The Implications of Feminine Curiosity: Reading the Women’s Review of Books (Mar/Apr 2014)

Jan Clausen reviews Curious Subjects:  Women and the Trials of Realism, by Hilary M. Schor (Oxford University Press, 2013).  Clausen writes that Schor takes “curiosity” — specifically women’s curiosity — “to mean several different things” and then cites several fascinating examples, such as:

Isabel Archer (from The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James) — Self actually tried re-reading last year, before she went to Venice, but soon tired of James’s labyrinthine sensibility.  But now she thinks she might try giving it another whirl, especially after reading “while severely constrained by a social order productive of endless marriage plots,” the characters “gain access to a crucial measure of choice in deciding the marriage question — an outcome with distinct advantages for their development as conscious subjects, even when, as for Isabel, the wedded state brings misery.”

The Bloody Chamber, “Angela Carter’s feminist retelling” of the Bluebeard tale, showing “how the bride’s defiance of her husband’s injunction against entering the locked room becomes the crucial occasion of curiosity, affording a true knowledge of self and situation.”

Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot, feature “brides whose costly access to authentic subjectivity is won by way of their disastrous marriages.”

Louisa Bounderby, née Gradgrind, who chucks “her heartless capitalist keeper in Dickens’ Hard Times

Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys, “a Creole riff on the Bluebeard story that functions in relation to Jane Eyre as both prequel and (post) colonial critique.”

Self also discovers (in another review) that Claire of the Sea of Light, Edwidge Danticat’s new novel, grew out of a short story published in the anthology she edited for Akashic Books, Haiti Noir (2010).  Self now adds Haiti Noir to her reading list.

And she encounters this quote from, of all people, Norman Mailer, in a review by Rachel Somerstein of Fools, Joan Silber’s short story collection (W. W. Norton, 2013):

Short fiction “has a tendency to look for climates of permanence — an event occurs, a man is hurt by it in some small way forever” while “the novel moves as naturally toward flux.  An event occurs, a man is injured, and a month later is working on something else.”

Self is amazed that she encounters the quote from Mailer —  the most uber-macho of macho writers — in the Women’s Review of Books.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Twofer: NYTBR 6 April 2008 & Women’s Studies at Stanford

Self feeling quite content today, dear blog readers — even though weather is chilly again (Will spring never come???)

First of all, she has time to post about The New York Times Book Review (of 6 April). Then, she’s reading a fascinating syllabus — Valerie Miner’s, for her Stanford University course, “Imagining Women: Writers in Print and in Person.”

A few months ago (How time flies!) self received an e-mail from Prof. Miner: she was teaching a Women’s Studies course during spring quarter and wanted to include self’s book, Mayor of the Roses, in the syllabus. Would self be available for a classroom visit?

Would she ??? Would she ??? Of course she would!

And tomorrow is the day. And here, for the edification of dear blog readers, is the Course Description:

This seminar introduces the lively world of contemporary literature through the reading of books by and intimate discussions with authors such as Patricia Powell, Camille Dungy, Marianne Villanueva, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, Brenda Hillman, Jewelle Gomez and Carol Seajay. Each Monday, the class will discuss a new book. On Wednesdays, the writer will speak about her work. Then we will open the session to questions and discussion.

And self wishes to stop right now and thank all those other professors who teach her book:

1. Nona Caspers in the Creative Writing Program at San Francisco State

2. Liza Erpelo at Skyline (whose classes are so fab to visit!)

3. the professor at Bates College in Maine who’s been including self’s work in her syllabus for ages and ages (Self wishes to apologize because she is completely blanking out on the professor’s name at the moment!)

4. M. Evelina Galang (so fab — as a writer, a person, a friend) at University of Miami

5. Prof. Bob Gluck, who invited self to speak to his “Writers on Writing” class at San Francisco State this past February

6. Luisa Igloria (fab writer, fab person, and — just ask her students — fab teacher) at Old Dominion U in Norfolk, VA

7. Paolo Javier, whose students read her book last year and found this blog

8. Prof. Claudia McIsaac at Santa Clara, who had self come in to speak to her class (with D. A. Powell — what a fun day that was!)

And, LAST BUT NOT LEAST, Brian Roley at Miami University in Ohio, who was so instrumental in getting the book published in the first place.

How self wishes you were all here right now, in person, so that she could lavish you with big hugs.

And now, the list of books self is interested in reading after perusing the 6 April 2008 issue of The New York Times Book Review:

(1) After reading Mary Jo Salter’s (fascinating and spot-on) review of Grace Paley’s final book, Fidelity:

    Grace Paley’s Fidelity

(2) After reading Fareed Zakaria’s review of Benazir Bhutto’s posthumously published Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West:

    Benazir Bhutto’s Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West

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