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review 2018-04-20 15:07
The Good Women of China / Xinran
The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices - Xinran

When Deng Xiaoping’s efforts to “open up” China took root in the late 1980s, Xinran recognized an invaluable opportunity. As an employee for the state radio system, she had long wanted to help improve the lives of Chinese women. But when she was given clearance to host a radio call-in show, she barely anticipated the enthusiasm it would quickly generate. Operating within the constraints imposed by government censors, “Words on the Night Breeze” sparked a tremendous outpouring, and the hours of tape on her answering machines were soon filled every night. Whether angry or muted, posing questions or simply relating experiences, these anonymous women bore witness to decades of civil strife, and of halting attempts at self-understanding in a painfully restrictive society. In this collection, by turns heartrending and inspiring, Xinran brings us the stories that affected her most, and offers a graphically detailed, altogether unprecedented work of oral history.


This is a heartbreaking book which I would never have picked up except I was looking for an X author for my Women Authors A-Z reading challenge this year. I never know how to rate books like these because it’s important to know about the situations in countries other than our own, but I always feel helpless and angry when I know that women are having such frightful difficulties.

I have to bear in mind that this book was published in 2002 originally, the author having moving from China to England in order to be free to do such a thing. A lot can and probably has changed in 16 years, plus many of the stories related in this book are from earlier years yet.

The Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) seems to have disrupted relations between men and women and the nature of family relationships to an extreme. Survival was top of mind for everyone and each did what they had to. Xinran reveals the painful stories told to her by Chinese women—of having children horribly injured, daughters gang raped, husbands treating them like servants (or livestock), work denied, promotions skipped over, you name it.

As China seems to be heading into another iteration of their authoritarian regime, there will undoubtedly be more issues for women. I hope there is still someone like Xinran to listen to women’s voices and to articulate what they are able to (Xinran herself had to walk a fine line so as not to offend the Communist Party).

In the era of the Me Too and Time’s Up campaigns here in North America, we have to hope that our sisters on other continents are able to achieve some gains as well.

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text 2018-04-12 19:19
TBR Thursday
Heir to the Empire - Timothy Zahn
Just One Damned Thing After Another - Jodi Taylor
Unbuttoned : a History of Mackenzie King's Secret Life - Christopher Dummitt
The Dirty Book Club - Lisi Harrison
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World - Alfred Birnbaum,Haruki Murakami
Lion in the Valley - Elizabeth Peters
Magic's Price - Mercedes Lackey
Smilla's Sense of Snow - Peter Høeg,Tiina Nunnally
Tithe - Holly Black
The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices - Xinran

My TBR pile has got a bit out of control!!


First ones due at the library are Heir to the Empire, Just One Damned Thing After Another, and Unbuttoned.  There are also holds on Smilla's Sense of Snow and Tithe, but those dates are further away.  Plus The Good Women of China is an interlibrary loan, so I will have to pay attention to it.


Heir to the Empire, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and Magic's Price are all part of my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project, which I am enjoying getting back into.


My guilty pleasures are Lion in the Valley (Amelia Peacock, I want to see what you're doing in Egypt this time) and Tithe (Holly Black's world of the Fae is calling to me).  But neither of them will count towards any of my reading challenges for 2018.


My other task for this weekend is to take a load of books to the used book store to trade and to sort out books to donate to the Calgary Reads Book Sale which will happen in May.  I've got to find some boxes that I can part with to pack, too.  (And then in May I'll attend the book sale and undo some of the good that I have done for my bookshelves).


I've also got to bake something to go to brunch on Sunday--I'll probably either make a tried-and-true Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread (http://www.lazyglutenfree.com/2013/06/gluten-free-cinnamon-swirl-banana-bread.html) or I'll try an experimental Pumpkin Pie Crumble (https://www.calgarycoop.com/cooking/pumpkin-pie-crumble). 


Have a great weekend, friends!



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review 2018-04-04 17:26
Forgotten Voices of the Great War
Forgotten Voices of the Great War - Max Arthur,Imperial War Museum

Unless you are a hard core WWI military history buff or in need of primary sources to add to an academic paper, skip this. I liked the first chapter and the opening paragraphs of each chapter where Max Arthur gives the reader a path to the events in each chapter before turning the narrative to those that survived the war. There are four chapters, one for each year of the war - however that is where the organization of the book ends and chaos reigns. There aren't many headers, just for the ones that indicate a major battle is being talked about, but no signal to show the narratives for that particular battle has ended and a new topic is started. So when the narratives turn from one battle memory to another battle memory then all of a sudden the men are talking about venereal disease and how one guy's penis was all gangrene and disintegrating from VD he got from the many French prostitutes he paid for - it was jarring and interrupting the flow of reading. Then there is lots of talk of how boring it is sitting in a trench, trying to burn the lice off their uniforms; there is also a lot of talk about food rations - so much bully beef was mentioned.


The one part I really enjoyed was the section on the Christmas Truce of 1914. Otherwise it was a slog to get through.

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text 2018-04-02 19:58
I don't know if I'm doing this correctly

Courtney Milan's thread on Twitter regarding RWA, RITA awards, Harlequin, and Authors of Color.




I really do have to get myself to work, but I thought I'd post this here because we're mostly readers here, but we are also involved, intelligent, critical readers, and I'd love to read your thoughts.


Or you can post to Courtney Milan, I suppose.


My only contributions would be:


Harlequin has been screwing authors since forever.  That part of it is nothing new.  I think I've written about it before, so I won't bore you again. 


RWA has also been screwing authors.  The fact that the organization remains majority unpublished is probably the main reason.  No one was ever willing to stand up to the publishers, with their puny royalties and shitty treatment, because heaven forbid that some unpublished idiot -- not that all unpublished writers are idiots, but the idiot ones are the people who held the most power in RWA in the past, and I'm assuming they still do -- would lose a chance to publish her masterpiece.


I've never been a heavy reader of Harlequin books, but the first contemporary romance

about POC and written by an AOC that I ever read was for the RITA judging in the mid-1990s, in the preliminary round.  The book was good and I gave it an appropriately high score, but it didn't go on to the next round.  This was before there were separate lines for African American authors/characters.  (Side note: Am I the only one who thinks it's odd that Harlequin, known for its global/exotic settings, is somehow leaving out of this category POC from other "Anglo" countries?  Hello, but there are Black people in England, Canada, Australia, etc.  Okay, enough of that tangent.)


I left RWA with few regrets in 1998.  I felt it was an unprofessional organization then, and I still do.  Courtney Milan's long Twitter thread didn't change my mind.



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text 2018-03-23 14:44
Friday Reads - March 23, 2018
Forgotten Voices of the Great War - Max Arthur,Imperial War Museum
The Irish Americans: A History - Jay P. Dolan
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life - Ed Yong

I ADULTED so hard this week that I have only reading scheduled for this weekend. I aiming to finish Forgotten Voices of the Great War over the weekend and finish The Irish Americans during the week. Then it is on to my library borrows, I Contain Multitudes. Time to buckle down and clear March's currently reading shelf.


Have a good weekend!

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