April 3rd, 2013


Reading Wednesday

I finished The Most Classist Jolliest Term on Record by Angela Brazil, and have to say it is the worst thing I've ever read by her. I had thought the casual racism/colonialism was horrible, but a whole huge chunk of the book involved classist jabs at people who worked for a living. Samples: references to the slow-moving "agricultural mind," patronizing attitude from girls at the school towards the people who live in the village which was close to a colonial attitude - the people were useful as models if they were cute children or rustic-looking old people, their cottages were attractive things to paint, their children nuisances when they came out to watch the girls painting their homes. Students are warned against giving money to a poor family because the father is a drunk and it encourages "pauperism." Similarly, owner of antique shop's husband is alcoholic, student doesn't tip him for delivery because he'll just spend it at the pub.

It's set during WWI, which was my reason for reading it. Various of the girls have brothers, cousins, etc. away at war; they raise money for the Prince of Wales' fund and Belgian relief, but only one relative, a cousin, is mentioned as having been killed (euphemistic reference to the Roll of Honor). There are two Belgian refugees in the class, referred to but they don't do much except be Belgian when the plot calls for it (patriotic festival to raise money for war effort); also they are charming because they have French accents. Vintage ouches: the N word - the younger sister likes to draw "animals, n------..." - *wince*. Also, "hook-nosed...Hebrew" in reference to driving a sharp bargain and, later, "Eastern" in reference to bargaining as well. Lots of Imperial stereotypes at the patriotic festival, including Yellowface (brunettes with their eyebrows done to make their eyes look "slanted.") This is not the first Brazil I've read with racism, but it's the first that had a whole range of issues to choose from.

I also read Headed for Trouble by Suzanne Brockmann, which is out later this month. It's a compilation of short stories and character interviews related to her Troubleshooters series; I hadn't read any of the short stories before, that I could remember, though I have read all but the last book or so in the series. It's a book for completists; I don't think there's enough material for it to be worth the price unless you're already invested in the characters. But if you are, it's handy to have all the bits in the same place.

I am currently reading galleys for the end of April and the beginning of May, for preview articles. Also a galley that doesn't come out until the end of June but I couldn't stop myself because it's a book I would have bought anyway.