Lesbians, a shaman, a rebel, lunatics and rape: books read

FUN HOME: A Family Tragicomic is Alison Bechdel’s graphic-novel account of coming out as gay, learning her father was gay or bi, then having him kill himself — or was it just a tragic accident? A fragmented, non-linear story as it bounces between Bechdel’s childhood at the family funeral home, her coming out at college, her parents’ troubled marriage and her awkward relationship with her father. However it’s very good, though darker than the musical version.

SHAMAN by Sandra Miesel is a 1989 revised version of her 1982 Dreamrider (so I gathered from the Internet) but it’s a stinker either way. It starts off promisingly as Ria, a woman from a dystopian 2009, finds her consciousness bouncing into alternate realities (one of the most striking moments is when Robert E. Lee captures Richmond for the Union) which turns out to be because two other-timeline shamans are recruiting her as a protege. The book hinges on the protagonist’s spiritual journey but Ria’s just dull (and feels much too contemporary for me) and the spiritual insights aren’t anything to speak of (and explaining the mysticism scientifically didn’t work for me either).

The Y/A REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton starts as an odd mix of Western and Arabian Nights as the gunslinging girl protagonist tries to earn enough money in a saloon shooting contest to get out of her backwater town before she’s married off. Before long, she’s on the run with a mysterious outlaw who turns out to have ties to the Rebel Prince fighting the tyrant sultan, and it’s more an anti-imperialist fantasy (the sultan keeps his throne by inviting one of the Great Powers to move in). Good, but I wish Hamilton had done more with the Western elements.

LUNATICS AND LOVERS: A Tribute to the Giddy and Glittering Era of the Screen’s “Screwball” and Romantic Comedies (though it includes several films that are neither, such as The Ghost and Mrs. Muir) by Ted Sennett is one I would have loved back when it came out in 1973. With no streaming, no DVD or VHS and few cable channels showing classic stuff there was little chance I’d see most of the movies here so a book synopsizing the plot, the good quips and reviewing them would have been fantastic. Now, though, I like more analysis with my film books; James Harvey’s Romantic Comedy in Hollywood tackles the same genre with much more thought. Plus now that I’ve seen many of the films, I find myself really disagreeing with Sennett’s recommendations (thumbing down the delightful Palm Beach Story while celebrating Don Ameche’s tedious Heaven Can Wait?).  So not really a winner.

A FALSE REPORT: A True Story of Rape in America by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong suffers from having a few too many timelines going: the core story of Marie, who was assaulted by a serial rapist in a Seattle suburb only to have the cops right her off as a liar; the rapist’s personal timeline; and the cops pursuing two different rape cases in Colorado that turned out to be part of a series, and which they realized also included Marie’s rape. That said, the book makes compelling reading, showing how Marie’s case went sidewards, detailing the history of rape kits, and the story of the “rape is an easy charge” to make rule that has guided rape cases for so long (ironically the judge who said it had no problems with witchcraft trials). Overall, excellent.

#SFWApro. Cover by Bechdel, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Comics, Reading, Undead sexist cliches

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