Book Review: “Nimona” (2015) by Noelle Stevenson

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I first became aware of Noelle Stevenson through Tumblr, about five years ago. At the time, she had gained an online following for the comics she drew about movies she’d watched (Thor, The Lord of the Rings, X-Men) and general fandom experiences, like this one. She was funny and relatable, but what kept me coming back were her comments on the depiction of female characters and general misogyny in the comics industry. For example, she drew this comic about her experiences with “self-appointed gatekeepers” who make many would-be comic readers feel unwelcome. Stevenson also started the Hawkey Initiative, where she pointed out the trend of unrealistic and sexist “strong female character” poses in superhero comics and suggested that they could be fixed by replacing the character with Hawkeye doing the same thing. She invited artists to send in their creations, and the results¬†were both hilarious and deeply uncomfortable,

At twenty-five years old, Stevenson is now working as an industry professional, and in 2015 her popular web comic Nimona was published by HarperTeen.

I’m very pleased to say that there is not a single boobs-and-butt panel to be found.

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Reading List: HIV/AIDS in the United States

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Keith Haring was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 1988.

A couple of years ago, I was making plans for my semester abroad; I was going to study at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (go Badgers!), and it was time for me to decide which classes I wanted to enroll in. I had only one condition: I wanted to take at least one class that I would never be able to find at my own university. When I spent a semester at the National University of Ireland in Galway, I had enrolled in Irish Women’s Poetry. So what did Madison have to offer that my home base didn’t? By the end of the afternoon, I had narrowed down the list to two options,, Ghetto Literature and Literature and HIV/AIDS; on a whim, I picked the latter.

Literature and HIV/AIDS turned out to be one of the most fascinating classes I had ever taken, and I cannot even begin to tell you what an impact it has had on me. Being introduced to Angels in America alone was a lifechanging moment, as was watching the mini series with my roommates. At the end of the final lecture, students lined up to hug the professor and thank him for the experience.* I sent my mentor back in the Netherlands an e-mail and told her that I wanted to write my MA thesis on American AIDS literature. I also started a monthly donation to the largest Dutch HIV/AIDS charity, which I still support to this day.

In this post, I have made a selection from the (very, very long) resource list I had compiled while working on my MA thesis. Since my research was on works written by queer authors during the American HIV/AIDS epidemic during the 80s and 90s, that is mostly the focus of this list as well. It is far from complete, but it is a good place to start, I think. Of course I don’t expect you to read every work I’ve listed, but personally, I would strongly urge you to pick up either Tony Kushner’s Angels In America or Mark Doty’s Heaven’s Coast. These are voices that need to be heard.

 

*The professor’s name is Colin Gillis., the course code for Literature and HIV/AIDS is English 474, and Gillis also teaches Queer Narratives, another class I thoroughly enjoyed. Get on that, Badgers.

 

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Book Review: “The Raven King” (2016) by Maggie Stiefvater

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(Well, 3.5 stars.)

Note: It’s been a while since I actually read this book (yes, I had preordered it and was eagerly waiting for the mailman the day it came out), but hadn’t been able to put together a review until now – and I felt that I should still write down my thoughts, since some of you have been asking for my opinion on the final installment in the Raven Cycle series.

I will be back to posting book reviews on a more regular basis from now on, hopefully. I have read about thirty books since my last review (as you can see on my Goodreads page) and there is no way I can possibly catch up, but I hope to at least make a dent of sorts.

That said, on to the review!

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Book Review: “The Price of Salt” (1952) by Patricia Highsmith

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Cate Blanchett in the 2015 movie adaptation, Carol.

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Before the 2015 movie Carol started raking in the Oscar nominations, the general public mostly knew Patricia Highsmith for her psychological thrillers Strangers On A Train (1950) and The Talented Mr Ripley (1955), two stories about mystery and murder. In fact, The Price of Salt is the only one of Highsmith’s novels that does not feature a violent crime – but it is still incredibly suspenseful. Yes, Highsmith introduces a gun in the third act, but there is more to it than that; this story about two women falling in love in 1950s New York City is set up like a detective. The protagonist, Therese, sets out to solve a very specific puzzle: does Carol love me back? Is there a chance we can be together? Do I dare to put everything on the line for her?

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