Thursday, September 12, 2019

August: Intensity Too

I was feeling common bonds with the final four books I read in August:
 Women being underestimated
Women obsessed
 WTF? justice system
Evil men
 Slimy, shitty boyfriends/partners

5. The Trial of Lizzie Borden - Cara Robertson.
This is the very best book about the Borden trial. Cara Robertson does a close reading of the transcript and interprets the finer points, particularly in the defense strategy. She also researched how the press covered the trial, almost to comic effect. Really, they weren't so different from social media today. The examination of the brutal murder and the trial balances with the media circus and it creates the perfect amount of tension. In the end, it was all about the all-male jury not being able to wrap their heads around the idea of a well-bred New England spinster committing such a brutal murder. Luckily for Lizzie, she was underestimated. If it had gone the other way, she would have been hanged. My only beef with this excellent book is the dust jacket cover. It looks like historical fiction, which it most certainly is not. Why not a more typical nonfiction cover? Why not a photo of Lizzie Borden?

6. Three Women - Lisa Taddeo.
Journalist Lisa Taddeo followed three women for ten years, chronicling their lives: Maggie, a teenaged girl who falls in love with her handsome, popular English teacher who allows an inappropriate romantic relationship to develop; Sloan, an upscale restaurant owner whose chef husband has decidedly adventurous sexual proclivities that she does all she can to cater to; and Lina, a housewife from Indiana who has a husband who hates kissing (they go to marriage counseling about it) Lina and her husband separate, and she takes up with her high school boyfriend who has turned into a jerk and a lout. Lina sees this, but she looks the other way to get sex from him. Also belongs to a women's group and enjoys scandalizing them with her exploits. Lina and Sloane are pseudonyms. Maggie's real name is used, presumably because she finally informs the police about her teacher's advances several years later. I was dazzled by Taddeo's narrative of the three women's stories, but the book made me uncomfortable. I recognized the thoughts and sometimes the actions of an earlier incarnation of myself, as well as potential actions. What if I'd had an English teacher like Maggie's? The thought makes me shiver.

7. I'll Be Gone in the Dark - Michelle McNamara.
The Golden State Killer eluded the authorities for decades, but technology caught up and was finally his undoing. He started his 'career' as a rapist, so there was plenty of DNA to connect most, if not all his crimes. He hadn't been caught yet when the book was published, so it's amazing to read how close the cops were to figuring the case out, even pinpointing the college he attended briefly. I'll Be Gone in the Dark is also the story of Michelle McNamara, whose blog True Crime Diary helped shine a spotlight on the case. Obsessed with solving the crime, McNamara did an amazing amount of research, poring over documents and following leads. Sadly, she died in the middle of writing this book and just months before the capture of The Golden State Killer.

8. After A While You Just Get Used To It: A Tale of Family Clutter - Gwendolyn Knapp.
This summer, I watched Florida Girls, a screamingly funny and deceptively sharp comedy on PopTV. The season consisted of only around a dozen episodes, so I've been missing my Wednesday nights with Jayla, Erica, Kaitlin, and Shelby. Knapp's book about her hilarious and horrifying family in Florida and New Orleans filled the void nicely. Near and dear to my heart (not sure I'm referencing the proper organ) was Knapp's discussion of her ongoing IBS problem. I laughed; I cried; I ran to the bathroom.

1 comment:

Unruly Reader said...

That's some intense reading, sister!

I'm about 10 pages into I'll Be Gone in the Dark, and I'm wondering if I'm gonna be able to handle it. Yesterday when the cat walked into the room, I jumped about a foot.