Speaking of Unspeakable Things

It's been quite a week. I can't remember the last time I pulled an all-nighter for work. I mean that literally; there's something about staying up all night and going to work the next day that isn't conducive to remembering things very clearly. I'm a little surprised I'm still chugging along, although "chugging" might be overstating the case at this point.


I just finished reading Laurie Penny's Unspeakable Things.  Penny writes best when she's got some anger behind her eyes and Unspeakable Things finds her in fine, trenchant form. There's something in the book to make any reader uncomfortable; she covers a broad range of what can be loosely grouped as "abuses of power and how those abuses affect people and especially women, people of color, and the queer community. Don't mistake it for a book of feminist man-bashing; Penny has no time anything so cheap.

That's not to say that anyone who has benefited from the privileges of their birth is let off the hook. Unspeakable Things doesn't shy away from turning on the bright interrogation lights and holding up a mirror to people who allow injustice to stand just because it doesn't hurt them in any personal sense. 

Books about now are tough. It's difficult to write about things that still in the process of becoming history. Knowing how things play out makes it a lot easier to construct a narrative, and once the winners and losers have been sorted out, the passion of the heat of the battle is lost. Writing about now tends to be hyperbolic because it's writing about a fulcrum and the writer often has a strong interest in the balance swinging one way or the other. There's some of that in Unspeakable Things, but Penny tempers her righteous anger with deeply personal stories and dry-approaching-gallows humor. 

In the end, it's tale from the front of battles that have not yet been decided. I can understand why some people wouldn't like it, but it's not a book that was written to be liked. 


P.S. Nicole just put "Under the Sea" on and now it's thoroughly lodged in my noggin. I think I could use a little sleep, huh?