Men may feel they get the upper hand by treating women poorly, but long before "me too" Yunior told us otherwise in these stories and in the novel.
Reread these after recent revelations by both Junot Díaz & women who were victimized by him. I was interested to see how this would affect the reading.
If you've missed the fireworks, a quick rundown:
All of this led to discussions - hell, thousands of discussions - around me, with women, with other survivors, with everyone but writers. I don't know any writers or I'm sure they'd have talked to me too. EVERYONE in the trauma community was afire with this discussion. Eventually some of us got around to his writing, and my response was that I hoped I'd still be able to read it, since I really have been a fan, and it made me sad to read in the NYer that he could no longer write. Then I grabbed these short stories off my shelf and read them. This is where I landed:
I loved these the first time I read them. I was just as uncomfortable with the over-flexing of what we now call toxic masculinity then as I was this time. In fact, I think my reaction was pretty much the same: the narrator's toxicity harms him and everyone else in his life, including his great love - but in the end, he's hurt himself badly (some great female writer might want to take the feminine perspective someday.) If only we could get people in real life to own up to how harmful toxic masculinity actually is for everyone.
The character in these stories is clear on how he's harmed himself, and while he may use bravado to try and mask his torment, it clearly doesn't work. Everything, including his body, breaks down.
Explanations are not Excuses.
This is not to say that these fictional stories should be taken as an indicator of real life, but misogyny is a problem for everyone, and the pain in the voice of these stories spells that out. In fact, I think these stories might be used as an example of how badly misogynistic bullshit works out for everyone. Men may feel they get the upper hand by treating women poorly, but long before "me too" Yunior told us otherwise in these stories and in the novel.
As a person who has lived through some stuff, I'm glad to have read these stories the first time and again now. They are excellent, and the message is probably more clear now than it was the first time I read it, though my history hasn't changed at all. I still react badly to the mind games, abuses of power and name calling, AND I appreciate the stories. They have a moral dimension I now see even more clearly, and it's about far more than diversity or a "unique voice." Yunor spells out how harmful his misogynistic buddies and lifestyle are to both the women and the men in his life.
Sexual abuse begets pain, anger, confusion, acting out and abuse - sometimes even more sexual abuse. The issue is not on whose side will we fight - we should all be on the side of protecting children and getting everyone (including rapists and child molestors) help before this cycle begins in yet another person. Otherwise we are doomed to an assembly line of horrors. I'd bet that if you spoke to the man who abused Junot Díaz, he'd probably have some horror tales to share about his life. None of this excuses anyone. It does show how harmful it all is for everyone, be it the abused person, the perpetrator or the many people who have relationships with either of them through lifetimes. Abuse is poison. It harms souls. It murders a part of us that we can never regain.
When we have no tools for coping with this existential terroristic threat, we often cope in tremendously harmful ways - both to ourselves and those we love. Interpersonal relationships are forever changed, and we're all the victim - everyone in society.
This is why "rape culture" and "toxic masculinity" must end. It's killing as many men as it is women. It's a way of acting out, and it's unacceptable, if understandable. It will reach us all eventually, and nobody comes through unscathed.
As for the stories, the final line "sometimes a start is all we ever get" rings just as poignantly as it did before I knew so much about Junot Díaz.
Hey everyone! So the wonderful @tea.books.lover and I created a tag for the month of April over on instagram! It was based on the beautiful book by M.C. Frank, Lose Me. (Click HERE to go see the challenge!)
I decided to do a modified version on this on my blog and create a tag out of it! First of all...if you're reading this you're tagged to do it (just kidding, but I'd be fun right?) Let's get into the tag!
1. Summer Lovin' - Choose a book that reminds you of Summer
For this one I think I have to chose the Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. While this doesn't seem like a summery book it does take place during the summer (if my memory serves me right) and I read it during the summer so it always brings back so many memories for me.
2. Drama - Choose your favorite play
My favorite play? This is particualry a hard one because I don't really remember many plays that I've read. Romeo and Juliet is a classic but I can't exactly say that one is my favorite.I did really enjoy Harry Potter and the Cursed Child however. So, for now we'll say that the Cursed Child is my favorite play.
3. At the Seaside - Choose your favorite water scene from a book (don't forget to tag the spoiler!)
Every time I think of this scene I get so many feels all over. Perhaps because it was one of my first OTPs ever (Spoilers belowfor the Last Olympian so scroll past if you do not want to see)
***SPOILERS***The underwater kiss scene from the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan is probably one of my favorite scenes of all time, never mind the water park. It's as Percy says: "It was probably the best underwater kiss of all time." ***SPOILERS****
4. Survival - Choose a heart-pounding book where you weren't sure if everyone was going to survives
Practically every book I read fits into this category, mostly because the books have some kind of thriller in them. For this one however I think I have to choose A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas because I was on the edge of my seat the entire time terrified that SJM could kill off all the characters I had grown to love.
5. Proud/Prejudiced - Choose a book where a character is too proud to admit their dislike of someone is unjustified (i.e. they hate someone no real reason)
This first book that came to mind to me (other than P&P/Lose Me, of course) had to be the Selection by Kiera Cass. Because I swear America was so proud and prejudiced Maxon so hard with no real evidence of who he really was. This had me wanting to ring America's neck as I was reading, screaming at her to just get to know the guy.
6. Family - Choose a book with a heartwarming family
I have to choose Maximum Ride by James Patterson for this question. While the characters (the flock) in this series aren't blood related (except for a couple), they are still a very tight-knit family. Every time something dared to break the bond between them in the books it just proved how much stronger they were together than apart.
7. Well-loved Book - Choose a book that you have had for years and love so very much
I choose City of Bones by Cassandra Clare for this one. I got this book......well, I don't exactly remember when it was. It had to be around six years ago. I got the paperback copy of it for my birthday from my best friend and I've loved that copy ever since. I've read it a few times, the spine is broken, the corners bent, and it has that older book smell. I can flip directly to the Midnight Flower without even thinking (my favorite chapter in the book). While I have two other copies of CoB the paperback one is still my go-to copy when I need to look something up or reminiscence.
8. Swoon-worthy Romance - Choose your favorite book ship
Okay, I don't know why I made this a question. I can't choose my favorite ship. It's just impossible. Instead, I'll give you a list: Jace and Clary from the Mortal Instruments, Percy and Annabeth from Percy Jackson, Feyre and Rhysand from ACOTAR, Max and Fang from Maximum Ride, Megan and Ash from the Iron Fey, Ari and Wes from Lose Me. I could go on all day. I have too many ships that I consider my favorite. It really changed from day to day, book to book, fanart that I see to fanart, and the list goes on and on.
9. Modern Adaptation - Choose your favorite adaptation of a classic tale
For this one I pick A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas which was an adaptation of the Beauty and the Beast. And oh, I don't mean just the first book, I mean the entire series. Without giving away spoilers its hard for me to explain how exactly Beauty and the Beast relates to the rest of the series, but please! Talk to me about it!
10. Golden Boy - Choose a character who is viewed as good and perfect and may/may not be
I'll give two examples for this one, one where the character is as good and perfect as everyone thinks he is and one where he is not.
For the former I'm going to choose Jace from the Mortal Instruments because he is as good and perfect and beautiful as he's portrayed to be. For this I mean he's not evil underneath all that golden. Underneath all that golden is just a beautiful person. Okay, I might be a bit biased because I think Jace is kinda the perfect specimen.
For the latter, I'm going to pick a certain character from ACOTAR, spoilers below:
***SPOILERS***Tamlin. The horrible, despicable, little weasel of a character. Okay, I think its not hard to see that I hate this character. In the first book he was portrayed to be the good guy, the man behind the beast. But in reality there was just more beast behind the sliver of a man. ***SPOILERS***
11. Book to Movie - Choose your favorite movie adaptation of a book
Hahahahahaahaha....as readers I think most of you can agree with me that movie adaptations for books generally suck. You go to see the movie all excited that it might be kinda like the book and then leave very disappointed. For this one, however, I do actually have a couple movies I really enjoyed. The adaptation of the Maze Runner by James Dashner was pretty great. I actually enjoyed it more than the book (I found the book rather boring). And the adaptation of the 5th Wave by Rick Yancy I really enjoyed as well. Maybe it was because I hadn't read the book in a while but I thought it did pretty well hitting the points of the novel I really liked.
12. Athletic Heroine - Choose your favorite heroine who happens to be athletic
I think most heroines I like fit into this category because I mostly read fantasy or adventures reads where the characters pretty much have to be athletic or they're going to die. But for the sake of this tag I'll single out one in particular. I've chosen Emma Carstairs from the Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare. I just really love Emma and really enjoy reading about her in her trilogy.
And.....that's it folks! I hope you enjoyed this tag! Don't forget to do this and tag people! And let me know! I'd love to see your responses! Thanks, and have a great day!
(On a side note - does anybody know how to do the spoiler cut? I used the spoiler cut button but it didn't work. I've used it before but probably not in like a year.)
There are things that I can take for granted. I may not be able to recite my family tree by rote, and there is the question that my paternal grandmother may have been Jewish, but I know that my family hails from England, France, Canada, Lithuania, and Italy. It is something that I have taken for granted. Saidiya Hartman’s book is about, in part, having a lack of that, a lack of sense, and a lack of belonging.
It’s too glib to say that we all feel that sense of loneness. In part this is true, but many of us at least have a sense. Many of us can even break down to country and region, perhaps even a city.
Hartman has a continent. That’s it.
But to call this a book about a quest for self or identity is wrong. Hartman’s journey to Ghana, to uncover the story of the common slave – a slave who is not from a family of kings. The idea of a return to Africa is a return to homeland, but as Hartman points out -it isn’t quite that simple. Hartman feels out of place because the history of the slave trade depends upon the lenses – African-American versus African. IF Hartman isn’t American, then she isn’t African either. She is stateless. Her past is a commodity in both ways – as her ancestors were slaves and as their descendent returning.
So, in part, the book is about the different use of language and the different history. About the effects of slavery that we do not fully think about. The question of otherness.
There is much packed into this slim volume and it is the type of book that you mull over for days.