Archive | Book Matters

On the Edge, Again

I contributed a selection to Flavorwire’s 28 Feminist Writers Every Man Should Read: Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time. I’m obsessed with this book–so much so that I wrote my college thesis on it. To wit:

Piercy’s 1976 utopian novel posits a future in which human reproduction has been mechanized, gendered pronouns have been supplanted by the handy term “per,” everyone can lactate, all adults are expected to co-parent a child with two friends (never lovers), and humans congregate in small towns with extremely direct democracies. In a moment in which dystopias rule the school, this prescient book works as an amazing time machine — not only forward but back to an era in which women liberationists still took their title literally.

Cue the Utopias

One of the most bizarre trends in contemporary cinema is the rise of the dystopian sci-fi flick. Sure, the “Hunger Games” films may be the most female-empowering YA franchise of all time. But anyone who reads the news already knows the world is in trouble. Do we really need a new movie every week to remind us of how dour our future may be? Frankly, it’s high time Hollywood made utopias instead. Here are some books that are ripe for adaptation.


Though written in 1915, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s gynocentric science fiction novel feels as radical now as when it was released. About an all-female world in which women have developed the ability to reproduce without men, it follows three male visitors as they struggle to adjust to an environment in which they’re not needed and in which traditional gender roles are nonexistent. Frankly, a modern adaptation of this book would blow everyone’s minds – so much so that it might require crowd-funding since it’s unlikely that a Hollywood studio would bankroll such subversion. But I smell “instant cult classic” if “Herland” were ever made, especially if a bad-ass feminist director with a subversive sense of humor – Rose Troche or Kathryn Bigelow, maybe – took the reins. Continue Reading →

‘Gone Girl’: More Savory Than Sweet

Who can forget Ben Affleck’s acceptance speech at the 2013 Academy Awards? “Marriage is hard,” he declared while thanking wife Jennifer Garner, and the audience collectively froze. The next day, Oscar post-mortems were dominated by a debate about the actor-director’s words: Were they inappropriate? Were he and Garner having trouble? Is marriage hard? Imagine an entire movie launched from that declaration – complete with Affleck’s cheesy, unsettling grin – and we’ve got “Gone Girl,” David Fincher’s extraordinary adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s eponymous bestseller.

Though few deny that Fincher is a technically proficient director, charges of misogyny and misanthropy have dogged his films since 1995’s “Se7en,” his serial killer mystery with a biblical twist. True, his body of work – from “The Social Network,” the Sorkin-scripted Facebook origin story, to the ill-fated “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” – doesn’t paint a rosy picture of humanity. (It’s a wonder he’s not accused of misandry.) But it’s not really humanity that gets the shaft in his films; it’s human interactions. People may need people, he suggests, but that doesn’t mean we don’t bring out the worst in each other. In this sense, “Gone Girl” – an unflinching portrait of human intimacy if ever there were one – may be his signature piece. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy