Bad Feminist is a powerful book that examines the varied challenges of fighting for equal rights. If you fight hard, you deserve sprinkle-dipped marshmallows.
Do you support equal rights? Of course you do. You believe women deserve the same rights as men. But do you understand everything that goes into equality? It’s not as simple as gender. It’s also race, education, socioeconomic status, geography and so much more.
In this powerful book of essays, professor and author Roxane Gay examines the various ways in which the world and society hamper the feminist fight. External forces tell us “feminist” is a bad word; they tell us the right when, where and how of the struggle; they love to tell us when the ways we try just aren’t good enough.
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Over BYO lunch on the plaza next to our Michigan Avenue office yesterday, Kate and I discussed how impossible it is to reconcile the passage of time these days. It seems you blink and the next milestone is achieved, the next month is past and the next life landmark is looming. And it’s all you can do to keep up.
Shiraaz’s birthday yesterday only brought that into sharper focus. It marked the beginning of a new academic year from him, the approach of autumn for us all and the fact that we are, resist as we might, slowly turning into grownups.
But we are of the belief that aging is a successful operation, so we celebrated in style. Dinner at David Burke’s Primehouse, where we enjoyed their signature Himalayan salt-aged steaks, kicked it off. Then we returned home for a homemade birthday dessert scaled for two. I’ll share the simple menu with you here:
On Wednesday night, I whipped up a batch of Martha Stewart‘s/Nigella Lawson‘s no-churn vanilla ice cream. (I hadn’t planned ahead long enough to but the bowl of my ice cream maker in the freezer. Fail.) The whipped cream and condensed milk concoction went into a loaf pan, layered with Ghirardelli caramel sauce. Yum. I served surprisingly light and creamy ice cream atop a batch of brownies perfect for two — it’s so hard to make desserts in small batches, isn’t it? — which I baked in my convection oven. Minimal effort for maximal fun…with a candle on top.
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Today we’re twirling with Jean Kwok, the Netherlands-based author of Mambo In Chinatown, which I paired with “fake-out” chow mein earlier this week. The novel is Jean’s second, and features a good dose of inspiration from her own life. Like her protagonist, Charlie, Jean too labored in Chinatown before working as a professional dancer for some time. Here’s how Jean sums up Mambo In Chinatown‘s plot, in her own words:
“At the beginning of the book, Charlie is a dishwasher in a noodle restaurant. She gets the chance to be the receptionist at a ballroom dance studio and gains access to a whole new and glamorous world as she discovers her own hidden dance talent. However, as Charlie blossoms, her little sister becomes ill and when their father insists on treating her sister exclusively with Eastern medicine, Charlie is forced to try to reconcile her two selves and her two worlds to rescue her little sister and herself. ”
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The end of summer may be near, but there’s still time to squeeze in Jean Kwok’s Mambo In Chinatown, a page-turner that will appeal to romantics and optimists. The novel’s strength is its quick pace, which ushers the reader through a series of at-times improbable plot twists. This is a book best enjoyed on a lazy afternoon, perhaps on a beach, or at least on a couch with an open window nearby.
Our protagonist is 22-year-old Charlie Wong. She is not the ugliest of ducklings, but she is certainly the least capable. When we meet her, Charlie works as a dishwasher in the Chinatown restaurant where her father is the top noodle maker. She is unable to hold more challenging jobs, and so focuses her energy on supporting Lisa, her intelligent 11-year-old sister.
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