Sunday Lowdown #64

This Week’s Blog Posts:

It’s always weird to passionately write an entirely negative review about a book a woman wrote. There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women, right? Honestly, I felt that Ada Calhoun’s book Why We Can’t Sleep hurt, to some degree, an entire generation of women who are absolutely working it, but chose quotes from her friends and their friends about how women are basically victims of themselves.

What a warm welcome I felt from both my readers and author Michele Feltman Strider after I posted my review of Homestyle. It was such a great book, one that made me think and feel and empathize. If you are interested and have the money, please grab a copy of Homestyle, which is self-published on Amazon.

Next Week’s Blog Posts:

Thanks to a review from Briana @ Pages Unbound, I picked up My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris. Much like those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, this one is has a kitschy romp of over-the-top, damsel-trying-to-land-her-man goofy element. My review will post on Tuesday!

Since this is her third book, I’m thinking of Samantha Irby’s work as a trifecta of memoir comedy. Wow, No Thank You was just published, and I’m happy to say the publisher kept the color scheme and weird animal theme. My review of these “Adults Only” essays will be here Thursday.

Book I’m Reading Aloud to My Spouse:

We started Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. While I liked both this first memoir and her follow-up, Furiously Happy, I deeply enjoy the early memories of Lawson, her sister, her parents, and the dozens of animals — alive and dead — that grace the pages of Let’s Pretend. So far, the spouse and I have discovered Lawson’s term “poop rope” in lieu of “intestines” is a fan favorite at Chez Page.

Hamlet von Schnitzel, actual taxidermy mouse the author owns.

Books Added to the TBR Pile:

Because I didn’t expect to get a stimulus check from the U.S. government and am doing fine without it (a big relief in a weird world), I’ve been spending more on books, purchasing them directly from small publishers (like Quirk Books’s Monster, She Wrote) or through the local independent bookstore. Also, there’s something about reading your recommendations that makes me feel connected, so plan on seeing a lot more shout-outs in my reviews that usual!

31 comments

  1. I have to admit that I’ve never been a fan of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books—I’m always highly unsatisfied with the outcomes of all my options—but I’ll suspend judgment while I read your review; the book sounds pretty fun!

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  2. I enjoyed your review of Why We Can’t Sleep and no, I don’t think you necessarily have to be supportive of other women. In any case, I would assume most women prefer to be judged by their merits not by the fact that they are women, the latter would be wrong as well. It may be an unpopular opinion, but for instance I find that rules about x% of board members should be women somewhat problematic. You should always choose the best, although women should of course receive support and men should be encouraged to be more open-minded.

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    • I see what you’re saying and think it would be an equitable society if we could judge everyone on their merits. However, system sexism, racism, ableism, and homophobia keep people our of the tracts that would help them get to positions of power, even if the person’s merits are stellar. We can’t even choose a female president because what if her daughter needs her? And what if she becomes a grandma and spends more time playing with her grandbaby instead of focusing on the entire country? What if a disabled person has to take a day off for a medical appointment, or if a gay man doesn’t seem “strong” enough to make management-level decisions.

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      • Yeah, there is still some way to go (and perhaps things are different in different countries) but I think women have come a long way and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a female president. But anyway, my comment was just reflecting how I (and most of my friends from the corporate world) would feel. If some work I had done got support from others because I was a female rather than because of the quality, it would leave me with a rather bad taste in the mouth. The same would be the case, if I was offered a job due to these reasons.

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        • True, but would you not get angry if you were overlooked for a job because you’re a woman? And what if, for your whole life, you were repeatedly looked over because you’re a woman, but no one is saying that directly to you? I get what you’re saying, though.

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          • Of course! I can’t say, I’ve ever experienced that even in my work in one of the most brutal parts of City of London’s corporate world. And I’ve seen so many changes as well, so whilst I agree, there is still work to be done, I think we are on the right track. Originally, I am from the Nordics (where 2 out of 3 prime ministers are females…) and that is where I’ve followed the discussion about using regulation to get women into top posts. Besides from the fact, that you risk getting less respect, there is also the fact that not enough female candidates can be found. Furthermore, there is the question of what the women want. I know a lot of highly capable females, who wouldn’t be interested in a top job. I don’t want to generalise, but I know more women than men who have a balanced life and not too much stress as part of their life quality parameters. Anyway, sorry for the rant, I don’t disagree that we should support other women (of course we should) but it has to be in a way that benefits everybody and I doubt that anyone has gained by being told that their bad work is amazing. Better to be constructive about it.

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  3. Wow, No Thank You been on my radar for a while, but I might try to read some of Irby’s earlier works before getting to that (based on your recommendation to read them in chronological order). I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts on it!

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    • The first book really explains her childhood, the second focuses on developing a relationship with her future wife and her father passing, and then the third is about living in Kalamazoo, MI after moving there from Chicago. Without the background of the two previous books, I think it would be hard to really see where she’s coming from now that she lives in what is a weirdly liberal, artsy, farmers’-market-loving, healing crystals sort of city (I’m about a hour from Kalamazoo and know it fairly well!).

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    • I know I added it before because someone recommended it, but I can’t find who that was. It might have been a blogger I haven’t followed long… I ended up buying the e-book because the authors did this cool interview. Quirk Books are doing “Campfire Interviews” (e.g. Zoom interviews to share during the pandemic).

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  4. The publisher sent me a copy of Samantha Irby’s new book (yay!!!) so I’m really excited to read it. I read the first essay as soon as it landed on my doorstep and it was hilarious so I’ve got high hopes for this one. I also love the adorable bunny on the front. And the title is so funny! It’s just those words together have a certain sense of humour, i can’t even explain it…

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    • As I mentioned to Hannah, I think it’s best to read her memoirs in order because her life proceeds chronologically for the most part, and her time in Chicago being homeless, caring for an aging parent when she was in high school, and working in a vet clinic all build up toward the second book in which she meets and marries a woman and her alcoholic father passes away.

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  5. I’m sure the only way to overcome the whole deeply entrenched old white guys rule thing is positive discrimination. Australia’s most competent prime minister in the last decade or so was a woman and she was constantly attacked for being a woman. You’ve seen something similar in the recent primaries – Elizabeth Warren couldn’t be considered because a significant minority of Americans would vote against her for being a woman. Biden acknowledged this when he determined that his running mate would be a woman – I’m barracking (do you say rooting) for Kamala Harris. But yes, everyone thinks twice before dissing a woman writing about women, or a Black person writing about Black people and so on. But they must be wrong sometimes.

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    • We do say rooting! I’d love to see Elizabeth Warren in the White House. I hate the way candidates have to construct themselves as commodities, something tasty we’ll buy, and eventually the “advertising” gets tiresome. You can only hear about Warren’s blue-collar father and Buttigieg’s time in the military before your brain thinks, “NEXT!” Our elections last forever, and I know other countries have legal limits on how far back candidates can start campaigning.

      I whole-heartedly agree that a lot of women write terrible stuff, and I’ve definitely written some reviews tearing books apart in my time with Grab the Lapels, but in my heart I always want to uplift and root for women writers. That’s why when I really love a book, I don’t hold back, and if that writer is self-published or published with a small press, I include purchasing links and really encourage people to get a copy themselves.

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  6. Ooh, I’ve been wanting to read Monster, She Wrote! I’d love to see your thoughts (when you get to it) and hope you love it, it sounds so promising!

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    • I watched an online interview with the authors, which is what sealed the deal for me, and I bought the book. I’m thinking I’m going to read it sooner rather than later. Today, I was putting together a reader’s advisory horror newsletter and was struggling because I didn’t see many new e-horror (no point in recommending physical books right now). So instead I crafted a list of horror short story collections, and then I just wanted it to be Halloween again, ha.

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