“Because we need to reclaim the word ‘feminism.’ We need the word ‘feminism’ back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29 percent of American women would describe themselves as feminist—and only 42 percent of British women—I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it the freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue,’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?”
I wanted to write a post about feminists, about how no one wants to be one, but then I thought, “No, Abby. More importantly, no one wants to read that.” So, I will keep it to myself. (You’re welcome.)
Guion said the other night at dinner that he wants the Internet to be a nicer place. He noted that nothing is worth posting unless it is a meme, preferably a sarcastic meme, or a jab at someone, preferably a famous someone. The Internet is all snark and no sincerity. At least, that is what Social Media has wrought. Heaven forbid I contribute to that snarky, pointless vortex, but I do. Every day. What’s the solution? How do we fix it? Get off the Internet. Take one’s dog for a walk and wait for seemingly endless minutes while she sniffs every sixth blade of grass. This, I have found, is the only solution to the Internet’s bad attitude.
I started three new books last night, each one quite different from the next: Binocular Vision, collected stories of Edith Pearlman; The Right-Hand Shore, by Christopher Tilghman, who runs Guion’s creative writing program at UVA; and The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes, which won the 2011 Booker Prize. I liked noting how differently they all started their books.
On the subway Sophie recited the list of stations like a poem.
— “Inbound,” Binocular Vision
We see Miss Mary Bayly and her distant and much younger cousin Mr. Edward Mason sitting on the porch of the Mansion House on her ancestral farm, Mason’s Retreat.
— The Right-Hand Shore
I remember, in no particular order:
a shiny inner wrist;
steam rising from a wet sink as a hot frying pan is laughingly tossed into it;
gouts of sperm circling a plughole, before being sluiced down the full length of a tall house;
a river rushing nonsensically upstream, its wave and wash lit by half a dozen chasing torchbeams;
another river, broad and grey, the direction of its flow disguised by a stiff wind exciting the surface;
bathwater long gone cold behind a locked door.
This last isn’t something I actually saw, but what you end up remembering isn’t always the same as what you have witnessed.
— The Sense of an Ending
All possess very disparate styles and priorities, but so far, I’m enjoying each one.
I have thought: I will always be reading and I will never finish my to-read list. I will die not having read everything I wanted to, even if I read 100 books a year for the rest of my life. The other day, I whittled my to-read list down to about 156 books, down from about 270. But I keep adding more and the count is gradually creeping up. (I need some solid nonfiction recommendations, by the way. Mind-broadening books.) Some time, I’d like to discuss the troubling note of xenophobia that has crept into my reading preferences, but that’s a different boring topic for a different boring blog post.