Sunny Sunday

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Hello, lovely and loyal people!  Okay, a lot to tell you:

•  The brilliant Anna Deveare Smith is 59 and still on fire

•  As funny as some of the new comedy The Invention of Lying genuinely is, its gendered beauty politics truly suck.  So do its racial/ethnic politics. Both suck worse because of the film's oft-repeated, explicit messages about them:  about seeing past outward appearances (but that only works in one direction:  women must see past men's outward appearances to how smart and interesting Ricky Gervais is--oh, wait, I mean, men are--underneath), and about the continuing & deplorable presence of racism (but whoops! only one person of color speaks more than a single line, and he doesn't speak many). 

The film's satirical "insights" about the constructed nature of religion, moreover, won't be terribly new to anyone who's ever watched a Monty Python movie, been raised atheist, or fled a fundamentalist cult.  Screenwriter Gervais, however, seems quite taken with them.

In the final scene, the pretty, vacant female beauty object ends up pregnant and serving her home-cooking to Ricky Gervais and their male child.  And is that an apron she's wearing?

Verdict:  same ol', same ol'.  But it thinks it's smarter.  Pass.

•  I'm enthralled right now by a series of beautiful essays by Faye Rapoport DesPres.  She's one of my Pine Manor students, and I'm reading her MFA thesis.  Her work is beautiful:  humble, curious, probing, and true.  And so moving.  Or else I'm turning into a middle-aged crybaby.

You don't know her name yet, but you will.  Watch for her work.

•  A bad day:  the first time you forget your dead dad's birthday.  Ouch. 

It's been 7 years now--he would have turned 70 last week--and sometimes I still miss him so painfully.  Other times, I don't think about him for a few days on end.  Whereupon I feel acutely guilty.  I'm told this is normal.  Sigh. 

Dad, Dad, Dad.  Why'd ya have to go and do it?

•  Good news and bad news from my indefatigable agent:  the good news is that he loves the writing, the characters, the dialogue, everything in THE DESIRE PROJECTS.  The bad news is that there needs to be a damn precipitating crime within the first 50 pages if it's going to fly as a literary thriller.  Qué rigid! 

I'm like, But the crime comes at the end of the book!  Isn't that cool and unconventional? 

And he's like, No. 

Drawing board, here I come.  (The drawing board has welcomed me back so many times now, it just leaves its arms open.)

•  Last but not least, I'm trying to put together some thoughts for you about gender bias in the academy.  I keep dinking around with this topic in my mind, but something happened last week that I think is going to crystallize it.  I just wish I had a little more time to fool with it; work is insanely busy right now:  we have external reviewers analyzing our department all week for academic program review.  Would you like a little extra madness with your madness?  Oh, yes, please, just pile it on.


B. Lynn Goodwin said:

Your insights are wonderful, Joy. I am particularly struck by the paragraph about Faye Rapoport DesPres. She won an Honorable Mention in Writer Advice's Flash Prose Contest, and people can read her very clever story, "The Diversion," at

B. Lynn Goodwin
Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT?
Journaling for Caregivers

October 16, 2009 5:55 AM

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