hello friends! a relatively short one this week, because I just haven’t been finishing books! As we know, it comes and goes in waves, and I am close to finishing a few so I suspect I will still have stuff to write about this coming week. However, I do also have some very exciting news: I GOT A JOB! I accepted a job working full time in a library at a suburban high school in the Twin Cities area, and I’m honestly really excited which is not something I can say for any other job I’ve turned down (yes, even I, at the lowest points of this search, turned down jobs because the idea of doing them was too terrible and literally made me feel sick.) We can discuss how excited I am when I have to actually be awake at an early hour and at work, but it’s a step towards what I want to be doing, I’ll be making more than zero dollars, and even if I would love to be closer to my family, and I don’t know that I’ll be in this job for life (it does not pay enough for that lol,) it does mean I can actually be pickier about applications etc in the future. It just feels so good—such a relief, to work a job that pays me and aligns with my values. This might have an impact on my reading and writing, yes, but hopefully not to such a degree that it renders this process impossible! We’ll take it as we go.
For now though, let’s move onto
The Book I Wrote About This Week
As someone trained in history, there are times when I resist certain kinds of more popular historical storytelling, and I think to be honest, this book does a thing which, while I appreciate it from a storytelling perspective, makes me a little wince-y on the historian side—telling the story from the perspectives of people who you never met or got the chance to speak to. And I know that that further limits our ability to tell certain kinds of stories, this one included—but there’s something about historical figures as characters, in a nonfiction book, that complicates my feelings. How do we ethically present a person’s feelings, if all we can draw on is others’ memories of them?
But I ended up being SO drawn into this book, and I think one of the things that reading it draws out is just how careful Moore is with the lives of these women, mostly through trying to do her best to convey what deeply painful chronic illness is like. I read another reader’s review (I know, mistake almost always, but I love to get a sense of how other readers felt) that said the book was too long—that they didn’t need every single doctor visit or trip to the lawyer for the story to be told. But I think as much as this is a story about the damage that capitalism does to people, and how much that drive for profit will make people do harm and then do ANYTHING to care for the people who were harmed, it is ALSO a story about the horrors of living in the United States with a chronic illness, especially a chronic illness brought about by workplace injury or exposure. The repeated doctor’s visits are, to me, an absolutely necessary part of conveying just how fucking difficult it is to be sick, to be sick in a way that isn’t immediately obvious to a number of doctors, be mistreated (literally, as in have treatments that do not apply to what you’re experiencing,) and lied to and basically be told you’re crazy by every single doctor, over and over and over again. And the repetition is so important for conveying that!
And I think what was really amazing for me was the way that she conveyed the pain each women experienced. The things these women went through—losing teeth, losing their JAWS, having their bones basically disintegrate in their bodies while they’re still alive, while they’re trying to take care of their families. And it’s this repetition of the lost teeth, of the pain they’re feeling, but somehow none of it (for me at least) feels like it makes any of it feel less horrifying. It really for me is just a masterful way of conveying pain in a way that never lets you forget it. And I think that part of the storytelling is particularly effective and makes me feel a little less tentative about seeing the internalized parts of women involved in the narration in ways that can make them more like “characters.” So I do definitely recommend it and suggest that folks read it maybe with that perspective in mind! It’s definitely a piece of disability history as well as a piece of history about like occupational safety, and I think seeing it that way is super interesting.
The Reading Situation
100 books: at the time of this writing, I have finished 90 out of 100 books, which is exactly the same as it was last week because I didn’t finish any more books, oops. But soon I will! I believe in myself.
Author identity challenge: still sitting at 14/18, or 78%! Still reading a lot of books by white dudes (more on getting sucked into long series by white dudes next week, but man oh man is it a problem.) But hopeful about getting those last four!
Currently reading: in the last quarter of Master and Commander, on the conclusion of Literary Theory: An Introduction, inching through Women’s Liberation and Burn It Down, trying to make time for Ideology, and maybe a quarter of the way through Swimming to the Top of the Tide. A pretty good bunch of books!
And that’s it for this week! Thanks as always for reading, and for bearing with me as I got through the job hunt and all its highs and lows. If you want to see me tweet alternately about how fed up I am with academia, or maybe get insights about the ways in which I will be fed up with it my new job, you can follow me on twitter @fadesintointent. I’ve decided I’m going to try to start sharing my friends’ art over on instagram more, so check out my stories there @sonofahurricane to see if I follow through on that. (And then, hey, follow all my artist friends and commission them, they’re great!) Here’s another little reminder: if you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet this season, and you live in a place where flu season is rapidly approaching, make sure you get your flu shot! It’s important to do, especially with hospitals as overwhelmed as they are. It’s one small thing you can to do to take care of yourself, and each other. <3