It’s Monday morning somewhere, isn’t it?
1. Links of Interest (these may not all be super fresh, I’ve been away):
An article I missed was My Trouble With Courtesans, by Lynn over at AAR. Good reading, and yet another version of the “it’s just fantasy defense” erupts in the comments. I am starting to think, “It’s just fantasy” should be banned from Romanceland, since it is never used for any good purpose, and usually has the effect of misdirecting or ending the conversation, as if somehow the fact that something is fantasy means it is removed entirely from the realm of human politics, morality, relationships, actions, and indeed human significance and meaning in general.
Another oldie is Editorial Ass’s link to Fran Lebowitz telling us we’re doin’ it wrong when we read Jane Austen. As EA puts it:
Lebowitz says that Americans, who are generally unironic, think of Austen as a romance writer and an archetypal Victorian; they don’t realize she wasn’t a Victorian writer and furthermore was a moralist, not a romance writer. She wasn’t telling fairytales; she was showing us how to behave.
I came to Austen from Alasdair McIntyre’s After Virtue, so I always thought she was a moralist. but I don’t see that as in much tension with romance, since I think a lot of romance is thuddingly moralistic as well.
M/m writer Ann Somerville has been writing a terrific series of reflective posts on straight women writing m/m. I especially like: “Oh look, the straight woman is speaking again. Quick, make her stop.”
I am so excited to read Lessons in French that I am behaving like my English Shepherd with a new bone: he is so overwhelmed that he hides it under the sofa cushions and then paces around nervously. But thankfully, other readers have fewer hangups, and the reviews have started trickling in. This review by Nicola O. of Alpah Heroes pretty much gets at what I love about both Kinsale and Nicola.
I was so proud to see the blogosphere react swiftly and decisively over the whitewashing of covers in recent weeks, and few have been swifter or decisiver than the Book Smugglers. They’ve just debuted a terrific new feature, Cover Matters. In their words:
We want this feature to dedicate more separate space to a topic that has always intrigued, irked, and befuddled us. In these posts, we plan to touch on not only racist cover practices (as with Liar and Magic Under Glass), but other cover issues too (covers in poor taste, misleading or completely inaccurate covers, and, of course, covers that manage to get it right). We are writing these pieces because we do care about cover issues – whether they be about whitewashing, slenderizing, homogenizing, etc. Cover Matters does not have any agenda beyond creating a space for an ongoing discussion of book covers.
Who knows why Bloomsbury changed their minds this time around, and who knows what effect the blogosphere had, but I can’t help being at least a little bit reminded of the famous Margaret Mead quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Beverly at The Season Blog has published one of the few blog posts critical of self-publishing that I have seen of late. She explains why she no longer tales a chance on self-published writers.
Although I find it interesting that this article was published in the Fashion and Style section, the NY Times is reporting on a recent Pew Research Center study that shows that
Based on a study of Census data, Pew found that in nearly a third of marriages, the wife is better educated than her husband. And though men, over all, still earn more than women, wives are now the primary breadwinner in 22 percent of couples, up from 7 percent in 1970.
While the changing economic roles of husbands and wives may take some getting used to, the shift has had a surprising effect on marital stability. Over all, the evidence shows that the shifts within marriages — men taking on more housework and women earning more outside the home — have had a positive effect, contributing to lower divorce rates and happier unions.
In very very sad news, the NYT is going to start charging me for reading it online. *weeps*
Over at the Witchy Chicks, Anya Bast has advice on writing that, while it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, is so true and so clear, everyone who has ever tried writing anything should read it.
Heloise has joined the ranks of ebook readers, and reports on her brandy new Nook here.
And last but not least, Tumperkin is glomming Sarah Mayberry! Wheee!!
2. Solo blogging: the pros and the cons
It’s been very difficult to get back into the swing of blogging since I got back. I’m behind on work (missed a week of classes), the kids are very jetlagged and needy, and my husband is still in South Africa. I love solo blogging because it’s the one area of my life where I can express myself without worrying (much) about uptake, and I am in complete control — if I want to blog 10 times a day or 1 time a month, I can.
On the other hand, I could really have used someone to help pick up the slack. Someone who has “got my back”, who can help out, and whom I can help out when needed. Someone to brainstorm with, share good blog news with, complain about other people to, you know the drill.
Then again, I ask myself, why do I want someone to pick up the slack? Who cares of there are no posts for a while? Well, I’m not sure I can express this, but there’s a certain momentum you can feel when you have been blogging for a a while. It ebbs and flows, but I think everyone settles in to a certain pace (at least for a while). When I feel the blog slipping off that pace, I don’t like it. It’s like running: no one cares if you run fewer miles in more minutes one day in your little neighborhood, and it truly doesn’t matter … but YOU know the difference.
I know a lot of folks who read this blog are solo bloggers. I’d be curious as to how you would describe your experiences. Do you ever think the grass is greener on the group blogging side?
3. A few more pics from our South Africa Trip:
A Mosque in Durban
We happened to run into two young men here, whom we had sat next to the day before on a crowded Durban beach. They remembered us, and offered us sweet meats (which is a traditional offering).They had come from Johannesburg, but knew all about this mosque.
This is called "bunny chow", but don;' worry: it's chicken
View of Cape Town from top of Table Mountain
Our cabin at a farm in Oudtshoorn
This seemed like such a great idea. And then we realized what it meant to have a tin roof and 160 species of birds dancing on it at 5:00am…
We thought about doing a tour of these shanty towns with their lack of electricity, clean water, debris and rat problems, violence, and unemployment, but decided against it. Just smacked too much of colonial privilege, although I can see the other side: that the money that comes in helps the people, and getting a first hand view would provide a more complete picture than the one I just described, gained from the windows of our rental car.
A postmodern display
I was totally fascinated by this postmodern display at a Cape Town museum. Instead of scratching and redoing everything, the curators overlaid postmodern interrogation of the binary oppositions inherent in museumship (?). the result was the most reflective, transparent display I have ever seen. This was from a mixed media display by the artist, Fritha Langerman, which “aims to draw attention to some of the contemporary debates surrounding biomedical visual and material culture.” It tackled head on issues of cultural representation, and the tension between culture (mutable, organic, integrated) and museum classification (immutable, inorganic, divisive). Still thinking about it.
Electronic walk in Tsitsikamma forest
I have to giggle when I see this photo. It looks like a nature loving family out for a hike, right? In fact, our cabin safe wasn’t working, so my husband insisted on putting every electronic device we had with us in my backpack. He’s “wearing” a Kindle, 4 iPod Touches, a Sony PSP, a Nintendo DSi, a netbook, and two cell phones. We got lost about 10 minutes after this picture was taken and returned to our cabin to read and play video games.
4. This post was written in memory of James Mitchell. I haven’t watched All My Children for 30 years, but I still can’t believe Palmer Cortland is gone!
I am working on a post — really! I’m like 500 words in! — connecting moral repair to the moment of ritual death in romance. I have reviews of Victoria Dahl (Lead Me On), Lauren Dane (Laid Bare), Joey Hill (Natural Law) in the works, as well as a N.E.A.R. review of a nonfiction book about the Columbine school shooting.