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Showing posts from October, 2011

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

Firstly, I must disclose that I have absolutely been in love with Jeffrey Eugenides since I read Middlesex, a few years ago, so I may not be the most impartial of reviewers.  I eagerly awaited this new release of his and was happy when my name was up on the library's list.

In this novel, we literally follow a modern day Marriage Plot between three students at Brown University in Rhode Island.  They are on the eve of their graduation in 1982 - one is suffering from debilitating bi polar disorder (manic/depression), the second is Madeleine (who is brilliant and beautiful and sells herself short constantly) and the third is Mitchell, who is the journeyman and travels through Europe and India.  All three students are brilliant academics, with their own interests and academic strengths, but who often mistakenly follow their sex drives in directions that lead one to wonder : WTF? We follow Mitchell on his journeys, Madeline through her struggles in dealing with a lover that struggles wi…

Her Husband: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes - a Marriage by Diane Middlebrook

Ever since reading The Bell Jar, I have been in love with Sylvia Plath.  I loved her writing and her strong, strong feelings. So I have been reading everything that I could about her and her life, from her journals, to her letters and her poems.  So when I saw this book at the library, I picked it up and brought it home with me, even though it's not solely about Plath, but about the often volatile relationship that she had with her husband, Ted Hughes.

Diane Middlebrook examines the relationship between the two poets from the moment that they meet while studying in England until after Sylvia dies, and beyond.  She begins with their meeting and courtship and ends with Hughes' passing.  She must have done an immense amount of research in writing this book, because her narrative was very detailed and very articulate.  It was a pleasure to read, in part because I could tell that she was truly striving to give us an unbiased account of their relationship and what, in her opinion, r…

The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson

I was browsing in the library and saw this book. When I read the inside flap, I thought it looked really intriguing so I picked it up. After 9/11, I've been really interested in Islam and Muslim conversions.  I also had a pretty big interest in women in Islam - their role, how they perceive their roles and what the Koran says about their roles. This particular book intrigued me more then other books about gender and Islam because G. Willow Wilson is a white, American woman that converted to Islam after studying Arabic and Islam extensively as a college student in Boston, living in the Middle East for some time and marrying an Arab man.

Before reading this memoir, I think it's safe to say that the readings I had done previously about women in Islam had been mostly negative: women were treated poorly and had to straggly mightily in order to gain some degree of recognition.  I think that this sort of portrayal leads the reader easily to believe that women that follow Islam are co…

As Nature Made Him by John Colapinto

This book tells the true and heartbreaking story of David Reimer. At the age of 8 months, he suffers a botched circumcision at the hands of apparently inept doctors, who then refer David's family to a sex specialist by the name of John Money. Dr. Money, to use the term lightly and loosely, recommended that David's parents have him physically reassigned as a female and then suggested that they raise him as such. Dr. Money firmly believed and convinced David's parents that if David was physically re-assigned as a girl and then raised as a girl, he would grow up firmly believing and feeling that he was a girl. So that's what they decided to do after consultation.

As the experiment progressed (because that is what it was essentially - this was the first time that this sort of thing had ever been attempted), Dr. Money reported that David was adjusting wonderfully to being a female, but this was less than accurate reporting to say the least.  David was depressed and acting o…