A show of hands: who had to read The Great Gatsby in school?
Most of us, right? You’re probably overly familiar with the tale of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, if not from high school English class then from the Baz Luhrman spectacle in theaters this past summer. I hope you still have room in your stomach for more, because there’s a new Gatsby tale in town: Great, by Sara Benincasa, a young adult novel retelling of the classic.
But Great isn’t just any old retelling: the star-crossed lovers in this story are a same-sex couple set in the modern-day Hamptons. Jacinta is an “It girl” blogger who lives next door to Naomi, our narrator. While she rides out the summer at her mother’s extravagant summer home, Naomi tries to piece together Jacinta’s love affair with Delilah, a family friend of her mom and the Daisy Buchanan character in the story. It’s a familiar tale, but a completely different take on modern sexual mores and class.
And Sara Benincasa isn’t just any writer, either. She’s also one of my dearest friends. We met about seven years ago when she was a New York City-based standup comic and hosted a “Gossip Girl” fan festival. (Dorota came. It was amazing.) Over the years, I’ve watched Sara’s writing and comedy career skyrocket to much-deserved success. I’m genuinely thrilled for her that Great is such a good book and that more books from Sara are coming down the pipeline soon.
I called Sara up over Skype last week to chat about F. Scott Fitzgerald, feminism and how her memoir is being made into a TV show (!!!) by Diablo Cody. Here’s our conversation, after the jump:
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Before she transcribed this interview, our intern told me that she wasn’t entirely sure who Anita Hill was. I could hardly blame her. Even with a segment on the Anita Hill testimony during a gender studies class in college, I didn’t know too much about Anita Hill myself.
The new documentary,”ANITA,” revisits Anita Hill’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 after she revealed that her former employer, Clarence Thomas, had sexually harassed her. A quiet law professor in Oklahoma, Hill had privately revealed the sexual harassment she suffered under Thomas, which was then leaked to the press. Immediately thrust in the public eye, she was asked to publicly testify against Thomas and decided to go for it. Sexual harassment laws were on the books, but this was the first time in many people’s memory that a woman subordinate to a very powerful man had spoken out. Not at all surprisingly, Hill was repeatedly asked to repeat graphic testimony about Thomas’ behavior; she was accused of being a liar or a “scorned woman”; and worst of all, treated as if it were her character that was under consideration. That both Hill and now Supreme Court Justice are both Black only added another layer of pressure to her decision to speak up. Thomas famously accused the 14 all-white men seated on the Senate Judiciary Committee investigating Hill’s allegations of conducting a “high tech lynching.” (He later blamed “pro-choice liberals” for going after him.) Eventually, Thomas was narrowly confirmed by the Senate. Keep reading »
If you’ve done any reading on the Internet about the business of sex work, chances are you’ve come across Melissa Gira Grant. She’s written about sex, politics, labor and tech everywhere from the UK’s Guardian to The Atlantic to Jezebel and Valleywag, making her one of the top intellectuals to turn to when America needs an explanation about why we’re so weird about sex.
A former “web cam girl,” Grant just published her latest book, Playing The Whore: The Work Of Sex Work, which is unlike any book about sex work or feminism that I’ve ever read. In it, she critiques law enforcement’s treatment of actual or perceived sex workers; labor issues surrounding sex work; and the tendency for governments and some outreach workers to treat all sex workers as “victims” in need of being “rescued.” However complicated you might have thought issues pertaining to sex work were before, Grant’s excellent book is extraordinarily illuminating.
Grant recently spoke to me about “whore stigma,” feminism, police, and the media’s struggle to accurately cover sex workers. Our Q&A begins after the jump: Keep reading »
You know Avital Norman Nathman as the columnist behind Mommie Dearest, our feminist parenting column. But Avital is also the “mom” of her first book, The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood To Fit Reality.
The anthology explores the same ground she writes about here on The Frisky, like teen parents, postpartum depression, the changing face of the American family. Contributors included maternal health advocate/model Christy Turlington Burns, New York Times Motherlode blogger K.J. Dell’Antonia, Feministing co-founder Jessica Valenti, Manifesta co-author Jennifer Baumgardner, The Radical Housewife blogger Shannon Drury, and many others.
I’m not saying this just because Avital is one of our columnists — I genuinely loved The Good Mother Myth. It provoked me to think about feminism and motherhood in ways I hadn’t before and opened my eyes more to how gender identity, race and class alter the experience. I gave Avital a call over Skype to chat about her book, myths surrounding motherhood, and how to know when you’re ready to have kids. Our interview, after the jump: Keep reading »
Seeing your novel be made into a mainstream film is one thing. But teaching two of Hollywood’s biggest stars how to bake your mother’s pie recipe? Joyce Maynard has the life.
Maynard is the author of Labor Day, a novel about an agoraphobic, fragile single mom who is brought out of her shell by a fugitive on the run. In the film version, “Labor Day,” which is directed by Jason Reitman (“Juno,” “Up In The Air”), the marvelous Kate Winslet plays Adele, a divorcée buckled by heartbreak who we desperately want to find love again. We just aren’t sure we want her to find it with Josh Brolin’s character Frank, a prison escapee and big, scary, imposing man sent from Central Casting. Good job on that beard, Josh!
At first Frank forces himself into Adele’s house seeking cover, which she provides under fear of injury. But this hostage situation becomes a love affair when Frank proves himself to be a sensitive and caring individual (despite his murder record) and that’s just what Adele needs. Their unconventional love story is narrated by Adele’s 13-year-old son Henry. He watches Frank with a wary eye — but is happy to have a father figure and delights in seeing his mother smile again.
I spoke with Joyce Maynard about teaching Josh Brolin to make pie (photo proof above!), writing like a 13-year-old boy, and her desire for an unconventional love story. Our Q&A begins after the jump: Keep reading »