When I started reading Boy, Snow, Bird, I was prepared for a story that turned the trope of wicked stepmother on its head. I expected to read a modernized version of Snow White, from the point of view of the stepmother in order to learn about and possibly even understand the motives behind the notoriously jealous and unforgiving behavior that she embodies. What I got instead was a story about race culture, politics, femininity, and gender blending.
We left off at the point where Boy, now married, gave birth to a baby girl named Bird who exposes that Boy’s husband and family are Blacks passing for Whites. Boy sends her stepdaughter, Snow, to live with Snow’s aunt and uncle. Part two of Helen Oyeyemi’s fairy tale masterpiece is where the surreal elements begin to emerge. Bird is now thirteen years old and our narrator for this section, her tale being interspersed with letters from her estranged sister Snow, now twenty-one.
I cannot imagine what my childhood would have been like without the fairytales I grew up with. It didn’t matter what form they came in: Disney movies, colorful picture books, whispers in the dark as I curled up on my grandmother’s lap. They shaped me to imagine, to fear, to love, to hope, to learn. My first recollection of a fairytale was that of Snow White. To be perfectly honest, if you had asked me then or now, it wasn’t my absolute favorite. A bold, modernist, captivating version written (and soon to be published) by Helen Oyeyemi, entitled Boy, Snow, Bird, has forced me to view this old Grimm’s tale in a whole new light.
This is my first foray into Helen Oyeyemi’s writing and, so far, it lives up to the hype. She’s got the magic and it’s evident with every turn of the page. Please note that I’ve decided to take a new tactic with this review. Boy, Snow, Bird is divided into three parts and, since I have limited pleasure-reading time nowadays, I plan on writing three posts to coincide with them as I keep reading.
Before I begin this post, I should let you all know that I used Grammarly’s free plagiarism checker because, well, I like to watch The Bachelor and write my posts at the same time. Thank goodness for their grammar checks because, whew, there were a couple of embarrassing errors in the first draft. So far I’m using their free trial and it’s great as a second set of eyes for someone who is constantly writing and can’t always get another person to help with the proofreading!
On to the post…
Coming out of class the other day, I texted my friend and said, “Virginia Woolf is a genius. The rest of us should just give up and go home”. I was (half) joking, but the more I learn about her writing, her blending of narratology, her inexplicable penetrating commentary on the structure and workings of society, and her uncanny ability to pinpoint and evoke human emotions, the more I find myself completely enamored. We’re currently tackling Mrs. Dalloway in class, and frankly I can’t see myself making much of a dent in the brilliance of the book unless I spent two or three devoted years of study towards it. That being said, don’t be too intimidated. Mrs. Dalloway is a wild ride and one that every passionate reader should take up at some point.
If I were making a speech as opposed to writing a blog post in my pjs this morning, I would look around the room somewhat solemnly and say: “Raise your hand if you’re aware that diversity in literature is a problem.” I would expect a few bemused blinks and roughly half the room to raise their hands.
Did you (symbolically, metaphorically, mentally, actually) raise yours?
If I were part of the audience, beneath thoughts of wishing I were still in my pjs, I would dimly recognize, “Yes, of course I know that it’s a problem. Duh. Diversity.” But how much do you or I really get about this? Initially, this blog post was meant to be a discussion of how effective discussions about diversity in literature are, inspired by my friend Leonicka‘s attempts to start a weekly #DiverseCanLit chat . But the more I delved into the topic, the more I realized I didn’t know, and the more I realized how much I wanted to bring this grievous deficiency to light. The first productive step to entering a conversation is to realize that it exists. The second step is to become aware of what you’re talking about. So here goes, my first attempt at true awareness of the lack of diversity in Western literature. Continue reading
If you haven’t already seen the glorious masterpiece that spliced Brad Pitt (whom I don’t even like…sorry) into a story about split personality disorder, middle-class uprising, entrapment of consumer culture, and the price of mayhem, you are seriously depriving yourself. Fight Club is one of those cinematic moments you’re going to take months to recover from. The best part? It’s completely faithful to the book. Chuck Palahniuk wiled away a boring afternoon at work by writing the ultimate ‘boys club’ short story…
An underground classic since its first publication in 1996, Fight Club is now recognized as one of the most original and provocative novels published in this decade. Chuck Palahniuk’s darkly funny first novel tells the story of a godforsaken young man who discovers that his rage at living in a world filled with failure and lies cannot be pacified by an empty consumer culture. Relief for him and his disenfranchised peers comes in the form of secret after-hours boxing matches held in the basements of bars. Fight Club is the brainchild of Tyler Durden, who thinks he has found a way for himself and his friends to live beyond their confining and stultifying lives. But in Tyler’s world there are no rules, no limits, no brakes. Continue reading
Good to see you guys are back! Or, shall I say, it’s good to be back. Starting my Masters program has been one hell of an adventure and while I read Where’d You Go, Bernadette? almost three weeks ago, it’s taken me this long to get the post up.
I structured things a bit differently this time around. My lovely friend, Leona, and I decided it would be fun to read the book together and then write about it. We ended up having SO much to say within our email exchanges that coming up with a way to condense it without spoilers was perplexing for us. We compromised and decided to post a brief review, followed by abridged versions of our emails, separated by part and containing lots of spoilers. For those of you who have read the book, let us know if you agree or disagree with our thoughts! For those of you who haven’t, here’s the review. . . .