Day Twelve of Everyday Inspiration leads me to write a critique of a piece of work.
The good news is that I had to think hard about what I may despise or hate, but I can express my opinion on an artwork.
Words like ‘despise’ and ‘hate’ don’t speak to me and make me shiver. Maybe that’s what I actually hate. I hate hatred and haters. And the internet seems to host all and make them feel like having a license to attack – invade anyone’s social media space, those with different views, to insult and stalk them.
I feel safe on my blog though, and never came across any of these types. The WP blogger community that I’m part of, is a fine selection of diverse, multi-racial, multi-cultured, clever, generous and kind people. I feel lucky and privileged.
Here I dare to write a book review, be critical, and even do a lousy job, because that is my first attempt.
A while ago I was visiting my young cousin in Oxford, England. As he, unfortunately, fell ill, and so did the weather, my husband and I ventured a few exploratory city walks in between rain showers.
We ended up spending some time in a bookshop, bought a few ones (not a good idea as he had to carry it for me), although I buy more e-books lately than paper versions.
I wanted to buy the book that was on display in many of the shop windows. The Power, by Naomi Alderman, looked very appealing, and believed the back cover’s reviews from ‘the Guardian, Financial Times, Cosmopolitan, Observer, The Times’ and much more.
As that was a fiction thriller, on how women will finally take over power from men, I concluded that this genre could be less of the same if not written by a feminist researcher or social scientist. I went on to buy three, two to give to my friends.
After a few pages, I felt like I had totally misread the blurb. I kept reading because even when a book or movie don’t catch me in the beginning, I carry on, giving the benefit of the doubt.
The book won Baileys women’s prize for fiction. You know Baileys, right? The Irish cream liqueur, the unashamed blend of two of Ireland’s ingredients – rich dairy cream and whiskey.
I should have bought a bottle of the liqueur to make it to the end of the book, as I badly needed it. The narrative was most of the times disturbingly cruel, and I will tell you why.
Teenagers discover that they have the power to produce electrical sparks with their hands that can either badly injure or kill people. Men, for that matter. Older women find out that they can also awaken their power.
Reading the history of Baileys, you learn that in the tradition of the inventive Irish spirit, they created the recipe with a kitchen mixer. Blending cream and whiskey wasn’t initially possible until three years of trials for a perfect blend.
This book though, unlike Baileys, didn’t succeed to blend well the ideas it conveyed. It utterly failed to assume that women’s need to better place themselves in this male-dominant world, would be better done by killing men with electrical sparks, led by a woman called Mother Eve.
In fact, this dystopian fiction thriller, which appeals to win power via revenge, hatred, and violence, depicts a realistic (and negative) view of the current world’s order. Where it fails dramatically, is when it implies that this approach shows an appealing enough wake-up call on sexism, without bothering to change the direction.
In short, it is not compelling, and it is a disservice to women. Its repetitive violence may give an idea (to those reluctant or afraid) that there is no need for change; we wouldn’t be better off, as the world would continue just as it is now if it would be run by women instead of men.
Maybe the judges had way too many cups of Baileys when they gave the prize to this book!