Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Occasional Thoughts on Japanese Women's Writing [That I Got All A's For]

Tadano Makuzu’s political opinions are in many respects very conservative by the definitions and standards of late Tokugawa Japan. Her religious and nationalistic views, which are refreshingly forthright for a woman of her time in their expression, are very tied up in kokugaku ideas. Her criticisms of the ruling class are not aspersions cast on its existence or its basic character but rather expressions of the idea that it does not use—and does not safeguard—its power in the right ways.
Makuzu opposes the perceived frivolity and sybaritism of some parts of the samurai class. She compares them unfavourably with the relatively spartan nobility of the Russian Empire and also critiques their unwillingness to fully engage in the production of public policy regarding such ‘non-Confucian’ topics as the economy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fractional short story, though part of ongoing novel project: 'Clapboard City'

Victoria Yarborough deposited another tray of buns in the oven and wiped her grimy face with the toreador-patterned handkerchief that she kept in the generous breast pocket of her smoke-stained off-white apron. She shut the oven doors, took several (of what would be) long loaves from Rab Ember, put them in the other big oven, and said ‘Alright, still. Time for a break, innit?’
           ‘A’righ’, Vicki.’ Rab grinned a wide-spaced, speckled grin and waved at her with his big brine-sheened hand. ‘Gonna go down the newsstands, I take it?’
            ‘Of course,’ Victoria said. ‘‘Sa new Prime Minister. Well…’ She paused and frowned and laughed. ‘An old Prime Minister, agin.’
            ‘What is it, third time?—fourth? I know ‘e’s served more ‘n wunst before.’
            ‘Third time,’ said Victoria. ‘I swear…feel’s like summat’s going to go horrible wrong quite soon in this country.—Well, it’s been four years. Baldwin’s going to have to go t’ the country again soon in any case.’
            She shrugged and walked out. It was useless discussing politics with Rab. He had a head for the lists of Prime Ministers and what they looked like and the common little facts about them but not much else. To be truthful, Victoria herself was not exactly a political genius either, though for lack of having the chance to rather than of being able, she thought. What she really liked, in the manner of finding interesting, was things like Boys’ Own tales of the great imperial wars. A more than passingly queer interest, she knew, for an East London baker’s girl to have. But the world wasn’t always going to be what it was now, was it? Some day, she knew, or thought she knew, or hoped she knew, all mankind from China to Peru would be laid out in the range of possibilities for her life before her.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Reviews of reviews, hip hip hurrah!

Hey friends! It's time for another instalment of One-Star Amazon.com Review of Books That Are Generally Considered Actually Quite Good!!!

[studio audience: yayyyy]

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories:

Flannery O'Connor has been hailed as a great short story writer and a great Catholic writer. While it's challenging to discern her Catholicism - at least from this collection - it's exceedingly easy to spot her use of racist language. Was she putting this language in the mouths of obviously small, ignorant people, a la Norman Lear and Archie Bunker, to teach lessons against racism? I certainly do not know enough to say.  As reported by J. Bottum in the October 2000 Crisis Magazine, "the bishop of Lafayette, Louisiana, banned the racist texts of Flannery O'Connor from the schools in his diocese....A woman known in her own day for her anti-racism now placed on the forbidden list on the grounds of racism." While O'Connor was hopefully not a racist, the bishop's removal of these works strikes me as having been wise, indeed. '

Yes. Censoring language used by fictional characters in books written fifty years ago is certainly 'wise'. I'm utterly blindsided by its wisdom. In fact...wait, no, 'blindsided' isn't the word I'm looking for; I meant 'I want to fucking throw up', sorry.
Also, 'challenging to discern her Catholicism'? Are we even talking about the same Flannery O'Connor?