There’s a chance you may be experiencing some emotional stress right now. You need distraction, relief and mental stimulation. Luckily, reading a story offers an easy way to access all three. One study claims that just six minutes of reading slows the heartbeat and lowers blood pressure. That might be poppycock, who knows, but if you like reading anyway. Here are new works–in many different genres–by ten women to get you through this seriously strange spring.
In the early stages of the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, right-wing media and abortion opponents were already exploiting the crisis to attack abortion access. This week the Trump administration announced that Planned Parenthood, a major abortion provider, will not be receiving any of the coronavirus-relief funding earmarked for small businesses struggling with the effects of the pandemic. This is just the latest of countless attacks that have been growing in number and ferocity for a few decades.
In Without Apology, Jenny Brown provides historical and political context for this intensifying struggle between feminists and the anti-abortionists. She describes what the United States used to look like without legal abortion — when feminist collectives organized abortion care — and what women face trying to get an abortion today. Part of Verso’s Jacobin series, it is a vital text for those wishing to learn more about serious threats to civil liberties faced by many in the United States today.
Jenny Brown is a National Women’s Liberation organizer and former editor of Labor Notes. She is also the author of Birth Strike: The Hidden Fight over Women’s Work.
Verso Books is having a RED MAY sale, with 50% of all print books and 80% all ebooks, so why not browse their backlist while you’re there?
2. Becky’s Bash
Becky Dahl is a wonderful writer who has started a substack named Becky’s Bash. So far the pieces are short, satisfying tales that transport you to vivid, sometimes shocking places. She grew up in Perth, Western Australia but now lives in Vancouver and both locations feature in her writing so far. In fact, her latest story “Flash and Bang” is a terrifying true tale of drama in her apartment building. I encourage you to subscribe!
Adunni is a Nigerian teen who longs for what her mother calls a ‘louding voice’—the ability to speak for herself and decide her own future. The way to get this, she believes, is getting an education. Her dad has other ideas and sells her to be the third wife of some schmo down the street. Adunni runs away and discovers her only option is working as a servant to a wealthy family, where she is inevitably mistreated. She realizes that the time has come to find her louding voice and tell everyone to back the heck off.
Sixty-eight-year-old Loretha Curry is a wife, mother, business owner, loyal friend to a diverse group of women and all that jazz. She refuses to accept that life is over at sixty-five and good for her, I say. This is the latest offering from the author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and promises to be similarly uplifting and full of pep.
A woman in her late 50s reflects on her late mother’s life, trying to understand the person behind the famous actress and to find answers to aspects of her own history that have never been clear. Who was her father, the nameless man she imagined as a lost hero?
Anne Enright is a prolific Irish author who won the 2007 Booker Prize for the novel The Gathering, which she described as “the intellectual equivalent of a Hollywood weepie.”
Deborah Orr was a Scottish journalist who died last year at age 57. This is her memoir of a childhood in a working-class neighborhood during the 1960s and 70s. With sensitivity and biting wit she details her relationship with her formidable mother, her laborer father and indeed the town of Motherwell itself. There’s a very good, sympathetic review of it here by Andrew O’Hagan, from which I provide the following quote:
Motherwell is a searching, truthful, shocking (and timely) observance of the blight that monetarist policies can bring about in a community of workers, indeed on a whole culture of fairness and improvement, while also showing – in sentences as clean as bone – the tireless misunderstandings that can starve a family of love.
Samantha Irby is a popular essayist and seems to talk about stuff that actually happens in her life, which is refreshing and nice. Also there is a bunny on the cover.
She is also the author of we are never meeting in real life and has a blog called bitches gotta eat where you can get a feel for her TMI breath-of-fresh-air style.
8. The Silence
If you’re looking for a hot-off-the -press thriller, you might consider The Silence, which was published two days ago and won’t be getting an irl book launch.
In Allot’s own words, “The Silence is a literary thriller set in Australia, about long-buried family secrets that are caught up in the mistakes of Australia’s colonial past. When Isla’s dad calls in the middle of the night to say the police have been to see him, Isla goes back to Sydney for the first time in a decade. She starts to ask questions, and soon everything she believed about her childhood, her family and herself is in doubt.”
It turns out that the celebrated author of A Wrinkle in Time left some unpublished stories in a drawer, which one of her nosy-parker granddaughters found and decided to share with the world. I haven’t read them yet but allegedly they reveal the emotional arc of L’Engle’s early life from her lonely childhood in New York to her life as a mother in Connecticut.
Four young women who live in the same building in Seoul seek refuge in friendship as they separately endure intense societal, sexual and economic pressures. It’s a world where plastic surgery is the norm, where
You can listen to an audiobook excerpt here.