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url 2018-09-21 17:35
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review 2018-09-20 02:59
First half to see good, then the shots are fired
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt

When I was around two thirds in, I started idly concocting a review in my brain, about how the almost surreal elements and characters was what gave this narrative such a verisimilitude. Cue me over the 80% mark, just going to search for a detail, and finding out this is nonfiction. Sure, there are artistic licenses, but in essence?


I love it when knowing absolutely nothing about a book pays up in such ways.


As I mentioned previously in an update, the general tone reminded me a lot of latinoamerican writing. This has a lot to do with the conservative (and quirky) societies that brew in relatively small, isolated towns. You have the sedate and beautiful surface, and the decades, generations, long ugly undercurrents. Everyone "behaves" in public out of a certain need for society and peace, and whomever "pops" may as well go the whole nine-yards and wear it like a flag.


So, that's basically the aim: to illustrate Savannah. The plot as it were serves the theme. We go into the deep ugly undercurrents. Almost every ugly you can imagine. Sometimes you are enraged and amused at the same time from the sheer hypocrisy rampant. I spent most of the book in some queer state of entertained stupefaction because it is so grotesque you almost can't believe it. But you do. You recognize it. It is your hometown.



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review 2018-09-18 20:53
The Hysteria of Salem
The Witchcraft of Salem Village - Shirley Jackson

I took my time with this one since I found the whole thing so fascinating and also Jackson did a great job of including new information that I have not heard about before. She ends the book with a theory about the girls who started it all being afflicted by a fungus on a bread, but she doesn't seem to put much weight behind it and neither do I.


I think most Americans are familiar with the Puritans and also the witchcraft hysteria that gripped Salem Village in 1692. Jackson begins at the beginning with how the Puritans were fleeing religious persecution in England, but really were about conformity and insisting that there fellow brethren were not as religious as they were. She also touches upon the poverty in the village and how there was very few things for young girls and boys to do besides attend church meetings. Any schooling they received was only about religious texts. So Jackson sets a very nice stage for what happens next. 

A group of young girls starts accusing the women around them of witchcraft after one of them starts to have fits. Is it irony that the one girl and cousin who started accusing women were the daughter and niece of the local reverend? 


Betty Parris was 9, and her cousin Abigail Williams was 11. Betty's father Reverend Samuel Parris was all too ready to believe that his flock contained witches. Jackson goes on a bit that he was a fan of Cotton Mather. To me that's like being a fan of Stephen Miller. 


Eventually these girls were joined by Ann Putnam Jr. and Elizabeth Hubbard. The girls went around falling into fits when examined, saying that they were being pinched and or burned and would howl when coming across people. The scenes that Jackson describes boggle the mind. I would have been calling bullshit left and right. Then again, I would have totally been burned at the stake. 


Eventually the girls accused Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba (Reverend Parris's housekeeper). Jackson touches upon how the first three women accused were seen as outsiders by the villagers. Jackson is slightly damning of Tituba who confessed and went on to accuse other women.  Eventually other women were named such as Martha Corey and Sarah Good's young daughter (she was 5) Dorcas Good, and Rebecca Nurse.  


"Mary Walcott and Elizabeth Hubbard stood up in their places. One of them swore solemnly that Goodwife Nurse had come to her at night and sat upon her chest to suffocate her. The other pointed out that a black man stood, even now, whispering in Goodwife Nurse’s ear and that yellow birds were flying about her head."


I think what got me as a reader is that the girls accusations become more and more unbelievable and no one except a few people tried to push back on it. Some people flat out fled to other colonies than deal with the cries of witchcraft that went on. 


It is interesting to note that the afflicted girls in Salem Village cried out upon Robert Calef shortly after Mather’s visit. Calef’s answer, which reached them with all possible speed, was an announcement of a slander suit for a thousand pounds. The accusation against Calef was immediately withdrawn, and his name was not mentioned again in Salem Village.


There is some new information here about how the accusations spread to Andover and how the girls even eventually were brought there to identify witches. They ended up finding mostly everyone there to be witches. You think that would have caused everyone to go these girls are full of it.


In the end, things do not start to wind down until after the execution of 19 people on Gallows Hill and one person being pressed to death. Giles Corey's pressing seemed to be finally the end of the witchcraft accusations. His death shamed the community as a whole and they all finally woke up to the fact that they got played by young girls and some women who were out to cast aspersions onto their more well to do neighbors. The hysteria spread from Salem to Andover and they had jails full of people accused of witchcraft. I think Jackson mentions 150 people were jailed. 


Jackson cannot find out that much about what happened to some of the accused. We find out that Parris died in poverty (good riddance) after being chased out of the village. Many blamed him and his relatives for what happened. Jackson mentions that his house no longer stands and it's barren ground now. What started cause ripples through the whole community with Salem sliding more into poverty since many people gave up farming or seeing to their homes due to watching the newest accusation or trial. Many who were accused came out of prison and found their homes and belongings lost to them forever. 


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts did not formally clear everyone accused of witchcraft until 1957. 


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text 2018-09-17 20:32
Reading progress update: I've read 1%.
The Witchcraft of Salem Village - Shirley Jackson

Ehh I am in a mood today. Let's read about how women and men were accused of being witches and too many people were happy to tear them apart.


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review 2018-09-17 17:43
I Have So Many Comments
Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest - Jen Doll

This was a nope for me. I needed something to read to break up my Halloween reads and I was promised a hilarious send up of being a single girl/woman serial wedding guest. As someone who is that single friend at weddings I was ready for it. Weddings have been on my mind lately (you guys hear about that plantation wedding thing? Sigh) so I thought this would be a nice read in between horror. Too bad this book was not good.


Jen Doll's book bounces all over the place, but I can honestly say she sounds like a pain in the ass as awedding guest, girlfriend, and friend. You don't need enemies with her around. I have unfortunately met this type of girl at weddings before. It's like a bat signal goes up. You can always tell the one that is going to drink too much, get nasty, and or mad if people are not paying her any attention. I hard cringed reading this book.


Jen provides readers with details/memories of significant weddings in her life. She even goes into her parents (she wasn't present) and while providing details on the wedding, will intersperse that with details about the bride, groom, and wedding guests. I pretty much only liked hearing about her parents and was curious about her childhood since she mentions her family moving around a lot. I was also doubly curious about her growing up in the south.


She wrote for a lot of well known magazines like The Atlantic, Cosmopolitan, The Village Voice, and others. So she can definitely write. That's not the problem.


I think the problem is that she made herself the anti-hero in her own story. You will probably come away with not liking her very much and or thinking she may have a problem with alcohol. She even gets into a fight with an ex-friend's husband at a wedding and he goes of course Jen is drinking again which to me shows that a lot of people think she drinks a lot. 


I think most of these stories center around Jen and how the weddings and people made her feel. I just don't know if she got or understood that unless you are the bride, you don't make a wedding about you. She revisits one awful wedding where she got drunk and hit friends of hers that were trying to take her back to her hotel room. I just cringed inside while reading. She claims to have blocked things out because she doesn't want to remember, but yeah I bet she does. God knows I remember every dumb ass thing I have done too. When you think she has finally learned her lesson, she goes to a wedding with a guy who sounds interesting/shows promise, and then flips out because he's not paying enough attention to her. I would have cursed her out and went about my day.


My rules for attending weddings:


1. Are you the bride? No. Then shut up and be helpful and make sure you don't cause drama. 

As someone who has been a maid of honor at a destination wedding (what a pain the ass that was) and was also in my brother's wedding I can tell you that I was thrilled when my last two friends who got married did not ask me to be a bridesmaid. I don't get hurt by it, and don't give two craps. That means I can chill all day til the ceremony, then make sure I bring something to snack on in the car on the way to the reception. And then I will smile, toast, take pictures, be helpful (once was in the bathroom for an hour untangling a friend's long ass train) and go back to my room and sleep away til the next day. 

I think without realizing it, that Jen's inability to put her friend's first caused some of them to not turn away from her, but towards the end of the book, she was just a guest and not in the wedding parties for some of the girls who were in wedding parties with her before. Frankly, I don't blame the brides, who wants that headache? 


The sections that made me die the most inside though was Jen going into her friend's Ginny's marriage and being mad that Ginny wouldn't leave her husband cause Jen didn't like him. It didn't sound abusive, it just sounded like the guy was kind of a dick. I just don't know why she was so overly involved in it. It just sounded like drama and she was feeding on it. Ginny gets brought up throughout this book, so you don't know what happened at first, but we eventually get there. And even after the friendship is broken, Jen can't help poking at it like a scab. I can see why the mutual friends were tired of it. 

I was hoping for more of a girl power book (being happy being single and attending weddings solo) and having some funny remembrances that occurred at weddings. This book was totally not what I though it was going to be. 

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