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Reviews of Store Catalogs

The J. Peterman Company: Owner's Manual No. 121 READ MORE

Go Read Alice: The History of the Diary Novel

Recently I was thinking about books from my childhood like Go Ask Alice, Harriet the Spy, and Dracula. In retrospect, these books made outlandish claims to authenticity, but I bought them literally and figuratively because they included supposedly non-fictional diary pages. As a kid, books like Go Ask Alice seem like a curio, but it turns out they belong to a multi-century line of diary novels for girls that awkwardly straddle patriarchy and feminism. READ MORE

After Philomela: A History of Women Whose Tongues Have Been Ripped Out

The ur-text for women without tongues is Philomela, the princess of Athens famously mutilated by her rapist (Tereus)—who was also her brother in law—when she threatened to name him for his crime. But Philomela is resourceful: still mute, she weaves an incriminating tapestry and sends it to her sister, Procne. In revenge, Procne kills her son and serves him boiled to his rapist-father. When Tereus catches wind of his dinner’s ingredients he chases Procne with an axe, and when Philomela and Procne pray to escape, the gods turn the pair into a nightingale and sparrow. But it gets worse: contrary to Ovid’s interpretation of the myth, whose message is justice, the female nightingale is silent. READ MORE