I was really sad to hear Marguerite Patten had died ten days ago at the ripe old age of 99. She was the first celebrity chef, teaching British people how to eat a nutrient rich diet while making the most of their rations during World War Two, going on to have her own TV show in 1947. She wrote over 170 cookbooks which sold over 17 million copies worldwide. I last saw her on TV doing an interview on the BBC’s The One Show in 2007 when she would’ve been in her early 90s. Clearly she was a hardworking woman with a passion for food. Her love of butter and lard obviously did her no harm.
As Chast’s parents aged, she recognised the need to care for them, and she did, until they died. Graphic novel memoir Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? details her uncensored journey with humour and poignancy, examining her changing relationships with them along the way.
Bad Feminist is an anthology of witty and confessional essays mixing personal experience; opinions on race, politics, media, gender and sexuality; and reviews of books, TV and film – sometimes all in the same essay. Roxane Gay lays out what it is to be a feminist. That there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ one. Being human precludes us from perfection. We’re complex creatures. We can enjoy something even if we don’t agree with the ideas behind them. That’s the very definition of cognitive dissonance.
Oh the horrors of slavery!—How the thought of it pains my heart! But the truth ought to be told of it; and what my eyes have seen I think it is my duty to relate; for few people in England know what slavery is. I have been a slave—I have felt what a slave feels, and I know what a slave knows; and I would have all the good people in England to know it too, that they may break our chains, and set us free.
My read for Banned Books Week was certainly apropos. Fahrenheit 451 shows you the results of a book banning society. A scary, ignorant and shallow world where brutality and casual violence are everyday events done in the name of entertainment; a regressive and disabling move in social evolution, handicapping progression by limiting knowledge and encouraging selfishness.
I chose this for Banned Books Week but I couldn’t wait any longer to read it.
Disappointingly my library copy came with a warning slapped on the cover. What’s to be frightened about with ‘same sex families’?
Do not read this, listen to it.
Besides the veritable buffet of Hollywood A-listers from various ethnic backgrounds providing narrations, there’s beautiful music and songs in the interludes between stories and in the stories themselves. I’ve derived much enjoyment from the imaginative and enthusiastic performances from the narrators, most of whom possess great skills with accents. Even if you don’t recognise a couple of the narrators’ names, odds are you’d recognise their faces.
Whoopi Goldberg and Hugh Jackman’s performances were outstanding though most were above average.
Urban legends, origin stories, fables, parables, myths, magic, time travel, African versions of well-known fairy tales, clever and devious characters, and emotionally touching stories – what more could you want?
Well, the publisher has donated 100% of its takings from the audio to Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and Artists for New South Africa who work with children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Here’s a rundown of the folktales:
Sold is a lyrically beautiful and graphically descriptive story of an innocent 13-year-old Nepalese girl from the mountains, sold by her oppressive gambling addict step-father and trafficked into India to become a prostitute in a brothel run by a woman with no morals. There, Lakshmi’s body is sold for the price of a Coca-Cola – a luxury she’d once cherished as a poor country girl. When she’d left home, she’d believed she was to become a maid in a rich woman’s household in the big city where she could save and send money home to her beloved mother and her baby brother. The reality is soul-crushing. She’s told so many lies she doesn’t know what to believe.
Laura Bates brings issues of harassment, assault and abuse of both men and women to light, after being deluged with submissions to her website and Twitter accounts. Seemingly small incidents of off-hand remarks can feel like the death of a thousand cuts when they happen everyday in every facet of your life.
These sexist ouccrences happen so often and are so insidious and pervasive in Western society that they’ve become normalised to the point we feel silly for being upset about instances others brush off and disheartened when our complaints are ignored. All of this undermines confidence and erodes self-esteem. Even if we don’t realise it, we’ve all witnessed sexism – on the street, in the media, at school and work, and now online with social media and comment forums. As Bates says, ‘Enough is enough‘.
Kira Cochrane provides an excellent introduction to feminism with this concise and up-to-date history covering the last 100 years in this 70-page extended essay, published by the UK newspaper The Guardian. She discusses rape culture, online feminism – including an intriguing David and Goliath battle with Facebook (I cheered at the outcome), the huge impact humour makes in highlighting feminist issues, and the importance of intersectionality and inclusion of all demographics as feminism is for everyone not just white, middle class women.