Hitchcock’s Marnie…

I watched Marnie last night for the first time. I thought it was a good movie, although probably not destined to become one of my favorites. The acting was impeccable, Sean Connery was incredibly easy on the eyes, and I enjoyed the self-conscious artificiality of the world Hitchcock created, especially his use of color.


Does this look like a nice guy to you?

I have read that this film “proves” Hitchcock’s misogyny, but I couldn’t see it. Men come off worse than women in Marnie. Marnie is damaged, but Connery’s character Mark is perverse in his obsession with her and his desire to “fix” her that doesn’t seem to arise out of any pure intentions, but rather out of a need to possess and control her. Rather than proving Hitchcock’s hatred of women, Marnie is another dark, twisted view of humankind that characterizes all of his movies and is the primary reason why I am drawn to them.

Whatever Hitchcock’s feelings about women were in real life, I don’t want to know about them. I am sure they were more complex than a simple hatred of women. What I care about is his work. If misogyny did come through clearly in his films, that would turn me off of them. Hitchcock does not shy away from female characters who are immoral, self-serving, or shallow; certainly there are women who are like this. I think he is interested in male obsession with women, though, as can be seen in Marnie, Vertigo, and possibly Notorious (which I need to rewatch soon). In all of those movies, though, I don’t see the man as a hero, as a portrayal of what Hitchcock thinks all men should be, no more than I see the woman as an indictment of what all women are. I see them as stories about people, stories that challenge our own exalted views of ourselves. This is why Hitchcock’s films continue to be so compelling.

The myth of the American dream…

An infographic on Vox illustrates that it takes a lot more than hard work to achieve the American dream. It also helps to be born into the right socioeconomic class and have the right skin color.

When are we going to stop blaming the poor for being poor?

Apparently, wealth makes you less compassionate toward others. Another bleeding obvious observation confirmed by science.

Junot Diaz on people of color in MFA programs

Read Junot Diaz’s piece in The New Yorker about his experiences in the Cornell MFA program.

I was in an English literature/creative writing program in the early 1990s, and I can remember only one assignment of a book-length work by a person of color, which was Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston. I cannot recall being assigned anything written by a person who was not born in the UK, US, or Western Europe. Granted, that may be a function of the classes I chose to take, but the core canon definitely excluded non-white, non-Western points of view.

I don’t know if things have changed. Judging from the comments on Diaz’s piece, I’d say not very much. 

From the piece:

“In my workshop there was an almost lunatical belief that race was no longer a major social force (it’s class!). In my workshop we never explored our racial identities or how they impacted our writing—at all. Never got any kind of instruction in that area—at all. Shit, in my workshop we never talked about race except on the rare occasion someone wanted to argue that “race discussions” were exactly the discussion a serious writer should not be having.”

Does discussion of race matter when teaching literature and writing? Should it?

Mansplaining, “not all men,” “yes all women”…

Language, memes, all the ways we attempt to tell our own stories–these things fascinate me. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about feminism and social justice issues, and engaging in discussions about them. The language that is used is often a heated aspect of the discussion. Here is some reading I’ve been doing on memes like “mansplaining,” “not all men,” and the corollary, in the wake of the misogyny-fueled shooting rampage last week, “yes all women.”


Geek Feminism Wiki on ‘splaining (The Geek Feminism Wiki is overall a tremendously useful resource.)

What is splaining? And why should I care?

You may be a mansplainer if…

Here’s why women have turned the “not all men” objection into a meme.

Not all men: A brief history of every dude’s favorite argument.

Let’s call the Isla Vista killings what they were: misogynist extremism.

Not all men.

Normal violence in a murder spree.

Why the web needs #yesallwomen in a counterpoint to #notallmen.

Lilith’s Brood, Octavia E Butler


SF Mistressworks has kindly republished my review of Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler. Go check it out!

Originally posted on SF Mistressworks:

lillith Lilith’s Brood (Dawn, Adulthood Rites and Imago), Octavia E Butler (1989)
Review by Shannon Turlington

Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis novels were first compiled into one volume in 1989, but that compilation is now out of print. As with Seed to Harvest, Grand Central Publishing has reissued the compilation in an attractive trade paperback to capture new readers. And I’m glad they did, because I probably wouldn’t have read these books otherwise.

When I finished Lilith’s Brood, I actually wasn’t sure whether I liked it or not, but I thought about it a great deal, which I think is a sign of a book worth reading. The underlying theme disturbed me, partly because I didn’t find much hope in it, partly because I found myself agreeing with the series’ assessment: that humankind is fated by our own biology to destroy ourselves.

Lilith’s Brood includes three novels: Dawn, Adulthood Rites

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A literary bucket list…

AbeBooks: A Literary Bucket List.

For those of you who like to play book bingo, take a look at this Literary Bucket List. Some of the categories are quite easy–a science fiction book, for instance–but have you read a weird book, a bohemian book, or a book illustrated by Arthur Rackham? Looks like fun!