Sunday Lowdown #106

WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS

The interesting thing about the Sunday Lowdown is that it is posted at 6:00AM on Sunday, meaning it doesn’t actually include any Sunday news. Should I move my schedule time to 6:00PM, Biscuit would have nothing to read while drinking her coffee, and as a dutiful daughter, I just can’t mess up her morning like that. This is all to say that last Sunday around brunch time I did a video chat with the always-wonderful Lou @ Lou Lou Reads. If you’re not following her blog, you should. She has great perspective on science fiction (as a fan) and science fact (as a nurse) in her reviews.

We had planned to read and discuss Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, which neither of us finished. I got further along than Lou and gave up, but she intends to complete this 1792 feminist text. Wollstonecraft’s main thesis is that men and women should have equal rights because they are both the creation of God, and God’s creations must strive for virtue, which can only be accomplished by choice, not force. Therefore, if man rules over woman, he is saying he can usurp God’s throne through control. That’s my summary, anyway. The book gets repetitive and the language, while vivid and cutting at times, becomes abstract and poetic in a way that made less and less sense to me. But talking with Lou about her ideas, what’s going on with her teaching and nursing, and catching her lovely dry humor for an hour always feeds my spirit.

THIS WEEK’S BLOG POSTS

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie would make for a solid Valentine’s Day read, or even a boost if you’re in a reading slump, thanks to memorable characters and strong dialogue. Plus, Crusie was an earlier write of fat fiction (2004) on whose shoulders other writers like Kate Stayman-London can stand.

She may not be likable or make sensible choices (until a personal analysis near the end), but in her memoir Camgirl Isa Mazzei gives a detailed look into a genre of sex work called “camming.” Is it better, safer, more self-empowering to earn money for sexual acts if the person is at home behind a camera? Readers certainly get a look into the emotional and mental aspect of it.

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG POSTS

Suddenly, I am reading lots by Chavisa Woods. Her work is a bit rough, slightly unpolished, but always sparks a conversation. 100 Times: A Memoir of Sexism is her first and only nonfiction book, one that she did not want to write. It is the ubiquitous nature of sexism and sexual assault, she says, that made it necessary to publish what started as a journaling project. Review Tuesday.

Thanks to Bill @ The Australian Legend, I read The Egg and I in 2020, which is a humorous and cutting memoir by Betty MacDonald published in 1945. Released in 1948, MacDonald’s second memoir, The Plague and I, discusses the author’s experiences with tuberculosis, also known as the White Plague, and her stay in the ubiquitous sanitarium. Review Thursday.

BOOKS ADDED TO THE TBR PILE

Lou @ Lou Reads recommended The Thursday Murder Club during out video chat, and Emily @ Literary Elephant suggested What We See When We Read in a comment on another post. I thank them both for their endorsements!

32 comments

  1. Hmmm … Sunday Lowdown can mean “about” Sunday or published “on” Sunday so I think going with your current practice is perfectly defensible.

    Haven’t read any of the books you mention, but I do like some of the covers. How’s that for meaningful engagement with your post?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Why, thank you Sue. I enjoy hearing from you regardless of how “meaningful” your comment is! I wondered if perhaps you had read Wollstonecraft because I know you read more classic works that the average blogger, but she isn’t Australian, so then I doubted myself….

      I could see you enjoying The Thursday Murder Club based on everything Lou said about it. Read the synopsis if you get a chance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have often intended to read Wollstonecraft because I love the English classics and am interested in feminist writings, so you were right to think I might have read her! She comes up a lot in discussions of Jane Austen, but I’ve still to read her.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m with Biscuit, 6.00 AM Sunday suits me perfectly, being as it is, give or take a summer hour or two, 6.00PM in Western Australia, so I can have a coffee (or a wine) and formulate a response, always difficult. I’ve just finished writing up a post for tomorrow morning, and I’m in between jobs, so I might take a look at Vindication tomorrow and see if I can get it read before Lou posts her review.

    I’m looking forward to Betty MacDonald. It’s 60 odd years since I read mum’s copy of The Egg and I. Her birthday’s next month, perhaps I can give her The Plague and I as a follow up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know it should make sense, but it’s still very pew pew science fiction that you’re in the future. I mean, as I’m writing this, it is your tomorrow. You’re in Monday territory. In the U.S., tomorrow (Monday) is Presidents’ Day, which means government employees get the day off to feel relieved and contemplate presidents if they get really bored. Or something like that. I’ll be reading The Street by Ann Petry and trying to avoid thinking about presidents, especially a certain one who won’t seem to go away.

      MacDonald has four memoirs. I was surprised that The Plague and I was so very Betty MacDonald, but it wasn’t nearly as funny. I had come to think of her “brand” as humor, but now I’m thinking is more about capturing people and places.

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  3. Yay! In my opinion coffee and Sunday Lowdown goes together like motorcycles and leather! Thanks for thinking of your sweet ma. XOXO! 😘

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  4. I am going to read Thursday Murder Club alongside my husband doing the audiobook when lockdown is lifted enough for me to find a copy in a charity shop. I like having this to read during a Sunday (if I’m caught up with my blog reading, that is!) so that timing is perfect for me!

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  5. You are a good daughter! I’m always behind on my blog reading so I tend to read your sunday updates during the week anyway 🙂

    The reviews coming up this week look interesting, I’m excited!

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  6. The Wollstonecraft sounds interesting and like there would be a lot I might agree with but I know writers of that era can seem really dry so I probably won’t seek it out to read myself!

    I always took Sunday Lowdown to mean “published on Sunday” for what it’s worth.

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  7. Interesting to see your thoughts on Wollstonecraft. I had to read a (longish) excerpt from Vindication in college and liked it a lot, but as an excerpt rather than the whole it probably didn’t have as much chance at being repetitive and since I read it for a class and discussed it in that setting and in context with other work I had a leg up in avoiding confusion, I suppose. But I do have a recently acquired copy of the whole piece that I’ve been meaning to read, and will be curious to see whether it holds up to my memory or whether my experience this time around will be more like yours. I like her argument in theory so the bar is high.

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    • I wanted to read more specific thoughts on why mothers should be educated (she writes about how uneducated flower mothers just wilt away while the children stay dumb and grow up like animals). If the book is aimed at middle-class women (it is), then it makes no sense to have a woman made for appearances only if she’s going to have children. Would they have a nursemaid? Would the wife also have a job? Maybe I don’t understand middle-class people in the 1700s.

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      • I am definitely no expert, but I understood that women of the era would mostly spend their time waiting on their husbands; doing the cooking, mending, cleaning, whatnot. Maybe that’s too 1950s of me, but I picture it less along the lines of 50’s housewives in their fancy dresses and manners, and more like grueling survival work. I picture them with chickens in their yards and a battalion of folk remedies at hand for counteracting the plague. Maybe they would’ve worked in shops, but it would’ve been a man’s name on the door and on the property deed. I think girls would probably have been raised primarily to be wives, and boys would be given tutors or sent to school or set to work at a trade. I don’t really know what women would have done beyond procreating and keeping their families alive. Life expectancy was only 30-something years, I think. But in the class where I read Vindication we also talked about Frankenstein and how people understood science at the time, and there really wasn’t much understanding of how the brain worked, especially at lower class levels. People put their children to work because they had to, and because they didn’t understand that children’s brains were undeveloped, they thought they were just mini adults who hadn’t sponged up the necessary knowledge and context yet. It must’ve been a wild time to be alive.

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        • What I read in Vindication, it seemed like women were really supposed to learn good manners and to sing and play the piano, all in an effort to catch a husband, and then after that they just obeyed him and did nothing other than demand he buy her pretty things. It was so weird. I can’t imagine a more meaningless or boring life.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh, interesting! I was thinking that might be a little more upper class, but I guess that’s how I pictured the women in Jane Austen novels so I can see how it fits. And yeah, that kind of life does seem boring and unfair. I doubt the idleness would’ve been by choice though, women were definitely not given equal opportunities to participate in society in those days.

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  8. The Peter Mendelsund was not at ALL what I expected…but I found it very interesting, even so!

    Wollstonecraft is so awesome. I recommend a biography, so you can marvel at her capacity. One reason why her writing reads as it does, is that she wrote to support herself and did a very difficult life, so she never had the opportunity to reread or edit or rewrite. Having said that, I can understand the frustration you’d have, not reading this book in a classroom situation, or with some sort of academic goal in mind (whether formal or not); I probably wouldn’t have finished it myself, if I’d not had to do so for some paper or other.

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    • I did read the short bio of her at the front of my copy of Vindication and saw that she wrote and released Vindication ASAP and then went back later to revise it, which is the version that gets published now, all because she was working to support herself.

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