Her Young Smile is Radiant in the Spotlight

Only Ever Yours
Louse O'Neill
Quercus
2015

only_ever_yoursImagine a world where women are pitted against each other, forced to comply with nigh unattainable standards of beauty and behaviour, and live their lives entirely according to the whims of men who treat them with nothing but contempt. Oh sorry, you don’t need to imagine. That’s our reality*. Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours** is our reality up to eleven.  I’ll say it now: massive trigger warnings for eating disorders, shaming of women’s sexuality, rape culture, misogyny, domestic violence and toxic masculinity.  As someone who, like most women, has struggled with body image (etc.), I was not terribly affected, but I cannot speak for other readers and potential readers.

freida is entering the final year of School.  She is 16, and with her 29 classmates she has spent the last twelve years of her life in a routine of maintaining stringent beauty standards, learning proper feminine behaviours, and being rated weekly on her appearance by her peers as well as total strangers.  In the future earth of freida’s birth, sex-selective abortion almost led to the extinction of the human race.  It was decided that women must be designed and educated to become the mothers of future generations.  But, since men need more than just wifely companionship, a large number of concubines are also required.  freida’s destiny is to become either one of ten companions, a concubine, or a chastity–a celibate teacher for girls at the School. Continue reading

The King of Infinite Space

Hamlet
Nicki Greenberg
Allen & Unwin
2010

Hamlet+coverOne of the fastest selling seasons of Hamlet in Britain came to a close only a few hours ago. The National Theatre’s record breaking performances at the Barbican were helped along by the pulling power of Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch playing the eponymous role.

And while some poor sad bitter critics may have been lamenting that the audiences were not true theatre goers but merely (merely?) blindly screeching fangirls (and boys), the truth is, even if it was via the attraction of a major star, it brought an entirely fresh new audience to the experience of live theatre and perhaps has inspired them to see more. A win for theatre I would say, and every subsequent play one of those first timers sees from here on in is a fine—if invisible—middle finger to those critics who have nothing better to do than to harp and moan over the “death of theatre”. Continue reading

  • You might also like

    • One Hundred Different Flowers Bloom Inside a Woman

      THE STORY OF LIFE ON THE GOLDEN FIELDS, VOL. 1-3 Kim Dong Hwa (trans. Lauren Na, First Second, 2003) ISBN: 978-1-59643-458-5; 978-1-59643-459-2;  978-1-59643-460-8 Kim Dong Hwa’s The Story of Life on the Golden Fields is a series of three gorgeous manhwa (Korean graphic novels and comic books), telling the story … Continue reading