Wednesday, September 9, 2015

It's Monday! No, Wait! It's Wednesday!

It's not really Monday.
This is a combination post. I thought I’d be writing an It’s Monday! post, but it somehow turned into Wednesday before I noticed. I also thought I’d write a review of The Forgotten Girls by Sarah Blaedel, but I’m still too furious to deal with it. So this is going to be a bookish stir-fry – a little protein, a little vegetable, and a splash of sauce.

Last week I read Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine, and that slim book aroused all of my political sensibilities. Over the weekend, I thought I’d turn down the volume and read a light mystery/thriller. I chose The Forgotten Girls because it had been well-reviewed elsewhere, and I love a good missing persons storyline.

As it turns out, once my political fire is ignited, there’s no way back. I finished The Forgotten Girls on Sunday, and I’m still gnashing my teeth.

If I had written this review at the half-way point of the book, I would have said the following: this is a fun, somewhat predictable Danish police procedural. Louise is the independent, sassy detective recently assigned to lead a Missing Persons Unit. She is joined by Eik, a handsome but unreliable detective side kick. They tackle a case that involves an unidentified woman in the woods -- and of course, nothing good happens in the woods. The story grows to include a sinister old mental institution, creepy woods-dwelling people, and some connections to other murders.

So far, so good. But then! THEN! It turns out that there’s a plot line in this book that steers pretty close to asserting the idea that men are biologically wired to be violent toward women. And as much as I never turn to thrillers for feminism, I found this development so distasteful and irresponsible that I almost threw it across the room.

I thought I would go on and on about my outrage over this issue, but now that I’m in front of the computer, I don’t have anything more to say about it. We are better than that, even if we live deep in the backwoods of Denmark.

In other news, there is a teachers’ strike in Seattle, so summer continues for the youths in my house. Their presence is interfering with my back-to-school read: Purity by Jonathan Franzen! I was so excited when this arrived for me at the library last weekend. The bad news is that it is nearly 600 pages, with tiny font and few chapter breaks.

Of course, you might be ready to point out that Franzen is no stranger to sexism (though, presumably, he doesn’t live in the woods). The author of a recent Bustle magazine article writes, “Misogyny seems to follow him like a cloud; even if you don't know about his exploits, you catch a whiff of them when he passes by.”

There is an ongoing conversation about whether a reader needs to like/approve of an author in order to enjoy/purchase a book. I’ll let you know what I think as I progress through the novel.

Hope you’re having a great week, internetters! Oh, and if you’re a Danish sleuth, I have a small piece of advice: if you know that a madman is on the loose in the woods, don’t go out into the woods! Go have a delicious pastry instead.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I've avoided the Scandinavian mysteries, because the few I've tried have been so dark and violent that I gave up on them pretty quickly. A plot development like the one you describe would turn me off a book completely.

I'll be curious to see what you think of Purity. I've read lots about it, but only one actual review (on NPR).