bad library member

I feel like everyone at the British Council library thinks I’m a freak. I’ve collected bazillions in overdue fines through sheer laziness and inertia. But I don’t care, because I love the library. They have a bunch of books on feminism, lots of the latest fiction, and a small but growing collection of books on art which I borrow when I want to litter them around my house and appear the discerning aesthete.

A selection of quotes/ things that stuck from the stuff I’ve stolen borrowed so far:

ain’t i a woman – bell hooks

bell hooks on the erasure of black female experience in the feminist ‘canon’. Particularly bell hooks on black female experience during slavery, which has to be faced in order to understand the present: mass rape of black women slaves is not a problem of the past – rather, it “led to a devaluation of black womanhood that permeated the psyches of all Americans and shaped the social status of all black women once slavery ended….the prominent image is that of the ‘fallen’ woman, the whore, the slut, the prostitute.”

Arcadia – Emma Cline, in Granta 136

A short story that takes its characters by the hand and leads them gently but firmly to an understanding  of how bleak life can be and, concurrently, how unlikely it is to change. Inevitability settles in as optimism drains out.

There was a silence before she spoke. ‘I can just work here. For Otto.’ She started to turn from him. ‘And where am I ever going to speak French anyway?’ she said. ‘You think we’ll take the baby to Paris?’ She laughed, but it was airless, and Peter saw the tired hunch of her shoulders and understood that they would never leave.”

Love, Again – Doris Lessing

What happens when we think we’re finally free of (and also too smart for) the trials and depredations of love? We fall in love of course. Except with Lessing, this is less the plot of a rom-com and more a detailed and challenging mapping of the interiority of an ageing woman, cynical, knowing, self-flagellating, grappling again with thoughts of romance, love, passion – what could it all mean?


Black Milk

I read 75% of Black Milk on a turbulent flight from Islamabad to Karachi. I bought it with the vague notion of reading Shafak earnestly – I had developed a virulent and vocal antipathy to her stuff after just a few bits of Forty Rules of Love. My efforts were doomed. I knew, on the second page, as soon as she compared herself and her husband to East and West Berlin, that I was not going to like this book. (But the flight was turbulent! I had to keep reading! Gross.)

Some thoughts on the book from the Guardian, so I don’t have to exert myself any further:

On Motherhood & Writing – Review of Black Milk by Kate Clanchy at The Guardian