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review 2019-02-18 19:58
Division: A Collection of Science Fiction Fairytales - Lee S. Hawke

I hesitate to call the stories in this collection Fairy tales because they never gave off the fairy tale vibe for me. It was a collection of short stories set in different dystopian/high tech futures. And while they are dealing with diverse aspects of possible dystopian futures, I was left wanting something more.

Some of the stories had interesting topics, which I think would have worked better in a longer story where the story/world could have been fleshed out a bit more. I quite liked the writing however, so I might pick up more a longer story by Lee S. Hawke.

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review 2019-02-17 23:38
Not Every Essay Resonated
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture - Roxane Azimi

I feel like a bad person for not totally loving this book. It was just hard to get through and some of the stories didn't really move me one way or the other. I ended up just feeling sad while reading and finally finishing this book off with some wine. I think also that looking at rape culture is a huge undertaking, and so the stories could have flowed a bit better between them to the next story. Also I wish that things were not left vague in a few stories. A few times I went wait what happened when we had someone recounting their story. 


Fragments by Aubrey Hirsch (4 stars)-the story begins when she is being harassed for taking birth control by her supposed friend James. Apparently birth control equals putting out a certain signal (blech). Hirsch begins telling stories about her time in college and the one disturbing story is about how after a night of drinking too much she woke up in a friend's room (where he put her to keep her safe) and took out her contacts while she was unconscious. I full body shuddered. 


Slaughterhouse Island by Jill Christman (5 stars)-Christman tells what sounds like a typical college story (which makes me sad). A young girl meets a guy she feels meh towards, but still keeps hanging out with and one night things get ugly and he rapes her. She sees him again because part of you hopes for a different outcome. Nope, the outcome the second time is him attempting to rape her. At this point I put the book down and went to the gym to work out.


& The Truth Is, I Have No Story by Claire Schwartz (2 stars)-This one was so weird after reading Slaughterhouse Island. We have Schwartz telling her about everything "after" which I assumed to be her rape. I just found the whole essay to be more spoken poetry and it just jumped around a lot. Which I imagine was done to show how confused and separate a person feels after being raped. 


The Luckiest MILF in Brooklyn by Lynn Melnick (1 star)-I loathe the word MILF and this story was about catcall culture which is still a form of rape culture. I don't know. This one seemed off to me in a way. Melnick tells how she started giving blowjobs for attention and was led to believe that her body was her only thing to offer the world. At the end of the essay I don't know if she doesn't get that is not all she has to offer. 


Spectator by Brandon Taylor (3 stars)-this was hard to read. Recounting memories of their rapist (who was also their uncle). The story flits around a bit though with Taylor remembering their mother who also died and seems to segue into how Taylor is judgey towards his brother who is judgey towards them. 


The Sun by Emma Smith-Stevens (5 stars)-Stevens recounts tales of being objectified at an early age (13) by older men her whole life. And then the story gets even scarier if possible when she tells how she got invited to a party with 5 other teen boys (she was the only girl) while they watched porn. She chose one in order to not be raped by all and was called "whore" and "slut" at school. I think at this point I took another break from the book.


Sixty-Three Days by AJ McKenna (3.5 stars)-I was confused by the timeline in this one which took me out of the story. I felt for McKenna and loved the essay overall. I just couldn't understand when the person this essay was written for was in McKenna's life and also the other people who were named after. 


Only the Lonely by Lisa Mecham (2 stars)-This was confusing. A woman at a Yankee swap gets a vibrator and somehow it signifies something about her marriage. I don't know. I was just left confused.


What I Told Myself by Vanessa Martir (4.5 stars)-A hard story to read. Martir ties in her mother's own history of rape with her history of rape which happened when she was 6 years old. I just hated how everyone kept telling her that what happened to her wasn't as bad as what happened to her mother. I just died a little inside while reading this essay.


Stasis by Ally Sheedy (5 stars)-Yup that Ally Sheedy. Sheedy talks about being a young actress in Hollywood and being told she was "fat." I grew up watching Sheedy in films, I am gobsmacked that a director would even think this. She recounts discussions with other young actresses who got typecast and told to lose weight, be more sexy, or told they were not seen as sexually desirable. 


The Ways We Are Taught to Be a Girl by xTx (5 stars)-a girl's friend lures her (she won't say it, I will) to be forced to be alone with her and her brothers and how they kissed their sister with their tongues and told her to do it too. And the story is the first lesson on how to be a girl. How to keep things inside, to not tell everything horrible thing that happens to you because you don't want to be blamed (you still will be blamed by some though). There are five more lessons xTx imparts.


Floccinaucinihilipilification by So Mayer (5 stars)-How you survive being raped. Mayer's rapist was her father. 


Rape was where my rebellion started. His small sense that--small as I was, an infant--I needed to be controlled was my hint that I had power that had to be curtailed.


The Life Ruiner by Nora Salem (3 stars)-Salem recounting being raped when she was 8 by a 18 year old boy who lived with her and her family. Salem's family was doing with the death of her brother and she didn't want to break her family apart by telling them what was done to her. This one didn't grab me as much as the story before it which is why I gave it 3 stars. I do think it would have worked better if this one was up front and the stronger stories anchored the ending. 


All the Angry Women by Lyz Lenz (3 stars)-Lenz discussing what I think is a rape survivor's group. She dances around it. I thought some of the comparisons she made about how women are not allowed to be angry but men in the NFL who are abusers are let back in was an off comparison. Just state flat out women are not allowed to be angry. Shoot, I am a black woman and can't even show a grimace without being told I am being an angry black woman. It's been that way my whole life. 


Good Girls by Amy Jo Burns (4 stars)-

The truth no one told you is that, in order for a good girl to survive, she make some things disappear. You know because you used to be one of the good girls; you used to know how to forget.


Utmost Resistance by V.L. Seek (2.5 stars)-there are a lot of foonotes and quotes in this. I think Seek was trying to show this as a case of law, but it didn't work for me.


Bodies Against Borders by Michelle Chen (3 stars)-This reads as a scientific article more than an essay. Chen goes into violence against women worldwide and it definitely made me sad. 


What We Didn't Say by Liz Rosema (5 stars)-This was in comic strip form and I really loved it. This was my favorite essay in this collection. 


I Said Yes by Anthony Frame (5 stars)-Terrible story (all of them are honestly) of a man recounting when he was raped by his friend's father. I think the part that will grab at you is that his wife realizes he was raped when she sat and watched their wedding video which showed the change in his eyes after he got older. Then Frame recounts how he was raped and then the toxic masculinity he experienced as he got older in school and college.


Knowing Better by Samhita Mukhopadhyay (2.5 stars)-I have never heard of Mukhopadhyay who apparently wrote a book about love and dating. This one was pretty short so it didn't stay with me when I finished it. 


Not That Loud by Miriam Zoila Perez (2 stars)-I thought this one was pretty lackluster too after reading Knowing Better.


Why I Stopped by Zoe Medeiros (4 stars)-Why a rape survivor finally stopped telling people why she was raped.


Picture Perfect by Sharisse Tracey (5 stars)- A woman relaying how her black family wanted to be perfect, but ignored what Tracey's father was doing to her. Starting off from a photo shoot that becomes sexualized to physical rape later is hard to read. The whole story is pretty heart wrenching. Tracey tells her mother, who does believe her, but her father stays. Also there is some BS about a counselor coworker of her father's who tells her mother that if he leaves it will damage the family. I hope that counselor is somewhere sitting on sharp tack. This is in my opinion, one of the second strongest stories in this collection.


To Get Out from Under it by Stacey May Fowles (5 stars)-Recounting the many times she said no while raped. Fowles does a good job of showcasing the many sides to being raped. Telling yourself that what happened wasn't that bad. Then Fowles recounts the many questions that are asked.


Did you know him? Did you invite him in? Did you go willingly? Did he hurt you? Did he have a weapon? Did he force you? Did you wear something that provoked him? Did you want to have sex with him? Did you cook him dinner beforehand? Did you put on makeup? Did you tell him you liked him? Did you tell him you loved him? Do you regret anything you did that night? 

How bad was it really?


Reaping What Rape Culture Sows by Elisabeth Fairfield Stokes (5 stars)-Weirdly Stokes telling us when she first was told about rape was when I also heard about it too. Watching Little House on the Prairie and seeing the Sylvia episodes. And then the sadness when Stokes takes her father's definition of rape and doesn't understand that it's not the only way to assault and harm a woman. Stokes blames herself after she is raped anyway because she had been drinking and hurt her left making herself vulnerable. The whole essay just like the two preceding it was very strong. 


Invisible Light Waves by Meredith Talusan (3.5 stars)-pretty short and I honestly didn't feel as engrossed in this one as I should have.


Getting Home by Nicole Boyce (3 stars)-This jumps around and doesn't really land in the end for me.


Why I Didn't Say No by Elissa Bassist (3.5 stars)-Bassist recounting the many ways in which she didn't say no while she was raped. I think the main reason why I didn't rate this one higher was because it was kind of a stream of consciousness thing that didn't work for me. 

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review 2019-02-16 22:28
My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales - Neil Gaiman,Alissa Nutting,Carmen Giménez Smith,Naoko Awa,Lily Hoang,Hiromi Itō,Ludmilla Petrushevskaya,Kellie Wells,Michael Mejia,Lucy Corin,Jonathon Keats,Ilya Kaminsky,Rabih Alameddine,Karen Brennan,Katherine Vaz,Timothy Schaffert,Sarah Shun-lien Byn

t's interesting using this book in a class. The Swan stories are the most popular, and the quiet ones about relationships confuse people for some reason.  I liked "Warm-Mouth" far more on this re-read.

Old Review
There is a misnomer on the cover of this book. Some short stories in this volume have not been commissioned for the book. Several of them have appeared in various magazines and collections (some have appeared over a decade ago).

This is okay, for this is the first time that they are all collected together and I hadn't read any of them before.

The purpose of this collection in part, according to Bernheimer, is to present fairy tales as an acceptable source of literature, at least to present modern fairy tales as such. The succeds very well at this and several stories are truly descendents of the French Salon writers, Andersen, and the Grimms. Some of the stories don't work (at least for me) but several stories are absolutely, jaw dropping friggin (Can I say that?) wonderful. Even the stories that I didn't like (like "Warm Mouth" by Joyelle McSweeny) were at least worthy experiments in differenty styles. Each story has a brief afterword by the author and the table of contents gives the source tale for each story.

The two best stories (and it is a very close race, a photo finish, for several stories for this title) are John Updike's "Bluebeard in Ireland", a story about a marriage; and Katherine Vaz's "What the Conch Shell Sings When the Body is Gone", also a story about a relationship. In fact, many of the stories in this collection, as in many fairy tales, focus on relationships. Updike and Vaz's short fiction are really descendents of such older as "Bluebeard" because like the older tales, they look at marriage and relationships in the modern world. The two stories are magical without having "magic" in them.

Many of the tales in the collection are not what most readers would call fantasy or horror (I brought this at Borders which had it in the horror section), but there is a good mixture of fantasy and magic realism. I heistate to use the word horror. In fact, the two most distrubing stories, "The Erlking" by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum and "With Hair of Hand-Spun Gold" by Neil LaBute, are distrubing because of thier out and out realism. "Dapplegrim" by Brain Evenson is the only true horror story, and considering the source, it shouldn't be surprising.

There is humor here as well. I didn't really enjoy Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things, but his "Orange" is really, really funny.

Overall, the collection fulfills the promise that is made in the introduction

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text 2019-02-16 15:11
Reading progress update: I've read 99 out of 368 pages.
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture - Roxane Azimi

My aim is to finish this by Monday. Right now it's pretty grim to read/sit through in one sitting which is why I have taken so long to finish it. 

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review 2019-02-09 00:44
Goodbye Piccadilly (War at Home) - Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

"GOODBYE PICCADILLY" is a novel centered around 2 families in Britain, spanning the period from July to December 1914. One family - the Hunters of The Elms, Northcote - is middle class. Mr. Edward Hunter is a banker - yet with enough wealth as to be able to have servants (one set of servants lived with the Hunters while the other set lived in their own respective residences). The other family - the Wroughtons - is representative of an aristocratic class that enjoys considerable influence, possesses immense wealth, and commands everyone's respect. 

While the middle and upper classes often dealt with one another formally and in business matters (Edward Hunter acted as a financial adviser to Earl Wroughton, the family head), the upper class seldom mingled socially with their middle class contemporaries, regarding them as their inferiors.  Notwithstanding that, Charles Wroughton (Earl Wroughton's eldest son, who is destined to inherit the family estate and all that it entailed) espies Edward Hunter's eldest daughter Diana one day while on an outing and takes a fancy to her. Diana is 19, very beautiful, and longs for marriage. She has her eyes set on Charles - who is rather shy and ill-at-ease in most social situations. The odds are clearly against them both. For the Wroughtons would never countenance a marriage of their eldest son to - God forbid! - a banker's daughter. 

What makes "PICCADILLY SUMMER" such a delight to read is the way Cynthia Harrod-Eagles brings forth a variety of fascinating characters across the classes who become so immediately human and real to the reader. Northcote goes from being a tranquil village to a community caught up in the initial excitement, demands, and stresses created by the outbreak of war in August 1914. By year's end, "Northcote reels under an influx of khaki volunteers, wounded soldiers and Belgian refugees."


The war itself which began as 'something remote' by virtue of being waged across the Channel in France and Belgium, was, at its outset, regarded by most people in Britain as a short-lived conflict that would result in an Allied victory by Christmas. But by Christmas, it is becoming clear in the public consciousness that the war is much more dangerous than previously thought with no end in sight. Casualties are much higher than anyone could have foreseen. And all the while, life in Northcote is changing under wartime pressures for everybody. What those changes will lead to remain to be revealed. (I can't wait to read the next novel in this 6-novel series.) 

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