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by Peta Jinnath Andersen

7 Feb 2011


Note: This is the first installment of this topic.  See also Diana Peterfreund Talks with PopMatters About Bitch Media’s Top 100 Feminist YA List Debacle

Bitch Media has a lot of wins under its belt—its flagship project, Bitch Magazine, is a must-read for feminists everywhere. The non-profit has been lauded by critics, authors, and readers for its mission “to provide and encourage an empowered, feminist response to mainstream media and popular culture,” and for calling out anti-feminist attitudes in a thought-provoking, often entertaining, way.

Until now. Last week, Bitch Media published a list of 100 feminist young adult books on their blog. Packed with excellent reads, the list was quickly gobbled up buy YA authors and enthusiasts, and there was joy all around. Except there wasn’t—the day after the post, a commenter questioned the inclusion of Jackson Pearce’s Sisters Red and Bitch Media removed the book. Soon after, it removed two other books Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels and Elizabeth Scott’s Living Dead Girl, for the same reason—comments and an email about the books’ rape, rape culture, and trigger content (e.g., content that might trigger flashbacks or have other detrimental effects in survivors). Shortly after, the internet exploded—the YA section of it, anyway. (As of this writing, there are 379 comments on the original post.)

 

by Rodger Jacobs

1 Feb 2011


Religion, the Marxist “opium of the masses”, was a bright cynosure that I curiously indulged and eventually dispensed with early in my youth, an adolescent dalliance with romance that was more about lustful infatuation than anything resembling true love. My one true faith is and always has been literature, and my first introduction to the cathedral of books was through organized religion.

In Parkersburg, West Virginia, in the summer of 1965, when I was six-years of age, my younger brother and I attended Vacation Bible School at our community First Baptist Church; it was there that my attention was arrested by the spellbinding stories, symbols, and imagery of Noah and the Great Flood, Moses and the Ten Commandments, Joshua and the Battle of Jericho, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and the Sermon on the Mount. The Biblical tales were laid out in vibrantly illustrated children’s Bibles (the saints and prophets always smiling and benevolent) with easy-to-read verse and we were also gifted with Holy Bible coloring books. Who said religion can’t be fun?

by Rodger Jacobs

11 Jan 2011


Since I have commenced writing a new novel, I have been forced on a literary diet: most novels and other works of fiction have been strictly eliminated from my daily intake of reading material to reduce external influence. I am ingesting instead heaping loads of non-fiction with a savory accent on history, beginning with Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph J. Ellis’s terrific American Creation (2007), a masterly examination of the founding years of the United States.

After Creation I moved on to Storm Over the Land (1942), Carl Sandburg’s exploration of the American Civil War. Known primarily as a poet, the Illinois-born writer was an absolute fetishist for American ballads and folklore (he was an avid collector and editor of books on the topic) and there is scarcely a more folkloric figure in the history of the United States than Sandburg’s fellow Illinois native and 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

by Rachel Balik

16 Sep 2010


Five years ago, when I was an intern screening submissions in the literary development office of a Broadway theater company, I read a play called Hunting and Gathering,by Brooke Berman. At 22, I was morbidly fascinated by the emotional and physical transience experienced by the characters. New Yorkers of all ages were utterly unable to settle into homes or relationships. Was this real life or real melodrama?

This summer, Berman published her first book, No Place Like Home: A Memoir in 39 Apartments, inspired by Hunting and Gathering. The book engages similar themes and events with a new tone and raw emotions. It slaked my thirst for more explanation and insight, but it also inspired new questions about what it was like to move from playwriting to memoir writing. I got in touch with Berman and had the opportunity to ask her some questions about this transition, and her process.

by David Masciotra

7 May 2010


Sometime in the early 1990s, Geoff and Paul are having drinks with Jen and Rhoda. The conversation takes a hostile turn when Jen announces that the “best hour of television” is Knots Landing. It has Gary, “the tortured family man,” Alec Baldwin as a “sociopathic priest,” and the “awesomely hot Nicollette Sheridan.” Geoff, visibly appalled, submits that Knots Landing is simply an “incredibly derivative spin-off” of the far superior Dallas. The argument shifts and shakes both ways until Jen closes by conceding that Dallas was a more influential and clever show, but that it “never had the heart of Knots Landing.” This discussion follows Paul explaining that he and Geoff bonded over mutual love of “Bob Dylan, Yoda, and John Hughes.” When Jen says that she never “got” people who like Star Wars, Geoff asks, “Is there something wrong with you?” To Geoff, this is much like Jen’s endorsement of Knots Landing — an issue of the heart.

Ben Tanzer is a writer with enough heart to pump life into nearly any literary scene. He encourages the reader to use their empathy for his characters to explore their own relationships, decisions, and identity. He wears his enormous heart on the jacket of his books, including his second novel Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine (Orange Alert Press) — in which the above scene takes place — and often transplants it directly into character interactions that use pop culture not only as fodder for clever dialogue, but also as a means to examine how people formulate their own identities, view the external world, and slip into or rise out of isolation.

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