Turns Out I Lied When I Said I Was Going To Read Flatland

The last time I tried to read Flatland was 8, maybe 10 years ago. I found the concept intriguing but goddamn was the execution boring. I think that copy went into the 3 or 4 boxes I gave to the library before I moved cross-country. Dan & I  picked up another copy for 50 cents at a library book sale (different library) a few years ago. Dan wasn’t familiar with it, thought it sounded interesting, and I’d managed to suppress how boring I found it. It went on the shelf and hadn’t been disturbed by either of us until I pulled it down last week.

This time through, I could handle the boredom but ohmygod the sexism started in the introduction! Apparently the author wrote this book for “all students” so that “boys” would have something interesting to read. So…yeah, I guess this wasn’t intended for me anyway. I got about 3 pages in and learned how, even in a world inhabited entirely by 2-dimensional shapes where you don’t even know what shape anyone is because all you ever see of a person is a line segment, women are still weak and need protecting and sheltering from the rain and all that fun stuff. So, ok, no third chances from me. This book doesn’t even deserve to be put in the freezer. I just plain threw it across the room and grabbed The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide instead. Trillian doesn’t seem to have much going on, but she hasn’t twisted an ankle or broken a nail yet, so she’s fine by me.

Why do we do this with books? Or is it just me? Sometimes I just keep trying, even when I know it’s wrong. When I read The Mysteries of Pittsburgh I put it down for a while around page 100 because I just wasn’t feeling it. I picked it up again a few weeks later and once I hit, like, page 102 I could not stop reading it. I think sometimes I give a book more chances than it deserves because I’m always expecting The Mysteries of Pittsburgh even though I should know better. What purpose does this serve?

But anyway. In knitting news, today I cleaned out one of my knitting baskets and found this:


I was able to extract Jim Baktus but I fear for my poor Laminaria’s life. I really don’t want to have to start again. I got the shawl itself separated, so I might just have to cut the yarn and call the big tangle a loss. I’ll have to weigh everything and see if I’ll have enough to finish if I do that, though. That’s a seriously big ball of alpaca tangled up there.

3 thoughts on “Turns Out I Lied When I Said I Was Going To Read Flatland

  1. Ever read Cunt? I’ve always liked her suggestion to only read women for a year. But then you do get your Bridget Joneses and your Nanny Diaries because vacuous is nonthreatening! Let’s just stay away with anything with “diary” in the title. Because female intelligence = male castration in the warped psyches of the powers-that-be.

    I’ve never actually spent a year only reading/listening to women, so I just try to read woman and other marginalized folks more than men. Actually, I could make a good case for skipping the entire Western cannon except for the first few pages of Genesis (so we all know what we’re up against), and maybe Euripides, cause, well, I like him. Also, the next person who asks me if I’ve read Hemingway is going to get punched in the mouth.

    Also, I’m really, intensely good at untangling things. Like, scary good.

  2. I have read Cunt, and I feel like the first 200-ish pages are very, very good, but then you get near the end, where in my opinion she goes completely off the rails, and you have to start treading very, very carefully. Reading/listening to only women for a year is fine, but then she goes on to say that you should never support another male artist at all and that men have no right to an opinion on rape, and that’s where I back off a bit. Because, seriously, Ella Minnow Pea has a stronger female lead than Bridget Jones’ Diary, just to grab a recently-discussed example, and I think we’re all better off reading Richard Dawkins, who openly talks about his feminist awakening, than Anne Coulter, who has yet to have hers. Men can be feminists and men can contribute to feminist causes. Women can be misogynists and take an active role in their own oppression. If most rape victims are women and most rapists are men, how does it do us any good to say that men shouldn’t get mad when a woman is raped? Rape will only stop when rapists stop raping, therefore men are a pretty important part of the stopping rape equation. Otherwise we live in a world run by those chain e-mails about making sure you carry your keys with one poking out of your fist and keep your head up and never go anywhere alone and for god’s sake start your car the instant you get inside it, why are you sitting there – ruuuuuuun! Oh, wait, we sort of do live in that world. Nevermind.

    But, like I said, that’s just the last 100-ish pages. The first 200 were amazing. So I have a little trouble reconciling my conflicting feelings about that book. I sort of look at it like 2 different books in my mind.

    Hemingway I think we can all live without. I read A Farewell To Arms, so I can at least respond to, “Have you read Hemingway?” with. “Not entirely.” Or just be an asshole and say, “Please, not since I was a TEENAGER.” Hemingway tops my “And the point of this would be…?” list along with Dickens.

    Also, if you want to come try to untangle that ball, we could probably call that part of your barter offer for your hood. Seriously. I’m very afraid of that ball and what it could mean for my future.

  3. Also, since I’m going through my books shelf-by-shelf, this may be a good time to track how many female authors show up vs male authors. Wouldn’t be an accurate representation of our reading habits, because we’ve given a lot away and I’ve got a few years of almost exclusively library-based reading tucked away in my past, but it could be interesting.

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