Reading Suggestions: International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day!  And I have some reading suggestions.

I know what you’re thinking: dude, nobody cares about your stupid opinion.  I know!  But I’m going to do it anyway.

Of course, there are certainly obvious books to read for International Women’s Day.  Ain’t I a Woman, by bell hooks.  Girls to the Front, by Sara Marcus.  Cunt, by Inga Muscio.  There are many amazing books on the topics of intersectional feminism.  But I’m not going to write about those books.  Feminism and feminist theory are very important, of course, but I don’t have the breadth of knowledge required to make a list of must-reads in that area.  Instead, I’m going to write about really awesome, amazing books that happen to have awesome, amazing female authors.

For instance,

Anything by C. V. Hunt

C. V. Hunt is, according to her website, “the author of several unpopular books.”

Hunt is also an entertaining, transgressive, hilarious author of dark fantasy and horror.  Some of my favorites include Ritualistic Human Sacrifice and Misery and Death and Everything Depressing, both of which will make you laugh and cringe and wince.

You can pick up Hunt’s books in paperback, kindle, and even audiobook.  If you’re into it, you can also pre-order her upcoming work, Home is Where the Horror Is.

Something in the Potato Room by Heather Cousins

Do you like prose-poetry?  Do you appreciate beautiful language?  A fan of dark subject matter?  Heather Cousins wrote the book for you.

Something in the Potato Room is a beautiful book, brilliantly written, about deeply unsettling subject matter.  The line between fact and fantasy blurs and quivers in this gorgeous, liminal work.  Relatable and harrowing with an exquisite sense of language, Something in the Potato Room reaches into the dark recesses of the human spirit to find the exact spot where decay blooms into life again.  Or…something like that…

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Through the Woods is a collection of short faerie tales bundled up with striking illustrations and gorgeous graphic layout.  Creepy, haunting, and even heart-warming, Through the Woods collects emotionally diverse and fascinating stories.

I can’t get these stories out of my head.  Sometimes, out of nowhere, maybe on a subway platform or just walking down the street, I’ll get the lyrical lines of “Cold Hands” stuck in my head.  They’re so good.  So bloody good.  Of course, this isn’t the only work Emily Carroll has been involved with and her site will give you an idea about the breadth of her other work.

Get in Trouble by Kelly Link

Get in Trouble is another collection–this time of short stories.  Kelly Link has been hailed as a bold and brilliant voice in contemporary fantasy and sci-fi–for good reason, too!  These stories are intelligent, charming, and moving.  Her excellent prose and storytelling skills really shine in this award-winning collection, and I personally had a fantastic time reading it.  Link’s ability to examine tropes and genres in fresh and interesting ways is virtually unmatched.  If you haven’t given Link’s works a read, yet, I highly recommend you do…and what better place to start than this cool collection of short stories?

The Listeners by Leni Zumas

If you’re looking for something a little more ‘literary,’ The Listeners is for you.  Leni Zumas’ use of language shows an expert command of English and a willingness to commit to heightened and experimental styles.  Zumas’ sentences are razor-edged and cunning.  Though it uses references and metaphor from the genre world, The Listeners takes place very much in an unmagical reality.  Dripping with meaty imagery, cut wide with sharp and razored prose, and bleeding with emotional turmoil, the book is a brutal crime scene of real-life.  The plot is a bit weak, but the characters are deep deep deep and the language is to die for.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

It’s a thriller.  A supernatural thriller?  Who knows!  Night Film plays with concepts of belief and faith, and makes extensive use of the subjective nature of ‘reality’ and ‘fact.’  The beauty of Marisha Pessl’s work is in the storytelling, her ability to play games with what is known and what is unknown, and how thin the line between.  The charming, enrapturing characters help, too.  A spiral of madness and a thriller well worth reading, I recommend picking up Night Film in any of its various forms immediately.

Gonzo Girl by Cheryl Della Pietra

If you’re a fan of close-to-life fictionalized accounts, Gonzo Girl is fantastic.  Pietra was an assistant to Hunter S. Thompson for, well, long enough, and her time in this role serves as the prime inspiration behind this wild, crazy ride.  It follows a newbie editor out of NYC as she’s pulled into the orbit of a madman writer out in the middle of chaotic, drug-fueled nowhere.

Cheryl Della Pietra has also been a magazine editor and short story writer.

Gutshot by Amelia Gray

Amelia Gray is a lovely writer.  Her stories are hilarious, personal, deep, cutting, jarring, and dark.  Is that too many adjectives?  Too bad!  They’re all accurate.  And Gutshot is an amazing collection of her work.  More than once, I winced.  Many times, I cackled.  I didn’t cry at any point, but there were definitely very poignant moments.  I highly recommend checking out her work, and particularly picking up this gem of a collection.  Hey, if the New York Times says it’s “bizarre and darkly funny,” who am I to disagree?

Did You Get All That?  Good.

This is just a short list, of course.  I didn’t have anything by Octavia Butler!  And Octavia Butler is a brilliant author.  Kindred is a famous, amazing work!  And it has a graphic novel adaptation.

I also left off several amazing female-oriented collections, such as Sisters of the Revolution (a collection of female-authored spec-fiction works) or She Walks in Shadows (a collection of female-authored Lovecraftian works).  These collections showcase an incredible range and breadth of talented authors, and I don’t think I can finish this blog entry without mentioning them.

And I shouldn’t exeunt stage left without giving a shout out to my favorite guilty pleasure series… My Life as a White Trash Zombie, by Diana Rowland, is perfect beach-reading in my opinion.

The Library Is Endless

I suppose that’s a good enough start.  I still feel as if I’ve left out a virtual library of brilliant work, but that’s bound to happen with a list like this.  Anyway, this has been a list of works by some of my favorite female authors, in no particular order, with no particular organization.  Just off the top of my head.

I didn’t even get to do shout-outs to my favorite short story writers whose longer works I haven’t read yet.  But maybe we’ll save that for another list.

In the meantime, I think I’ve put together a really nice starter-list for anyone seeking a good book.

Go forth and read!

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Response Essay: 5 Things Women Can Do To Be More Attractive to Men

Full Article Here.

Body Text:

It is really hard to “get” a man or whatever, apparently, and that’s exactly why there are thousands of articles in dozens of magazines and blogs that deal with this exact issue, because obviously “getting” a man is the major priority in women’s lives and it needs to be addressed from every imaginable angle by every writer who has a keyboard. Otherwise, a woman might “have” to be single for an extended period of time, and that is a terrifying, unimaginable concept that nobody should ever “settle” for.
Okay, that entire paragraph above was a lie. I told it because I am a man, and men love to pretend like we have some kind of magical aura that makes us super special and definitely worthy of being chased after by every woman in the world, and we lie to ourselves and to women and to everyone else who happens to be listening in hopes that you will all pretend we’re magical, too. We are the unicorns of the gender kingdom, sure enough. Sorry, that was also sarcastic. I can’t control it. It just happens when I am furious to the point of physical illness with the bullshit that the mouths of my fellow men spew out like so much jager vomit. It happens other times, too, such as “always,” but for the purposes of this essay, we’ll focus on that first example.

As a man, I am here to continue to convey to women what men are looking for from you, because that’s something you should care about. I will attempt to be more honest than a lot of other men, because I assume you want to date someone who isn’t shitty—a detail that many of these articles and op-ed pieces leave out. Why? Probably because shitty men run literally everything.

Here are things you (women!) can do to be more attractive to people who don’t actually suck.

1. Be Yourself.

I know that this goes against what all the magazines are trying to tell you, and also bloggers, and also mainstream media, and also your mother who keeps telling you it’s time to settle down—but it turns out that if you aren’t being yourself, you will end up crawling out of your miserable bed one morning and looking in the mirror and realizing that you’ve altered the very core of your personality, of your entire life, for *someone else* because you thought they wouldn’t like the real you. I want you to know…that’s insane. That is absolutely insane. Don’t do that. No one you will ever meet in your entire life should be worth more to you than you are. Case closed. Case fucking closed!

Anyone who isn’t shitty will meet you, the real you, and because they aren’t shitty, they will like you (the real you), and you will hopefully like them (because you will have common ground/similar ethics/similar desires/similar—oh, I guess ‘similarities’ is a good way to summarize this), and nobody even has to pretend to be a caricature or a fictionalized neutered version of themselves to accomplish it, because you will have genuine connections. AMAZING CONCEPT.

There is also the possibility that you don’t want to meet a guy, or a gal, or whatever. THAT IS ALSO OKAY! It will happen, or it won’t, or maybe you’ll invent a world-changing technology or fantastic art that rocks culture to its very core, and as long as you’re doing the thing you actually want to do, that’s awesome. Go you! People will appreciate that.

2. Stop Reading These Articles. Even This One. Right Now! Close the Window!

Seriously. This is poisonous. Even the one you’re reading right now, in its own special way, is poison. These things are written to brainwash you into believing you aren’t good enough, or aren’t cool enough, or just simply AREN’T ENOUGH. This is a lie, just like all those other lies men like to tell you, and have somehow convinced other women to tell you as well (somehow = generations of brainwashing, marginalization, and abuse, JSYK).

There is nothing these articles can offer you except self-doubt and insecurity. I bet even reading the first note of this article got you to think “am I not being myself, enough?”—I would bet on that. Real money. Not a lot of it. I have $4 in my pocket, right now. But that’s not the point.

The point is that buying a certain brand of make-up, acting more submissive (ew), learning to cook (because men can’t cook for themselves, obvi), doing your hair a certain way, and any other et cetera of shallow nonsense will not actually help you to find someone who isn’t shitty. I’m not sure if the same rules apply to finding someone who *IS* shitty, so if you’re looking for shitty people, maybe those are helpful dating tips, but this isn’t about finding shitty people. This is about finding someone who likes you because you are the person you are, and that’s that.

3. Be Subversive.

As a woman, it will be simple for you to be subversive. All you have to do is exist on your own terms without allowing yourself to be defined by other people, especially men. Congratulations, you are now subverting social norms, and people who aren’t shitty are probably okay with that because social norms are, generally, pretty shitty.

Now, because the instructions are so simple, some people out there (probably men who are reading this article for kicks) might think that this is easy. It is not. It is not easy because everywhere you look almost every second of every day, you will be bombarded with media messages about how you should look and/or dress, who you should idolize, and how you should behave. Men on the street will also gladly provide their input and opinions, often without you even having to ask! Because of this, leading a life in which you define yourself can be challenging, and at times extremely strenuous. Someone who is not shitty will understand and be supportive in these matters. If you’re a male reading this right now, and you are not supportive in these matters, you’re probably shitty.

<3

4. Do Whatever You Want With Your Style!

Do you love make-up? Do you hate it? It doesn’t matter! You can do whatever you want because it’s your fucking face! I KNOW! IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE! The same thing goes for clothing, such as dresses, jeans, leather jackets, business suits, gowns, skirts, shorts, skorts, or jorts! You can wear any clothing you want! Someone who is not shitty will not judge you for it! The people judging you are probably shitty, and you would end up hating them anyway. They are not worth pursuing. They will probably treat you as if they have a breadth of wisdom that they can impart on you, because you are the mental equivalent of an unlearned child and know nothing of how to comport yourself around civilized members of society. That’s shitty. They’re shitty.

Do not take fashion advice from someone you did not ask for advice from. If you ask someone for advice, and they provide you with advice (because you asked), you can feel free to accept or deny that advice as you desire. And then you can go ahead and do whatever you want, anyway. If someone really cares that much about how you’re dressed or what your make-up looks like, they are probably shallow and easily put off. I’d bet they argue a lot. Are these people really worth the effort? (Survey says: probs not.)

5. Don’t Let Someone Else Control Your Life.

This is very similar to point 1, but more specific. So there you are, being yourself, not letting the world drag you down with its incessant clawing at your personal values and appearance, pursuing the things you want to do, and et cetera…and suddenly you find someone who seems to be not shitty! You start dating this apparently not shitty person and all of a sudden he wants you to stop being friends with Someguy or hang out less with Somegirl or don’t go to this rally in DC because IDON’TKNOW. You’ve addressed these issues through intelligent, calm conversation and this guy is not very compromising and…

And then it hits you!—This guy is actually shitty! WHAT? I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING.

I will restate the major underlying point encapsulated in Step One—there is no one in your life who should be more important to you than yourself. Or, put another way, “Bro, he’s not worth it.” Or, put a third way, “kick that shit to the curb.”

When someone else exerts control over your life in ways that make you uncomfortable, don’t put up with it! By not putting up with other people’s bullshit, you strengthen your resolve and willpower, and who doesn’t want stronger resolve and willpower? Nobody. Plus, by claiming control over your own life, you’ll be better suited to guide it (and yourself) towards the things (and people) you most want to do.

Best of all, it also means you’ll be more apt to…

6. Stand Up For Yourself.

The ultimate turn on for non-shitty people everywhere! Not only are you subverting cultural norms simply by being yourself and not allowing other people to alter or change that person, you’re showing your willingness and capability to fight to keep that person your own! THAT IS EXTREMELY SEXY (to non-shitty people)! Always remember that you are a force to be reckoned with, and that you have an equal share in a relationship dynamic that your boy/girl/whatever-friend has. You are not owned, you are not theirs, you do not need to back down because surrender is not what compromise is about. Subservience is way last century, and non-shitty people who are around today are probably not looking for it. Confidence, fearlessness, and self-esteem are the things you’ll need in the 21st century! Welcome to the future!

Now, I can’t guarantee that following these incredibly difficult steps will mean your *next* relationship will be your last one, but I can guarantee that you will meet less shitty people if you follow through with them. I know this is asking a lot from you, and that most of the items on this list are extraordinarily challenging to accomplish, but as a man who is into women (and only a little bit shitty, I promise), I can say with a certain degree of intelligence on the matter that these things are worth doing in pursuit of people who don’t suck. Plus, there is a fair chance you might actually end up as a happier person. Who would’ve thought?

As an aside, I would like to say that pursuing non-shitty people and people who don’t suck may not necessarily yield immediate returns. Even following this carefully curated list, there is a large range of men between the categories of “not shitty” and “actually awesome.” But don’t fear! In your tireless pursuit of finding the perfect mate, these tactics will take you far, and will result in never having to “settle” for being alone.

(That was sarcasm, again. Not sorry.)

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