Bookish Things

Bookish Things August 2017

I promise I’m trying to find things that aren’t just Jane Austen related, but I guess when I read so much Jane Austen and love so much of what is produced around her it’s inevitable. I have a decent balance this week between Jane Austen and non-Jane Austen. I think it’s 50/50 this week.

I’ve been trying to make an effort recently (which I’ve made before) to read more long-form pieces (including book reviews). A lot of these pieces end up coming from The New Yorker and I noticed they spell any word that has a double vowel like coöperate or reëlect with a diaeresis, NOT an umlaut. This is a great brief article from The New Yorker about why the continue to do it – in essence to signal to non-English speakers that the word is co-operate and not coop-erate.

I really enjoyed this brief excerpt from Abigail Williams’ The Social Life of Books on the evolution of books and literature. Who hasn’t pictured themselves reading aloud to their family in a Jane Austen novel. Oh, just me? Well on with it then.

Having watched and raved about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and reading an unhealthy amount of published Jane Austen fan-fiction, I am totally on board with these future projections of Austen adaptations! My favorite, because it’s sad and probably true was: “Absolutely Nothing Northanger Abbey-Related – In 2158, the last remaining human who has ever heard of Northanger Abbey will die.”

This article makes me sad. I wrote a paper in undergrad about how inclusive fantasy was concerning LGBT individuals, and now looking back every character was probably white. I don’t know because that was before I started blogging, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out. I do wonder if women authors’ worlds (who generally had more LGBT portrayals) are as white as the men’s.

This is in direct response to the above article. I stumbled across this drama on Mother Jones and not to mince words it’s bullshit.  This is a pull quote about the people who are waging this war:

One author and former diversity advocate described why she no longer takes part: “I have never seen social interaction this fucked up,” she wrote in an email. “And I’ve been in prison.”

What these “advocates” are doing is the SAME thing that “advocates” are doing when they try and get books removed from library shelves (American Library Association website). Remember Banned Book Month? Remember book burnings? Yeah, this is the same thing. What kills me about this book in particular, which I will probably read to see if it’s as traumatic as people say, is that it is a journey of awakening – of turning against what these advocates are saying is the worst part of the book. An anonymous book publisher nailed it with:

“None of us are willing to comment publicly for fear of being targeted and labeled racist or bigoted. But if children’s-book publishing is no longer allowed to feature an unlikable character, who grows as a person over the course of the story, then we’re going to have a pretty boring business.”

And yes I understand, particularly in the light of what’s happened recently in the US that lack of representation is BEYOND problematic in literature, the publishing industry and the review industry, but who are we to dictate to an author what they should or should not be writing? I’m embarrassed that the conversation is being led by adults and not teens.

Someone pegged this perfectly and said “They already did that with Kiera Knightley” and I have to agree. I’m concerned the adaptor has never seen an adaptation. I’m also concerned she’s going for the 50 Shades version:

“Pride and Prejudice is actually a very adult book, much less bonnet-y than people assume,” Raine said of the project.

“I hope I do justice to Austen’s dark intelligence – sparkling, yes, but sparkling like granite.”

Ugh. We’ll see though. Austenites can be about as rowdy as those YA readers above.

It’s not wrong – mostly I just linked to this for the tinder video half-way through the article. #jokes


8 thoughts on “Bookish Things August 2017”

  1. I wonder if Lesbian representation is more common than Gay representation because it’s not about LGBT representation but about keeping heterosexual viewers interested. There’s that whole, “women kissing is hot”. I am quite the cynic. But I’m also opposed to book banning. There are minority authors writing books. Publishers should promote their works more. Boycotting books with problematic representation is not going to help promote great books with non-problematic representation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From what I remember when I wrote the paper it was a mixed bag of LGBT representation. [Full disclosure – as a gay man I may have blocked out some of the lesbians because they were icky at the time.] What I do remember is many were non-sexual even though they were attracted to the same sex.

      I agree completely that publishers need to be working with broader writers (and hiring broader staff)! It’s nog going to help to spend all efforts complaining about something that’s wrong (or perceived wrong) when that same effort could be put behind championing someone who is doing it right.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


  2. Have you read N.K. Jemisin yet? Her Broken Earth trilogy is amazing and incredibly diverse. I’ve also heard about another fantasy novel that is being turned into a tv series–Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor, a Nigerian author. I haven’t read it yet but it’s gotten a lot of comparisons to Game of Thrones and even think Martin might be producing the series.


  3. Kudus to any media outlet that tries to aid readers but their use of the diaeresis doesn’t do that for me because it looks too much like the umlaut. I don’t have the sophistication of spotting the difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What I found most disturbing about the drama around The Black Witch is that so many people are condemning it without reading it. I have no problem with people calling a book out for bad representation and making their point with both their wallets and their goodreads ratings, but putting a book down yourself without having read it or suggesting no one else should read it because of a single negative review does seem wrong to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree completely! It bothered me so much the blogger they interviewed who said she didn’t and wasn’t planning to read it and she was afraid of the lashback for doing the interview. Honestly it made me want to read the book more!

      Liked by 1 person

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