Saturday, July 23, 2011

Book Time!

So you may be under the impression that all I do with my time is watch TV. You are incorrect. Sometimes I eat.

And other times I read.

Praise Jesus I finally got to read Bossypants. I really do value the power of internet booksellers, even though they are perhaps ruining books and reading in the contemporary sense forever and getting rid of thousands of jobs, but it's cheaper. HOWEVER, due to shipping mishaps and living in a neighborhood of Philadelphia where things rarely get left by the postal service (JUST LEAVE IT IN MY MAILBOX! I WILL GET IT!), it took me like 2 months longer than I'd wanted to get a copy of it. All to save some $$. Anyway, when I finally got it about a month ago I did not let it go until I was done. Nothing occurred that Sunday until I was done. And that is totally fine, because Bossypants is a totally enjoyable read. It's not a tell-all and it's not full of advice, it's just like listening to Tina Fey monologue for 3 hours (if you read it straight through and do nothing else) and that is wonderful. It's super funny, I love her bits on women and appearances/her appearance and Amy Poehler. Good times to be had with this one.

I think I got The Whistleblower because a.) it was coming out in paperback, b.) I saw a trailer for the movie, and c.) the internet recommended it to me. I really recommend it. It's not written well--I will say that. I rarely find any book that's ghost written to be really well done. However, I think it's really worth getting through the simplistic, clunky sections to get to the heart of the book. I think anyone who is concerned with human rights, women's rights (women's rights are human rights), and the military industrial complex should read this. It's about Kathryn Bolkovac's experiences as part of Dyn Corp's military contracted "peace keeping" task force in post-war Bosnia. As Bolkovac becomes more involved in women's rights in Bosnia, she comes to realize that many of the men in Dyn Corp are actually exacerbating the problem by trafficking in women from other Eastern European countries. When she begins a process of investigating these abuses, she is promptly demoted, threatened, and eventually kicked out of Bosnia. There is no happy ending to this story because Dyn Corp continues to function worldwide and despite "official" changes, does and will not prosecute its employees for human rights abuses.

I started The Help by Kathryn Stockett yesterday and finished it about an hour ago. I don't usually read fiction or best-sellers, but I liked The Help. It's an incredibly engaging read, and although fiction, reminded me (sort of) of Nickled and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich and Global Woman (edited by Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild). The novel switches perspectives between two Black domestic workers, Minnie and Aibilene, and a rich white woman named Skeeter. I think it's important to note that the book was written by a white woman from Jackson, Mississippi who had grown up with a Black nanny. Stockett says in an essay at the end of the book that she does not presume to know what it is like to be a Black woman in Mississippi, let alone one in the 1960s, but that fiction was her way of trying to understand the complicated set of race relations she has learned and re-learned since growing up in Jackson and then moving to New York. I am a white lady, I know that, and I know there are a lot of people out there in the blogosphere rolling their eyes at this book. I don't think it falls into exactly the same "white savior" tropes as other books and movies have, but I just watched the trailer again after now having read the book and it looks like the movie might. In any case, I think it's a good read and should initiate some interesting conversations about race relations, domestic workers, and what has and hasn't changed since the 1960s. I'm interested to see how the controversy surrounding the publication of the book turns out, and how good the movie adaptation is. As it should, the ending of the book is bittersweet. If the movie ends with gospel choirs and smiles, I will be annoyed.

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