In Which I Go “Alternative”: Trashing Books

U2:  commercial for a free album at iTunes

U2’s new commercial for a free album at iTunes

“U2, you sluts, you’re supposed to be giving your money to an AIDS charity in Africa,” I said to U2 on the new iTunes  commercial.

There’s always something slightly slutty about an alternative rock band’s doing commercials, don’t you think?

I have a thing about slutdom.  I also have a thing about “alternative.”  Call me old-fashioned or call me an “ordinary radical,” because I think there is something radical about quotidian bloggers in our marketing-driven  society.

I am a middle-aged housewife, a reader, a feminist, a bicyclist, and a Latinist.  What I’m not is a marketer.  I recently promised to trash some books here, because I am a little tired of all the positive posts I’ve written.

joshlyn jackson pretty 10960383

Nothing could persuade me to finish this.

I have rejected as many contemporary novels as I’ve read recently.   Nothing could persuade me to finish Joshilyn Jackson’s rather Oprah Club-ish Southern novel, A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, in which the daughter of an unwed mother finds a buried baby under a tree. (What are the f—-g odds?)   I also gave up on  Edan Lepucki’s best-seller, California, a bittersweet dystopian novel, liberally peppered with details of pregnancy in the post-apolyptic age. (Can there BE any more dystopian novels? )  I also struck out with Laline Paull’s The Bees, a much-touted science fiction novel about a rebel bee and, yes, rogue pregnancy where only the Queen is allowed to breed.

Come on, women, birth control has always been my thing.  I’m also pro-abortion.  What’s with all the pregnant lit?

As I’ve become more connected to people on the net, my “criticism,” particularly of women’s books, has, become less strident.   A couple of weeks ago, when I wrote about Mary Beard, a celebrity classicist  I consider overrated, I didn’t stress the extent of her self-promotion.  After all, the poor woman has received death threats on Twitter.   But it’s really her writing that is overpraised:  her work is aimed at a popular audience, probably undergraduates, and I question how interesting it is to scholars or even ordinary Latinists like myself (it’s not very).

Should I  be quiet about my opinion of these successful women writers?  Probably.  They ARE my sex, after all,.

Yes, it might be nice of me, but I am proceeding with this blog from now on as though the writers won’t read this.

I promise I’ll post very soon about a contemporary woman’s novel I have hugely enjoyed.

Because there is the bad, but there is also the good.

5 thoughts on “In Which I Go “Alternative”: Trashing Books

  1. You *need* to be honest. I know there should be loyalty amongst women, but you’d be doing a disservice if you praised something that wasn’t up to standard. Unless we criticise weak books, women’s writing won’t improve…


  2. Karen, I’m surprised by how many women’s books I read, and so of course I’m going to be critical of them. I don’t know quite why I’ve been so assiduously ignoring the mediocre.

    Barry, it definitely IS an “Empress Has No Clothes” post. Reading Goodreads inspired me.:) Of course some of those Goodreads reviews are weirdly, dissonantly crticical, but it occurred to me that as a blogger I’m not in the publishing world, and I might as well say what I think, too.


  3. I agree with Kaggsy, you are doing nobody any favours by not offering justified and evidenced criticism. It’s one of the most difficult lessons that undergraduates have to learn – that criticism can be/should be positive and is the most valuable gift your tutor can offer.


  4. I do say what I think about the books I’ve been writing about, but lately I’ve avoided some of the more formulaic books I reject. And then there is the Mary Beard question, which I’m going to duck, but I would be surprised if other classicists were terribly impressed with her work.


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