Thursday, May 01, 2008

He, She and It

Just finished my first Marge Piercy book. I had the pleasure of reading this while away on vacation, so there was as much time as I wanted to read at length.

Brief comments...
... I enjoyed the use of the parallel narrative, with a story set in 16th century Prague taking place at the same time as the primary, 21st century story. After a while, though, I confess that it became a little tedious, with the one story foreshadowing events in the other a little too predictably.

... The future world is well worked-out, though on relatively conventional eco-apocalyptic lines. The first chapter includes a ton of back-story, almost as if she wanted to get it out of the way in hurry, or that it started as an outline for the whole book. I think it would have been more fun to have let it be inferred and revealed slowly.

... Elements of the general milieu remind me heavily of Starhawk's Fifth Sacred Thing (another recommended by the same friend). Not just the post-apocalyptic world, but more importantly the role of the grandmotherly liberated wise woman. You also have Greenish/mystical good guys vs. the Republican/rationalist-Christian bad guys.

... In my opinion the story bogged down toward the end. Possibly this is my male bias speaking -- the narrative not only becomes much more overtly feminist toward the end, but also spends a great deal of time refining the nuances of the various relationships, then painstakingly resolving each and every one of them.

Some quotes ...
My problem is that my despair dyes everything a sullen gray. I have always viewed despair as sinful self-indulgence; perhaps I truly believe that relinquishing hope is the inevitable result of sitting still. If I do not keep moving, if I do not have projects and the heady clamor of problems to be solved, I will subside into a state of near-fatal clarity in which I will begin to doubt the value of everything I normally do. The result is a personal ice age in which I lie embedded in my own glacier that is burying the landscape I usually love but to which I am now as indifferent as the ice I have exuded. (p.158)

Information plus theology plus political bias is how we sculpt our view of reality. (p.194)

Being entertained is not the same as being happy. (p.246)

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