It’s pretty well-documented that I love YA, but I read a lot of other things, too. I’m probably the least discriminating, least snobby reader in the world. I’m into it all…literary fiction, trashy celebrity memoirs, bestseller “chick-lit” (even if that terms make me want to barf), nonfiction about crazy people…you name it, I probably want to read it. As long as it involves a lady.
That’s the common thread among most of my reading choices since graduating with my English degree. In school, although I did have a few great professors who assigned lots of books by women, it often seemed like I was taught that “classic literature” equaled “male literature.” After college, when I could read whatever I wanted, I discovered something. I loved reading books by and about women. Seeing my experience reflected on the page felt like nothing short of magic. That’s not to say I only read books by women I identify with–I love to read about women with different backgrounds, ethnicities, personalities, etc. What I like about books by women is simple: they tend to view women as people.
This is all just another way of saying I got tired of reading books where old men somehow seduced young, attractive women and then degraded them, which seems to happen pretty often in books written by old men. I don’t, by any means, read exclusively female authors, and I don’t think female authors are better than male authors (pitting genders against each other is pretty futile). But it’s the lady experience I’m interested in on this blog, and after years and years of subconsciously believing that stereotypically male language, subject, tone, and characters were the height of literature, it feels great to read something aggressively female and realize, “Oh, this is great too.”
Hence the Ladyville Book Club. This isn’t a book club in the traditional sense of the word, because I’m the only member and it just involves me writing posts about books. So basically it’s just another blog feature that I’m calling a book club. I’ll be writing about whatever book I’m loving, as long as it’s written by a lady, is about a lady, or involves a lady in any tangential way. So let’s get on with it!
I’ve been meaning to write about Jami Attenberg on Welcome to Ladyville for awhile. A couple of years ago, I sent Friend of WTL Lauren a facebook message asking for a list of books about women (these are the sorts of fun messages you get when I’m your friend). She gave me a bunch of great suggestions, one of which was Jami Attenberg’s The Melting Season. Since I trust Lauren in all matters literary, I bought it on my Kindle immediately. It’s just great, and it involves so many things I love in a book: a woman leaving her husband, having an adventure, and then there’s a Prince impersonator. It couldn’t be better. After finishing it, I checked out her earlier book, The Kept Man, and that one really blew me away.
It’s about a woman whose older artist husband has been in a coma for years. While he’s asleep, she feels unable to move on with her life. Until, finally, she does…she meets people, does things, discovers hidden truths about her relationship. It all sounds simple when I explain it like that, but this book was just exhilarating in the best way. It’s all about a woman livin’ her life after basically sleepwalking for years.
She has a new book, The Middlestein’s, coming out soon. I’m excited! Until then, there’s always her many web presences, where she writes gems like this post. A tiny quote:
“You are never trapped. There is always a way out. I am always looking for the trapdoor. I am always in the state of creating an exit strategy.”
You’ll like The Kept Man if you enjoy books about ladies, loneliness, and/or New York. Let me know if you check it out!