I Want to Show You More by Jamie Quatro
Publisher/Year: Grove Press, 2013
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
What it is: A collection short stories, many of which have elements of fantasy or center on the subject of infidelity.
Why I read it: In this case, my awesomely scientific method behind choosing this book amounted to,”I feel like reading short stories. What does Grove Press have? Ooooh, I like this cover! Oh, and I need a Q author for my A-Z reading challenge. Done!” For real. I don’t even remember reading the book’s description! (Why Grove Press? I trust them enough to go on these random reading journeys of mine because I have yet to read a book I hate that they’ve published.)
What I thought: This is a quirky little collection. I wasn’t expecting Amy Bender-ish weirdness, so running into that in this book was an interesting surprise. As a whole the collection was hit-or-miss for me, but Quatro really is an amazing writer. A lot of the stories are more atmospheric rather than plot-driven, and are instead propelled by the characters’ rich internal lives. Some of my favorites were “Decomposition: A Primer for Promiscuous Housewives,” about a woman whose infidelity manifests itself by the the sudden presence of her dead lover in her bed; “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Pavement,” quite possibly the most disturbing story about running a marathon you will ever read; and “1.7 to Tennessee,” about an 89-year-old woman who decides to take an uncharacteristically long walk.
The Guy’s Guide to Feminism by Michael S. Kimmel and Michael Kaufman
Publisher/Year: Seal Press, 2011
What it is: An A-Z primer on feminism for guys.
Why I read it: I like reading Intro to Feminism-type books.
What I thought: Kimmel and Kaufman give a lot of presentations at schools, and I can see this book being useful in that context. The “chapters” are short and touch on dozens of feminist buzz words (H is for Honor Killings, M is for Macho/Machismo, N is for No, V is for Vaginas/Vulvas, etc.; many letters have multiple entries). I could see this book coming in handy in a classroom or in a small group setting; it only takes a minute or two to read most of the chapters, and that would serve as a good starting point for discussion. That said, the book is very, very basic. It’s good for people who have little to no knowledge of feminism, but people with a basic understanding of feminism might not get as much out of it. And personally, I found the style a little grating. Guy jokes are sprinkled in liberally, and I know the whole point is to cater to guys? But sometimes it felt like the equivalent of feminist primers that gear themselves toward teen girls by assuring them that they can still be feminist and wear pink, etc. There’s a market for that, and people do sometimes need those assurances, but it gets annoying after a while.