furyofvissarion: (Default)
[personal profile] furyofvissarion
Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness - Anne Bishop. Yeah, the magical cock ring books. They're still as cracky as they were when I first read them, though the gender essentialism, sexism, homophobia, cissexism, etc. etc. etc. was certainly harder to read around this time. These books are a loving homage to difference feminism, where men are men & women are women & everyone seemingly likes it that way. Men are manly & strong & protective & are supposed to cherish & serve women. Women, meanwhile, can also be strong but are fatally weak & nearly unable to do magic at all when menstruating (& they all seem to have textbook terrible PMS) & thus need men around to protect them most during that time. The books are crammed w/references to texts that "must be written in Male" or things that "no one without a cock and balls could understand," & of course, women are equally incomprehensible to men. It gets very tiring.

Not to mention that all the sexual violence feels, instead of edgy, just... tired. It always has to come down to sexual violence somewhere, doesn't it? It's interesting to note that there's a point, called the killing edge, after which a powerful male is basically not held accountable for what he does, because he's so furious anything could set him off. Yes, there's at least one example of a woman being pushed to the killing edge, but to me it felt very much like a male thing: Men! They're so fierce & strong! But watch out if you push them to the killing edge, because then you deserve whatever happens. Ugh.

So why did I persist? Why is this my third or fourth time through these books? Because despite their many flaws (including bad writing: really, how many times must we see someone complaining about "stupid snarly males" or drooling over a woman's "dark midnight scent" or whatever?), the books are about fucked-up, wounded people trying to navigate their way through relationships (of all kinds): true family, heart-family, friendships, love relationships. They fuck up a lot & hurt each other, because they don't know what to do & they are hurting themselves. But they keep trying, fumbling their way to figuring out love in ways that don't hurt each other. Which, hey, story of my life & the lives of lots of my friends. Also, as uneasy as the killing edge stuff makes me, I adore that these books are full of people who would tear apart entire courts, entire cities, in defense of their friends. (I mean, who wouldn't, if they could? It's very cathartic to see it on the page, even if it is also slightly unnerving...)

Also -- Surreal, the whore-assassin who is one of the most powerful women in the book? Love her so much. I would read an entire book about Surreal. I would read an entire book about Surreal just killing people, just being badass & fierce & all, "I'll keep fighting until you tell me to stop" -- which gets both at her badassery & the chosen family stuff.

Still: all the problematic stuff weighed heavier on me than previously (seriously, all the gender essentialism made me feel like I was at work listening to my coworkers, never a fun association when reading). This might've been my last reread.

Kitty's Big Trouble - Carrie Vaughn. Another installment of the Kitty Norville werewolf books that I love. I guess the title is a reference to Big Trouble in Little China or something, since the bulk of this book takes place in San Francisco's Chinatown, sigh. The plot was actually secondary for me, here, because of course I was holding my breath dreading fail. And every time I thought I might throw the book across the room -- Kitty making a remark about how she expected to meet their contact in someplace exotic like an opium den, not a video store, etc. -- something would happen to make me think that Vaughn was perhaps a little less gross about this stuff than Kitty could be. At one point they see a fox spirit & Kitty is all, "Oh, it's a kitsune! I know about this -- " & her guide, a local Chinatown resident, snaps back that kitsune are Japanese, & you're in Chinatown now & it's completely different! Later on the same character reams Kitty out for expecting a neat summary of Chinese folklore, as if there is one version of China, of Chinatown, of Chinese myth. I found these interjections very interesting -- the book still kind of made me a little uneasy, though. Still, given that I started the book fearing this would be the last Kitty book I could stomach, some tentative relief. (& also a recognition of how low I set the bar sometimes...)

Half World - Hiromi Goto. I think I loved this even more than the first time around -- I think I was able to step back from the immediate action & appreciate the larger themes more than when I inhaled the book the first time around. This YA novel is about being stuck, trapped in the same mode of existence, doomed always to the same ending, & how horrific that is, & how people will defend that: what you have now may be awful, but it's known. & Melanie, our imperfect, cranky, wonderful heroine, shows us what it's like to move forward when it's just you, when you feel stupid & weak & you have no idea what you're supposed to be doing or how you're ever supposed to get it done, & you stop, & sometimes you freeze up, & sometimes you are cruel, & sometimes you are impatient & unkind, because you are terrified, but in the end you find yourself stumbling forward anyway, because at the end of the day there is nothing else to do, stupid & weak & imperfect & small as you are. This time around I also found faint bits where I thought the writing could've done with a bit more tightening up, but I also found phrases and sentences that were simple perfection.

Date: 2012-08-09 03:23 pm (UTC)
phi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] phi
I had the same reaction to Kitty's Big Trouble. It wasn't clear to me whether the author was just being gross or if she was trying to depict the grossness that lots of white suburban Americans have. Kitty grew up in a suburb in Colorado, not exactly the most diverse place ever, so I'd expect her to be ignorant and offensive. But Vaughn doesn't handle it nearly as well as she does the gender and power stuff.


furyofvissarion: (Default)

March 2017

121314151617 18

Most Popular Tags

Page Summary

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 19th, 2017 09:35 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios