Tag Archives: book
Paige Jurgensen / Columnist
Love is one of those things that no one will ever really understand until they experience it, and even then there are many different types of love: parental, friendship, romantic, etc. Love, just like any other emotion, can grow or fade or change the type of love it once was. Craig Thompson’s graphic novel, “Habibi,” explores several types of love.
The graphic novel is stories from the “Quran” mixed in with the main narration about the heroine of the novel, Dodola, a young woman living in an Islamic culture. Dodola’s story begins with her being married off, as a young child, to an older merchant and with him, experiences her first sexual assault.
Eventually, however, she is taken in order to be sold into, presumably, sex slavery. Dodola manages to escape her captures and take along with her additional commodity: a baby boy that she names Zam. Together, they venture into the desert and live in hiding.
Dodola learns pretty early on that she has something worth trading for necessary goods: herself. Even though Dodola is barely a teenager, she begins using her body to seduce and rob traveling merchants. Dodola does these things all because she is trying her best to provide for Zam, and raise him like her own son.
As Zam grows older, he tries to take on more responsibility and begins selling water to nearby villages in the hopes that Dodola, whom he has begun to have sexual feelings about, will not have to trade herself anymore.
Unfortunately, while the duo is away from their trusty hiding spot, Dodola is taken to a sultan, who is determined to get his hands on the “Phantom courtesan of the desert.”
The entire novel is consistent with graphic sexual events and themes and although Thompson did not write the novel to degrade women, presumably, what he did was arguably just as bad. Dodola’s body, from the beginning of the novel to the end, is romanticized into something unfathomably special and perhaps even magical.
Vaginas are not magic and they cannot cure the sick or cause the sky to bring forth rain. Thompson did not portray his female characters as humans, but rather mystifies women’s bodies throughout his work.
In addition, Thompson also criminalized 99 percent of his male characters, with the heroic 1 percent mostly being eunuchs.
Despite Thompson’s fundamental misunderstanding of gender and sexuality, the novel has beautiful story between Dodola and Zam with the message that not all love is sexual and not all love is the same and that we as humans should just appreciate the pure beauty of healthy relationships.
Paige Jurgensen can be reached at email@example.com
Nel Rand’s novel “Mississippi Flyaway” is a fictitious southern gothic novel, which also contains autobiographical elements from Rand’s own life.
The main character in the book is 31-year-old Ellie Moon who ventures on a three-week road trip with her father, Tiny.
She had not seen her father in twenty years but the two begin their journey in St. Louis, Mo. to New Orleans, La.
During their travels memories of Ellie’s past begins to unfold, including memories of the abuse from her father before he left Ellie and her family twenty years before.
Rand said that the novel has helped her with her own healing from the abuse she received as a child from of her own father.
“It is important to remember what happened before you can heal,” said Rand.
In the novel, Tiny is a gambler and con man, whereas Rand’s own father was also gambles but much less a con man.
The title “Mississippi Flyaway” is an appropriate title for the book and its setting.
”The Mississippi River shows its power, sometimes violent, sometimes protective, but it flows relentlessly to its appointed end, reflecting nature’s force to be true to its course,” Rand said.
“The bird flyway is suspended over the action of the story and promises freedom to those who take it.
The characters careen recklessly down southern back roads, highways and city streets searching for an escape.
The revelations of Ellie’s hidden past are progressively uncovered in dense forests of kudzu vine covered trees, underground tunnels, thick swamps and the force and wisdom of the river.”
“[Ellie] learns that in order to forgive [her father] she must first remember, because the person she must first forgive is herself,” Rand said.
Rand is an artist, environmentalist and author who lives in Cornelius, Ore. Rand has also lived in Manning, Ore. in a log cabin in the woods.
She taught art-therapy workshops to help people open the door to their own creativity. Rand was born in St. Louis, Mo. and grew up in Illinois and Southern Kentucky.
Rand self-published “Mississippi Flyaway” in 2005, but was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. This held her back from being able to promote her novel.
However, now that Rand’s health has improved she is now advertising her book.
For more information about Nel Rand and her novel, visit her website at nelrand.com and her blog at mississippiflyway.wordpress.com. Her book can be found on amazon.com or at Barnes & Noble and Powell’s Books.
Rand’s most recent and second novel is called “The Burning Jacket.” She is currently working on a series of short stories and a mystery novel that relate to her southern roots.
Mariah Gonzales / Culture editor
Mariah Gonzales can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
“The Dovekeepers,” the newest novel by Alice Hoffman, is often disturbing, occasionally sexy, usually sad and an oddly satisfying work of feminist literature.
“The Dovekeepers” is a novel inspired by actual events. According to historians, the fortress of Jewish rebels was surrounded by Roman soldiers and destined to be violently desecrated by the soldiers. So, instead of letting the Roman soldiers destroy them, the citizens in the fortress (around 900 people) committed mass suicide and burned down the fortress.
In this novel, only two women and five children survived to tell the tale.
Don’t worry, this is history, and therefore, not a spoiler.
Set in 70 C.E. in the deserts surrounding Jerusalem, “The Dovekeepers” tells the story about the Roman army’s siege on the last Jewish fortress on the mountain of Masada. The story is narrated by four women who were seemingly unimportant during the time period, but in reality, they were the backbone of the Jewish resistance against the Romans.
The women work together as dovekeepers, hence the title of the novel, and witness all the heart wrenching events within the fortress. Each woman, Yael, Revka, Aziza and Shirah, tells of her traumatic journey from the home she was chased from, to the mountain of Masada, and the ongoing events within the fortress. Each woman faces her own difficulties, such as adultery, unwed childbirth, cross-dressing and witchery.
Alice Hoffman is an experienced author. She wrote the children’s novel “Aquamarine,” as well as “Practical Magic” and the screenplays for both films that were based on her novels. In total, she has written 33 novels and five
Ron Charles of “The Washington Post” describes Hoffman as, “The most uneven writer in America. A trip through her enormous body of work—for adults and young people—is a jarring ride… But nothing she’s written would prepare you for the gravitas of her new book, an immersive historical novel about Masada during the Roman siege in the 1st Century.”
When one thinks of the times of the Romans, his or her mind goes to Spartacus-style battles or Julius Caesar and his troops, but one rarely thinks of the women of that time.
“The Dovekeepers” is a refreshing feminist reimagining of true historical events that doesn’t coddle the reader. Unlike Hoffman’s other works, “The Dovekeepers” is full of gratuitous violence, several vivid rape scenes and many vicious murder scenes. So, if you’re easily disturbed and prone to nightmares and bedwetting, you should steer clear of this novel. “The Dovekeepers” should be on any ambitious reader’s list this flu season.
Paige Jurgensen/For the review
Paige Jurgensen can be reached at email@example.com.
“We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin combines science fiction and classical literature. In 1921, Zamyatin, a Russian native, asked the question “what would happen if Communism succeeded?” Zamyatin’s answer was numerically ordered humans living and controlled in the ‘One State.’ Zamyatin also made history by writing the first science fiction novel.
“We” is a futuristic novel that follows D-503, a brilliant engineer that had just built a rocket and his journey as he comes to terms with his diagnosis of the worst illness in the One State: a soul. D-503’s soul allows him to see his community as the oppressive, brain-washing society that it is.
The One State was a communist wonderland, where all citizens lived in literal glass houses and everyone received the same amount of food and clothes and intimate loving as everyone else, all given to the people by the ever-vigilant Benefactor. The best part of the One State: no one questions authority.
D-503 fell victim to the dangerous emotion of love with an intoxicating woman, I-330, who seduced him and introduced him to a group of rebels who had been fighting in the shadows to take down the One State. Now, D-503 has to choose between submitting to the life and civilization that he’s always known or striving for freedom.
Even if the reader is not a huge fan of science fiction literature, “We” is such an amazing piece of literary genius that it should be on everybody’s to-read list this holiday season.
An astonishing fact about “We” is that Zamyatin wrote it when Communism was still new and no one knew whether it would fail or succeed, or what it would turn into—perhaps Zamyatin’s One State. Almost immediately after its publication, “We” was declared the first novel to be banned by the Soviet censorship board. In an act of defiance, Zamyatin had his work illegally sent to Western Europe for publication, which resulted in Zamyatin’s exile from Russia after the Soviets found out.
Zamyatin wrote in a letter to Joseph Stalin, “True literature can only exist when it is created, not by diligent and reliable officials, but by madmen, hermits, heretics, dreamers, rebels and skeptics.”
Along with his impressive predictions, the reader will be sure to find Zamyatin’s characters both foreign and familiar and his storyline completely intoxicating. Zamyatin’s “We” would be the perfect holiday gift for science fiction fans and literature lovers alike.