- A DEFENSE OF FANTASY: CLASSICAL LITERATURE V. MODERN YA – Fantasy and happy endings have been under attack lately, I swear. Young adult fantasy author Erin Bow goes to bat for kids’ pleasure reading.
Famous-ish author for grown-ups Joanna Trollope told London’s Sunday Times that teens should stop reading things like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and Twilight, and start reading classical literature of the 19th century. This presumably came up because Trollope is about to publish a reworking of Jane Austen.
Oh, where to start?
Should I point out that the country estates of the landed gentry circa 1800 are at least as foreign to young readers as Hogwarts or District 12? Shall I take issue with the assumption that the function of books is to be wholesome and improving, like kale? Shall I defend the idea of “escape” and let loose my rant about what patronizing horse hooey the phrase “guilty pleasure” is? (Cocaine is a guilty pleasure. Books are simply a pleasure.) Shall I recount my own high school reading (a bizarre mix of physics texts by Richard Feynman, poetry by T.S. Eliot, and hundreds of Star Trek novels) and end with an assertion that it taught me to love reading, which in itself has defined my life?
- Christyna Hunter: Define Me . . . If You Dare! – This article dovetails just about perfectly with Sunday’s opinion piece, doesn’t it? Author and librarian Chrystina Hunter points out that the challenges of living in a disabled body are just one part of who she is, and no two people handle their lives the same.
After almost 40 years and many more stories like the ones above, I have learned that I have to make my own definition. I live in this body; I know when I have good days and bad days. A task can be easy for me one day and difficult the next. I have learned there are just some things I have to ask help with to do. And my dreams have morphed into others. I have been to college, had a couple of jobs, been a supervisor, written dozens of freelance articles and a couple of self-published novels. I have to accumulate all the data from these varying experiences and use them to define myself. Otherwise, others will do it for me.
- A Poet With Words Trapped Inside – Poet and playwright Ntozake Shange speaks about the challenges of writing after stroke and a neurological disorder have disabled her body. This quote below about “inconvenience” is exactly how I feel about my own hands.
“I thought I was being punished because I hadn’t kept doing the writing I wanted to do,” she said of her illness. “Then I decided that it was just fate, and my aunt had Parkinson’s, so even though one side of the family was having heart attacks, the other side of the family was having nerve disease, so I got the worst of both sides, I guess.
“I thought, I’m just going to be this way for the rest of my life. Which isn’t that bad, now that I’m used to being numb all the time. But it’s such an inconvenience. It’s very inconvenient not to be able to use your hands.”
- Dig Deep: Beyond Lean In – bell hooks takes on Sheryl Sandberg’s “faux-feminism,” and it’s a great read.
Sandberg’s definition of feminism begins and ends with the notion that it’s all about gender equality within the existing social system. From this perspective, the structures of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy need not be challenged. And she makes it seem that privileged white men will eagerly choose to extend the benefits of corporate capitalism to white women who have the courage to ‘lean in.’ It almost seems as if Sandberg sees women’s lack of perseverance as more the problem than systemic inequality. Sandberg effectively uses her race and class power and privilege to promote a narrow definition of feminism that obscures and undermines visionary feminist concerns.
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An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.