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Welcome to the Starting Gate

I feel I should give you fair warning: this is going to get really nerdy, really fast. If you’re allergic to ideas, to appreciating the power of human creativity, or to slightly caustic humor, then you might want to turn back—you know, for the sake of your health. But if all that sounds like your idea of a good time then please, come on in. Get comfortable. Let’s have some fun.

            Before I can tell you what’s behind Door Number One, I have to explain the parts of my story that brought me here in the first place. Don’t worry—I’ll keep it brief.

Some people argue that high school is too early to fall in love, but I can do them one better. I found one of the great loves of my life right around the time I was old enough to understand the phrase, “once upon a time.” For as long as I can remember, fiction and I have been inseparable, and my twenty -year passion for it has left me intimately acquainted with the nature of its power.

            Fiction, especially in written form, take the overwhelming complexity of what it means to be human and put it on a level where we can examine the question in ways that make some kind of coherent sense. It takes the competing, interlocking undercurrents of culture, ideas, emotion, and conflict that rip their way through the veins of human experience and makes the pulsing heartbeat of humanity something approachable—something we might just mange to touch without getting zapped.

But it’s not just about the ink-and-paper stuff. Keys to understanding the complexity of being human can be found anywhere and everywhere—from the fall sitcom lineup, to last week’s movie theatre listings, to that stupid bubble gum pop song blaring at you over the mall’s sound system. Everything that human beings create whispers something to us about who we are, the societies we build, and the ideas and assumptions that shape how we live and interact with each other.

With that in mind, I’m here for three reasons:

                        1. I love the ways that human beings tell stories (books, movies, music, and yes, even some TV)

                        2. I believe that looking at those stories—all of them—from as many perspectives as possible can only make us richer, both as individuals and as a society

                        3. I believe that we don’t take enough opportunities to examine the world we live in— in vivid, complex, messy living color.

If you survived the nerd blast above and are still with me, then I might as well give you an idea of the ride ahead, should you decide you want to come along. So here’s the plan, friends. I’ll be reading a variety of books, both fiction and non fiction. For each book I plan to post:

            1. A traditional review (what the book’s about and whether it’s worth reading).

            2. An attempt to take it a layer deeper (an argument or reflection about the ideas in the book).  

My developing interest in Feminism has earned what I like to call the “Amateur Feminist’s Corner” a place of honor in this project. Said corner will be home to: book reviews and reflections related specifically to Feminist issues, film reviews putting movies through, “The Bechdel Test” (I’ll explain more about that in a future post) and links to content that might interest other Amateur Feminists out there.

            If any of this sounds like a good time to you, then please, pull up a chair. Let’s talk.

 In the spirit of keeping the conversation going, I have a question for you all:

            Do you remember a specific book that altered the way you look at the world or other people? If you do, I’d love to hear your story.