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JesseBC
Posts: 278
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: The Red Tent -- Chick Lit?

Whoa...I don't think those reading recommendations came from me! I can't imagine any circumstance short of crack intoxication that would cause me to recommend Christopher Hitchens to anybody!

Handmaid's Tale is among my all-time favorites, though I often wish I'd read it in a vacuum since discussions of it are usually so allegorical and didactic that everything I love about it gets lost in the shuffle. (The Scrabble scene is among the most powerful I've ever read in a novel, but, PLEASE, no more, "This is what the Religious Right is doing to America!")

It's a much better book in the context of all Atwood's other writing, but, again, Handmaid's Tale is the most accessible and widely-read and often the only one people read. Cat's Eye and Surfacing are among my favorites too, but especially the latter is kind of bizarre. Handmaid's Tale has a more traditional, linear plot.

(Incidentally, I agree about giving kids good literature at a young age. I was just saying that it may not speak to the popularity of the novels since they're being compelled to read them. And it depends on both the book and the teacher. To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies are pretty safe bets, but The Great Gatsby is usually assigned in American high schools and, shy of having an extraordinary teacher, I just don't think it's a book that readers can really grasp until they're a bit older and less idealistic.)






Peppermill wrote:

JesseBC wrote:
...So accessibility is an issue too. I don't think Red Tent comes anywhere close to Virginia Woolf in terms of either quality or expression of what it means to be female, but far more people are reading it and talking about it and it's a much easier book to understand while certainly not being BADLY written. (Gertrude Stein is an important writer too, but she's almost impossible to read.)


Jessie -- you keep reshuffling the list of writers I'd like to spend more time exploring! (Thanks to you on a much earlier post elsewhere, Chris Hitchens' God is not great... is being sandwiched between the Idylls and Middlemarch.) I will admit that Margaret Atwood is not a favorite of mine, especially Handmaiden's Tale, which seems to have established her reputation. I did enjoy Penelopiad and Alias Grace.

I also appreciated the point you made earlier in another post about the appropriateness of NOT categorizing The Red Tent only as "Biblical Women" literature. Like Bible stories themselves, it is much more than being the "religious reading" that categorization may connote.

While young people may be exposed to tough literature too early and be turned away thereby, I'd rather they be stretched in their reading than not. They need to know such writing exists. I'd have to turn to others, including teachers and curriculum developers who struggle with the trade-offs, for a more informed perspective on what is possible given the range of print material available today. (You may well be speaking from experience yourself.)

The Brits have provided some fine female writers (besides Woolf!) that include "women's perspective": Byatt, Margaret Drabble, Iris Murdoch, Penelope Fitzgerald, Kate Atkinson, ... Most of them have one or more books that should be accessible to a wider reading public than they probably are. Which ones are read by men?

Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking (not fiction) may be read by both men and women?

It is disconcerting to see the small response Doris Lessing's The Cleft is receiving on these boards. I have not picked it up because it has been likened to The Handmaiden's Tale.


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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: The Red Tent -- Off topic -- chained recommendations

[ Edited ]

JesseBC wrote:
Whoa...I don't think those reading recommendations came from me! I can't imagine any circumstance short of crack intoxication that would cause me to recommend Christopher Hitchens to anybody!


JesseBC wrote:
"I can't stand Christopher Hitchens, for example, but I don't think talking about him is a waste of time because he's a very important contemporary writer (though, arguably, not nearly as important as he thinks he is :-)"
Wuthering Heights: Hearing Each Other
08-18-2007 12:27 AM


I had not paid attention to Hitchens prior to that post. I decided perhaps I should get some flavor of who he is and the stances he is taking. I haven't read enough yet to know where I place Hitchens, but he is at least less irritating to read than Sam Harris, even though perhaps equally uninformed about what he is attacking.

Message Edited by Peppermill on 12-10-2007 09:52 AM
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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JesseBC
Posts: 278
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: The Red Tent -- Off topic -- chained recommendations

If you want to get a taste for Hitchens, he's a frequent contributor to Vanity Fair and Slate Magazine -- www.vanityfair.com and www.slate.com

Secularism is just Da Hitch's latest attempt to be contrarian though; it's not really his regular gig like it is with Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins.

Hitchens used to be a pretty radical leftist when he was sober, then he fell off the wagon, got cynical, and decided he's the reincarnation of George Orwell. Now he fancies himself an intellectual iconoclast who can't be pigeon-holed.

The epitome of his inflated self-importance was his recent article in Vanity Fair where he talks about a solider killed in Iraq who enlisted at the persuasion of Hitchen's support for the war.

It's supposed to be this soul-searching exploration of personal guilt over how Hitchens must cope with the knowledge that this kid died because of him. But it's very transparent that he's really just excited to have been so influential that someone actually enlisted BECAUSE OF HIM!

This family lost their son and all Da Hitch can do is barely conceal his crowing. It was truly disgusting.

I'm not even sure why these publications keep running his stuff except that he's become sort of an anti-legend. It's like watching a track wreck...you just can't look away....





Peppermill wrote:

JesseBC wrote:
Whoa...I don't think those reading recommendations came from me! I can't imagine any circumstance short of crack intoxication that would cause me to recommend Christopher Hitchens to anybody!


JesseBC wrote:
"I can't stand Christopher Hitchens, for example, but I don't think talking about him is a waste of time because he's a very important contemporary writer (though, arguably, not nearly as important as he thinks he is :-)"
Wuthering Heights: Hearing Each Other
08-18-2007 12:27 AM


I had not paid attention to Hitchens prior to that post. I decided perhaps I should get some flavor of who he is and the stances he is taking. I haven't read enough yet to know where I place Hitchens, but he is at least less irritating to read than Sam Harris, even though perhaps equally uninformed about what he is attacking.

Message Edited by Peppermill on 12-10-2007 09:52 AM


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