I am reluctant to call this a review. Let us instead call it a list of impressions, and some comparisons. If you’ve never heard of Fun Home, it currently exists in two forms: a 2006 graphic novel, and its more recent adaptation as a Broadway musical. It is the memoir of Alison Bechdel of Bechdel test fame. Both versions are about Ms. Bechdel coming to terms with her own sexuality while at the same time realizing her father was gay (or at least bisexual; this is somewhat ambiguous).
Kathryn Watterson’s Women in Prison: Inside the Concrete Womb had been on my reading list for a while. Having just finished it, I am more convinced than ever that our prison system, as it exists now, is inhumane and criminal. It must be abolished. This book was first published in 1973, and updated in 1996. What is perhaps the most telling is how little changed in the prison system between those years, and how little has changed in the 20 years since.
Laura van den Berg’s first novel, Find Me, was recommended to me a while back. It seemed to have a lot of acclaim. I put it on my reading list. Now, I’ve finished reading it. The book centers on Joy, a young woman whose mother abandoned her as an infant, leaving her to grow up in foster homes in the Boston area. Her life into young adulthood consisted of working at Stop & Shop and getting stoned on Robitussin.
From our vantage point in a world with electricity, transoceanic flights, and pocket-sized, Internet-connected computers, it’s easy to imagine the ancient humans who had none of these things as dull, unremarkable–primitive. The more I study the ancient world, however, the more impressed I am by what was built so long ago, with none of the technology or knowledge we take for granted today. _Brotherhood of Kings: How International Relations Shaped the Near East_ is a fascinating explanation of ancient diplomacy.
Herein shall be reviewed (sort of) Paul Beatty’s novel, The Sellout. Confessions: I’d never read a Paul Beatty novel before, nor even any of his poems. I’ve heard they’re good–excellent, even. I forget how The Sellout came to my attention, but once I did, I put it on my Amazon wishlist and, in time, it was gifted to me. The reading could begin! I was initially struck most by Beatty’s style.
If you grew up in the US during the ‘80s and early ‘90s, there’s a good chance you remember ABC’s TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Friday) programming block, which aired Friday evenings during prime time. One of the sitcoms in that block was Full House. Now, over 20 years since it went off the air, Netflix has put out a sequel spinoff, starring much of the original cast. Like the title says: it’s weird.
I just finished reading Dataclysm: Who We Are When We Think No One’s Looking. It was written by Christian Rudder, one of the founders of the dating site OkCupid, so you figure he knows a thing or two about the subject. If you’re unfamiliar with the book, Rudder draws on data pulled from OkCupid, Match.com, Twitter, Facebook, and other sources to explore various aspects of ourselves. This involves examinations of how perceived attractiveness affects one’s dating prospects, racial biases when seeking romantic partners, the mechanics of online outrages, and the various ways people describe themselves, held up against what their actions betray as their true selves.