25 Aug 2012
in Book Reviews, Reading, Reviews, Writing
Tags: books, dictionary, editing, english, expression, grammar, guide, history, humor, language, lit, style, verbal, vocabulary, writing
The Elements of Expression: Putting Thoughts into Words by Arthur Plotnik
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved Plotnik’s other book about words, Better Than Great: A Plenitudinous Compendium of Wallopingly Fresh Superlatives, and The Elements of Expression is written in the same witty, conversational style. Plotnik’s intelligence and logophilia is evident on every page. I am writer, and like many writers I know I have a whole shelf of books about how to write, how to improve my writing and writing style, how to get published, etc, that I’ve only glanced through but never read. I decided to give Elements a chance, and an hour later found myself deep into the book, for the pure enjoyment of reading.
I got a kick out of the chapter about how English was standardized (Chapter Two: “Standard English: Who Needs It?”) and the way he pokes fun at all the extreme language police. He also explains the difference between a lot of words that get thrown around the writing world, like “style,” “grammar,” “rhetoric,” etc, without sounding stuffy or superior.
The format of the book also contributed to the easy reading. Plotnik intersperses examples, quirky asides and quotes among his definitions and sincere writing advice. Already my writing and verbal expression has improved just by being made aware of my common (and often cliché) patterns of communication. I’m looking forward to breaking out of my old patterns more consistently and “putting my thoughts into words” that are more specific and uniquely expressive. Enjoy!
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23 Aug 2012
in Book Reviews, Reading, Reviews
Tags: book, children, gender, goodreads, lgbt, lit, memoir, motherhood, nonfiction, parenting, queer, trans, transgender, women
Transitions of the Heart: Stories of Love, Struggle and Acceptance by Mothers of Transgender and Gender Variant Children by Rachel Pepper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I settled down yesterday afternoon to peruse Transitions of the Heart and couldn’t put it down until the sun set. Each of the stories in this collection compound the unifying message of the book–love your child unconditionally, whether they conform to society’s (and your) expectations or not. The essays come from a wide range of individuals with varying experience with writing, but even the most simply written stories sing with voices that resound with truth, strength, and transformational love. I was delighted at the diversity Rachel Pepper collected here: varying religious, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds, childhood upbringings, and parenting styles. And the perspective is unique as well. The stories come from the mothers, rather than the children. While this area of literature is still very new, most books are about the experiences of trans* and gender variant individuals, and not from the perspective of the families and parents who must learn to accept and support, or lose their child.
As a queer woman and trans ally, reading this book was both poignantly painful and a spiritual tonic. I welcomed the bravery of these women to fight their fears for the sake of their children and to share their experiences with the world, so that more people can educate themselves and understand the struggle for survival and validation so many transgender and gender variant children go through. I also hope this book will find itself in the hands of other parents who are struggling in the same ways, and that it will give them hope and strength.
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01 Aug 2012
Tags: blogging, book, books, events, guide, kate hopper, lit, motherhood, mothers, now, women, writing
Today’s the day! Author and blogger Kate Hopper’s Twitter party for her new book from Viva Editions, Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers. Thanks to whoever shared the event info with ShesConnected and @EventsforWomen. They gave us our first shoutout on Twitter!
12 Jun 2012
in Reading, Theory and Other Queerness
I just read this collection of intimate and heart-truth stories from mothers of trans* and gender-variant children. I’ll be posting my review of the book soon, but I thought I’d share this inspiring interview by blogger Lula Lisbon with the Editor, Rachel Pepper.
Kisses Like Wine
About Rachel Pepper and Transitions of the Heart:
When she was working as Coordinator of Lesbian and Gay Studies at Yale University, Rachel Pepper was shocked by the paucity of resources available to gender variant people and their families. Her book The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals, co-authored with Stephanie Brill, did a great deal to fill that void and has sold almost 10,000 copies in the three years since its publication.
In the same way that the 1987 Cleis Press book Different Daughters: A Book by Mothers of Lesbians changed the discourse for many families in this country, TRANSITIONS OF THE HEART shares an intimate view of the joys, challenges and triumphs of families with trans members for the first time. As Kim Pearson, Executive Director and Co-founder of TransYouth Family Allies, writes in her foreword, this book “is a support group, a tutorial…
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03 May 2012
in Theory and Other Queerness, Writing
Tags: abortion, abstinence, agency, amber, analysis, anita sarkeesian, babydoll, battle royale, beauty, bella swan, blockbuster, blondie, breaking dawn, characters, choice, critique, edward cullen, emily browning, exploitation, femininity, gale hawthorne, gary ross, gender equality, girl with the dragon tattoo, hanna, high school musical, hunger games, hypersexualization, infantilization, innocence, jennifer lawrence, josh hutcherson, katniss everdeen, kristen stewart, links, lit, misogyny, naivete, opinion, panem, peeta mellark, relationships, review, robert pattinson, rocket, role model, romance, sexism, silver screen, soundtrack, stephanie meyer, strength, sucker punch, suzanne collins, sweet pea, taylor swift, the civil wars, thelma & louise, trailer, tributes, tweens, twilight, vanessa hudgens, winter's bone, women, youtube, zack snyder
BEWARE! SPOILERS FOR HUNGER GAMES, TWILIGHT SERIES, AND SUCKER PUNCH.
“A heroine owns her power and controls her own destiny.”
(Dorothy Snarker, AfterEllen.com)
The whole theater is laughing. The trailer continues to wail its sad-serious music, but no one’s listening. Every line and intense stare on-screen gets a new burst of ridiculing laughter. Apparently these Hunger Games fans really don’t have patience for Twilight: Breaking Dawn: Part 2. We are waiting for fem-power fighting action in the form of Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist of the latest of Hollywood’s book-to-film young adult flicks, based on Suzanne Collins’ novel The Hunger Games. The premise: Surviving in the dystopian world of Panem is close to impossible when Katniss becomes a sacrificial tribute in the Capitol’s [sic] yearly games to-the-death.
I went to see The Hunger Games in San Francisco with my partner Jess the night after it opened in theaters. I went as an avid fan of the books, having read the whole series, and my partner went not having read the books and knowing little about the actual plotline, except that it was some sort of cross between Battle Royale, Gladiator, and Twilight. I was amazed at the range of people waiting in line with us. The expected audience of high schoolers eating fast food while shouting their favorite quotes at each other, gangly middle schoolers with their wary-looking mothers, and giggly college students, was joined by men in sleek business suits just off of work, power lesbians masking their glee that they were first in line by discussing their friends’ serious relationship problems, and older couples glowing in rekindled love. It’s strange what a little bloodshed and kickassery will bring out of the woodwork.
But is it really the predictable American penchant for blood and violence or sappy heteronormative romance that brought all these people out to see The Hunger Games? What is it, exactly, that has made this movie gross over $302.5 million in sales and land top at the box office for a third weekend in a row, beating a remastered version of James Cameron’s 1997 “Titanic”?
The Hunger Games has been applauded as an advancement in gender equality in film. The author is a woman; the main character is also a “strong” young woman; total proof that women will someday rule the silver screen. Right? The Hunger Games takes it place among many other action films said to have strong female leads, including but not limited to Thelma & Louise, the Tomb Raider series, Hanna, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Twilight, Sucker Punch, and Alice in Wonderland. Yet the recent rise in female film protagonists in blockbuster films does not necessarily mean that feminism has abolished misogynistic tropes from popular media. Many of these heroines succeed based on their innocence and/or stereotypical beauty, instead of their intelligence, their strength, and other internal traits. They float through the plot, surviving because of their impenetrable naivety and the aid of their knights-errant. The reinforcement of these tropes teaches a new generation of young women that their power comes from their appearance and their ability to catch the opposite sex. This is not a feminist message.