Saturday, July 19, 2014

July 19th: Alice Munro
A Month of Short Stories and Their Authors

now finished: Plum Island by Nelson DeMille
now (re)reading: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Well, hello there, Nobel Prize-winner. Thanks for making me confront the important question of who the !@#$* actually still thinks it's OK to buy a new fur coat?? Bloody hell. I hated reading this story.

Today's Story: "Boys and Girls"
Author: Alice Munro
My Rating: C+

I was repulsed from the early paragraphs in this story because it's about a family living on a fox farm -- as in, farming the fur of the foxes so that assholes can buy that fur in the form of a coat, which is pretty much shitty and terrible and disgusting. The story rambles along with the young girl narrator doing young-child-on-a-farm things, such as helping with chores, preferring to play outside and help dad in the barn/stables/fox pens (gross) than to do "ladylike" things inside with mom. OK, so this is all obviously insidious and the point of the story, apparently, is that this girl and her brother are being relegated early on to their gender roles. There is "evidence" of this gender separation, such as our narrator letting a horse run free when it is being chased by the father and the hired hand so that they can slaughter it and feed it to the foxes; when her "misbehavior" in leaving the gate open (for the eventually doomed horse, who is later caught) is revealed there's a lot of "Oh ho ho, she's just a girl, so she can't go out there being tough and slaughtering things with no emotion like we do, ho ho ho."

Fucking Canadians. Jesus the shit Christ. A fox farm? I hate this story. It was written in the 1960s, so I get it, the whole feminist awakening parts, but my f*****g god do you have to be so praiseworthy of f*****g fox farmers?!?! If there is supposed to be any discomfort in here about the whole slaughtering-animals-for-coats thing, I wasn't picking up on it, Ms. Nobel Prize Winner. Instead, your characters were portrayed as Good Solid People Doing Their Best. Gross. All noble and salt-of-the-earth-like. It definitely comes across as this sort of ode to the complicated feelings below the surface of a family and blah-blah-blah. But the not-wanting-to/not-being-able-to kill things is declared to be a Girl Thing. And if you're a boy or man?  Apparently, you will like to go skin the fur off of foxes with matted bits and clumps of blood and a powerful odor all around you, after feeding the poor tortured animals who have been kept in cages for years as you "raise" them. And killing the horse food for the foxes will be no problem; you won't have any silly "girl" emotions to hold you back. Because killing animals for stupid jackass humans' selfish pleasure?  Is apparently cool like that in the Great White North. Screw that. I can't believe people actually buy fur coats. And screw them just as much for buying fox furs in the 1960s. Basically, electricity and gas heat had been invented, so screw you. But even before that, try not living at the 49th !@#$%^* parallel, how about, if you're cold? Cradles of civilization, where humans built their societies? Warm places. Deserts. You don't deserve fur. You aren't entitled to fur, people. What goes through their pitiful brains?

I'm trying not to just be disgusted by "Boys and Girls," but I might add that in addition to my abject horror, the main other thing I felt while reading this was boredom. It dragged on quite a bit, description-wise--lots of babble about farm stuff, land, dirt, weather, grass, who the hell knows what all. Foxes, definitely, stuck in cages and pacing in anger (wouldn't you?)  And so on.


Oh yeah, and, whoopty-do, this was made into an Oscar-winning (!) live action short! It was totally the 1983 short film winner! I am so excited; don't we all want to watch it and watch a whole bunch of of foxes and horses get slaughtered? Gross.

Yes, yes, I'm eventually going to read more Alice Munro. But ugh.

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