Monday, December 08, 2008

Non-fiction roundup:

First is The Feminine Mistake: Are we giving up too much? by Leslie Bennetts, which read like she took every thought I ever had about marriage and put them in writing. It was really excellent and I thought she was wise in sticking to an economic focus and not getting bogged down in the moral and social aspects, although she didn't ignore them either. Here, have a couple of quotes. "It has become inescapably clear that choosing economic dependency as a lifestyle is the classic feminine mistake. No matter what the reasons, justification, or circumstances, it's simply too risky to count on anyone else to support you over the long haul." And "Women are still presumed to find true fulfillment by limiting themselves to the care of their families rather than exploring their own intellectual, creative, financial, and political potential in the larger world." That one goes along with the insightful part about how the Baby Boom women perhaps failed to communicate to their daughters the enjoyment they got from their jobs. And finally, "Whether or not women choose to admit it, however, dependency breeds vulnerability, inhibits open communication, and creates an unhealthy balance of power in which the subservient partner must always fear the loss of her meal ticket - unless she's in complete denial, which is often the case." Amen, sister. It's just a shame that the women who would get the most out of this book will probably never read it.

I also read Anne Kingston's The Meaning of Wife which I didn't like nearly as much. It tried to get at the sociological meaning behind the term "wife" and how those views have changed in recent history but I had issues with it, especially her use of out of date statistics presented without historical context. Also, the chapter on woman as victim was a little weird and almost seemed dismissive of the possibility of genuine detrimental psychological effects due to long term abuse.

I finally read The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule, which was probably one of the first books Daisy ever recommended to me. It was a little weird for a true crime book because of the author involvement in the story. There was a lack of full details on the crimes throughout and so I felt a little blindsided at the end when a more full account was given, which was probably the effect she was going for. I highly recommend reading this in a distracting setting (I was in Italy) because it makes it easier to detach from the story.

I enjoyed Dean Wareham's Black Postcards: A rock & roll romance in much the same way I enjoy his music - I'm a casual fan but not totally invested. I appreciated the matter of fact tone Wareham used to tell his touring stories about drugs and women. It made it all feel more authentic and not a big source of drama, well, until Britta joined Luna, of course. I liked reading about the DIY recording and the label drama and the myriad obstacles indie bands encounter trying to make a living at music.

I had Breakfast With Tiffany by Edward Wintle on my to be read list for a long time. The author takes in his troubled fourteen year old niece when she and her mother's relationship deteriorates. Unfortunately it wasn't particularly notable.

I enjoyed Doreen Orion's Queen of the Road: The true tale of 47 states, 22,000 miles, 200 shoes, 2 cats, 1 poodle, a husband, and a bus with a will of its own which is pretty accurately summed up in the subtitle. It was a nice travelogue and while I have more of a taste for kitsch than Orion, we share a remarkably similar philosophy regarding hiking: "I'd always believed the government should install escalators in the mountains of national parks, making them not only accessible to the handicapped, but also to lazy sloths like me." It's clear the book started life as a blog, and the drink recipe gimmick got old pretty quickly, but those are minor quibbles.

I'm a recent fan of Chelsea Handler, whose Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea actually startled me into loud laughter in public more than once. I don't know a better recommendation than that.

I'm not entirely sure why I even finished The Film Club by David Gilmour. I enjoyed it when he was discussing the movies, but I actually disliked both David and his son and the whole situation of him letting his son drop out of school in exchange for watching movies with him kind of distasteful. Just to give you a taste, this is the son, Jesse, after another breakup: "Do you think I'm ever going to get a girlfriend as good looking as her again?" Ugh. I pretty much wanted to kick both of them through most of the book.

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