Just giving a feminist critique of the books I read. Pretty simple!


My views don't represent all feminists, as we're all different. There are liberal feminists, eco-feminists, radical feminists . . . and so on. I consider myself an anarcha-feminist, which means that I'll also include critiques of capitalism and neoliberalism in my analysis. 

Additionally, I don't think feminism is just about gender -- it's about race, class, sexuality, etc.

I'm also not here to engage with anti-feminists, sorry! 


American Pastoral - Philip Roth

Review from June 2010:


[My opinions aren't quite clear to me when it comes to this book. Usually I can definitively say where I stand with a text, but American Pastoral challenges that notion. The first third of the book, I felt, was uninteresting. Perhaps because I wasn't aware of the narrator and his life (as this was the first novel I'd read by Roth), who knows. But I didn't feel drawn to read by the story as it was playing out. I'm not one for reminiscing on times lost, at least on a grand level like that. Memories interest me when they are tragic- not when they consist of growing up in "innocent" America. This doesn't mean that the text was inherently bad; it might speak of my generation's inability to relate to the experiences of our parents. Either way, only when the plot progressed and the focus left the narrator and his stories did I become more interested. The character of Seymour (I rather dislike saying "The Swede", pardon me) was one my sympathies fall on, which I'm sure was the author's intention. Innocent, hard-working and reliable, Seymour embodied the American ideal of the "Every-man", which was pushed upon him by his immigrant parents. Watching his life get better and better, while knowing that it was soon fall apart was difficult: it was hard not to root for him. As he agonized over what moment has caused his daughter's downfall, one gets the sense of just how grand was Merry's act. Though my sympathy dwindled toward the end with twists that were revealed, I still, after completing the book, felt for Seymour. How can I not? Society has trained me to love the "Good-boy" Archetype, which is very much what Seymour is--just an embodiment of all the hopes and expectations of the time. With the wars and seemingly disappearing innocence, that type was needed more than ever. It satisfied a need that I'm not sure still exists today.

What also interested me, other than Seymour's psyche, was Merry and her life. At first I was disgusted with her (partially her appearance; sorry!) and her actions. How could she find fault with the deaths in Vietnam and then not only condone but commit murder herself? Whining at the dinner table and being just the little rebel with your friends does nothing, just as terrorism achieves nothing. I originally picked up this book because it referenced another work I'm familiar with, Franz Fanon's Wretched of The Earth. Without getting side-tracked by my opinions on that, I'll just say that I took issue with her logic: Colonialism in Algeria differs greatly from any of her perceived enemies. Though, that's not to say, that I am a supporter in any way of War or America's actions in regards to foreign policy. I just found her rather naive. Yet, as she changed into a Jain, I related much more to her plight. Jainism, especially ahimsa, has always been an interest of mine. Enthralled I was by Seymour's (read: America's) take on Merry's philosophy. I take much of my personal beliefs from the religion, so I found myself an opponent of his reactions. Yet, I saw very much what this father did: how every thing was a passing phase for his monster. Merry also functioned as the antithesis of the American dream and Seymour himself, and perhaps to Western culture and values.
I suppose I can sum up my personal reaction much more succinctly. I would not re-read this book. Going through Seymour's mind, while interesting, was arduous. I did not particularly enjoy any passages or feel them resonate with me; but they were something I'm glad I came into contact with. I questioned my own beliefs and struggled with my own notions of what truth really was. For that reason, this is a book worth reading.

Thoughts while reading:

16/June/2010- I'm around page 175 right now. At first it was hard to get into. I'm just not that enthralled by baby boomer memories, which I suppose I should feel bad for admitting. My interest was piqued, however, when the focus shifted from the narrator's old pals and the way things used to be, and onto "The Swede" and how his life fell apart. The language is simple but not juvenile and Roth's insight into Levov's psyche is what is keeping me reading. He doesn't seem to hide anything, and I'm hooked on the honesty. I'm laughing a bit at Merry's feelings, which I'll expound on when I finish.

"Yes, alone we are, deeply alone, and always, in store for us, a layer of loneliness even deeper. There is nothing can do to dispose of that. No, loneliness shouldn't surprise us, as astonishing to experience it might be. You can try turning yourself inside out, but all you are then is inside out and lonely instead of inside in and lonely."
"There is no protest to be lodged against loneliness-- not all the bombing campaigns in history have made a dent in it."]

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