Tag Archives: popular

Truly, Madly, Guilty: The Unexpected Pleasure

I don’t believe in diets. In fact I’m pretty vocal about how ridiculous and counterproductive they are. Part of the reason is because of the fast-binge cycle: your body isn’t built for nutrient deprivation and so you get hungrier and hungrier until you find yourself crouched over the tub of icecream in the middle of the night wondering for what purpose you ever started out. Continue reading


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Filed under Bestseller, Fiction

Birdman: Gross


I watch crime procedurals to be soothed by the familiarity of the introduction, the red herring, the twist, the conclusion. I read mystery novels knowing that (the good ones) are intentionally playing with the genre, the expectations, the mode and pattern of discovery and twist. So on the recommendation of A. I started reading Mo Hayder’s *Birdman* with the expectation of formal/genre play. On that count the book delivered – much to my chagrin (and secret pleasure) I didn’t see the plot twists coming. 

So what’s my problem? I suppose I wasn’t expecting the graphic violence, the victimization of women (both literally and metaphorically), the pleasure the narrative derives in long passages of brutality. My patience for this sort of normalized violence against women is wearing thin. Throughout this book I felt escalating frustration with the heroic rescue of women in distress, the small and large indignities visited on women’s bodies and identities and the supposed pleasure the reader is meant to take from encountering such descriptions. I did finish the book, but I’ll be taking a long break from Mo Hayder. And suggesting you only read this if you’re looking for examples of the ways in which representations of violence against women are made simultaneously normal and glamorous.  Examples that you can then declare gross and reprehensible. And never read again.

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Filed under Mystery, Worst Books

The Popular and the Literary

In writing about and reading Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch I had the opportunity to talk to a few people about what shapes their decision to read a book. Quite a few people raised that in some cases they purposely *avoid* reading something when it gets too much popular attention (think Harry Potter) while others suggested that they read almost exclusively those books recommended from critics “top” lists. I suppose I’m interested in a couple of things: how do you choose what to read? how does popular/critical opinion shape your reaction to a book?

Feel free to discuss (please do!) or to contact me directly with your thoughts.

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