Oz book.

Did anyone else read Tove Jansson’s Moomin books? I’ve always loved them.

ithiliana
ithiliana
11 years ago

Hippodameia: I ADORE “The Moon and the Sun” (there was a lot of bullshitting from the military Alternate history dudes about how that wasn’t alternate HIStory that made me want to smack a lot of them)–what McIntyre did with that novel was so incredible.

A friend and I want to team teach an alternate history creative writing class–she’ll do history and how to “alternate” it, and I’ll do the creative writing stuff. Now if we could just get some more time.

Bee
Bee
11 years ago

“Did anyone else read Tove Jansson’s Moomin books?”

YES! That’s another one I should look up, when I get up the nerve to stalk the children’s section. And The Borrowers series. And of course “The Phantom Tollbooth.” I’m totes going to have to work my way up to Robert Cormier, I think …

I remember when books were like my friends. It sounds kind of sad, but it’s giving me the warm and fuzzies right now.

Johnny Pez
11 years ago

@ ithiliana

For your alt-hist project, I recommend So You Want to Write a Timeline by the folks at the soc.history.what-if newsgroup.

PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth
PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth
11 years ago

*surfaces for another plug for our Manboobz Forum on http://www.librarything.com*

Also, if you know anything about that VS Naipaul person, please comment on if he is a Dbag or an out of control ego.

ithiliana
ithiliana
11 years ago

A few comments on GRRMartin’s SONG OF ICE AND FIRE — I was reading about it the other day on one of the other threads, but I was in a bad headspace there and did not trust myself to answer. I hadn’t read any of Martin’s work, and picked up SOIAF only when I heard Sean Bean was cast in the HBO series.

While it will never be my favorite book (and I’d recommend Kate Elliott’s medievaliesque fantasies as much more innovative and excellent), GRRM does some very good things in that series that make it stand out from the generic fat medieval fantasies:

His multiple points of view

It’s hard to pull of that many pov shifts, with that many pov characters, and I think he does a superb job–all the more amazing in that so many of the sections are so short, so there is this cumulative effect that builds over time.

The other result of the shifting pov is his ability to show us characters through other characters’ eyes, and then show us the world and events from their own perspectives which can make shifts: Jamie Lannister, in the first novel (which has a lot of Stark viewpoints) seems a right bastard.

And while he’ll never be the Golden Hero, once we get into his head, learn his experiences, and see events from his perspective, my sense of him shifted, radically). This shift was true for many of the characters.

One problem in works with multiple points of view if the narrative is not well crafted is that too many of the different characters’ sections sound alike–GRRM writes entirely in third person omniscient (I’m not sure there is any example of an intrusive narrator–the narrative voice stepping into the story to explain things to the reader without being in the perspective of a pov charcter), but each “voice” in each section is unique–and stays consistent over time. His characters are memorable.

Women. He has a lot of women characters, and while a number of us have pointed to the number of rapes, I don’t see the rapes as being written to sexually titillate the default male reader. The rapes are horrifying; the abuse if horrifying, but many male characters are abused as well. I’d have to wait until the series is done (and yes, I have reserved my copy of Dance With Dragons to pick up July 12 YAY), to evaluate how well or badly his narrative handles the rapes.

The range of women characters is impressive–and I am drawn to a number of them and can appreciate others (Sansa) through their arc.

I do have a sneaking sense when I last read it (only second time around) that a few too many of the Major Disasters of the plot were initiated by actions of the women–but I’d have to do a lot more re-reading and note taking and study the pattern more before I’d want to argue that as any more than sneaking feeling.

Fans call his work grimdark–and it is.

I also like how his narrative shows the horrific impact of the war between the feuding houses has on the peasants, the food growing portion of the population.

He based the conflict on one of the historical British noble conflicts–cannot remember which–lancaster and york? And while his main characters are still mostly drawn from the noble houses, there is an awareness there of the commons, the townspeople, the peasants, that a lot of your standard medfantasy doesn’t have (David Eddings is an example of that, with his occasional unnamed peasant boy playing a flute).

Martin shows the impact the war has on the land and the people who farm it–adn shows how the ongoing brutality of war affects the men (knights and others) who end up more or less “outlaws” preying on anybody regardless of their affiliation.

I appreciate how Martin does NOT in fact glorify war–quite the opposite.

*SPOILER ALERT*****
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This is speculation, but the way the narrative is structured, it’s clear that the REAL threat are the White Walkers and the long winter–and the fact that all the Big Manly Noble Males are squabbling with each other and fighting over who gets to be KING when the threat is growing, when the fortresses along the wall have lapsed from 18 to 3, when the Wildings are moving south because of the threat, there’s the very real chance that the Seven Kingdoms will have very little chance of fighting off the REAL threat because of their petty little House wars.

And given what happened in the fourth book with Dany, and the propecy, and the fact that only fire can take out the Ice Zombies (as I affectionately call them), and only obsidian/volcano glass can take out the White Walkers (and who better to get a bunch of obsidian from a volcano area than Dragons, hmm), I’d be willing to bet a nickle that by the end, Dany may end up ruler of the kingdoms because she’s the last one standing (heh), and also I notice that she’s the only one of all the Manly Men (with the exception of Ned Stark who SAD SIGH was killed in book 1) who seems to give a damn about what it takes to be a good ruler as opposed to a good warrior. I think a lot of Martin’s narrative undercuts the “good warrior hero” equates to GOOD KING in many many ways.

So there are lots of reasons to say that Martin’s work in this series so far is good in the sense of narrative technique, avoiding stale cliches of the genre, and doing interesting things with ideas of power and gender. But of course a lot depends on how he carries it out in the rest of the series.

ithiliana
ithiliana
11 years ago

Erm, should rephrase that: Dany is the only one of the nobles from a ruling family besides Ned Stark who actually thinks about how to be a good ruler — didn’t mean to imply she’s a Manly Man — I admit to a sneaking glee about how her obnoxious brother was killed. It’s 11:30 pm here. I really should head toward bed…

Ami Angelwings
11 years ago

Have a good sleep! 😀

Lady Victoria von Syrus
Lady Victoria von Syrus
11 years ago

Yay, Game of Thrones! Please please please come over to LibraryThing so we can start up a thread about GoT!

that a few too many of the Major Disasters of the plot were initiated by actions of the women

The event which drives most of the plot, I think, would be Robert’s Rebellion, a reaction to Rhaegar kidnapping and raping Lyanna Stark, which happened 15 years before the plot even happens. And Mance Raydar is responsible for quite a bit, as well. Mad King Aerys would have been responsible for quite a bit of carnage if Jaime hadn’t stabbed him, and even the Battle on the Blackwater was a pissed off Stannis Baratheon vs Joffrey Bara – Lannister.

That being said, the text indicates that, when it comes to children who are incapable of ruling, one of the reasons why they are so incapable is that their mothers (Lysa Arryn, Cersei Lannister, etc) are overinvolved. Catelyn had to force herself to give Robb space, and Dany grew up without any kind of mother at all.

Pecunium
11 years ago

No one looks at authors other than the biggies who’ve made a name for themselves by consistently writing good books. This is definitely true.

This is provably false, because I exist, and I look at authors. I am very prone to looking for books by little known authors I’ve enjoyed.

Having spent a significant chunk of time (my family has been selling books since I was 13, so for about ten years I was working in a bookstore) I can state, categorically, that this is not true. An uncounted number of people have come to me and asked, “have you any books by ‘x’? I read (insert title here) and loved it, did s/he write anything else.”

In arms reach I have a book by Sarah Ruden, four by Lois McMasters Bujold, three by Elizabeth Bear, two by Rex Stout, one by John Mcphee. Past arms reach (i.e. not in the nightstand) are about 25 linear feet of books. I have another 1,500, or so, in boxes, ready to move to New Jersey.

Pecunium
11 years ago

ithiliana: That’s a great CV. I know several people who would be very interested in some of that (serious slashfans), even though most of it is tangiental to my personal interests.

Color me impressed.

footnotegirl
footnotegirl
11 years ago

Ithiliana, I was about to throw down about the librarian comment (being one myself) until you pointed out the many years ago and small town thing. Whew.
Though I will note that a teacher once insisted that I’d lied about reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books in 2nd grade and insisted that I not be allowed to read any book over 100 pages for book reports because, obviously, anything more would be beyond me. So there!
Nowadays, librarians are more likely to be criticized for giving out books that certain individuals think are not appropriate, which sucks.

Also:
NWOSlave, if you only read books once and then never look at them again, why in the world are you buying them? Why not just go to your local library, borrow them for free, and then return them and not be stuck with them?

darksidecat
11 years ago

My hometown did not have a library in the 60s, period. The public library was created in the 80s through a gift given by the surviving partner of a rather notorious local lesbian, and runs purely on her endowment and on donations, making it rather immune from the county government squabling that causes trouble in some places. When the library was first created, its main bulk of books came from the deceased woman’s collection, so there was quite a bit of interesting material there (including a collection of Rita Mae Brown books). The librarians who set the policies, therefore, tended to be hard nosed old women who were perfectly willing to deal with scandal-their response to attempts to censor anything was always-“if you don’t like it, read something else”. They never discouraged reading-in fact they actually had classes to teach adults and children how to read, and how to fill out job applications, do basic math-they teach basic computer skills these days too. One taught me how to use a dictionary when I was five and asked her which book would tell me what the word “ire” meant. They are a wonderful group of women and the library was always a very safe space for me.

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