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Showing posts from March, 2010

Jewish Fantasy, The Conversation

Michael Weingrad's "Why There Is No Jewish Narnia" has been the gift that keeps on giving for the genre/Jewish blogosphere for the last month.  Counting justthosepoststhathavelinkedback to my response to the essay, there have been dozensofdiscussionssparked by it, reaching as far as blogs at The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The National Review.  Here are a couple of later additions which, I think, have really broadened the conversation.
coffeeandink's "Religion != Christiany" is more a discussion of the discussion of Weingrad's article, and touches on subjects that she's talked on with some passion before (some of which were also brought up in the 2009 iteration of RaceFail).  Specifically, the tendency to forget the privilege of being Christian in historically Christian countries, and the different levels of privilege that other, non-Christian religions enjoy (as Micole points out, Judaism currently enjoys a significantly more privileged status…

In Good Company: Thoughts on Persuasion

Some way into Jane Austen's Persuasion, heroine Anne Elliot is deeply distressed when she overhears a conversation between her former fiancé, Captain Wentworth, and the girl he has been flirting with, which makes it clear that Wentworth considers Anne weak-willed, and holds her in disdain for breaking off their engagement eight years ago, when he was a penniless lieutenant with no prospects, on the advice of her mentor Lady Russell.  Mind churning, Anne is glad when the three are joined by the rest of their group, thinking that "Her spirit wanted the solitude and silence which only numbers could give."  That line seems to me to sum up Anne, and indeed the whole of Persuasion, perfectly.  Anne Elliot is exactly the sort of person who is always most alone in a crowd.

Persuasion is an odd entry in Austen's bibliography.  Her last novel, it is the most sober of the six, with very little of the sharp, acidic humor that characterizes most of her writing.  In other Austen no…

Self-Promotion

With the Hugo nominating deadline only a few days away, Strange Horizons is covering some of 2009's short fiction, with a very fine roundup review by Alavaro Zinos-Amaro (who among other things has made me rethink Kij Johnson's "Spar," a story I found impressive, but not to extent that other short fiction reviewers, who have consistently crowned it one of the best short stories of the year, have) and a slightly less in-depth one by myself which covers some of the stories mentioned in my draft Hugo ballot.

In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield

Kit Whitfield's In Great Waters is a novel that has received ecstatic reviews from very nearlyeveryone who has writtenabout it, including some of my closefriends and favoritereviewers.  As you can imagine, this made me both eager and nervous about reading it myself, but I was certainly more the latter than the former after I read Whitfield's first novel, Benighted, a profound disappointment which I found "slow-paced, overlong, rather poorly written, and not doing nearly as much as it should with its excellent premise."  Even assurances by Martin Lewis that In Great Waters represented a huge leap forward for Whitfield didn't allay my concerns, and I nervously left the book for the very end of my Hugo reading.  I needn't have worried.  In Great Waters is not only a very fine novel, it seems to address each and every one of my complaints about Benighted: it is impeccably plotted and paced, very well written, and best of all, fully explores and plays with its inv…