Posted in arc, Diversity

LGBT+ book review

TRANS/gressive

Riki Wilchins

Riverdale Avenue Books

Publication date 1st June 2017

 

The Truth About Goodbye

Russell Ricard

Wise Ink Creative Publications

Publication Date 1st April 2016

 

 

Please note that both books were given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

TRANS/gressive is a history.   TRANS/gressive is a retelling.   It is a history of a movement.  It is a history of people growing into political consciousness.   It is a history of an individual’s journey through that movement; their role within it, their view of it, and their doubts about a movement that they had helped to build.

 

This book outlines the changes within the Trans community. How trans individuals went from; shame to anger, from anger to empowerment, and from empowerment to the roots of victory. It is the story of how these individuals took on the entrenched views of the feminist movement and the violence of the wider community.  It is a story of how the politicised trans community; lobbied, protested, set up camps, held vigils, and found community. It is the story of how they began to win victories.   It is the story of division and struggle.  It is the story of the disagreements that emerged in victory.  This book is a good introduction to a newly emerging movement.     It is a good place to start if you want to gain an understanding of how a marginalised group; grew into political awareness, found solidarity, began to fight political campaigns, began to win victories, and changed our world.  It is written in a very accessible manner.   It is a must read for all who wish to understand; the birth of a movement that is shaping our world and how individuals become politicised.

 

The Truth About Goodbye (Russel Riccard) maybe seen as a child of the wider LGBT+ campaign.  On the surface, this book looks like your average romantic novel.   It is written in the clear almost filmic, dialogue driven, manner of such works. The story line follows a traditional form.  An individual loses their partner, must come to terms with their loss, and eventually move onto another relationship.  But, the similarity ends there.   The central character is a male grieving another male.  The book asks, how a person can truly grieve in a society that sanctions, neither; the persons relationship or the individual’s grief.   In addition, it is an interesting portrait of a man coming to terms with the aging process and the social limitations that come with that process. This book is for you if you are in the market for a,  diversity driven, summer beach read.

 

 

Posted in arc, Uncategorized

Austin

 

Lucy Worsley Jane Austen at Home Hodder and Soughton Published 02 June 2017 (Given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

Paula Byrne The Genius of Jane Austen Harper Collins Published (given to me by the publisher in exchange an honest review)

 

2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen.   So, expect Jane Austen to be at the forefront of cultural attention.  But, when is she not?  You see her face on many tee-towels, mugs, etc, etc.  Her books are continually turned into; films, theatre productions and TV shows.   Her face appears on a bank note.  But, how much do we really know about Jane Austen? In this new crop of books, concerning different aspects of Austen life, Worsley and Byrne attempt to cast a new light on the life of this well-known author.

 

Lucy Worsley, traces Jane Austen’s life through the houses she lived in and her domestic life. Worsley takes on a trip around the various locations that make up Austen’s world, examining her life through every day documents, such as; diaries, recipes, budgets, and personal letters.  She goes from Steventon,  where Jane was born and lived for the first years if her life, to Chawton, and Winchester, where Austen spent her final years.  Worsley looks at the struggles that Jane faced simply to survive, and prosper, on a limited budget.

 

Lucy Worsley mentions that the Austen’s often preformed plays.  She points out that Jane Austen herself wrote theatrical works.    Paula Byrne expounds upon this theme.  Byrne contextualises Austen’s work with an analysis of the theatrical tradition that existed during Austen’s life and analyses the productions that the Austen’s, and their circle, performed.  Byrne argues that the theatre played a large role in Jane Austen’s; life, education, and literary works. Before, examining how Austen’s work has inspired Hollywood, exploring the adaptions that have been made of Austen’s novels.

These two books are both interesting reads.   If you want an overview of Austen’s domestic life then the Worsley is the one you should pick up. If you require an exploration of the work, and the works that inspired them, then the Byrne is for you.  It would be great to read these books together.  It would be great to read these two books in conjunction with Austen’s own works.   Both books would make great reading for your Austen summer.

 

Posted in arc, Uncategorized

Fighting Hislam

Fighting Hislam

Susan Carland

Melbourne University Press

Publication Date – 1st May 2017

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I was given this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review,  This book was written to quash to (un)truisms about Muslim women:  the first, that women are always oppressed by their religion; and, secondly, that women’s liberation can only come through the rejection of Islam.  The writer, a western convert to the faith, speaks of people’s reactions to her research, outlining how they would inevitably think that, when she told them that she would be researching women and Islam, she would be talking of victimisation and oppression.  They would assume that any activism would take the shape of a rejection of Islam. In the face of this, the author has interviewed Muslim women from; Australia, North America, and Egypt who fight oppression from the inside of their faith, using Islam and Islamic scriptures as a tool in their struggle.  

Her interviewees speak of; their relationship to their religion, use of Islamic scripture  within their fight for equality, the attitudes of other Muslims,   their treatment  at the hands  of  Islamic leaders, their feeling towards the west, their attitudes concerning feminism, and how modern day western thought and apprehensions about Islam  affect their lives. These interviews give a challenging, but inspirational, view of the lives of those women fighting to gain a footing in their faith, showing that women can, and have, played a role in Islam, challenging, both; the western ideas concerning their faith and the believes, of some of the adherents of Islam, concerning the role of women.  This is an academic work but is accessible to an interested non-academic reader.  The writing is clear and there is an absence of academic lingo.  If you have an interest in; Islam, faith, gender, activism, scripture, colonialism and/or feminism, you should read this text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in arc, Uncategorized

Double reviev

Beyond Trans

Heath Fogg Davis

NYU Press

Publication Date 06th June 2017

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This book was given me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.    This book challenges our understanding of gender and sexual identity.  The author asks the question ‘why are so many spheres of life dependent on a rigid sexualised/gendered segregation.  Utilising the case studies of; Transport passes requiring gender identifiers, public toilets, sex segregated colleges and sports, they question the necessity of the sexual/gendered divisions utilised by the institutions that create and govern these artefacts/spaces.  This is an interesting and thought provoking work.

 

Post Truth; the new war on truth and how to fight back

Matthew D’ancona

Penguin Random House

Publication Date 18th May 2017

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This book looks at the rise of fake news in modern society and seeks to analyse the rise of this phenomena   The book explores the ways how the concept of truth and truth telling have been belittled in modern society.  The author bemoans the ways in which scientific knowledge and expertise have been discredited by powerful political and business interests. He uses; the Brexit campaign, the Trump campaign, Global warming sceptics, holocaust deniers and those spreading fear over vaccinations to build his case.  He argues that these campaigns have been based on a disregarding of truth, and scientific fact, and an exploitation of emotional rhetoric.  The author argues that these stories have gained wings with the advent of social media.    This is an interesting and topical work that needs to be read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in arc, reviews

Wolf Nation Brenda Peterson

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The publisher kindly gave me this book in exchange for an honest review.  This book begins with the author giving us a glimpse of her childhood, outlining how she was brought up in a rural family and taught to respect, love, and protect all of nature.  That ideal shines through this work.  It’s basically about how humans and animals, in this case Wolves, interact.  It’s about our relationship with nature.

 

It explores the various mythologies, both; negative and positive, that surround the Wolf.  The author deconstructs historical, and present day stories, explaining how these narratives have shaped our relationships with the Wolf. The author explores the way that ‘western man’ has sought to domesticate and tame nature; both, in their European homeland and those countries that they went onto colonialise. She argues that modern ‘mans’ attempts to dominate and domesticate nature have affected those creatures, like the wolf, who continually oppose ‘mans’ domination. She looks at the horrendous treatment that humans have meted out to Wolves, outlining the way that Wolves have; been hunted to near extinction, poisoned, and exterminated.   She explores the hostility some people feel towards wolves and their advocates.

 

She narrates the alternative, more positive ways to view the wolves.    Peterson looks at the programs put in place, throughout America with the sole aim of bringing these animals back to the places they belong.  We get a glimpse of the lives of the people and animals who are living/working to change humanities perception of wolves and their role in our world.

 

The author looks at the way that the reintroduction of wolves to their natural habitats has had a positive effect on those spaces and the beings that inhabit them.  However, she then argues that studies have shown that it is not enough to reintroduce one, land mark, species.   If you want a thriving natural world, all species, both large and small, must be allowed to play their part.

 

Peters makes a strong case of how engaging with, and learning from, nature can have a positive effect on our physical and psychological wellbeing, giving examples of the individuals, from school children to troubled adults, who have sought nature and the positive benefits that these encounters have brought them.  She makes a strong narrative case of the interdependence of all living things, arguing how one species controls and supports others. She explains how we all play a role in protecting the world in which we live and the natural settings that surround us, arguing that no species can be eliminated without series consequences to other aspects of nature.   This book makes the reader have all the feels and It’s a must read.

 

 

 

 

Posted in arc, reviews

The unseen by Roy Jacobsen

​The Unseen

By Roy Jacobsen, trans. Don Bartlett and Don Shaw

 

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This book has been shortlisted for the Man International Booker prize and was inspired by the time that the author spent on a small island;    

‘The novel was written on an island similar to Banøy off the northern Norwegian coast, where my family comes from, and where I partly grew up. I still spend three to four months a year in a house that I have built myself on this island, the best place for me to work, ever.’ http://themanbookerprize.com/news/unseen-interview

The same interview tells us that; 

‘The book is a modern portrait of a lifestyle that is long gone, a family living on a small island in the northern part of Norway, living on what they can catch and hunt and find in the sea. A gargantuesque drama – Man vs Nature – as seen through the eyes of a little girl coming of age who eventually – as her parents die – is obliged to take charge, become the master of the island, on whom everyone else depends.. ‘

This book traces the lives of an isolated family; their births, their marriages, their goals and ambitions, their individual achievements and tragedies, and their deaths. It traces their attempts to build new structures on their island, battling against nature and taking them generations to accomplish.

This book is an atmospheric look at  life on a small island and the people who live on it. It traces their struggles with the natural world. It explores the changes occurring in society, their effects on this family, their attempts to adapt and the things that they lose in their attempts to adapt. They fight to get a regular boat service to their island. They must pay the prize – a lighthouse which will destroy their isolated lives and turn  self sufficient individuals into tied, dependent, wage earners.
This is a quiet book about a quiet island.  It is slow paced, occasionally dragging, mirroring the often slow and boring life of the island.  If you like fast paced stories, filled with high stakes dramas, then this book is not for you.  However, if you like picturesque stories, set in rural settings, then you will like this book.