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writing of readerly reviews of writings

Tag: :CH’s Bookshelf:

Review: Mary Fallon’s “Working Hot”

Fallon has created an entirely po-mo (post-modern) novel – she uses terms like “de(con)struct” and “con/text” without locating tongue in cheek aforethought – which roves through monologue, academic commentary, libretto, poetry, and that certain je ne sais quoi that I think comprises wankery. An angry dissection of Toto Caelo’s relationships with women who done her wrong, with many a (true and depressing) bone cast to remind us of shite things men have said/done, it was alternately quite interesting and thoroughly tedious. Overall I could call it intriguing, and I’m glad it exists to balance out a world where man-books like Moby Dick are thought the be-all and end-all of “universal” literature – I can’t, however, say that I enjoyed it much. That seems to be the definition of taking one’s (feminist) medicine. Post-modernist writing seems as try-hard and self-congratulatory as I remember it from first year uni. Only for the devoted.

Where it came from: CH’s Bookshelf
Time & manner of reading: One dabble and a concerted train-read
Where it went to: Home
Reminds me of: Feminism at uni!!
Who I’d recommend it to: Anyone who needs a recap of ’90s feminism
Also reading: The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene; The Reivers by William Faulkner

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Review: Sarah Waters’ “Affinity”

A young spirit-medium is accused of a crime in Victorian England, tried and imprisoned. A Lady Visitor comes to the prison to recover from life angst etc., and provide a good moral example to the lower orders. An “affinity” between the two women is claimed, an escape is planned, one love is fulfilled and another is ruined. Ta-dum.

This was Water’s third novel, and I wanted to read it to re-dyke my book pile and because I’d really enjoyed her first two books (let’s not even talk about the fourth novel, ugh). But really, this one just wasn’t up to the engrossing, historically sexy standard of Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith, and I won’t be reading any more of her work unless it receives an *excellent* review.

Also, the ending left me saddened and a little put out. I wanted this book to be a magic realist romance  – especially to make up for how unexceptional it was – and it just wasn’t (belated spoiler alert, peeps). It made me realise that what I wanted from dyke literature was happy endings, rather than heartbreak and possible suicide and overall meanness. Surely happily ever after isn’t too much to expect from the lady-loving five percent of the world’s literature?!

Where it came from: CH’s Bookshelf
Time & manner of reading: A few days of bed- and tram-reads, but without great enthusiasm
Where it went to: Back home
Reminds me of: Hilary Mantel’s Beyond Black, just because it’s a medium novel, but more interestingly… the burlesque performance by Moira Finucane where she acts the entire piece fully dressed in Victorian mourning dress, wringing her hands to the passionate love song playing in the background
Who I’d recommend it to:
Also reading: The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene; The Plumed Serpent by D.H. Lawrence; The Reivers by William Faulkner; Moby Dick by Herman Melville; The Times Deceas’d by Timothy d’Arch Smith