Issue 151 | December 2014
"Eventually the real thrust of the book emerged, it was the journey of a girl who was fairly uneducated, poor and born into times that were very patriarchal but on the cusp of change and all the obstacles and journeys and knockbacks that trying to be a creative woman in those times threw at her. I don't know where I got the strength from, but I didn't let those obstacles beat me, not in the end."
Because the point is not how I reacted to the non-indictment but that I cannot talk about what I read this month without talking about Mike Brown. Nothing else I read felt important. Even as I knew, after ten years working in prisons and public high schools, what those texts would say once I was back on the ground. We, you, I cannot allow ourselves to expect news like this just as we cannot allow ourselves to be unprepared for it. Hearing it puts us in hyperspace. Where is my body. Where is yours.
What Bad Feminist does in espousing consistent inconsistency is something irresponsible, and it then creates a space in which no one can call it so. Responsibility -- what it is, who has it, and especially: do artists? -- comes up several times in the book, but as with every issue, political, artistic, or otherwise, Gay’s verdict is out: just as she vacillates on whether she wants to act an example, she vacillates on what kind of morality we can and should expect of our popular culture more broadly. Her readiness to come to only the easiest of conclusions -- that unreasonable expectations are “unfair” -- in response to two conflicting truths ends up rendering most of what she says meaningless.
Kate Christensen: "'It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how,' as Dr. Seuss said. Or, 'Moderation in all things,' as my grandmother said, to which she always added, with a twinkle, 'especially moderation.' The attraction of a writer's brain and body to alcohol is one I profoundly understand, but you also have to take care of your brain and body -- they're all you have. It's an attenuated balancing act, I think, at least it can be. That high-wire balls-out giving of yourself to your work is an existence of extremes. It's all too easy to crave a dousing of that brain that was on fire all day. I can't judge anyone for going overboard with booze. I did it myself for many years. I still let myself do it on occasion. It's a tonic for the writer's brain that's only toxic if you're not careful; otherwise it's a balm."
"I was tired of brilliant writers being forced by publishers or culture or themselves to forgo the outlandishness of their prose for the fit of plot. The cog. Contiguity. Sense, revelation. For me, I have always felt, You want plot? Here's a plot. A writer was compelled (because of culture, because of her life, because of you, because of other books, because of the war, because of what isn't a book) to make this. It's the story of her thinking she has to."
"I was a terrible fiction writer in part because I never had that experience where a character takes on a life of his own and starts walking, talking, speaking, and behaving seemingly independent of the author's intentions, where the character surprises the author in some way. But I do experience that feeling of surprise now with the ideas at the center of my essays. It's my ideas that wake me up in the middle of the night and they begin to grow and take on a life of their own. They become what I like to call, 'sticky,' and suddenly everything I see or read or recollect seems connected, however tangentially, to that idea."