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Tomes and Tea Leaves

Currently reading

Kismetology
Jaimie Admans
On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History
Nicholas A. Basbanes
Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing
Anya Von Bremzen
The Mirror Lied: One Woman's 25-Year Struggle with Bulimia, Anorexia, Diet Pill Addiction, Laxative Abuse and Cutting.
Marc A. Zimmer, N.R. Mitgang, Ira M. Sacker
Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear: Inside the Land of Ballet
Stephen Manes
Sisterland
Curtis Sittenfeld
Flora
Gail Godwin
The Old Curiosity Shop
Charles Dickens, Norman Page
The English Eccentrics
Edith Sitwell, Richard Ingrams (Introduction)

Foxfire

Foxfire - Joyce Carol Oates This novel is a fictionalized account of an all-female gang that forms in a working class community in upstate New York. The gang, Foxfire, is founded by a group of girls who've all suffered alientation and lack of parental attention. The girls share a sense of being alienated and restricted from any sort of real social benefits or meaningful relationships becuase of their age, gender, economic status, and family situation. The gang is formed, and begins, by using public humilation and minor violence to bring justice to local men who have abused the privileges of their gender. Quickly, though, their activities escalate, and it becomes clear that the gang is on a path to self-destruction. This book was a bit hard to get into at first because its written in the tone and style of one of the gang's members, but the writing becomes engrossing. Oates truly takes on the tone and spirit of a teenage girl gang. While this is part of what makes the book hard to get into, it ultimately makes for an engrossing story. It is striking just how anti-male Foxfire's violence is, and the book seems to suggest that this is one of the myriad of social responses to a world in which girls are expendable objects, sexualized, and undervalued. Indeed, Oates invites the reader to consider the gang and it's activities as part of a continuum of responses that individuals in a depressed, sexist, and emotionally alienated society might produce. The book is as much a critique of the word that made Foxfire possible as it is a narration of the gang's activities. While Oates does not excuse the violence she clearly assigns broader culpability to the world in which these girls live.