Breaking the Waves

Tracking feminism through generations.

From the start, then, participants in the second wave practiced the sort of dismissal and ingratitude of which they’d accuse later generations. Suspicion, rebuke, and hostility were commonplace among women who might otherwise be allies. “Here are the radicals, wanting to be heard,” Lear wrote in the Times article. “Out there are the mothers’ clubbers, waiting to be alienated.” In journals like Notes from the First Year out of New York, and Chicago’s Voice of the Women’s Liberation Movement, Vol. 1, feminists decried the January march as “futile,” “naive,” and too “moderate,” though it’s unclear what, exactly, they would have done instead. Tellingly, when they were put on the spot by disappointed participants who responded to their calls for more concrete action, they “missed an opportunity to do some valuable organizing” (Voice) and “were not really prepared to rechannel this disgust” (Notes).

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Charlotte Shane — Bookforum

Break.up by Joanna Walsh


Joanna Walsh’s recent novel, Break.up, is motivated by a recently ended—or is it still current?—relationship. In order to forget about her on-again-off-again lover, the narrator, also named Joanna, decides to embark on a solo journey across Europe. Traveling by train, bus, and on foot, she makes her way from London’s St. Pancras Station through France, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary, Holland, Germany, and back again. Joanna seems intent on tiring herself out, hoping to banish the thoughts that keep her up at night. In the meantime, she houses these thoughts in a book, a tactic that also alleviates her self-imposed loneliness. “You’re never alone with a book,” she says, “particularly when you’re writing one.”

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Ruby Brunton — Bookforum

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Click Bait


Wiki – Diane Arbus (/dˈæn ˈɑːrbəs/; March 14, 1923 – July 26, 1971) was an American photographer and writer noted for photographs of marginalized people—dwarfsgiantstransgender people, nudistscircus performers—and others whose normality was perceived by the general populace as ugly or surreal.

Walker Evans called her a huntress—and she was as matter-of-fact about her predilections as her biographers are flustered. “She told me she’d never turned down any man who asked her to bed,” recalled one confidante at the time. “She’d say things like that as calmly as if she were reciting a recipe for biscuits.” Friends remembered her confessing compulsively or weeping while recounting these episodes. Others said she appeared dignified, coolly unafraid. They might all have been telling the truth. Her adventures were probably a combination of the desperate, dull, thrilling, numbing, humiliating—aren’t yours? But they’ve only ever been interpreted as tragic, as a symptom of depression and hideous loneliness, as proof that she was, in Schultz’s words, “a living suicide algorithm.”

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Parul Sehgal — Bookforum

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Exile on All Streets


A book review of Zadie Smith’s new novel – Swing Time.

Swing Time is narrated in flickering time, with a story that bounces between decades. The narrator, never named, embodies the British and West Indian conflict, with an English father and a Jamaican mother. In her early adulthood, she finds herself working for a white Australian pop star turned global do-gooder, Aimee, who charges forward, always, allergic to the reflection (and self-abnegation) our narrator subsists on. As a child, our narrator lives for dance, one of the many art forms Aimee hoovers up, heading for a final appropriation that goes way beyond “being dressed up to resemble Asante nobles.” The narrator becomes fully aware of the self-interest baked into both entertainment and the humanitarian project Aimee decides is one of her mandates.

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Sasha Frere-Jones — Bookforum

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