The female of the species
The crazy, non–existent people who read my rubbish have seen my review on Two or three things I forgot to tell you. Then, they might have wondered if I, after so praising the psychology, read anything else by Joyce Carol Oates. Well, I tried to. I didn’t even bother finishing The female of the species, a collection of short stories concerning women. I just didn’t get them.
Oates has a very particular way of writing: long, embroideried sentences that sort of run together. Sometimes she does it well, creating a dreamlike and beautiful atmosphere. And other times it’s just confusing. (this one had more of the latter) She also knows the art of reveling just the right amount of information, so the reader is left guessing until the very end.
That was about it though. I didn’t develop understanding or affection towards any of the characters. So when they were drawn into suspicious affaires, I just simply didn’t care. Oates has the ability to point out the worst in people, and though there certainly is a point in that – it’s all about balance. I don’t want to read a book in which I hate every single character, I want to read a book about a character who I don’t want to do well because I like and/or understand them. I want to be kept in needles because they might not do well, even though I want them to. There wasn’t a single person in any of those stories I really cared about – they where just stupid, mean people doing stupid, mean things! Disgusting things! Torture scenes are described in a very unsentimental, direct way, making me wonder if there is a hidden message somewhere in here; how the fashion industry treats women as cattle or whatever. I couldn’t find anything though.
On another note: I searched some other reviews on Two or three things I forgot to tell you on the net, and found that many people were quite upset at the description of Nadia. Apparently she is an unhealthy role model for young girls: the way she thinks of her fat would encourage people to feel the same, or lower the normal scale in their minds.Well, not without reason. At (if I calculated correctly) 55 kg 152 cm she isn’t exactly overweight. I wouldn’t consider her slim either, but that’s another discussion. However, I think that since Nadia is a horrible role model in so many ways the weight part shouldn’t really make any difference. Also, it’s a FUCKING BOOK. That body is described entirely from her perspective, of course it’s overdone. That’s the whole point.
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