Friday, 24 March 2017

Bossy Boots Bookclub March Edition!!!

   Kicking off Bossy Boots Bookclub with two great books.

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. I liked this a lot. The imagery, maps and use of myth really connected with me. I liked also in my copy the pages were illustrated. I liked the main character a lot, and the people along the way. It's a good book, I would definitely recommend this.

   Dietland by Sarai Walker. This book has stayed with me long after I finished reading it. There is a lot of anger and violence in this book, and it is a strange and interesting world that is created. Mainly though I fell in love with Alicia Plum. This book treats fat people with respect and deals with fatness in a complex way. I liked how this book is divided in parts with different names, this is shared with the first book funnily enough. I was surprised by how this book unfolds. As I said it has stayed with me well after I finished it, so would definitely recommend reading it.  

   I am so glad that I've read both of these books. These books are so different, it was an odd experience going from one so vastly different world to the other. I got used to it and I begin to like it.

   An adjustment to the schedule. My library has only one copy of Fruit of the Lemon by Andrea Levy, and I am the second person in line to request it. I am just not going to get the copy in enough time, so there is a change of plans.

   New order:

  Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye.

  I have written about my deep love of Jane Eyre in all it's versions, this as far as I can see is set in the same time period. I am intrigued by the murder aspect so I am looking forward to this.

   A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee.

  I have no real idea other than it's about lady spies in Victorian England what this book is going to be, and I am here for that.

   May is going to be what I've already picked and the Levy book (so three in total). Feel free to only pick one, I am being ambitious but I really do want to read Andrea Levy and it's only because of the reservation issue that it's not on the table for April. Happy reading!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Bossy Boots Bookclub Is Back!!!

   Bossy Boots Bookclub is back, I think it was on a message thread where I joked that I was acting like a Bossy Boots for something about this Bookclub. So I think it was Diva who said own it. So I have named this Bookclub after me owning me own bossiness, hurrah!

   So I have been totally remiss about picking books. I want to carry this on as it is really important to me. This open to anyone who wants to talk about books with me. As I have been really remiss I am picking two per month. Each book is posted about on the last Friday of the month.

   Here we go:

    March (to be posted on Friday the 24th March).

   Dietland by Sarai Walker.

   I know almost nothing about this book but the fact that it is about fatness and that makes me happy. Looking forward to diving into this one.

   The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

   I love the cover of this book. I also know almost nothing other than it's fantasy. I'm looking forward to it.


   A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee.

   I first found out about this from a tiny letter by @twobossydames on twitter. I really liked the Gail Carriger series with girl spies. I think this has a similar vibe about a girl who is also a spy. I have intentionally kept away from the plot. It looks intriguing.

   Fruit of the Lemon by Andrea Levy.

   I have been meaning to read Levy for a long time, so this is the time.


   Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho.

   From the book blurb it described it as a cross between  Georgette Heyer and Suzanna Clarke. I haven't read the Clarke book but sold!

   The Little Theatre by the Sea by Rosanna Ley.

   I am a fan of women starting their lives over and in a beautiful setting. Plus I know almost nothing about redoing a theatre. I am in.

   I am going to finish by talking about three books. Shrill by Lindy West I cannot recommend enough, the fat politics in this book made my heart happy. I love her sense of humour especially the joke about the whale. Her writing is insightful, sharp, and most of all funny. I liked it a lot.

    I Call Myself A Feminist ed. Amy Anette, Victoria Pepe, Martha Mosse, Alice Stride and Rachel Holmes, is a collection of Feminists all under the age of 30 writing about why they call themselves a Feminist. What I really appreciated about this book was it covers a lot of voices, and you can easily dip in and out. It made me happy over Christmas.

   No Kidding, Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood ed. by Henriette Mantel. Get this book, no really get this book like now. This book really made me happy, it's another collection of women, but all these women make people laugh for a living. It's an amazing book that just made me relax down to my soul over Christmas. An essay collection can sometimes seem a little hard I guess, but this is perfect for reading a few at a time. It's also got so many different perspectives on the issue that makes you think, no one story is the same. So good.


Critical Hat

   I was thinking this week about how much easier it is to dismiss something rather than engage critically with it. I was thinking about how I've done it in my own past. It is easier to just say this movie is garbage, or this book sucks.

   There is no arguing with that, it's just an insult fest. I guess if that's your thing go for it but it negates having a conversation. I think I'm thinking about it now because so many of these comments are directed at things that are marketed towards women, and women themselves.

   That picture makes me smile by the way. So I want to take a couple of examples. As Good As It Gets, it is easier just to say it's a movie that I thought was bad. It's not though, the problems I have with that movie are more complex. As a plot it's fine, I have seen plenty of movies like it, and probably will again. It's not offensive to the eyes, the dialogue isn't inherently bad.

   It is, however a film about an older man and a younger woman, a man that is offensive to most people around him. He is a romance writer who hates his audience (ARGH!!), and is given humanity by a woman. It's a movie that makes me mad on that level. I am not sure as an audience who we are supposed to root for, for me the tone is a problem and the performances do not move me. Art is subjective but the biggest thing about that movie is the contempt that comes off the screen for it's audience, plus a woman giving a man his purpose just makes me want to smash things.
   Suicide Squad, yes I saw this in the movie theatre. Now is this a bad movie? Depends on what metric you use, I thought the special effects were ok, there are plenty more silly premises and offensive scenes in other movies. I have not seen a lot of the darker comic book stuff that glorifies violence against women, and I mean glorifies in it. This isn't like that.

    Now a lot of people are getting on the how could this have won an Oscar? A lot more terrible people have won Oscars, and have done reprehensible things. This is just a movie that a lot of people didn't like. I am sure there will be many, many more. It also won for Make Up, that's not invalid.

   Getting to the actual movie, it's fine? It's not as bad as many an action movie I've seen. The plot made sense. The premise of bad guys uniting could have been interesting. So there are some things that made it hard to watch. First there seems to be a theme that women cannot be trusted with power. The witch has to be tamed by a man, and she is saved by love. That is insulting to me. Harley Quinn has her own issues, but again there is that theme that power corrupts women, men seem to in that movie be able to have their shit together, women nope.  

   Harley Quinn as a character I find hard to take. I think it's the romance of the characters that make this objectionable. Is it so radical for a woman to be a bad guy just because she is? No man had to romance her into it, she's just using her own power to fuck shit up on her volition. There is also a shot of Harley Quinn reading a romance novel, just have we not had enough think pieces about whether romance engenders bad, co-dependent romantic relationships, that corrupt women. Apparently not. It's not a small thing to me.

   This movie again it makes me angry at the depiction of women, because it didn't have to be like that. Quick thought, make all the characters women, and women of colour. No white women. Make the Joker a woman, make all the military women. Make Harley Quinn bad, she had no shitty relationship, or bad childhood, her motivation is I want to rule the world, and I am not doing it with niceness, fuck that I am going to become a Boss with an iron fist. Make the Witch also someone who wears the mask so she can commit evil, fuck all the people in her way. She wants to rule the world too. Now these two have a common goal and are destroying the city. How to stop them? How to catch a bad guy, get other bad people. Deadeye as a woman who is complex, who is trying to get past all the violence she thought she was doing for the right reason. Is she on the right side, or is she going to be seduced into chaos?

  Now that is a movie that I would see, and I think I would find it interesting, still deals with violence being the solution and the problem. That is buying into the idea that violence is something that should be seen as good. I don't think that is true, but it's hard to divorce the performance of gender with violence. This isn't the only way to create a story with comic books.

   I am not saying comic books movies are deliberately making violence king, but in Suicide Squad it does. There is a strange relationship to how bloodless it is. They are not fighting humans but things that have been taken over.

    Really there is just an underlying thing about the movie industry, that tent poles are the ones that make the most money. Now people want to be paid, it's a business don't forget. People want to make a return so they can feed their kids, and pay the mortgage. Does that mean we get the same old thing? Yes, but I don't blame them for it.

   Suicide Squad is not a bad movie, just like Twilight isn't. The audience just isn't mine, and there are many things that I find hard to take. I am also sure that there are many people who love these films, and for me it's much easier to find common ground when engaging critically. No movie is perfect, I think things are so much better when we can lay out our points.

   Being critical does not mean picking apart everything, it means being thoughtful and respecting other's people's views. It's for me one of the best things about reading, you can engage critically with something, but still love it.

  Is it still easier to just say this thing is bad, then you don't have to think about it. Yes. Still, it is better to think about why you don't like it. If nothing else you can spot another thing and not go to it.