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Books for Women
- Fall 2005 -
Volume 1 Number 2
Welcome to the Second Issue of
More Books for Women
Welcome to the second issue of More Books for Women. This issue features recommendations from the booksellers at Women & Children First, our first "For the Kids (and Young Adults)" and news sections, and a mysteries column. And, for readers who like to give books as gifts for the upcoming holidays, this issue will be followed shortly by a quick collection of holiday gift suggestions.
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Ann Christophersen is reading...
Kate Atkinson is a British writer with a terrific wit and a keen ability to create
and manage very complicated plots. Her most recent novel Case
Histories, just out in paperback, displays these qualities to a T. There
are three narrative lines chronicling three seemingly unrelated events, which
are ultimately tied together by a main character, an investigator. Jackson, the
detective, is a thoroughly sympathetic and likeable character in his own right,
as is each of the main characters in each “case.” This is a wonderfully engaging
literary “thriller.” Little Brown, $13.95.
It won’t be very long until
B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott will be out in paper. But
for her fans, any wait—whatever its duration—is always too long. What I loved
about this book—and all her non-fiction—is her simultaneous recognition of how
important her subject matter is (in this case, her faith) and how irreverent her
treatment of it. Her appeal is that she comes across as absolutely honest and,
in many cases, wise while her sense of the absurd and the comedy of everyday life
is right there with her. I laughed out loud reading Plan B, as I did Traveling
Mercies (Anchor/Doubleday, $13.95), the book just before this one. An earlier
book, Operating Instructions (Anchor/Doubleday, $13.00), is, to this day,
the funniest book I have ever read. Riverhead Books, $24.95.
I always want there to be a good book to read on whatever subject is currently
on my mind; sometimes I find it, sometimes I don’t. At age 57, what’s been on
my mind lately is the next stage of life and what changes I might want (or need)
to make. I found the perfect book for helping my thinking along, Inventing
the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood, by Suzanne Braun Levine.
One of the things that intrigues me is that women around fifty experience hormonal
changes affecting their brains very similar to those which occur during adolescence.
In complex ways, then, women aren’t simply older versions of themselves but
new women, in many respects, urged on by neurological changes to revisit former
life decisions and create new directions for themselves. Moreover Levine, who
was an editor of MS magazine from 1972 until 1989, brings a strongly
feminist perspective to bear on her information and analysis. Viking, $24.95.
I have long admired Octavia Butler’s work, and when she received a MacArthur
“genius” grant a few years ago I was delighted. Bold, imaginative, moral, political,
and visionary—these are some of the words that come to mind to describe her
novels. And all apply to her newest, Fledgling, in which she creates
her own vampire mythology. Having immersed myself in Buffy-myth for the last
few years, I was primed for All Things Vampire. Butler’s version, though, is
particularly fascinating: in her world, vampires (Ina is her name for the extended
tribe) are much beloved by the humans they become intimate with and the conflict
at the center of her story is an internal one between two vampire family groups,
a conflict resolved by the community council according to the rules and traditions
governing Ina life. The hero, a young girl measured in Ina terms, is passionate
and powerful, another plus of this absorbing novel. Seven Stories Press, $24.95.
Joan Didion, in her new book The
Year of Magical Thinking, writes of the first year after her husband’s
death and her only daughter’s life-threatening illness. After reading an excerpt
of it in the New York Times Magazine, I knew this was a book I had to read:
the poignancy of significant loss and the absolutely time-out-of-time experience
of moving through it held a deep resonance for me, as I think it will for all
readers. If we haven’t already visited the world she describes, we surely will
some day. Didion’s excellent, eloquent writing is an invaluable guide. Knopf,
Linda Bubon suggests...
I loved Nuala O’Faolain’s historical nonfiction, The Story of Chicago May,
about a notorious woman, Irish by birth, bold of temperament, and a world traveler,
con artist, prostitute, and thief who gained her reputation in Chicago’s infamous
First Ward in the years following the Chicago World’s Fair. Nuala’s voice and
Irish feminist sensibility make this a great read. Her other books include Are
You Somebody? and My Dream of You. Riverhead, $24.95.
For more of Linda's recommendations, see For the Kids, below.
Pam Harcourt suggests...
I flew through Wide Eyed, a collection of short stories published as
part of Dennis Cooper’s “Little House on the Bowery” series. These wholly original
stories involve videogames, cats, elves, hummingbirds, monster movies, and wonder.
If you think it’s riveting (as I do) to start a story by stating "My face
is not exactly like two dogs humping, but it's just as fascinating and embarrassing,”
then you should totally check out Wide Eyed. Akashic Books, $13.95.
In Lydia Millett’s Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, the three physicists who
were key to inventing the atomic bomb, Oppenheimer, Szilard, and Fermi, show
up in Santa Fe in 2003 with no idea how they arrived there – and then. One librarian
believes them immediately, and this is her story as well as theirs. The spectacle
of the scientists navigating this world is both unexpectedly funny and deeply
heartbreaking, while the world’s reaction to the scientists is completely over
the top. There is historical and political info about nuclear weapons interspersed
with the story passages, all in Millet’s clear and lyrical prose, making it
nearly impossible to finish this book and not come out of it with a new awareness
of these issues. Soft Skull Press, $25.00.
Why Buffy Matters by Rhonda Wilcox: The bookshelves of Buffy lovers
get fuller and fuller every year, as more and more fans discover the BtVS pantheon
of feminist icons, and those of us who are watching episodes for the 50th
time are yet uncovering shiny new layers. As co-editor of both academic anthology
Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and
Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies, and
co-organizer of the 2004 Slayage Conference, Rhonda Wilcox has been instrumental
in creating, encouraging, and organizing the body of scholarly work that is
Buffy Studies. It’s exciting to finally have an entire Buffy book in her voice,
and as the title makes clear she is making a specific argument that Buffy Is
Important Art. No disagreement here – in fact, the stronger part of the book
is the focused second half that forgoes any intention of converting newbies
and simply plunges into deep readings of single episodes. This book is fun,
stimulating, and nearly as chockfull of literary allusion as BtVS her/itself.
I highly recommend it for all watchers. And, of course, slayers. I.B. Tauris
& Co. Ltd., (distributed in the U.S. by Palgrave Macmillan), $14.95.
Contributing Nation editor Liza Featherstone’s Selling
Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Workers’ Rights at Wal-Mart
is newly in paperback. I picked it up last year when she was here for a reading
and, because of these women’s incredible personal stories, I could not put it
down. These women were completely into the idea of being part of “the Wal-Mart
family” and put up with a staggering amount of unacceptable treatment before coming
together in a sex-discrimination lawsuit. I find it fascinating that women workers
who the Left would have had an extremely hard time reaching were pushed so far
by this particular company that Wal-Mart is essentially radicalizing their workers
for us! Featherstone’s analysis is satisfying – she doesn’t advocate a simple
boycott of Wal-Mart, instead she offers a variety of strategies for action that
acknowledge the complexities of working-class communities that may not have many
other options for employment or shopping.
When she read here, Wal-Mart actually sent women workers to make
what were clearly scripted remarks. Having just read the book, it was chilling
to hear the same corporate lingo from the book in their statements. Liza dealt
with it wonderfully, thanking them for their perspectives. I’d love to hear if
they showed up elsewhere on her tour. Basic Books, $14.95.
I've really enjoyed skipping around in The Believer Book of Writers Talking
to Writers. These are good, looong conversations with so many of the writers
I’m interested in hearing from. Some of the interviews appeared in Believer
magazine, some are here for the first time. Michelle Tea with Felicia Luna Lemus
was a great talk that I remembered from the magazine, while Zadie Smith with
Ian McEwan was one I’d missed but heard about. Jamaica Kincaid discusses how
easily black women’s writing is characterized as angry. Haruki Murakami ponders
why woman musicians have such a hard time in his work. You’ll find Marilynne
Robinson interviewed, Siri Hustvedt, Grace Paley, August Wilson, and many more.
Your list of to-read authors will quickly grow a lot longer. Edited by Vendela
Veda, Believer Books, $18 paperback.
Tish Hayes recommends.....
have a vivid memory of researching Pluto for a second-grade assignment and from
that moment on I was in love. It was such a mysterious and exciting planet, and
Dava Sobel's fascinating look at our little solar system has revealed that the
decades-old encyclopedia I was using for research provided just the barest glimpse
of what scientists would discover about that distant planet. In The
Planets, Dava Sobel beautifully weaves history, mythology and science
to reveal the heavenly bodies that orbit our sun. Her prose captures the same
imagination that fueled a second grader's flimsy research and can fill even the
most jaded with awe when considering the night sky. Viking, $24.95.
The revival of burlesque makes one wonder why
it ever went away. With Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show,
Rachel Shteir takes us back to the middle of the 19th century and leads us through
a fascinating history of beautiful women, stunning costumes, money-grubbing
managers, the thrill of fame, the more common story of hard work and survival,
and the eventual disintegration of striptease to just strip. This academic perspective
is anything but dry, and it offers a feminist take on an art form that has had
a wide-ranging social and cultural impact. Oxford University Press, $17.95 paperback.
Archive specializes in bringing back to print important experimental and literary
fiction. One of their most recent releases is by the important French writer Nathalie
Sarraute, best known as a proponent of the Nouveau Roman, or the New Novel. The
Planetarium, originally published in 1959, is propelled by the internal
conflicts of each of the characters, and the perspective of the novel is continually
shifting between these characters. If you enjoy Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway
or To the Lighthouse, I recommend trying The Planetarium. Dalkey
Archive Press, $12.95.
reading a thoughtful review by Francine Prose in the Washington Post and
learning that Mary Gaitskill's new novel Veronica
had earned a National Book Award nomination, I couldn't resist pulling it off
the shelf and moving it up on my list of things to read. Set in the 80's at the
height of the AIDS crisis in New York, Veronica promises to be as dark
and honest and character-driven as Gaitskill's best fiction. Pantheon, $23.00.
And the latest book in Tish’s passion for all things Le Guin?
Utopian Politics of Ursula K. Le Guin's “The Dispossessed”, ed. Laurence
Davis & Peter Stillman. I have been looking forward to this collection
of essays for months. When I finished Le Guin's Dispossessed earlier this
year, I immediately regretted not taking notes or at least reading armed with
a highlighter. The book questions so many of our political and social systems
and is satisfied to let the questions stand without simplistic answers. Finally,
in the first collection of essays to examine Le Guin's Dispossessed, scholars
provide discussion of topics such as: Post-Consumerist Politics, Anarchist Politics,
Temporal Politics, Revolutionary Politics, and Open-Ended Utopian Politics. This
won't be a light read, but having finished the introduction, I'm sure that it's
well worth the time and effort for any Le Guin admirer. The most exciting part,
though, is the original essay by Ursula K. Le Guin, herself, in response to all
of these critical examinations of her work. Lexington Books, $24.00 paperback.
For the Kids
Recommendations from Linda Bubon
We have some great new girl stories in paperback this
year. Here are three of my favorites:
and the Beanstalk by Mary Pope Osborne and illustrated by Giselle Potter
is only $6.99. It's a wonderfully illustrated version of the beanstalk tale with
a little girl playing Jack’s part – and she has a wonderful personality. Most
of the story is fairly traditional, but the illustrations really bring it
to life. Aladdin Paperbacks, $6.99, oversize, full-color paperback.
Princesses Are Not Quitters, written by Kate Lum and illustrated by Sue
Hellard, has all the foofiness of a real princesss book but has a wonderful message. Three very pampered princesses, with very fancy dresses
and hair, are bored and decide that the castle's maids are having
all the fun. So they change places with the maids for the day, but all is not as they had imagined:
the head housekeeper keeps them hip hopping from task to task and they have work from morning until night and then into
the night to get all the work done. Our princesses just can’t get over how much work there is at the castle - but
they also discover that it’s quite lovely to eat a pie that they made themselves.
So they call the maids together and say, “You know
what? We need a better division of labor. It’s fun to do some work but it’s also
important to have some playtime and rest time.” And so they arrive at a very
happy solution for everyone. Bloomsbury, $6.95, oversize full-color paperback.
And probably my very favorite, as a Midwesterner, is Clever Beatrice by
Margaret Willey, illustrated by Heather Solomon. Set in "The Uppers" (Michigan's Upper Peninsula)
it's one of those "we’ve come to the end of our porridge" tales
and the mother says, “Eat, eat, my girl, but not too fast, this is the last
you’re going to get.” So Beatrice decides, “I have to go out and earn
some money.” And her mother says, “Well, the only work here is to be a lumberjack,
and that’s no work for little girls. But there is a rich giant on the other
side of the woods who likes to gamble on his own strength....” And of course,
Beatrice is very clever and bests him. It's a very funny story and is an ALA Notable
book. Aladdin, $6.95, paperback.
And this year we have a sequel, Clever Beatrice and the Best
Little Pony, which is still out in hardcover, in which our clever Beatrice, with
the help of the French Canadian town baker, catches a lupin, a leprechaun-like being
who’s been sneaking into her barn and riding her beloved pony ragged in the
middle of the night. Beatrice is a wonderful character and I hope we see more
Beatrice stories. Atheneum, $16.95, hardcover.
Earth Mother by Ellen Jackson is a beautiful new picture book – a creation
story – with outstanding illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon. The Dillons are
noted for their lush depictions of African stories and African American stories
and characters. Earth Mother starts off as a story about a man, a mosquito
and a frog.The mosquito annoys the man, the frog is annoyed by the man, and
the mosquito is plagued by the frog, so they all complain to the Earth Mother. But
in truth, they all need each other: the man, it turns out, feeds off the frog,
the frog off the mosquito, and the mosquito off the man. It’s an ecological tale,
of course, simply told with beautiful illustrations. I love that the Earth Mother
is a beautiful African woman. Walker, $16.95, oversized hardcover. Jackson also wrote
a great girl story called Cinder Edna about a resourceful Cinderella.
And for the boys, we have a great boys’ story, Sleeping Bobby, in which
the sleeping beauty role is played by a handsome prince, and the rescuer
is the feisty princess who wakes Bobby from his enchanted slumber. It’s delightful and has lots of funny details. Giselle Potter is one of my favorite illustrators; the text is by Will and Mary Pope Osborne.
Atheneum, $16.95, hardcover.
Chickerella by Mary Jane and Herm Auch is a great retelling of the Cinderella
story. The Auchs have done a number of chicken stories over the years and the illustrations are fabulous. They create these chickens out of wire
and feathers and fur, make clothing for them, pose them, and then photograph
them, and also tell readers how they did it. Chickerella’s stepmother, for instance,
appears in a leopard-skin bodysuit with a incredibly fancy beady glasses,
big jewelry and a gold lamé purse – just fabulously tacky. This version of the
story features glass eggs, rather than slippers and an alternate ending in which
the fairy goose mother who’s into fashion design, the prince who’s into accessories,
and Chickerella, the esteemed seamstress, all go into the fashion business together.
What a great ending! Holiday House, $16.95, hardcover. Look for their other
chicken titles including Poultrygeist Holiday House, $6.95.
And Tango Makes Three is a wonderful story about two male penguins who
are best friends. They spend all their time together and are disinclined to
mate with anyone else. They're quite content with each other, but they desperately
want an egg to raise like the other penguins have. So they get a stone and
keep it warm, but nothing materializes from it. Eventually a very nice
zoo-keeper who has observed their behavior gives them an egg that needs nurturing,
and they are wonderful parents. It’s a charming story by Justin Richardson and
Peter Parnell. The illustrations by Henry Cole are soft and lovely. Everyone
is into penguins this year, - and it’s based on a true story about a penguin family
living in New York City's Central Park Zoo. Simon & Schuster, $14.95, cloth. For
preschoolers through second graders.
Veteran feminist cartoonist Nicole Hollander and writer Robie Harris have teamed
up to create the "Just Being Me" series for the 2- to 4-year-old set. All of the
books are about kids expressing strong emotions – and getting emotional, but balanced,
responses from their parent or parents. In each book, there’s a point where the
child absolutely doesn’t do what the parent wants and the parent(s) aren't doing
what the child wants – both kids and parents will see themselves in these pages.
Each book also includes a “word to the parents” page that is quite useful, but
Not Sleepy! features a little light-skinned, blond boy,
All Dressed! features a dark-skinned boy, I’m
So Mad! features a brown-skinned girl, and I
Love Messes! has a pink-skinned girl; and all kinds of
people are represented throughout the books.
Robie Harris, if you’re unfamiliar
with her work, is a real advocate for multiculturalism in our schools and libraries and also excels at developing ways to communicate with very young children about the mysteries and awesomeness of birth.
Little Brown Kids, $7.99 each, sturdy paper-over-board covers.
Middle School & Young Adult
I’m totally thrilled with James Howe’s new book, Totally Joe, a sequel
to the popular The Misfits, the tale of four sixth-graders who band
together to get their school to outlaw name calling. Inspired by the book, No Name
Calling days have sprung up all over the country. There’s a kid in The Misfits who is very flamboyant and is just coming out
to himself, and realizing that he likes boys, not girls, and that there’s nothing
wrong with that. And there’s a very bright, but maybe too outspoken young gal, who’s very feminist
and in everyone’s face all the time, and two others who band together to get
their school to change. $5.99, Aladdin.
Totally Joe takes up the story of the gay kid, who
has his first boyfriend – another seventh grader who’s a jock and a popular
kid, and cute who leaves a note in Joe’s locker saying, “I want to be more like
you....” They become friends, then boyfriends. All four kids team up with
someone during the year, and the boyfriend/girlfriend behavior is all very
age-appropriate, innocent, really, and suitable for sixth, seventh, and even
fifth graders. This is the age when the name-calling starts in earnest and it’s also the
age when many kids discover that they like the same sex; there’s a dearth
of material for 10-14 year olds in these situations, even though we have more,
now, for older teens. Joe is so winning that teachers and parents and all
kinds of kids will like Joe. He’s a very funny and entertaining guy. Atheneum/Simon
& Schuster, $15.95, cloth.
The Rainbow Road, the third book in Alex Sanchez’ Rainbow High Series (Rainbow High, Rainbow Boys),
is just out. Here the three friends are on a road trip. One of the kids, who took a boy to
the prom and got a lot of media coverage for it, has been invited to speak at
a high school in California for gay kids, so off the three go. In these books
Alex portrays the range of behaviors from very out to very closeted, from very
jock to geeky-nerdy, to very effeminate, and helps kids express their comfort
levels with different kids expressions of themselves. The books are also very
popular with teen-age girls, perhaps because they are very romantic, but also,
I think, because girls are very curious about boys – straight boys, gay boys,
and bi- boys, too. And also, perhaps, because girls are skilled at being able
to read themselves into books about boys – a skill that isn’t yet generally
taught to boys. I’m excited about these books being out there for kids. Simon
& Schuster, $16.95, cloth.
Naomi Shihab Nye, who has done so much good work with children’s poetry, published
a young adult novel last spring, Going, Going. It’s about a young girl
in Texas whose parents own a Mexican restaurant. She has become aware of
how superstores, super-hotels, and super-restaurants are
driving out locally owned businesses, and she starts a campaign in her school
to support the locally owned businesses and boycott the chains. Booksellers
everywhere should take this book to their hearts! It has very engaging characters
and, again, kids with a variety of responses: kids who are comfortable with
the protests, kids who have to be pulled into it – the whole range. Greenwillow,
Pierce writes stories about medieval teens and has several series starring warrior
girls and clever girls. She writes in the sword and sorcery genre, but with a
decidedly feminist twist. Her primary goal in each book, she revealed at a recent
book-and-author breakfast, is to make sure that girls kick butt. Her new book,
Will of the Empress (Scholastic Press, $17.99, cloth) is almost Harry-Potter
size. Her last book, Trickster’s Queen, is out in paperback. Random House
Books for Young Readers, $8.95, paper.
Pam Muñoz Ryan’s latest book, Becoming
Naomi León, is just out in paperback. Like her earlier book, Esperanza
Rising, it’s available in Spanish (Yo, Naomi León) and English.
Naomi León and her little brother were living with their parents in Mexico, but
there was trouble and their mother, who we come to understand has a drinking and
substance abuse problem, takes the children and leaves them with her grandmother.
So the kids grow up in a trailer park in New Mexico with their great-grandmother.
She cleans them up, nurtures them, and helps them grow up – Naomi was not speaking
and, by now, has become a rather normal ten or eleven-year-old girl. When their
mother reappears, with her scary-looking boyfriend, and wants to take Naomi away,
Gran and the kids must devise a way to keep both kids safe – which includes journeying
to Oaxaca to find their dad who is both delighted to see them again and willing
to sign papers to let them stay with their grandmother. Scholastic, $5.99.
Esperanza Rising is also a compelling story about immigration and assimilation,
class migrations, and leaving to escape familial difficulties. Scholastic, $5.99.
By Nan Cinnater
As a rule, I have only two problems with comic mysteries: they aren't
comic and they aren't mysterious. Susan Kandel's I
Dreamed I Married Perry Mason ($6.99, Avon), first in a series featuring
writer Cece Caruso, is an exception to the rule. Cece's trendy L.A. patter is
actually funny, and even her obsession with vintage designer clothes is more amusing
than annoying. In addition, Kandel's retro Fifties mystery plot is truly suspenseful.
Cece is working on a biography of Earle Stanley Gardner, the creator of Perry
Mason, when she unearths an unsolved case of Gardner's (a real criminal attorney)
which has all the sordid atmosphere and doomed passion of classic drugstore fiction.
In Kandel's second mystery, Not a Girl Detective ($23.95, Morrow), Cece
is researching the history of Nancy Drew. Here, the contemporary mystery plot
is not nearly as compelling. But the scene at a Palm Springs hotel where Cece
and her sidekicks mistake a Dinah Shore Golf Tournament party for a Nancy Drew
convention is hilarious.
True Nancy Drew aficionados will much prefer the non-fiction book, Girl
Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her, by Melanie Rehak ($25,
Harcourt), an excellent social history and dual biography of the two women most
responsible for the Nancy Drew phenomenon. Rehak strikes the perfect note between
popular and scholarly, making Girl Sleuth a remarkably good read. This
would be a great gift for many mothers, sisters, and other female relatives.
As for grown-up detectives – real-life federal prosecutor Michele Martinez
introduces fictional federal prosecutor Melanie Vargas in Most
Wanted ($6.99, Harper Torch). A Puerto Rican girl from a poor Brooklyn
family, Melanie is smart and ambitious, but she hasn't forgotten her roots. Estranged
from her cheating husband, Melanie has a baby girl, an interfering mother, a princess
sister, the boss from hell, and a crush on the FBI agent assigned to her latest
case. The crime, the torture-murder of a hotshot Manhattan attorney, is a tad
grim for my taste, but the crisp writing and the appealing cast of characters
make up for it. Melanie Vargas is back in Finishing School ($23.95, Morrow),
in which she investigates the apparent overdose of two teenagers from New York's
snobbiest girls' school, found dead in a Park Avenue apartment.
Victoria Blake walks a line somewhere between Dashiell Hammett and P.D. James
Shadow, introducing Oxford-bred judo champion and private investigator
Sam (Samantha) Falconer, who runs the Gentle Way detective agency ($14.00, Berkley
Prime Crime). As a favor to her brother, Sam agrees to help therapist John O'Connor
find his missing wife; but the more intriguing mystery involves fierce, enigmatic
Sam herself. That mystery starts to unravel when Sam receives a letter purporting
to be from her father, who died when she was four.
From Carol Seajay
Where have all the feminist publishers gone?
Ruth Gottstein, founder of Volcano Press and the publisher of the first book
in America on domestic violence (Battered Wives by Del Martin, 1976)
went to the mountains where, at 82, she’s brought her son on board as associate
publisher. The press continues to focus on domestic violence issues. The most
recent book? Child Abuse and Neglect: Guidelines for Identification, Assessment,
and Case Management. The most popular? Learning to Live Without Violence:
A Handbook for Men, which sells, by the thousands, to the military.
Photos and a recent article:
More about Volcano:
TRIVIA: A Journal of Ideas, has been relaunched as an
online publication. Issue #2 in its new format, TRIVIA: Voices
of Feminism is just out. Read it at:
Gone to Movies....
Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee’s film based on Annie Proulx’s much-loved
short story by the same name, is due to hit theaters December 9 and is predicted
to be a block buster success, although some are still questioning whether (straight)
men can cope – or learn how to cope – with a brilliant love story if both of
the protagonists are men.
Proulx’s publishers aren’t worried: They’re publishing 100,000
copies of the 55-page story as a stand-alone volume in cloth and another 17,000
in paperback in slim, elegant, editions with French flaps. Why do a stand-alone
edition when the story is already available in Close Range? A stand-alone
edition did well in Europe. And perhaps they’re thinking that giving movie-goers
something short and sweet, in this attention-deficit era, is a better way to
entice them to consider, gee, reading as an entertainment form....
Good Marketing/Bad Marketing
Penguin has just launched Essential Editions, which collects some of
the best books in recent years in $15.95 gift/collectable editions and BTWOF
has to give them credit for getting it right – five of the first ten books are
classics by women writers: Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy
Allison, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, How the Garcia Girls Lost
Their Accents by Julia Alverez, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk
Kidd, and The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields. And the books by men include
two that have been reviewed in BTWOF’s pages: Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee
and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
buyer user beware: AOL is telling its subscribers that its new
AOL Coaches program is “here to help.” But they’re telling publishers it’s “a
powerful online marketing platform” to put their “life improvement authors...in
front of a larger, loyal audience.” (Text from a 6-page Publishers Weekly
cover-wrap ad.) “AOL,” the hype continues, has “112 million users (and) fresh
new ways to engage readers and maximize the impact of your authors’ messages....”
including interactive quizzes, mobile messaging, interactive workshops, newsletters....
Joan Didion received the National Book Award for nonfiction for The Year
of Magical Thinking, one of Ann’s picks in the last issue. Jeanne Birdsall
won the Young People’s Literature award for The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale
of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy (Knopf, $15.95
Lambda Literary Award Nominations
The Lambda Literary Foundation is alive and well and accepting nominations
for the 2005 Lambda Literary Awards at www.lambdaliterary.org. The Foundation’s
Board of Directors (Katherine V. Forest, Karla Jay, Jim Duggans, and Don Weise),
spent the summer rethinking, reprioritizing, and moving the organization. The
results include a shiny new website (http://www.lambdaliterary.org),
the appointment of Charles Flowers as executive director, new digs (PO Box 1957,
Chelsea Station, New York, NY 10113; phone 646-239-9790; email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Download the nominations form at http://www.lambdaliterary.org/awards.html.
Snarky Reporting Award
And last but not least, a special, one-time (we hope!) Snarky Reporting
Award to the New York Times and everyone involved in the “paper of record’s” Nov. 9
fiasco of a story, allegedly about a the tension between Andersonville (Chicago)
coffeeshop owners and under-supervised children.
The “report” wildly conflated stories and locations, and in so
doing, implied that one of the country’s most child-friendly bookstores (yes,
we’re speaking of our own Women & Children First) is a den of child- and mother-haters.
OK, I exaggerate, but only slightly –. We’ll start with what the
In the published correction, the Times acknowledged that
due to “an editorial error” the paper had “misstated” “the site of an incident
in which a woman was asked to stop breast-feeding in a store in Chicago” adding,
“It was not the Women & Children First bookstore, but another business in
the neighborhood.” Duh!
The story also erroneously implied that WCF “ejects” children from its
(very popular and well attended) Story Hours and reported that mothers who are
boycotting a neighborhood bakery are also boycotting the feminist bookstore
because of the store’s “rules” – which the Times acknowledged, in it’s
correction, it has also misreported. Duh! Or maybe we should say, Double
Never mind that women have been breastfeeding in the store for decades,
never mind that such an article might want to point out that the store’s long-running
story time for children might just provide an excellent model for how other
neighborhood businesses could choose to create child-friendly spaces, and never
mind that any story that critically cited one of their advertisers’ rules for
children’s behavior (think, perhaps, Barnes & Noble) would have included a
fact-checking call to make sure the paper was reporting them accurately.... Triple
What really impresses me is the Times staffers’ collective willingness,
and apparent eagerness, to blame child-unfriendly behavior on a feminist institution.
One might think that the intelligent response to such a story would be to note
an apparent contradiction between the store’s name and the behavior they were
reporting and to take a few minutes to do a double-check.
The only explanation I can come up with for the convolutions that it
took to come up with the many errors in the story it published is pure,
well, snarkiness, But, perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps it’s not a get-the-feminists
thing at all. Perhaps it’s just part of corporate-owned and corporate-beholden
media’s increasing irresponsibility to anything that isn’t corporate (profit)
based. In either case, to the New York Times, BTWOF’s Snarky
Reporting Award for cruel and vicious, anti-woman and anti-feminist, and
independent-business bashing and misreporting!
Congratulations to Charis Books and More, the Atlanta feminist bookstore, on
their 30th anniversary celebration. Details at http://charis.booksense.com.
And to off our backs for staying the distance for 35 years! Send them
a celebratory note at www.offourbacks.org or 2337B 18th St.
NW, Washington, DC 20009
I hope you’ve enjoyed the second edition of More Books for Women and will join
us for many issues to come.
Yours in spreading the words,
We hope you've enjoyed this issue of More Books for Women.
If you like it, please tell all your friends and colleagues about More Books for Women (and our sister publications, The Lesbian Edition and The Gay Men's Edition) and encourage them to subscribe as well.
If you give holiday gifts, and can give some subscriptions to More Books for Women as a way to spead the word about it and to help us launch it far and wide, that would be a wonderful way to support this new publication. But if you don't like it, or have suggestions for improvement, please tell us before you tell your friends.
If you really like More Books for Women, and would like to join 50 women in making monthly pledges ($100-$25) for a year to help finance its first year, please call or email Maddy@BooksToWatchOutFor.com or give me a call.
We look forward to hearing from you about this exciting new publication.
Yours in spreading the words,
for Books To Watch Out For
© 2005 Books To Watch Out For
Graphics © Judy Horacek
Books To Watch Out For
PO Box 882554
San Francisco, CA 94188