Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch

I was troubled by this book, a story set in the near future where a Joan of Arc-like figure has been martyred and an older woman has decided to die during a performance of a new kind of entertainment known as "grafting." She intends her graft to be a song of this new Joan  and an epic defiance of the fascist regime in which she lives.

The author is clearly talented and this book has garnered lavish praise and it's easy to see why. She has created an elaborate construct for her near-future story with its overtly political message--the villain is a "rage-mouthed" former lifestyle guru-turned unlikely celebrity-turned billionaire-turned politician. Who could that possibly remind us of? The book's prose is quite consciously incendiary--the novel's first words are, "Burning is an art," and much of what comes in the next pages has to do with the delicate art of "grafting," a form of scarification carried out as a medium of communication. (The details are not for the squeamish.)

Such a Sensitive Boy...flash fiction for a cold November day

SUCH A SENSITIVE BOY by Katherine Tomlinson



I wish Devin wasn’t such a sensitive boy, Marla thought as she watched her son happily chow down on a plate of store-bought chocolate chip cookies and a glass of skim milk. The cookies were a rare indulgence, a reward for the good grades he’d brought home on his report card. Marla didn’t want Devin to end up squishy fat like some character on a redneck reality show. (Like his daddy)
They didn’t have the money to eat organic, but she kept junk food out of the house as much as she could, trying to steer the boy away from the greasy fried pork rinds his father favored and toward apple chips and veggies with humus. Not that she called it “humus” around Lee, lest it set off a rant about “Ay-rab food.”
Her mother-in-law thought she was being mean denying Devin sweets, so whenever the boy went over to his nana’s, Marla felt like she had to search his backpack for contraband when he came home.
It annoyed her that Barbara wouldn’t respect her wishes. “It’s my job to spoil my grandbaby,” her mother-in-law always said. “A little love never hurt anyone.” Then she’d give Marla a significant look. “It’s no wonder he such a sensitive boy.”
Marla’s husband wasn’t much help. Lee still ate breakfast at his momma’s nearly every morning because she’d make him sausage gravy and biscuits like he liked while Marla and Devin ate yogurt and fruit.
Lee had voted for the president who’d won and ever since election night, he’d doubled down on being an asshole, like he was sure any minute a Mexican Muslim was going to show up in Huntsville and take his job as produce manager at the Winn-Dixie.
Not that it was much of a job any more. The store had cut his hours last spring and he still wasn’t bringing in a full paycheck.
Marla had been an inventory clerk at Redstone Arsenal before she got married, but Lee didn’t want her working “outside the home,” even though they could have used the extra income now that Devin was in middle school and didn’t need so much supervision.
“No wife of mine is going to work,” Lee had declared even as he sold off their washer and dryer to cover the rent one especially lean month.