Archive | Feminist Matters

Bird by Bird

I love peonies so much that sometimes I forget about the enormous pleasures conferred by midsummer flowers. But my house is currently bursting with them, and the ombré of yellow, orange, and red snapdragons inject much-needed glamour into the all-work-no-play pallor of my recent days. I’d bemoan my Summer of Reckoning more but I recognize that it was a long time coming, that my predilection for the Present morphed at some point into Dissociation Nation, and that, as a lady who lunches on her own dime, it now falls upon me to catch up financially with my adult self. Still, I’ll never deny life’s small pleasures: the graceful droop of a bouquet of cosmos on my desk, the chirp of my new bird clock, with which the proprietor of The Magic Chair gifted me.

At his yard sale, the clock’s charms—a different bird representing each hour with a delightful corresponding chirp—were obfuscated by a hideous green frame. But my recent foray into home improvement taught me that anything can be transformed, and so I repainted it a sky blue that brought all those larks and cardinals and thrushes into high relief. Now the clock presides over my office, and as I write—surrounded by blossoms and birds who cheer my efforts—I feel I’m preserving my inner wilderness even as I soldier into more civilized terrain. It’s a terrain, I am learning, that I only begin to glimpse when I inch, step by step, and, yes, bird by Anne Lamott bird, into its ever-excruciating, ever-expanding unknown.

The Age Gap Is Getting Old

Though not terrible by any stretch of the imagination, Magic in the Moonlight is one of Woody Allen’s slightest efforts in quite a while. Its central star is the French countryside where it is based, with a distant second played by Colin Firth as an ill-tempered illusionist and Emma Stone as a medium who bewitches him with her bright blue gaze and seemingly legitimate psychic abilities. The dance between a depressive rationalism and magical thinking is a familiar Allen trope, and he brings nothing new to it here. What fun there is to be found stems from Firth sinking his fangs into another Mr. Darcy-like role as well as an unusually demure Stone; early reviews have largely amounted to the critical equivalent of a suppressed yawn.

Certainly the twenty-eight-year age gap between Firth and Stone has caused nary a stir. And that’s really something given that their age difference is actually two years greater than the one between Woody Allen and Mariel Hemingway, whose on-screen romance in 1979’s Manhattan caused such a flap. (Of course, Stone and Firth’s age difference still pales in comparison to the thirty-eight-year age gap between Allen and his real-life wife, Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of his former girlfriend Mia Farrow.) So what does it mean? Continue Reading →

Nadine Gordimer, 1923-2014

She was a prickly, complicated woman whose best self could be found in her pages. She said: “The tension between standing apart and being fully involved; that is what makes a writer. That is where we begin.” She also said: “I cannot live with someone who cannot live without me.” The older I get, the more I recognize such thorniness as essential to a woman writer’s survival.

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