The Oxford Comma Appreciation Society: A Book Club’s Second Meeting

Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

The Oxford Comma Appreciation Society (OCAS) met for the second time. The chosen author and book was Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem.

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Where are all the great female writers? Why am I adding the qualifier female? Aren’t they just writers?

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One of the great problems of being a female reader is that there seem to be so few female authors. Let me correct that, being a literary nerd, there seems to be a shortage of female authors. And please note the phrase “seems to be.” As I’ve written in the past, sometimes perfectly wonderful books are advertised as romance or have artwork that prevents me from taking the book and author seriously.

I have a number of brilliant friends who read so I asked them who their five favorite female authors are. And let me state that the fact that I have to ask for female authors frustrates me. Because 75% of my books are by men but if you did the ratio of authors it would be 80% men. (I happen to be a very loyal reader so I read every book by authors I love). I have more books stored at my parents’ home but of the books in my studio, the first 2 and 3/4 shelves are by female authors. All the rest are by men. I knew the ratio was not good but I did not realize it was so bad until I rearranged my bookshelves.

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Exploring a ranch to find places to read and feeling like Frodo in Sky City, New Mexico

So sometimes, soifollowjulian goes on vacation. And I never travel without a few books to read. Because that’s the greatest vacation of all: immersing yourself in a book in another state.

I visited my Aunt Eva in New Mexico last summer. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. Everything is so beautiful, so solitary, so noble. The desert’s soundtrack on a sunny day is obscenely loud in its emptiness. There are no vehicles, no phones, no planes. There are grasshoppers, bees, birds, and cattle. There’s the ever-present fear of the rattlesnake and so you hear fake sounds in bushes. You avoid holes in the arroyo. You hear the wind blow the bushes and see the tumbleweed push past. And the smell. Of dirt. Clean, non-allergenic dirt. Not that city dust that affects your allergies. Just clean dirt pounded down by the rain then dried and cracked in the sun.

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Settling for whoever’s around in Run River by Joan Didion


Run River is about a married couple, the husband’s sister, and the murder that is a result of the affairs the two women have. Lily Knight marries Everett McClellan because he asks her to. She is socially inept and has affairs with men that she does not care for. Martha McClellan has an affair with a man that she does not want to marry but her life implodes when she discovers he is marrying another woman. Everett shoots the man that had an affair with both women. Continue reading →

why don’t i read more female authors?

Looking over my book shelves I’m embarrassed to admit that 75% of the books are by male authors. It makes me really sad. There must be more female authors that I can connect with. Most of the female writers I have read are contemporary and have only one published book but I anxiously await more. Muriel Barbery, Monica Drake, Tanya Egan Gibson, Alice Zeniter: more please. So much more please. There are of course, the classics that I read when I was younger. Mary Shelley, Anais Nin, Simone de Beauvoir and Anne Rice. Ok, maybe Anne Rice isn’t a modern classic, but she’s definitely a cult classic. Continue reading →