Tag Archives: review

August Round Up

…but what happened to July?

It’s been a long while since I posted (June 19th, in fact), and for that, I apologise for being so lazy. Thing is, I didn’t really have any blog-able news, and I haven’t read anything particularly note-worthy (for shame!).

Some review news:

-Today, my review of Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women (Carol Dyhouse) was published by LSE Review of Books. Check it out by following the ‘review’ link.

-Sept/Oct will be positively brimming with review work; I will be submitting two reviews to LSE, Feminist Activism, Women’s Rights, and Legal Reform (ed. Mulki Al-Sharmani), and A Feminist Voyage Through International Relations (Ann Tickner).

-I shall also be submitting a review of Gender, War and Conflict (Laura Sjoberg) to FWSA, after a long hiatus (unintentionally long I must add!).

Hopefully that should give me a kick-start into the new academic year, and I should feel some kind of enthusiasm regarding my MA dissertation.

In terms of fiction reading, I’ve found myself at a bit of a loss, if I’m honest. It’s quite possibly that all my sub-conscious really wants to read is Revival by Stephen King… (when it comes out in November…). Oh lordy…is there anything out there that can sate me for the time being?!

I am sure I’ll survive…right? RIGHT?!

Review: Wounding by Heidi James

Wounding by Heidi James tells the story of Cora, a thirty-something professional who shares her seemingly idyllic life with her doting husband and two children; everything a woman is supposed to aspire to. However, it soon becomes apparent that Cora is desperately seeking an escape from this prescribed lifestyle; guilt-ridden and unhappy, she seeks solace elsewhere…

The first thing that struck me about Wounding was the dual narrative of Cora, our main protagonist, and her husband. As we are privy to both perspectives within the relationship, we can sympathise with both parties and can approach Cora’s plight with some sense of continuity and insight. Whether Cora or her husband are indeed reliable narrators remains to be seen. Cora’s husband seems to agonise over the widening gulf in their relationship, and desperately analyses their past, before marriage and kids got in the way, in order to ascertain why Cora is drifting further and further away from the family unit.

Obviously, it is quite easy to sympathise with Cora; she is buckling under the pressure of society’s expectations of how women are supposed to live their lives; having a good job, marrying the right person and having kids, and all the while, being expected to ‘enjoy’ the confines and restrictions that having a family places on an individual. We are often bombarded by images of what the ‘perfect’ mother and wife should embody by the media, and so often, reality does not correlate with fabricated notions of the role of women and the various guises imposed on them. It seems to me that what Cora is experiencing is in part society-sponsored sadism; the things society tell us should make us happy often have the opposite effect, yet we still do them, despite our better instincts. There is no handbook telling women how to be the perfect wife/mother/citizen, yet it is expected of us regardless; as if we are subject to a kind of tacit social contract in which we perform our duties, and should never expect to complain.

All in all, I found Wounding to be a complex, sympathetic and visceral observation of Cora’s disintegrating sense of self and the effect that this has, not only on herself, but on those around her. Wounding asks difficult questions regarding the issue of motherhood, and what, exactly, makes a good parent, but it also explores the labyrinthine notion of self-hood and how our prescribed life choices can, ultimately, jeopardise our identity (-ies).

My review for FWSA is now live!

My review of Julia Long’s ‘Anti-Porn: The Resurgence of Anti-Porn Feminism‘ is now live on the FWSA blog. You can read it here.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in my review, then feel free to comment. If our opinions differ, that’s fine, but refrain from using derogatory or abusive language. Cos it’s just not cool.

I hope you enjoy my review, folks!

Review: Roadkill by Joseph D’Lacey

Roadkill, by Joseph D’Lacey, follows the 100 second journey of an unknown protagonist, a Gentleborn, intent on winning a race that will elevate him (or her?) to a status that will change their lives forever; the winner will join the Boymen in immortality. Roadkill by Joseph D'Lacey

The motorbikes on which the participants of the race ride are made out of steel, stripped to the bare essentials and infused with the supernatural spirit of the Boymen, all of whom have ridden to the Edge in search of a conciousness that exists outside of human comprehension, previously.

Obviously, the first thing that struck me about Roadkill were the issues surrounding class. Without going into a huge social analysis about class systems and the like, the protagonist is evidently trying to transcend their class by participating in this break-neck race that will determine whether he or she is good enough to become one of the Boymen; a mythical group of people who have travelled through the darkness of the human world (or so it seems) and into the light of an immortal, god-like realm:

‘Everyone has their place, of course, but I wish to rise above them all, to dedicate my life to something greater…’

The last 100 seconds sees the two riders navigate the last stretch of highway, known as the Final Five; a treacherous strip of road full of hidden surprises, like craters that appear out of nowhere, granite pillars and a black fox with amber eyes that likes to ask pondersome, existential questions:

“What I want to know is,” continues the fox, “in a world where you already have
more currency, power and freedom than you can use, why are you still hungry?
What is it the Gentleborn lack that makes them ride the Final Five?”

This scene here of the fox reminds me of this. No disrespect meant to the author 😉

In the 30-odd page chapbook we are taken on a break-neck journey of almost blistering proportions. We can literally feel the heat of rubber burning against highway and the agonising, physical battle that the protagonist has against the elements. Does he/she make it? Well, you better buy a copy and find out, lazy-bones.

I feel like Roadkill ponders over valid questions regarding our intrinsic purpose and the value attributed to the lives of people from different class backgrounds. I like the existential angst of the protagonist; who am I and what am I here to achieve? This is something I think everybody has asked themselves at some point and I think it’s a real and natural human desire to want to break free from societal constraints and achieve the impossible. Like the fox says, if the protagonist already has more wealth and power than he needs then why race? Everyone wants to be immortal in some or another.

‘To swerve from destiny is to deny it…’

Are our paths pre-determined? Are we fated to do/not do certain things? I think that perhaps the protagonist believes that he/she is master of their own destiny, though I believe that this notion is contradicted at certain points. The protagonist believes that everyone has their place, but that he is worthy of being given a chance to elevate him/herself. I dunno. Confusing.

I guess the main lesson I have got from Roadkill is that journeys, in both the physical and metaphorical sense, are all a voyage of self-discovery. Though, hopefully not as punishing as this one…

I think that Roadkill has been a bit of a tricky one to review for me personally. I felt a little bamboozled at the complicated hierarchical world that had been created as means to give an insight into the life and motivation of the protagonist. Maybe it’s just me!

Overall, I did think that Roadkill was an enjoyable enough read and I especially liked the chapbook format; something a little different for a short, sharp shock.

Review of ‘Sorry’ by Zoran Drvenkar

*spoiler/trigger alert*

‘Sorry’ by Croatian German author Zoran Drvenkar is a complex, multi-narrative assault on the senses.

The book follows four friends in Berlin, Kris, Wolf, Frauke and Tamara, as they struggle to make sense of their aimless, and often complicated, lives.  Kris has just lost his job and his dreams of becoming of a journalist, Wolf is still coming to terms with the death of his drug addict girlfriend, Tamara is reeling from the emotional consequences of giving up her unwanted baby daughter and Frauke’s mother has been in an asylum for 14 years and counting. One drunken night, they decide to form an agency that apologises on behalf of other people, hence the title, ‘Sorry’.

One of their first cases includes apologising on behalf of a company that has dismissed a man found to have images of child pornography on his work computer. As it happens, the man is innocent. Needless to say, his life has been wrecked and the perpetrator is still at large, prompting the company (who are feeling extremely guilty) to apologise and offer a huge sum of money in order to recompense for their false accusation and appease their conscience.

The friends are soon living in the lap of luxury in a renovated villa on the shore of Berlin’s Wannsee and business is booming. However, the peace and relative tranquillity of their news lives is soon shattered. They receive an assignment from one Lars Meybach; upon following his instructions they find the corpse of a woman nailed to the wall in an abandoned apartment. Who is Lars Meybach, what does he want, and why do corpses keep turning up all over the place? The dead woman, Fanni, is eventually revealed to be part of a group of paedophiles being relentlessly pursued by the mysterious Meybach.

Suffice to say, the friends, drawn into this sticky web of personal revenge and dark desires, do not fare well.

Frauke dies in suspicious circumstances; Wolf is buried alive by Samuel, aging leader of the paedophile ring; Kris obsessively tracks the elusive Lars Meybach and Tamara eventually incapacitates Samuel and drives around with him trussed up in the boot of her car.

Despite the gruesome nature of ‘Sorry’, the book presents a wrenching account of the devastating effects of childhood sexual abuse. Themes of guilt and abuse are intricately woven to produce a compelling tale of revenge; albeit one where no-one appears to get their happy ending. Such a premise runs the risk of being overtly sensational but ‘Sorry’ deftly handles the sensitive subject matter whilst maintaining an almost objective stance to the events that play out throughout the book. The multi-narrative approach gives essential insight into the minds of the characters, yet it almost serves to keep the reader at arm’s length; thus the objectivity of the narration allows the reader to draw their own conclusions at the devastating events that unfold.

 
‘Sorry’ is a dark one, not for the faint-hearted, but it is definately a page-turner and well worth a few hours of your time (you won’t be able to put it down, anyway!).

‘Sorry’ was translated by Shaun Whiteside