Friday, March 25, 2011

Bitch Bundle

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, Illustrated by Henry Cole. 2005.
The Sissy Duckling by Harvey Fierstein, Illustrated by Henry Cole. 2002.
Chick-Lit: Postfeminist Fiction Edited by Chris Mazza and Jeffrey DeShell. 2000.
Weight: 2 lbs
Method of Disposal: Donating to Bitch Media Community Lending Library

I just finished reading Chick-Lit, a book I bought at the 2006 Writer’s Festival at Agnes Scott College. I bought it, on-sale, on the last day of the festival. I wanted to read a collection of women writers and this seemed like an obvious place to start. I was also uncomfortable with the use of “postfeminist” and felt that I should read it to try to see how it fit. Then my much admired creative writing professor walked by and said I should get it, without knowing any of my thoughts. That finished any inner-debate I had. I handed over the cash and took the book home, along with a large stack of others. I read through most of them, but this one got lost in the moves and was not opened again until last week.

The title is intended as a joke, a mockery. According to the author, this is the first time “chick-lit” is used in print, but it is now considered to be a subset of writing that is often printed, read, and discussed. This chik-lit is notorious for being shallow. Or, as it is described on Wikipedia, “Chick lit is genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly.” This book is nothing like that. It is a collection of women’s experimental short fiction.

I, personally, love experimental fiction. I know it can be frustrating in the wrong hands, but it is intriguing just the same. I found myself with so many mixed emotions when reading this collection, depending on the author I was reading. During several stories, I debated whether or not I could let this book go and then in many others I wanted to throw it across the room and into the recycling bin. Incest, sex, and assault became so common that they became boring in the context of some of the stories. Those topics should really never feel boring, in my opinion.
I guess I would light to highlight some of the stories. Jan Nystrom’s “The Young Lady Who Fell From a Star” offered yet another story to surround The Wizard of Oz. It was fun to read, and it read like it was fun to write. I was tempted to try something similar just for my personal pleasure. I have been the person in Kim Addonizo’s “Reading.” I appreciated her shout-outs to the New Yorker and A.M. Homes, both beloved reading to me. I really liked Peggy Shinner’s “Our Bodies Spoke in Tongues,” though sometimes it felt too drawn out. Shinner writes, “Do I say when I say we had sex last night that I was afraid of feeling aroused? That I was afraid of the feelings arousal would arouse? Do I say when I say we had sex last night that I was afraid I’d forgotten how? That I would touch you in the wrong place? The wrong way? That I would do it incorrectly?”

In Lara Anderson Love’s story, “Skittles,” she writes about a woman who needs board games to live her life. She is married to someone who must play games with her all week to prove his love for her and to make all the major decisions of their life together. This was a great idea, and it was the first time in awhile that I had not wanted to toss the book out and was invested in the outcome of the story. I was sneaking around, avoiding people who might interrupt me, and trying to read it.

Now, after that long rant, we are at the obvious question about this bundle. How do the two children books fit? I decided to donate Chick Lit to Bitch and while I was checking to make sure they did not already have it I saw a list of things they wanted. I do not have a lot of DIY books, but I do have a lot of children’s books. I decided to give them two of my prized children’s books because they asked for them.
My brother bought me And Tango Makes Three in 2005, and I thought it was such a loving gesture. I am, obviously, queer-fabulous, and I love penguins. It is about the two male penguins, Roy and Silo, at the Central Park Zoo, who raised their own chick together. Tango was that chick. It was such a great gift, so thoughtful. I never thought I would give it up, and I probably wouldn’t have if I had not seen someone ask for it directly. Someone who would put it in a library and share it with others. It is finding the perfect home.

I bought The Sissy Duckling on one of my many adventures to Charis, the feminist bookstore in Little 5 Points. I love that place. I also loved seeing a book that went beyond having two dads or two moms and started skimming the surface of gender identity. The duck is never proclaimed gay. He is proclaimed a “Sissy.” He is not into stereotypical male behaviors, and he is a disappointment to his dad. He is having a rough time growing up, but then he saves his father’s life and they bond over things the Sissy Duckling enjoys. The dad stands up for his kid in the end, and the kid goes on later in life to meet others like him.

Any who, I will be sending these three books off next week. I hope the people at Bitch Media are excited to get them!

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