Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Okay, Okay. So, I really dislike Sarah Palin. There has never really been a time when I was like "oh, she must be alright"...because I've always really disliked her: her politics, her attitude, etc. So...when my persuasive writing professor was like "come up with a topic to write about" I thought of her, and her constant complaining that "the liberal media" or the "lamestream" media was out to get her. I read three books about her. Including:
1. Going Rogue By Sarah Palin
2. Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
3. Notes from the Cracked Ceiling by Anne E. Kornblut
after reading these three books, my feelings on Palin haven't really changed at all. Moreso, I feel more justified in my understanding of her political views, her background, and in her lifestyle choices, to somewhat dislike her even more. Below is the essay I wrote for class, I hope you all enjoy it.
The Demystification of Sarah Palin
The 2008 Presidential Campaign was a historic one for the United States. We had our first African-American presidential candidate, the oldest presidential candidate on record, the first serious female candidate, and a variety of other candidates that caused quite a ruckus. However, it was the GOP Vice-Presidential nominee who made headlines with her “Hockey-Mom” “Joe Six Pack” rhetoric and endless social and political gaffes. Since the end of the campaign, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has claimed that the liberal media put her at an unfair disadvantage to her competition because she was a woman and mother. However, with some simple analysis of well-covered campaign events, it’s fairly easy to see that Mrs. Palin dug her own grave.
Both during and after the campaign, Mrs. Palin and the McCain camp stated that Palin was treated by the news media during the 2008 campaign. That is to say, she felt as though her actions were unduly prosecuted in a manner that was not in a realistic proportion to her opponents. Mrs. Palin claimed that this treatment occurred because she was a woman, and also because the liberal media was out to get her. In fact, Mrs. Palin was given by the media what she asked for, by making quite a spectacle of herself.
It is true that at the beginning of the Palin candidacy, some sexist comments were made by members of congress and other prominent government figures. That was not acceptable, and cannot be denied. People magazine, CNN, and the Washington Post all made some shockingly unabashed sexist comments. CNN anchor John Roberts posed the question “The role of vice president, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?” (Kornblut, 101). This period of time was featured in a New York Times article entitled “Mommy Wars: Special Campaign Edition”, wherein the issue was really nipped at the bud by Representative Kay Granger of Texas who stated “They were questioning whether a mother can be vice president, president….during this time they were just questioning ‘well, shouldn’t she be at home?’ and that was astonishing” (Kornblut 100-101). As a woman, and a woman frequently taking leadership roles in my community, I state firmly that there is no excuse for sexism; however, these comments were made about her before anyone knew who she was, and it was after she was “vetted” by the public that we find real mettle to sink our teeth into. While we cannot deny that this sexism was unfair to her as a candidate, the issue at hand is the “unfair” persecution she faced for the rest of her campaign, which was not focused around her gender, but around her unpreparedness, her lack of qualification, and her lack of intellectual soundness….and therefore was quite “fair” indeed.
Several of the issues that Palin and others have said were “sexist” were concepts initiated by Palin herself. For example, in her book Notes from the Cracked Ceiling author Anne Kornblut refers to the 2008 campaign as “a battlefield littered with gender-related detritus” (Kornblut, 10), then goes on to explain how referring to Palin as a “pit bull with lipstick” is sexist (Kornblut, 10). All of this is completely ignoring where that phrase came from: Sarah Palin’s first speech as the Vice Presidential nominee, where she made the joke “What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?...Lipstick!” (Heilemann and Halperin, 372). First of all, the term in and of itself isn’t sexist…but also, if that’s the joke Mrs. Palin introduces herself to the public with, isn’t it therefore appropriate for the media to play off it in their reports on her?
Another prevalent issue to discuss is the idea that the media focused too much on Palin’s family in the campaign coverage. To put it bluntly-in our society today, if you decide to be a politician, your entire life will be put under scrutiny. Mrs. Palin said that her family was put under undue scrutiny, but I disagree. To begin with, when Sarah Palin entered the national stage in 2008, no one had any clue who she was. We knew that she was the governor of Alaska, that she was married with 5 children, one of whom was headed to war, one of whom was 5 months pregnant, and one of whom was a newborn boy with down syndrome. In an April 23rd, 2010 interview Matthew Continetti, author of The Persecution of Sarah Palin talked on this issue to a great extent with host of HBO’s “Real Time”, Bill Maher . He stated that Palin’s family was treated differently than Obama’s because “Barack Obama says in the campaign ‘my family is off limits’, and they were off limits,” whereas Palin’s family was not. Another guest on the show, author and consultant Susan Eisenhower responded with “She put those very family members right in the front row at the RNC, she didn’t even get a baby sitter” (“Real Time with Bill Maher”). This to me is the primary issue with Palin’s claims that her family was off limits. Firstly, because Palin made her family and her “Hockey Mom” anecdotes a prime source of her campaign speeches. Secondly, because when you are preaching in favor of abstinence-only education, and against abortion, and you have a pregnant seventeen year old daughter…that is going to be a source of conversation. You cannot say “my family is off limits”, and then use your family as a means to get elected. All of this is completely ignoring the fact that when Barack Obama said “family is off limits” it was after he was asked by a reporter how he felt about Palin’s pregnant 17 year old daughter. It was on September 2, 2008, when Obama said
“Let me be as clear as possible. I think people's families are off-limits, and people's children are especially off-limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin's performance as governor or her potential performance as a vice president" (Marquart).
The President also went on to illustrate how his own mother had him when she was eighteen, and that each family must deal with the issue of teen pregnancy on their own terms (Marquart). It has hence become clear that the idea that Mrs. Palin’s family was given unjust media attention is debunked. If you are going to make your family a part of your campaign…then they are going to be in the eyes of the media, plain and simple.
The most prominent evidence in favor of the idea that Palin ruined her own campaign is the series of interviews she gave over the course of those eight weeks. Her first real interview was with Charlie Gibson of ABC news. While she escaped from the interview fairly unscathed, she did state on Russia that “They’re our next door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska,” Which Saturday Night Live’s Tina Fey would parody with catch phrase “I can see Russia from my house!” on September 13th, 2008 (Heilemann and Halperin, 397). The fact was, Palin’s concept of facts, world events, and foreign policy was minimal. As Heilemann and Halperin explain in their book, Game Change, Palin required extensive training before she was able to be publically “released”. They detail her lessons on WWI, WWII, and the war on terror, as well as teaching her how to properly pronounce the word “nuclear”, so she wouldn’t make a G.W.-esque faux pas (371). All of this leads us into the infamous Katie Couric Interviews.
The Katie Couric interviews are one of the biggest debacles of the Palin campaign. Palin presented herself as what most of America thought she was: a country bumpkin from the middle of nowhere in Alaska, who was not ready to take political office. “When Couric asked her to name some examples of McCain’s efforts to regulate the economy, Palin said ‘I’ll try to find some and bring them to you’” (Heilemann and Halperin, 399). The most prominent statement made during these interviews was Palin’s LACK of statement. She consistently could not answer questions, even simple ones. She could not name a Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade, or what newspapers she read to keep herself updated on current events (Heilemann and Halperin, 399-400). In her own book, Going Rogue Palin explained that “It wasn’t that I didn’t want to-or as some have ludicrously suggested, couldn’t-answer her question; it was that her condescension irritated me…The badgering had begun. This is really annoying me” (Palin, 276-277). I’m not suggesting that Sarah Palin can’t or doesn’t read, but it was apparent to those of us that viewed the interview that Palin wasn’t prepared for a real interview, the cross-examination that we had all been asking for. Especially considering the fact that she was a journalism major in college, her distaste for…journalists is surprising. Her lack of answer wasn’t due to irritation, it was due to a lack of preparedness.
Her interview was so poorly conducted that when Tina Fey parodied the interview on Saturday Night Live, she merely quoted Palin word for word. In the midst of all this, it was revealed that Mrs. Palin accidentally called Obama’s running mate, Senator Joe Biden…O’Biden, and that despite corrections from her team she was continuing to make that error (Heilemann and Halperin, 405). In the case of these interviews it is fairly obvious that Palin’s own mistakes and lack of preparation for the Couric interviews gave her a bad public image. Maybe it was the issue of Palin’s discomfort with Couric, or that her campaign team had not provided her with the information, but it is clear that in the case of the Couric interviews….Palin’s apparent ignorance of government and foreign policy provided the American public with a very unfavorable view of her.
What all of this boils down to is merely this: Sarah Palin created her own public image, an image that was unfavorable to the majority of the American public. The media, as they do, fed into it….but they didn’t create it. Without dwelling on her other major gaffes: accusing Obama of “palling around with terrorists” (Heilemann and Halperin, 408), her 150,000 shopping spree (Heilemann and Halperin, 414), and her consistent and public conflicts with her entire campaign team (specifically veteran GOP campaigner, Nicolle Wallace) (Kornblut, 131), we must acknowledge that there were a laundry list of events that led to the Palinmania that was the media during the eight weeks she was campaigning. While it is true that other candidates did not have as much coverage as her…it was not because the liberal media was out to get her, or because sexism was rampant…it was because she made a spectacle of herself.
In the words of Susan Eisenhower, Sarah Palin was persecuted “right to the bank” (“Real Time with Bill Maher”) by the liberal media. The author of one bestseller, and a very well paid public speaker (charging up to 100,000 dollars to speak at events (Martin)), she seems to have done quite well for herself.
Overall it has become ubundantly apparent that Palin’s pleas of persecution and sexism are merely a ploy to convince people to overlook what was either a poorly run campaign, or a poorly qualified candidate. I hope sincerely that in the future candidates with this lack of qualification or proper preparation are instead kept out of the limelight, so that we can instead fill our time educating ourselves on those who are actually prepared to lead us in a reasonable manner.
Heilemann, John, and Halperin Mark. Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime. New York: Harper Collins, 2010.
Kornblut, Anne E.. Notes from the Cracked Ceiling: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Plain, and What it Will Take for a Woman to Win. New York: Crown Publishing, 2009.
Marquart, Alexander. "Obama says Palin's family off limits". CNN.com. 5/29/10
Martin, Jonathan. "Iowa Republicans wince at Sarah Palin's $100K speaking fee". Politico. 5/29/10
Palin, Sarah. Going Rogue: An American Life. New York: Harper Collins, 2009.
"Real Time With Bill Maher" by Bill Maher. HBO. Las Angeles.April 23rd, 2010.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
The book Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosney will break your heart. Seriously. I will.
It starts off a little slow, but then it will completely captivate every bit of you. It tells the story of a young girl named Sarah, a Jewish girl sent to an internment camp in France, and of the key that locks a special closet in her home. Her story is carefully intertwined with that of an American Journalist who's family moves into the home that Sarah's family once inhabited.
This is a sad and beautiful story, it encompasses so many aspects of the human experience. Love, loss, betrayal, and a certain essence of hope. I highly recommend this novel to any reader, but be prepared for a little anguish.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Okay, so I'll admit it. I, like everyone else, have a guilty pleasure beyond all guilty pleasures. I LOVE Chelsea Handler. To be honest, I've only watched her show a few times, but it's always so hilarious. My boyfriend was talking about how he wanted to read this book, so I bought it...and then read it before he did.
Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea is a hilarious book. I mean, it's no literary masterpiece. She's not William Faulkner. But She is a damn good comedian. I enjoyed reading her probably embellished memoir, and I thought that most of it was pretty damn relateable. I think that any not-prissy woman will find something about this story that is relateable. Especially young Chelsea, who...oh wow, I remember those days.
This book was good. As mentioned, it's not Nobel Prize worthy. But it was funny, and it was a nice little afternoon read. I recommend it.
Okay. So TECHNICALLY this is a text book. But it reads like a novel, and it's on a topic that I think is very important for Americans to know at this point in time. A Concise History of the Middle East was assigned to me for my History of The Middle East Class (a fantastic class, btw). This book is just...so readable, and it explains the conflict of the middle east in an understandable and in depth manner. It's also pretty damned unbiased, and written by people who ACTUALLY know what they're talking about. In 500 pages, they go from Muhammed to Saddam Hussein, and cover everything in between. Even issues that I didn't know existed.
This book was well written. As mentioned, it reads like a novel. Like...I actually read the entire textbook. For fun.
I'd recommend this as summer reading for anyone. It makes me want to go to the middle east. hard.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality is an amazing piece of literature written by Portland Author Donald Miller. I must admit, this is not a genre of literature I usually delve into too frequently. To be frank, while I DO identify myself as a Christian (a Catholic Christian at that!), a lot of times the things that come out of christian's mouths really really really irritates me. Especially in this modern day of "christian" neoconservative teabaggers....
Anyways, I was nervous about this book. My friend Ashley recommended it to me, and we started reading it together. I was so surprised by it. This book is genuine, it is heartfelt, and it approaches christian spirituality in a very authentic way. It reminded me of my days in youth ministry, sitting and talking with my friends about faith. Pure faith, not religion, not politics, not ethics or morals or whatever, just faith.
Most of the book takes place in Portland. Miller tells of his adventures auditing classes at Reed College, and joining a new and exciting faith community here in Portland. I want to meet him. Overall, I recommend this book to anyone who is open minded about Christianity. It's a christian book, but not a cheesy preachy one. More like an exploration of Christianity. Plus, there's comics.
Okay, so I've slacked off on the blog....and on reading. But mainly on the blog. I'm back "on the wagon" though, and I've got some great reads to share.
The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
Before I left Vermont last fall, I had a professor assign me this book. So I bought it, and it sat idly on my bookshelf until recently....when a new professor assigned me to read it. And this time I actually did.
This book CHANGED MY LIFE. I don't say that lightly.
As some of you know, I am an aspiring outdoor educator, so my passion for the outdoors and sharing it with kids has always been....prominent. But this book opened my eyes to how severe of a separation our youth have with the natural world.
This books provides studies and theories and practices of ways we can learn to share the outdoors with our children, and the children in our lives. EVERY parent, EVERY educator, and EVERYONE who cares about children should read this book.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
I recently finished Secrets of a Fire King by Kim Edwards.
I'm going to be honest. I did not particularly enjoy this book. I did not enjoy it because...it just wasn't interesting. It COULD have been very interesting. It COULD have been endlessly interesting. But, it was not.
This book is a seiries of disconnected short stories, stories of interesting people in interesting relationships. A fire eater, Marie Curie, an American Man and his immigrant bride...It has the potential. I understand the concept too. This book is really about the vagaries of love. Of how we love people, and of how that love is bendable, how that love is flexible. This is a story of how real love is. And in a way, that's a beautiful message. But mainly....it was just poorly executed.
To be frank, I just wasn't that impressed.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
I just finished another really great book. I had never heard it and I totally judged it by it's cover at the library.
Choiring of the Trees is the story of a man named Nail Chism who is wrongly accused of raping a 13 year old neighbor in Arkansas, where apparently the legal system is corrupt as all hell. The story also encompasses the lives of several others, including our narrator Latha, the best friend of the girl who was raped. The story is cyclical, complicated, and does not disappoint.
The story was beautiful, well written, and SO rich. Each of the characters had thick, full plot lines surrounding them, and endless ambition.
Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone that has a tough stomach. Some of the subject matter is a little corrosive. But it teaches such a valuable lesson about human nature.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
I finished this book a week ago, but with school/work/trying to maintain a healthy relationship with my spouse, my blogging is a little delayed.
This book was amazing. I've been meaning to read it for a while, and when my parents got it for me for christmas, I knew it was fate.
Greg Mortenson is an alpinist-turned-activist and educator. After a failed attempt at summiting K2 he was inspired by the people of Pakistan, and incredibly upset by the educational system in the rural areas he had traveled. So...he raised money and built a school....and then another.....and then another. The book Three Cups of Tea was written by Mortenson and David Oliver Relin and is the story of his trials and tribulations, and of his greater successes as he struggled to bring education to the most neglected regions of central Asia.
This story is inspiring and heartwrenching all at the same time. It's the story of how one man can truly make a difference.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The ninth book I read this year was the saddest thing I've ever experienced. The book was My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I know this book has been out forever, and I've been meaning to read it, I have. My darling friend Tori loves Picoult with a passion, and I've been missing her terribly since I moved back to Oregon in September, so I read it in her honor.
Firstly, I'd like to say this is a remarkably well written book. I love it. If you aren't familiar with it, it is the story of a young girl who was genetically modified as an embryo so that she could be a donor for her older sister, who was diagnosed with leukemia as a toddler.
At the age of thirteen, she gets tired of all the surgeries, all the needles, all the donations that she was forced to make, so she hires a lawyer to sue her parents for medical emancipation.
Each chapter of the story has a different narrator, which I think adds a lot of depth. Her parents, lawyer, older brother, etc, all narrate chapters...and I feel like it keeps those characters from becoming shallow. It would be easy to villanize her parents, but it's hard to...especially her father who is so loveable.
The story is sweet and shows the inevitable strength of young women, but something about the ending made me so upset.
I don't ever want to read it again.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
So, I've been slacking.
Over the last few days I finished two fantastic books. They are by Authors that I have long held amorous feelings towards, and these books did not disappoint.
The first was Augusten Burrough's Dry. Many of you know of Burroughs from his hit novel-turned-movie Running With Scissors. But in all honesty, that's my least favorite of his memoirs. He is honest, witty, and his humor comes from a dark, dank, hole. I love it. Dry is the memoir of his process of becoming sober. The book opens with descriptions of his gratuitous drinking, and his colleagues at the advertising firm where he works forcing him to check into a rehab facility. They suggested the Betty Ford Clinic, but Augusten chooses to go to what he thinks is a far more glamorous facility for gays.
The story is rich with sensibility, a diverse cast of individuals, and full of life lessons for all of us. Whether you have a drinking problem or not, this book will change your life.
The second book I read was another one of Alice Sebold's fantastic novels, The Almost Moon. As she does in many of her pieces, she gives away the ending on the first page. The Almost Moon is the story of a slightly bitter and horribly confused adult woman who murders her elderly sociopath of a mother by smothering her with a towel. The novel is terrifying, and it's amazing to watch the Antagonist, Helen, as she spirals downward in the 24 hours that come after her mother's death.
It's a fantastically well written novel, that will make your stomach churn.
Almost done with book nine. :)
Monday, January 11, 2010
In my life, there have always been 3 kinds of books. The first is the kind that are simple and delightful and that I read through in and afternoon of pure enjoyment. Not that these books are always pleasant in subject, but I love drinking them in. They are like the iced tea in my world of books. The second kind are the difficult books. These are the Faulkners and Hemingways and Prousts of my world. Like my favorite book, As I Lay Dying, these books are the kind that I will read a few chapters and then need to take a 20 minute break so that I can digest everything I've read. These are like thick smoothies. They're delicious and refreshing, but they don't go through the straw as easily as the iced tea did. And finally, there is the crap books. Books such as Twilight, they are the sour milk of my universe. 99% of the time, I will take the first sip (20 or so pages) and realize that they are crap and I hate them, and I will promptly return them to the library, or give them away to someone with far lower expectations than I have for my books.
The sixth book I read this year, Janice Keefer's The Ladies Lending Library refused to fit decisively in any of these categories. The book was charming, and well written. Keefer is a very talented author, and she created a very rich environment within the novel, with a huge cast of well developed characters and a fully complex social network. She clearly knows what she's doing. The book wasn't too difficult, it's pretty much the iced tea kinda book....except for the fact that it never really pulled me in. I set it down a lot, and it wasn't because I needed to digest it, it's just because I was getting distracted way easily than I usually am. Near the end, I was actually coaxing myself through by looking at my nightstand at the next book I'm reading..."if you finish this one, look what you get to read next!".
Nevertheless, the book was good. It tells the story of a small community of Ukrainian women living in Canada, who spend their summers in lakeside cottages rearing their children and gossiping in ways that only women in small communities do. Their husbands commute in from Toronto on the weekends, but otherwise their days consist of sunbathing, separating fighting children, making sandwiches, and talking about scandals.
I liked this book because it broadened to all the women in this world, from the women of the "Lending Library" to their daughters, to the random teenager/family friend who's at the lake for the summer to keep her out of trouble(you can guess how well that works), to the old woman who runs the local convenience store.
I think it was a true portrayal of some female relationships, and probably of women in that culture. I guess the reason I didn't relate to it is that I come from a very different social atmosphere. The women in my life love our husbands and boyfriends and partners and children, but we don't put up with their crap. (I love my Tanner dearly, but that doesn't mean I'm going to cook and clean and whatnot all the time. I have a life.) In addition, we aren't as hush-hush about our personal lives. If I have a problem, you can bet the first person I'm going to tell is Tanner, and the second is either my best friend Caroline or My mother. I just have trouble relating to characters that hide everything from each other.
and I guess that's it. relate-ability. I need to be able to relate to a character to make them real to me, and I wasn't able to do that this time. c'est la vie.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
yesterday, i made a little trek down to the library.
man, I forgot how much I love that place. :)
I picked up a fantastic book called Flies On The Butter by Denise Hildreth. The book chronicals the journey of Rose Fletcher from her adult home of Washington, D.C.(where she works as a lobbyist for education) to her childhood home of Mullins, S.C.. As Rose drives the dusty highway, she reflects on her youth, coming of age, and revelations on some of the not-so-wonderful choices she's made as an adult.
Rose is definitely a flawed young woman. Amidst a floundering marriage, she heads to a home she hasn't visited in 10 years...a family feud has caused Rose to have no desire to see her mother...and a mysterious emergency (that you don't find out until the last page of the book) has brought her back. A combination of family, friends, and random acts of kindness from complete strangers lead Rose to change her self, her life, and her faith.
over all, a very sweet book.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
in the last 24 hours I have read TWO books. I already posted about the first...which was LAME, now to the second.
Lucky by Alice Sebold is one of the most mesmerizing book I've ever read. I have a 45 minute commute via mass transit every day. I read over HALF of this book on my way to work, and didn't even realize it. I pulled it out at lunch, and my bookmark was almost 3/4 of the way through. Awesome. I finished it on the way home.
I am predisposed to LOVE Alice Sebold, since her book The Lovely Bones became my favorite book instantly upon reading it (seriously, it's tied with Faulkner's As I Lay Dying as #1 book in my library. I've read it probably 20 times). Lucky is Sebold's memoir of her college years, or, moreso the effects that being raped during her freshman year effected her, her family, and her peers. It's beautifully, honestly written. And that's what I've always loved about Alice Sebold.
The story is cyclical, passionate, and honest. I don't admit this often, but I had to deal with an unhealthy sexual relationship at the beginning of my romantic experiences (not rape, but it was everything but), and the way she puts those feelings of utter disgust into words made me feel as though finally someone can understand. finally.
I spent last summer reading memoirs (not intentionally, it just happened) and I fell in love with them, and this memoir was just plain addictive. I'd recommend it to anyone.
So, I am possibly the world's BIGGEST Twilight hater. I could literally rant for hours about how horrible the Twilight series is for young women, and how Edward Cullen is obsessive and creepy and is NOT a good boyfriend.
So, when I heard that The Harvard Lampoon wrote a Twilight parody called Nightlight, I had to have it. I read it in a few hours (at 154 pages, it wasn't that strenuous of a read)....and honestly, I was not impressed.
One of the biggest flaws in Stephanie Meyer's Twilight books is that they are horribly written, with some crappy character development. In Nightlight, Belle Goose (obviously Bella Swan) is a laughable character because it's all in her head. The vampirism, every single guy in school being madly in love with her....yeah, she's crazy. Which is funny. The problem is that the writing of Nightlight is actually WORSE than Twilight itself...which is almost unbelievable. It's just plain not funny. It's like they're trying so hard to be funny, that it's just stupid.
About half way into this book I looked over at my boyfriend and he said I looked like I was in physical pain. I am trying to read 100 books this year, so I didn't want to give up, and I didn't....
but if the circumstances were any different, I would have been so done with this book about 10 pages in.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
I just finished my second book! The book is called The 19th Wife and it was written by David Ebershoff. It tales the tales of two women in plural/polygamous marriages. The first is Ann Eliza Young the "19th" (but in actuality the 52nd) wife of Brigham Young. She was famous for leaving Brigham and taking such a prominent stance against polygamous marriages. I don't know how the LDS church sees her historically, but I do know that shortly after her getting U.S. President Grant to take a stance against polygamy, LDS President Wilford Woodruff issued a manifest against the practice in 1890.
The second is the 19th wife of a modern day polygamist man, part of a "Mormon" cult that calls themselves "The Firsts". Her story is narrated by her gay son who was kicked out of the community and abandoned as a child because he was caught holding hands with his sister. His mother is being tried for the murder of her husband, who is...well, a pretty shady guy. Jordan (the son) falls in love with a gay Mormon who lives in the town his mother is being held in, and takes care of a smart aleck-y kid who was kicked out of "Mesadale" (a fictional Utah town that is the compond for the "Firsts").
I liked this book because it wasn't bashing the LDS church. It was mainly just discussing the intricate problems that exist in a polygamous communities: spousal abuse/neglect, jealousy, betrayal, etc. It also basically states that plural marriages are an excuse for people to have sex with whoever they want (Ann Eliza's father wanted to sleep with one of his housekeepers, so he made her into one of his wives).
The fact of the matter is that polygamy is definitely a part of the PAST of the LDS faith, and it's interesting to learn about, but I really appreciated how this book didn't attack the FAITH, just this one aspect of the church's practices. Brigham Young was presented as a true man, an honest man, and a prophet of their church, even though he was not the best husband to Ann Eliza. Similarly, the author makes it very clear that there is a HUGE difference between the "Firsts" and the LDS church of today.
I have a lot of respect for the Mormon faith. I also like historical fiction. And this is a darn good book. It compiles excerpts from Ann Eliza's book, newspaper clippings, letters, and some fiction.
I vote yes.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Two days in, and I've finished my first book of the year.
IT WAS AMAZING.
The book is called American Wife, and was written by Curtis Sittenfeld.
it opens with the following statement:
"American Wife is a work of fiction loosely inspired by the life of an American first lady. Her husband, his parents, and certain prominent members of his administration are recognizable. All other characters in the novel are products of the author's imagination, as are the incidents concerning them."
I'll give you one guess who the first lady is.....Laura Bush.
Honestly, when I bought the book, I had no idea it was about her. I glanced over the back cover, and it was on sale at Powell's books (THE Powell's books). I was enamoured with the concept of a book about a first lady....and if Laura Bush is anything like the character that portrays her in this book, I seriously underestimated her as a human being.
In the book the character Alice Lindgren is a clever, kind, liberal, and well-rounded woman who falls in love with a man from a well-connected Republican family. She falls in love with him despite their political differences, and the book shows how their relationship develops over 30 some odd years, between his political aspirations, alcoholism, and her running from a brutal past.
As a staunchly liberal young lady, I can honestly say that this book helped me to better understand the inner workings of the Bush family, and helped me to sympathize with the difficulties that the eight catastrophic years of his presidency had on their family.
I'd recommend this novel to anyone. It was sweet, insightful, and very well written. I wouldn't be too surprised if this author turned up again somewhere in my line-up.
off to start book #2,
- ► May (5)