I want to stress this again: In many, many parts of the country right now, if you want to go to see a movie in the theater and see a current movie about a woman — any story about any woman that isn’t a documentary or a cartoon — you can’t. You cannot. There are not any. You cannot take yourself to one, take your friend to one, take your daughter to one.
There are not any.
By far your best shot, numbers-wise, at finding one that’s at least even-handedly featuring a man and a woman is Before Midnight (on 891 screens) so I hope you like it. Because it’s pretty much that or a solid, impenetrable wall of movies about dudes.
Dudes in capes, dudes in cars, dudes in space, dudes drinking, dudes smoking, dudes doing magic tricks, dudes being funny, dudes being dramatic, dudes flying through the air, dudes blowing up, dudes getting killed, dudes saving and kissing women and children, and dudes glowering at each other.
Somebody asked me this morning what “the women” are going to do about this. I don’t know. I honestly am at the point where I have no idea what to do about it. Stop going to the movies? Boycott everything?
They put up Bridesmaids, we went. They put up Pitch Perfect, we went. They put up The Devil Wears Prada, which was in two-thousand-meryl-streeping-oh-six, and we went (and by “we,” I do not just mean women; I mean we, the humans), and all of it has led right here, right to this place. Right to the land of zippedy-doo-dah. You can apparently make an endless collection of high-priced action flops and everybody says “win some, lose some” and nobody decides that They Are Poison, but it feels like every “surprise success” about women is an anomaly and every failure is an abject lesson about how we really ought to just leave it all to The Rock.
“Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. And by doing it, they’re proven right. Because, I think there’s something inside of you—and inside of all of us—when we see something and we think, “I think I can do it, I think I can do it. But I’m afraid to.” Bridging that gap, doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that—THAT is what life is. And I think you might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s special. And if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself. Now you know. A mystery is solved. So, I think you should just give it a try. Just inch yourself out of that back line. Step into life. Courage. Risks. Yes. Go. Now.”
“I was by myself for a pretty long time. I needed to do that. I think everyone that I know has wanted to do that or needed to do that at some point. I think when you spend enough time when it’s quiet around you and you don’t open your mouth for three or four days, there’s parts of your brain that can kind of rest. I think when we’re out in the world and we have to talk to people, we edit ourselves. You know, we have to like, act a little bit. As honest as we may be as humans, when we’re out here, we’re all kind of wearing mirrors on our faces. You know, constantly reacting to how to react to the people around you. And I think when you’re alone for a long enough time, you can feel a lot more peace.”—Justin Vernon (via awelltraveledwoman)
“Grammar is a piano I play by ear, since I seem to have been out of school the year the rules were mentioned. All I know about grammar is its infinite power. To shift the structure of a sentence alters the meaning of that sentence, as definitely and inflexibly as the position of a camera alters the meaning of the object photographed.”— ~ Joan Didion, from her essay Why I Write
“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”—ee cummings (via likeafieldmouse)
“I was strongly drawn to writing about Bee’s spiritual conversion—or her momentary flirtation with one—because, even though I’m an atheist, I often feel a similarly overwhelming connection to God. And I don’t quite know what to make of this.” ~ Maria Semple
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”—Eleanor Roosevelt (via youngmanandoldsoul)
Cheryl Strayed describes this as “the harshest” Dear Sugar column she’s written and she’s also included her newest book Tiny Beautiful Things. It’s an honest and, yes, harsh response to a writer who confesses deep, unchecked jealousy of her fellow writers. This Dear Sugar letter isn’t like the “nemesis” confession of Abby Mims I posted last week. Instead, the letter says what many writers have probably (okay, highly likely) felt. And we think sports are competitive.
Such a great personal piece on writer envy - and it goes beyond simply being jealous of another writer. It speaks to all that goes unspoken and, often unnoticed by instructors or professors, in writing workshops.
When literary agents say they are looking for “voice-driven” writing (of any genre), I imagine they are looking for someone like Pamela Ribbon.
Because I’ve been so immersed in the world of creative nonfiction and memoir for the last few years, my fiction reading is rather anemic. However, I wanted to read something different while recovering from oral surgery and I enjoy reading Ribbon’s blog at Pamie.com, so I started with her third (and, at the time, most recent) book Going in Circles.
The premise is that Danielle’s best friend Smidge is dying of cancer and wants Danielle to take over her life when she dies, to become “Smidge 2.0.” The book description declares it “in the spirit of Beaches and Steel Magnolias,” so I was a little skeptical, like maybe it would be too sweet or feel like something I read when I a teenager longing to leave Texas.
But then I read the first line: “Jenny, I’ve got this hunch that if you’re reading this, your other hand is currently holding a lit match.” I was hooked. The book is essentially a (very) long letter to Smidge’s daughter, explaining and commenting on Smidge’s request and its aftermath. If Danielle thinks Jenny is going to burn this letter, then I have to know what happens. The novel follows the two women after Smidge makes her request and it’s an interesting ride, one you should read in the novel, not in a review. (Yes, you should read this book.)
Ribbon’s writing is so smart and unafraid that her characters feel like people I’ve known and loved—and hated, but couldn’t help but love. (As Smidge would say, “I hatechoo.”) Smidge is a force of nature and it’s heartbreaking that she’s facing terminal cancer, but Ribbon doesn’t make her a martyr or an angel. (In fact, a Southern belle of a devil could be an appropriate description at times.) And Danielle is also a smart ass who’s tough and goofy, yet deeply wounded by the parents who left her. It’s easy to understand why these two women became family and why Danielle would even consider fulfilling Smidge’s request that she become “Smidge 2.0.”
Ribbon’s book is a rare book in that it’s genuinely sassy, smart and heartfelt, that sounds real people, and is fun—and is not consumed with finding a husband/wife, having a baby, or shopping and losing weight.
You Take It from Here is the perfect summer read: entertaining enough that it feels at home next to the pool, and compelling enough that you risk sunburn because you can’t quit reading. (Okay, I got sunburned because I couldn’t put down the book.)
“Stock your mind, stock your mind. It is your house of treasure and no one in the world can interfere with it… You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”—~ Frank McCourt