I Don't Hate It | Moms, Feminists, Floozies

Hey there. I drafted the first rec in this week's newsletter several days ago, then promptly forgot about it as I hurriedly made preparations to leave town in advance of Jonas, or the storm of the century, from which the mid-Atlantic may never recover. (Nothing like hyperbole to cause a run on perishables. <— You should click that link. It's a good one.) A conversation with my mother this morning inspired my second rec (thanks, Mom). I logged in to write it up and realized the thread wove itself. (Thanks, universe.)

1. A couple of weeks ago I scrolled past a Facebook post crowdsourcing mother-daughter narratives. I didn't think much of it at the time, but Sunday evening when I finished Elizabeth Strout's newest novel, My Name Is Lucy Barton, I sought out that post in order to add it to the list. Strout's latest is a slim volume, a tale of one woman's life narrated from an elusive present. Reviewers have compared it most closely to Strout's first novel, Amy and Isabelle, another book with a mother-daughter duo at its core. Lucy Barton is more minimalist, diverging less into the stories of its secondary characters. (You might recognize Strout because of her novel Olive Kitteridge, which won the Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into an Emmy-winning miniseries for HBO.)

2. This morning my mother asked me if I knew "the author Tessa Hadley" and then told me about an interview she heard on NPR. "It was just so interesting," she said. "They asked her if she considers herself a feminist writer because she doesn't write a lot of male characters."* (I have so many thoughts about this, perhaps most simply conveyed by the observation that male authors are unlikely to be asked if their choice to write primarily male characters is meant to be understood as a sociopolitical ideology. But I digress.) Hadley, who is British, apparently said that yes, she does consider herself a feminist writer.
My mother and I continued talking, and she showed me an announcement publicizing a set of performances of Sinful Sisters and Fallen Floozies of the Bible: The Matriarchs, an original musical performed by a group of women at her church—my mother and many of her closest friends. Over the past decade, the cast has traveled to at least half a dozen towns and cities in Texas and as far as Hot Springs, Arkansas, to stage this play and an earlier incarnation, as well as performing upwards of a dozen times in and around central Texas. They are in high demand among a certain demographic. "You know this is a feminist musical, right?" I said after reading the announcement. "Oh I know," she said. "We know."
Tessa Hadley's new novel is The Past. Not too long ago, my book club read her 2014 novel Clever Girl, part of which ran in The New Yorker. I think Hadley excels at the short story; try her collection Married Love.

*This is very much a paraphrase.

3. Are you on the East Coast and looking out at an increasing amount of snow, possibly for the first time ever? Give this post from the Bangor, Maine, police department a once-over. (Hint: buy cereal, not bread.) It's a good read for everyone—quite sensible, as you might expect from people who are used to raking their roofs.

As always, art by Bostonian Jen Deaderick.
FB | twitter | e-mail | website | subscribe | archive