Dec. 30th, 2012

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The Jigsaw Woman by Kim Antieau has already been capably reviewed by The Geek Girl Project,--which highly praised it--so here I'll offer my purely personal response.

I am annoyed by straw men (no heavy-handed Wizard of Oz reference intended; the book does enough of that itself). The problem with a straw man fallacy is that, by setting up an oversimplified opposition, it tends to generate an oversimplified solution. In The Jigsaw Woman, the straw man is that patriarchy is the devil. And the solution is that Goddess-worshiping matriarchy was/will be "paradise" (226). This formulation is so simplistic and so sledged-hammered that it largely undermines meaningful feminist discourse in the text. Reading this novel to unpack the social structures that oppress women is a little like reading The Watchtower to unpack the Bible: it feels like kindergarten.

Now, The Jigsaw Woman also has its strengths and, as with most commercial fiction today, those strengths almost all appear early on. The premise is great: an explicit feminist takeoff on Frankenstein, where the monster cobbled together out of various parts is a "Barbie doll" fantasy girl designed for a man's pleasure. The Barbie doll, however, has a brain and revolts--this is all to the good. I especially like the running joke/theme early on that her vocal cords don't work and she is literally silenced. I like that she recognizes this silencing for what it is, and immediately fights it by writing up a storm on paper. Eventually, her voice heals, which is fine too--on with the story. Spoilers Follow )
labingi: (Default)
Did you know that before E. M. Forster wrote Maurice, Mary Shelley wrote it? Not the same story, of course, but she did write a short story of the same name in 1820 as a gift for a friend’s daughter, Laurette.

The beginning of the story demands quoting, which I will do (with some ellipsis):

“One Sunday afternoon in the month of September, a traveller entered the town of Torquay.... The streets of the town were empty... so the traveller walked on through the meaner streets of the town... and then he paused at the door of a neat-looking inn....

“He entered the inn, and asking for dinner, unbuckled his wallet, and sat down to rest himself near the door.

“A tall man of glowering countenance approached and stood over him, addressing him in a surly manner: ‘Dinner? I’m sorry, did you say dinner?’

“ 'Yes,' replied the traveller, 'if you would be so good. I am weary from walking, and dinner just now would suit me admirably.'

"The innkeeper’s visage grew red with ire. 'It’s barely eleven o’clock!' cried he. 'Does that sound like dinner time to you? This is a hotel, not a full-service restaurant. I mean, do you have any idea how much work there is to do?' " (75-76).

Sorry, as a Fawlty Towers fan, I couldn’t resist.

Now, back to the story (spoilers follow):Read more... )

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