Monday, January 16, 2006

Joke's On Me

Finished reading The Fat Woman's Joke by Fay Weldon.

As 1960s feminist fiction, it's very interesting. As a novel, it's alright.

The story is told from several points of view: Esther (the "fat woman") tells the story from beginning to end, and it is interspersed with the points of view of her husband, her son, the mistress, and the listener. The listener who visits Esther to find out her story, is also her counterpoint - the character least like her and least able to understand her. Also, the listener ("Phyllis") is the most criticized character through a feminist lense. By thirty she has had her breasts lifted in a futile attempt to please her incorrigibly philandering husband.

Without spoiling it, the ending just didn't work for me. The ending revealed the "joke" - or turned Esther's actions into one big joke, and yet, I didn't feel any sense of satisfaction for her. People say that Weldon was one of the original writers of chick-lit, or a forerunner of the genre. Yet, this novel was much more caustic and bitter than the two modern genre pieces I've read. I'm not even sure that a chick-lit imprint would publish this novel nowadays. Although, the page or so of Candace Bushnell that I read indicated a similar level of literary bile, so maybe Weldon is still within the spectrum of the genre.

Have finally started the other novel I mentioned - "Out of Egypt". Only 1/4 of the way through now. It started off a bit slow, but it quickly improves into a moving study of a family with all it's layers and quirks. It has some very funny obvservations on the nature of Sephardi vs. Ashkenazi familial love.

Others on the reading list:

Christine de Pizan's "City of Ladies"
Woolf's "A Room of One's Own"

Those are both from the Penguin "Great Ideas" series. A series of small pocket books, with beautifully textured matte white covers, embossed with the titles and minimal design. They're really nice to hold.

The Kite Runner
Before she left, my cousin bought it as a gift for my dad.

As I searched for links at Amazon, I mistook this for a "Nightmare Before Christmas" camera! Look at it sideways - that's definitely Jack Skellington!

I'll update my new word count tomorrow. Yesterday I actually hit closer to 2000 by the time I stopped, so I don't feel too lost. Yet.


Bob W. said...

I may actually go out and get the Fat Woman's Joke, based on your post. I have been reading pretty voraciously lately, but mostly nonfiction. I am currenlty reading a book called Collapse, by Jared Diamond, which discusses why civilizations fail. Pretty interesting, but a bit on the dry side.
How is the novel coming along? Keeping to your wordcount goal this week?
Speaking of writing, I find it pretty tough to post stuff in my blog during the week with a full time job, family, etc; at least it is tough to post stuff that is worth looking at!

JuliaMazal said...

You know, there are many things I'd recommend over "The Fat Woman's Joke", but if you do decide to get it, it's a quick read. Oooh... now I have to think of a recommended reading list! What fun! Have you read "The Life of Pi"? Or if you don't mind some snarky almost-chick-lit stuff check out "The Underminer" which I mentioned earlier. It's brutal, but it's highly entertaining and you'll read it all in one sitting.
As for the writing goals - I'm doing my best writing w/ pen and paper. Falling behind a bit tho'. (Wow, I really do have to be accountable now. Thanks!)