December 29th, 2016



Andrea Tantaros might have used up her fifteen minutes of fame before Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination, but before that happened, she wrote Tied Up in Knots: How Getting What We Wanted Made Women Miserable. Book Review No. 33 will note that the troubles she laments were foreseeable, perhaps before she was born.  In Pajamas Media, Suzanne Venker concurs.  At Acculturated, Mark Judge, not explicitly reviewing Tantaros, concurs with her thesis.  "As today’s generation of self-styled feminist women suggests, limitless freedom has not brought the happiness they assumed it would, and as they confront life’s realities, anger is replacing hope."  And American Thinker's Sally Zelikovsky goes radical on the radicals? "Free love destroyed marriage and gave us gender confusion instead."

But all of what Ms Tantaros writes about was anticipated by Badger Herald editorialist Michael Shane in "A Feminist Parable for the Modern Age," first published 5 February 1987.  Mr Shane is contemplating the life of the female collegians of the era.  I've substituted "Andrea" where he returns to his hypothetical collegians.
Several years pass, and she faces the distinct prospect of being unmarried and thirty.  A few more of her friends are married, and some are genuinely happy -- a few even have kids.  Yet not even they have managed to mix motherhood and careers, and if they work at all it's strictly part-time and very dull.  Some of her friends are now divorced, or even re-married.  And the only decent guys she meets already have wives.

Now she faces a painful dilemma.  Her proverbial biological clock is ticking merrily away and she realizes that most of the men she's ever dated liked her mainly for carnal reasons.  The excitement of the working world has settled into a mind-numbing routine of business trips and breakfast meetings.  And she feels a vague need to have a child.

If [Andrea] has a little candor and a lot of courage she'll admit that she's been had.  Her once-glamorous career is a bore.  She has sold her deepest intimacies to a fair number of lovers for a box full of old valentines and movie ticket stubs.
That's Andrea's story. All that has changed in thirty years is that swiping images on Tinder (or its predecessor, Grindr) strike her as less edifying than sprucing up to check out the action in the bars.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)
smirk by geekilicious

Book 135

A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this up for a reread with hesitation because so many of my childhood favorites didn't remain so because of changing tastes. This wasn't quite as magical as I remembered but it was still a very fun read and is a classic worth reading. Sparrowhawk (nickname, true name is Ged and I'll be using that one because it's easier to type and I'm feeling lazy) is a young wizard.

He doesn't fit in well in his fisher village of Gont (though really I suppose most of this world is one big fishing village because it's a world of countless little islands) and definitely not with his blacksmith father. When invaders nearly destroy the village, Ged twigs onto his magical powers, nearly dying. He's saved by the wizard Ogion who takes Ged under his wing.

Ged is like many teens, an arrogant know-it-all full of pride and anger. He’s soon impatient with Ogion’s teaching and wants to go to the wizarding academy where he makes a good friend, Vetch and an enemy, the haughty Jaspar. This will eventually get him into a battle of egos and something bad happens. The rest of the book deals with Ged trying to deal with what that duel led to.

This was written in 1968 and the entire trilogy won awards. That said, I’m not sure this would fly today. For one it’s less than 200 pages and when’s the last time you’ve seen a short fantasy story? It’s written with a great deal of narrative distance. It reminds me of the cautionary tales of the more ancient cultures, like a story of Thor or Coyote. We know from the beginning that Ged will be the archmage and a dragonlord; it’s in the blurb so that’s not really a spoiler. So that means we know that no matter what happens, Ged will survive and eventually flourish so it takes some of the tension out of the story. It does, however, reenforce the feel we’re hearing a legend ala Hercules.

One thing I did notice now that I didn’t as a teen, there is something of an agenda in this story. Ged has reddish brown skin like a Native American or Indian. Vetch and many others are Black. In fact the only characters described as White as the devious wealthy Northerners who were slavers and the Barbarians. Given the time period it was written in I thought that was very telling.

For those looking for strong female roles they are few and far between in this. It’s not surprising of the time period, really.

Was this my favorite classic of SF & Fantasy? No, it never really was. I liked it because it was written by a woman who didn’t have to hide she was a woman even then. I did like the story even though it’s not always easy to like Ged and the series is one worth reading, in my opinion, for any serious fantasy reader.

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