Monday, February 14, 2011
Each of the essays focuses on a different aspect of butches beginning with "what/who" butches are, which she is unable to define. Hir writing ranges from reflections on the special friendships that butches have with each other to the complexities of using genered bathrooms and just about everything in between. Of course this means that there are some essays on sex, but they are far from graphic. While some reviewers think that this book is for butches and "those who love them", I would say that this collection is a must read for everyone in today's society for it touches on the larger issue of identity and its constructs. At times funny, but always insightful, Bergman educates the reader in a way that feels like we are not being educated. Perhaps this is because Bergman is a professional lecturer on the topic and has excelled at teaching important gender issues to everyone from college students to convicts.
Overall, this is an incredibly important read and one that people should not shy away from.
Larry's Party is rather nontraditional in its narrative. Each "chapter" is a snapshot of a certain year in Larry's life starting in 1977. The chapters are chronological but work almost independently of each other so parts of Larry's backstory are reiterated. While at first this may seem like it would bore the reader, it actually has the opposite affect. With each chapter, Shields re-situates the reader and focuses in on a certain issue of Larry's that year. The chapters are short but powerful.
The plot is simple. Larry is an average fellow who works at a flower shop when he gets his girlfriend pregnant and decides to marry her. For their honeymoon, Larry's parents pay for the couple to go to England. While there, Larry falls in love with hedge mazes and upon his return the decides to build one in his backyard. This love takes him across the country and around the world.
The writing is simple but beautiful as is the story. The reader can tell that Shields loves Larry and while she does not force the reader to feel the same, we end up rooting for him anyway. This is not a book in which there are large events or catastrophes. To the contrary, Shields presents small moments throughout a man's life. At times I felt that the story became bland, but it always picked up. The chapters are short so if one year of his life seems to lag, there are only a couple pages before the next. It certainly is a wonderful read and the perfect introduction to Shield's writing.
The story is about a health teacher, Ruth, who is asked by a student why someone would perform oral sex. The teacher answers the question from an anatomical perspective and concludes by saying "because some people like it". It is these five words that send her career and life into a tailspin. Almost the entire community revolts, led by the local tabernacle church. Ruth is told that she is no longer allowed to teach sex education but instead is only allowed to teach abstinence to her students. In the same town, a middle-aged man, Tim, chooses to be born again by becoming involved in the tabernacle. However, he finds himself questioning some of the tabernacle's teachings and at odds with members of the church. As a way to bond with his daughter, Tim becomes the local girls' soccer coach. After a great win, Tim encourages his players to pray with him. Ruth, whose daughter is on the team, is enraged and the two butt heads which leads to startling consequences.
I have to say that there are aspects of this book that I simply loved. For example, Perrotta does not start the book until after Ruth is forced to teach abstinence in her class. Due to this, the entire controversy over her statement regarding oral sex is told as it is in the past. I thought that this tactic would make the novel sluggish as the reader already knows the outcome. However, it produced the opposite effect. I was enthralled with the resolution of the event more than with the actual revolt itself. Additionally, Tim's transformation from being a lively rebel to a broken do-gooder is also done off stage. When the reader meets Tim, he is already a member of the church and while his flashbacks give glimpses of his life before a church member it is not the focus of the novel.
My two gripes with this book are the ending and the descriptions of the peripheral characters. I found the secondary characters to be stereotypical and one-sided. Additionally, I found the conclusion of the novel to be contrived. Still, I think it is worth a reading.
While King's book does focus on the writing process, most of this book is filled with his personal recommendations on what has worked for him. This is not meant as a slight, for King is very upfront about his lack of expertise in writing a "writing manual". It is for this reason that the book is so effective. I found myself following his recommendations in my everyday writing. The examples that he uses are humorous while also able to prove his points.
Additionally, he begins this book with what feels like a memoir. In the first third of the book, King describes aspects of his childhood and adulthood that led him to becoming a writer. He does not shy away from his drug and alcohol addiction and in doing so he makes himself appear human. King does not ask the reader for sympathy or compassion. Instead, he uses his personal history as a way to prove that writers are not entirely pure and often take a winding road before coming upon their first book. As a fan of King, I was glad to read a bit about his personal life and upbringing. Of course it is nothing that isn't already on Wikipedia or has been spread across the news. Still, hearing his story in his own voice is beyond delightful.
Basically what a reader has here are two books: a memoir and a writing manual. King excels in writing both and I encourage readers to take a chance of this hybrid book. I doubt it will disappoint.
This film follows a young artist who becomes interested in the artwork of an 8 year old girl, Abby, who lives in Michigan. As he becomes more and more entranced with her work, he starts a relationship with the rest of Abby's family. Eventually, he begins to date Abby's half-sister Meghan though they have never met and their only interactions have been through Facebook or on the phone. When he gets a chance to travel to the west coast, he decides to drop in on the family. As the date of the trip approaches, he begins to think that maybe he has been duped. He starts wondering if there even is an Abby and if Meghan actually exists. This revelation leads him to the family's doorstep where he is faced with the truth.
All of the hype surrounding this film made me think that there would be an intriguing twist that changes the viewer's preconceptions. However, I found no such revelation. Instead, I found the film to be another cautionary tale about Facebook and online dating. There was nothing new here that hasn't been covered on the Evening News or been the subject of a Lifetime movie. Additionally, there has been an outcry that the film is a hoax. I don't know if there is any truth in this statement; what I know IS true is that this film had a terrific ad campaign for a far from terrific movie.
I will try to explain what it is about without giving too much of its intrigue away. Basically, the film starts as a documentary of street art in LA in recent years and the man who filmed it: Thierry Guetta. To say that Guetta is an avid amateur videographer, is a gross understatement. Guetta filmed every waking minute of his life, so when he became interested in street art...her filmed every second of that! Through his obsession, he was able to meet famous street artists including Space Invader, Shepard Fairey and eventually Banksy (the director of Exit Through the Gift Shop). Banksy takes Guetta under his wing and shows Guetta the secret ways of the street artist. Eventually, Guetta is asked what he is doing with all of the film he takes to which he responds that he is making a documentary on street art. It is when Guetta must actually make a documentary that Exit Through the Gift Shop takes an interesting path (I won't spoil it for you here).
There are so many intriguing aspects about this film but I think the most interesting is the current controversy that this entire documentary is just another one of Banksy's pranks. A prank that got him an Oscar nomination...I am not sure if I believe this is not but you don't need to choose a side in order to enjoy this thrilling documentary. It is beautiful in its presentation of street art and its artists. Additionally, it makes the viewer continue to think long after the movie has been taken out of the DVD player.