Saturday, July 15, 2006

Culture moment

This moment brought to you by Langston Hughes:

A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore——
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over——
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Now reading: Gone with the Wind (still, sigh); A Feeling for Books by Janice Radway; and Me and the Blondes by Teresa Toten.

A bientot.

Friday, July 07, 2006

July? July!?!

So it seems it's July. How did that happen?

Not much is new here. I've been on vacation for the last week, but I haven't really started to relax yet and actually had to go in to work today (so I get another day off in lieu). The remarkable hot weather has broken and we've had delightful storms on and off for the last 36 hours. Haven't been climbing for weeks! But perhaps that will change next week...


If you've been following the spate of plagiarism cases in the US this year, you're probably already aware of the Ann Coulter controversy. If you follow this link, however, you'll get a fuller picture of exactly what Ann Coulter is about. (For an especially rich experience, click on the Quicktime movie box at the right-hand side on the page.) Scary!

I continue to read lots of YA and discipline-specific texts, but one book I especially enjoyed recently is The Story of V: Opening Pandora's Box by Catherine Blackledge. Here is the synopsis from Amazon.UK:

It is the seat of female sexual pleasure, the passage for both the creation and the birth of humankind, and the channel for menstrual blood. Yet we know less about the vagina - its structure and function - than we do about any other organ of the human body. Why? THE STORY OF V explores how female genitalia have been conceived and misconceived over the centuries and today. A new look is long overdue. More than two millennia of misinformation has resulted in a western culture where we hold back from mentioning or showing the vagina; where this organ when seen publically is most commonly viewed as pornographic; and where, of all the organs of the human body, the vagina remains the most clouded in mystery, myth and biased, out-dated beliefs. In the past, medicine has misrepresented female sexual anatomy, reducing its remarkable complexities to the notion of a passive vessel. But, as this book shows, science is at last beginning to reveal the true structure and function of female genitalia, and the dynamic nature of the vagina's role in both sexual pleasure and reproduction. The result is nothing less than a vaginal revolution. With a wide-ranging perspective that takes in prehistoric art, ancient history, linguistics, mythology, evolutinary theory, reproductive biology and medicine, Catherine Blackledge unveils the hidden marvels of the female form.

A fascinating read, although most people I've discussed it with have been rather squeamish about the topic — and the dread colour-plate section. I'd recommend this book highly. It's amazingly readable, with a chatty style, and packed with disarming information. Regrettably, it's difficult to find locally — but I have a copy if you're interested!

I've also been engaged by Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series: The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, and Something Rotten. If you like literature and speculative fiction, you'll probably love these novels. Fforde's now started a new series about Nursery Crimes. The first book, The Big Over Easy, is sitting on my kitchen counter waiting for me to finish ... wait for it ... Gone with the Wind! The second book, The Fourth Bear, is due out next month. Excellent summer reading, if you don't mind big (silly) books.

Well, the sky is getting dark, so that's enough from me. I'll try to get back here again soon. As always, if you have book recommendations, I'd love to hear them.

Wishing you well,