Monday Morning Stepback: Jane Austen Fight Club, Metaphors, and Chocolate on My Tongue

The weekly links, opinion, and personal updates post

Links of Interest:

I rarely embed videos, but Jane Austen’s Fight Club is too funny to make you click over (via Jezebel):

Via @shannonstacey, SluhPile Hell has the top 25 worst children’s books ever. The winner is this gem:

@MJsRetweet: Daddy Has an Itch. Mommy Smells Like Fish: A Child’s Rhyming Guide to STD’s

Amazon announced last week that its ebooks sales outpaced its hardcover sales. This article at CNET helped me decipher Amazon’s claim. Of special interest in the CNET piece was this comment:

Certain genres are doing very well on the Kindle. Romance novels, for instance. These titles are typically very big in paperback not hardcover. According to Wikipedia, in 2004, romance novels made up 54 percent of all paperbacks sold.

Levi Asher is wondering why philosophy gets no respect in Living in a Dark Age. After seeing The Twilight Saga: Eclipse today, in which Edward and Bella’s class valedictorian exhorted her peers to “major in philosophy cause there’s no way to make a career out of that!” I am wondering, too.

On the bright side, Feminism is not finished according to the Guardian. The article discusses F-Worders Catherine Redfern and Kristin Aune’s Reclaiming the F Word: The New Feminist Movement.

From the LA Times’ Jacket Copy, The Library of America Launches a Blog

Called Reader’s Almanac, it focuses on joining the current online discussions that touch on the works and authors in the publisher’s catalog, such as William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, Mark Twain and Walt Whitman.

From The Constant Conversation, “I couldn’t handle all the judging”, about a woman who actually uses newsprint to cover hardbacks of which she is ashamed to be seen reading, such as …  Charlaine Harris!

At HuffPo, Sonya Chung on Art Before Life: Questioning the Parenthood Question.

…it would seem that, “Will motherhood make me happy?” is a highly flawed, question to start with. “Will it enrich my life?” or “Will it enlarge my soul?” might be closer; and yet, ironically, the more accurate the question, the more abstract and less answerable. “Am I capable of being a good mother?” seems crucial, although one inevitably gets lost in the labyrinth of “capable” and “good,” unpacked and debated ad nauseum along with the others.

“Will I regret it if I don’t?” strikes me as the most fraught and least productive of all the questions. Regret for not doing something is inevitably a muddled emotion, since all you have on the other side of inaction are romantic notions of what could have been, as opposed to an actual appraisal of specific loss. And this question is often driven, I think, by negative impulses: a nagging sense of self-distrust (am I deluding myself with hedonism, clinging to autonomy?) and /or the habit of chronic discontentment (will I be tormented if I don’t have what everyone else has?).

Again from the Guardian, this time the Books Blog, The Novel is Centuries Older than We Have Been Told.

YA author Hannah Moskowitz on Boys and YA. This is a hot topic: 146 comments and counting.

Stop writing this boy you’ve imagined in your head and write a real boy. Make him gross or sweet or angry or well-adjusted or affectionate or uncomfortable or confused or ambitious or overwhelmed or smitten or anxious or depressed or desperate or happy. Write a boy the same way everyone has been telling everyone, forever, to write a girl; free of gender stereotypes, three-dimensional, and relatable.

From Nathan Bransford, Top Ten Myths About our EBook Future

Lorraine Ali wrote Behind the Veil for the NYT Fashion page. Then we had Martha Nussbaum’s NYT article in the Stone on the subject of Muslim women and veils. And now we have a response by Racialicious here.

I realize I don’t have many romance links this week. But here are a few:

Erotic romance author Victoria Janssen has a thoughtful post on Eroticism in Gaffney’s To Have and To Hold:

Therefore, I looked at Sebastian’s erotic journey. At first, he can sense the barriers between him and Rachel. The only way he can allow himself to think of removing those barriers is with sex; he’s a dissipated rake; seduction is what he does. He cannot change his character except through sex. He thus makes her into an erotic object, and seeks to break her down to his level. “Her passivity irked him.” “He felt pity for her, and curiosity, and an undeniably lurid sense of anticipation.” “She was in his power, a virtual slave. The situation was unquestionably provocative, but it ought to have been more so, more stimulating. He hadn’t really gotten to her yet. She simply didn’t care enough.” “Because of her reserve, touching her seemed a daring encroachment, almost like the breaking of a taboo. But wasn’t that what made her irresistible?” “…that master-servant simulation had piquant sexual overtones he found stimulating.”

Blogger and newly published f/f erotic romance author Katiebabs/ KT Grant is wondering Why Can’t GLBT and Straight Romances Go Hand in Hand? Great comments.

Jean at AAR is wondering Where Are all the Foreign Romances?

From Jackie, a late report on her wild and crazy doings at RomCon 2010.


U Chicago philosopher Ted Cohen gave a talk Saturday in Camden, at a conference in which I also participated, about jokes and metaphors. We got a lot of jokes, of course (“Why don’t Episcopalians have orgies? Too many thank you notes to write.”). During the Q and A, Cohen said there are two ways in which the world would be unbearable: one would be “if we had so little in common that we never laughed at the same jokes. The other would be if we had so much in common we always laughed at the same jokes.”

Cohen said some things about metaphor in particular that I wanted to relate.

He said that the literal use of language proceeds according to the rules, but the use of metaphor is about exercising a kind of freedom from rules (and “Freedom From Rules” was indeed the title of his talk). He acknowledges that there are constraints on metaphors, but they are not decisive. He mentioned Eliot’s Wasteland, and Donne’s words, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main”.  Eliot and Donne were not literally talking about a wasteland or a continent. To read it this way would be to see only literal falsehoods.

Rather, it takes something more to make a metaphor. It takes a kind of genius. No one can prove what a metaphor is about. Rather, there is a hope that there is something we can share. The author takes a chance on this. We are joined in our humanity. We share the world, or we are estranged.

In a really nice article at Novel Matters, The Care and Feeding of Metaphors, author Latayne Scoot quotes Aristotle:

The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. This alone cannot be imparted by another; it is the mark of genius, for to make good metaphors implies an eye for resemblance.


I had a really nice time in Camden. After the conference, I attended a cocktail party and spent some time talking to people about — among other things — where to eat in Rockland (one town south, where I was headed later that evening). One woman recommended a few places to eat. Her name was Nancy Jenkins. I figured out the next morning that she was NY Times and Food and Wine and Mediterranean cuisine cookbooks writer Nancy Jenkins.  But that’s the coast of Maine in the summer for you.

My husband drove down and we attended a concert by the Wood Brothers Saturday night. I had spent eight hours that day talking with other philosophers about “what is the good” (the conference theme). I believe we can profitably use the tools of philosophy to think about that question, and I was happy to get the chance to do it.

But the Wood Brothers’ song, Chocolate on My Tongue (lyrics here), offers a much simpler meditation, equally valuable. Enjoy.

Wishing safe travels, professional advancement, lots of fun, and literary fulfillment to everyone attending RWA this week!

5 responses

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Monday Morning Stepback: Jane Austen Fight Club, Metaphors, and Chocolate on My Tongue « Read React Review --

  2. Thanks for the link! I’d love to get some discussion going on TH&TH, since I missed out on earlier discussions, having not yet read it.

    Also, I need to go back and read reviews of TH&TH now that I can understand them! I think it was a Tumperkin review that impelled me to finally read it.

    And thanks for the good wishes. I’ll do my best to post updates from the conference.


  3. What a great number of things. Loved the Jane Austen. Other children’s books we will never see, from an internet list ages ago: “Daddy Drinks Because You Cry,” and “Strangers Have the Best Candy.”


  4. @Victoria Janssen: I love that book, as troubling as some aspects of it are. Thanks for helping me see a new take on it.

    @Eva: Thanks for that. I hadn’t seen it.

    @Akrasia: Glad you liked the post. It takes a long time to compile every Sunday night! And thank you for those children’s books titles. I have been giggling all day.


Literature and Medicine

Reading Literature for Life

Prof's Progress

... on making sense, one word at a time

Bkwurm: /book*worm/ n. a person devoted to reading and study

Nyssa Harkness

Media and Cultural Studies with a focus on Genre Fiction, Gaming and Creative Society

Shelf Love

live mines and duds: the reading life

Love is the Best Medicine

Harlequin/Mills and Boon Medical Romance Authors

Blue Moon

Audiobook reviews and book reviews. Occasional opining.


reviews by a speculative fiction romantic

Centre for Medical Humanities

News, updates and insights from the Centre for Medical Humanities, Durham University

Miss Bates Reads Romance

Miss Bates is the loquacious spinster from Austen's Emma. No doubt she read romances ... here's what she would have thought of them.

Badass Romance

heroes, heroines, and books that demand to be taken seriously

bad necklace: not quite pearls of wisdom

mala, media, maladies, and malapropisms

Thinking in Fragments

but making connections too

Tales from the Reading Room

A Literary Salon Where All Are Welcome


thinking about teaching, learning, home and family

Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Fit and Feminist

Because it takes strong women to smash the patriarchy.

Fit Is a Feminist Issue

Feminist reflections on fitness, sport, and health

Heloise Merlin's Weblog

Virtual people read books, too!

Victoria Janssen

Just another site

Bblog Central

Your source for book blogging.

Insta-Love Book Reviews

Deflowering romance - one book at a time

A Striped Armchair

Bookish thoughts from a woman of endless curiousity

Sonomalass's Blog

Another day in paradise

RR@H Novel Thoughts & Book Talk

Featuring Author Interviews and Commentaries

Something More

my extensive reading

Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog

Enjoying crime fiction one book at a time

The Romantic Goldfish

"Cheapest mother fucking goldfish on the planet"


...spruiking storytelling

Joanna Chambers, author

Historical romance




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,807 other followers