Thursday, January 22, 2009

book review: driving sideways

driving sideways by jess riley is a novel about a 20-something woman with a serious medical condition who heads out into the wild blue yonder, looking for adventure. leigh, the protagonist, is quirky, smart, funny, and has an endless supply of pop culture references with which to pepper her observations. she is dealing with heavy shit, but she does her best to stay upbeat in spite of it all.

the book is entertaining and educational. the characters are sympathetic and well developed. i wouldn't claim it's the best novel i've ever read, but it's the best one i've read so far in 2009. i'd give it 8/10. go ahead and read it. the book probably won't change your life, but you won't regret the time you spent, either.

yesterday my partner and i were driving around, running errands. we took turns sitting in the car with the babies while the other ran into the store/ library/ whatever and got stuff done. that way we don't have to pay for parking. i'd brought this book with me. my partner, naturally, asked about it. i started to summarize and review it for him, and he looked a little surprised. he'd assumed, from looking at the cover:
that it was a fluffy chicklit book with no literary merit whatsoever. that pissed me right off. not that he assumed that, since it was a pretty safe assumption, given the chicklitty cover, but that so often good books that happen to be written by women and feature women (especially if the protagonist is single) get given these covers and get marketed as fluff. plenty of men and women who would love the book skip over it based on the feminine cover. my partner would, he admitted. so would many of my female friends. it's sexist and screwed up that books about single women can't be taken seriously as mainstream fiction. grrrrr.

i used to get embarrassed about reading books with pink and/ or images of lithe, feminine body parts on the cover. i didn't want my partner, friends, or strangers on the bus to assume that i read brainless fluff.* it was a conscious decision on my part to stop hiding what i'm reading or skip over books with girly covers. the publishing world has set things up in a sexist, discriminatory way, and i won't go along with it. so now i proudly read whatever i want to and if anyone so much as raises an eyebrow at me i educate them about the sexism that is rampant in the publishing business. just like i've done here, in these two paragraphs. i call it lecture activism. or preachiness. or giving innocent victims an earful.

*i do enjoy the occasional foray into the world of true chicklit. i don't have tv and sometimes my brain needs a holiday. i have nothing at all in common with the shopaholic, for example, but do most viewers have that much in common with the characters on the sitcoms they watch?

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