Saturday, July 21, 2018

"Shrewed" by Elizabeth Renzetti

I've always liked reading essay collections (whether they feature the work of one author or several) -- being able to dip in & out of the book, one chapter/essay at a time, without losing the thread of the story.

And I have long enjoyed the work of Elizabeth Renzetti , a columnist and features writer in The Globe & Mail.  

So let's just say that I was prepared to enjoy Renzetti's latest book "Shrewed:  A Wry and Closely Observed Look at the Lives of Women and Girls." And I was not disappointed. :) 

I assumed that this might be a "best of" collection of Renzetti's G&M columns, but it's actually a book of original essays on the lives of women and feminism, as seen through the lens of Renzetti's own experiences.  The topics are reflected in chapter titles such as "The Voice in Your Head is an Asshole," "The Way of the Harrasser," and "You'll Pay for Those Breasts, or the Cost of Being a Lady." As you'll gather, there's a healthy dose of humour... and the quality of the prose is wonderful. Passages like this one had me reaching for a yellow post-it note, so that I could find it and relish it again & again:
There are people who do not have an asshole in their heads, who instead have a throaty-voiced cheerleader reclining on the chaise longue of their consciousness saying, Damn, they'd be lucky to have you for that job. These people are called "men." 
(My husband begs to differ on that point.) 

And this:
I am old. Old in journalist years. Old if you count the rings on my liver. The harassment that happened to me on the street, which I've cited above,  has died down. It is one of the great benefits of age: I no longer get chased, groped, whistled at or told I'm an ungrateful bitch when I refuse to smile. Perhaps it's the glint off my fangs that scares them away. 
And this (which made me giggle):
Women's intimate apparel is a $32-billion global industry, according to The Lingerie Journal ("Lingerie News from Top to Bottom!"). There is no equivalent outlay for men's underpants, which, as we know, are bought in bulk by wives and mothers on their lunch breaks. There is no Victoria's Secret television special in which men parade down a runway in their dingy Y-fronts. 
And this:
One evening, I find myself at a parents' council meeting at my children's school. It's a particularly hairy time at work and I don't really have the hours to spare, but I am experiencing a rare phase of can-doism, so I give in to the impulse. I really should volunteer more at school, I think, in the same way I think I should take up some form of exercise before my limbs atrophy and I'm reduced to one large ambulatory texting thumb. 
I loved Renzetti's stories about her encounters with remarkable women such as Germaine Greer and Hilary Mantel, and her observations of Hillary Clinton and the 2016 U.S. election -- but most of all, I enjoyed her stories about her mother, Mildred. I think you will too.

Four stars on Goodreads. :)

This was book #14 that I've read so far in 2018, bringing me to 58% of my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I am (for the monent, anyway...!) one book ahead of schedule to meet my goal!  :)  

1 comment:

  1. Oh that sounds great! I like her already. And yes, it's going on my to-read list.