Boozy Books: The Power

Hello Nerd Cacti Friends, and welcome to the final Boozy Books of 2017!

We’ve been on a bit of a hiatus due to C’s exciting romp through NYC, my recent obsessive attempts to sketch out my latest project, and, oh yeah, the holidays. BUT, I think Nerd Cactus HQ has been silent long enough! (Plus, I just finished reading a book I simply couldn’t put down, and I think a pairing is in order.)

So, without further ado, let me jump right in and say that Naomi Alderman’s The Power is the kind of sci-fi-lite concept piece that has the potential to soar or sink. Happily, I loved it. It flips every gender expectation on its head, challenges the validity of organized religion, and gives us a cast of strong, female leads that are out to change the world.

The plot is this: a power is beginning to emerge worldwide (as a result of evolution), and only women have it. This power involves shooting and controlling self-created electricity, a power that inevitably allows the “weaker sex” to become the dominant gender.

As usual, I will avoid spoilers, skip over the synopsis, and give you a little sense of my overall takeaway.

Let me start by saying that this novel is bookended by a series of letters that don’t make any sense at first, but the payoff is perfection. The book itself is written in chapters that follow individual characters whose stories intertwine here and there, but ultimately work together to create a well-rounded sense of the “pre-Cataclysm” world. Interestingly, (though perhaps not so in the context of what Alderman is clearly trying to draw attention to) there is only one “main” male character. Later on, we do get a glimpse of a secondary male figure, but the placement of men in this story successfully highlights the way most women are portrayed as minor characters in film, literature, and art. It’s really quite genius.

Also, – trigger warning for my #metoo friends out there – there is a rape scene. As Alderman shifts power to the women in her story, we see the degradation and fall of what is considered “manly,” culminating in our main male character being overtaken by a woman. It is a deeply disturbing scene, but the reversal of gender expectations and struggles that really takes off at this point in the narrative is what makes this story such an absorbing read.

I’ll tell you, I had no trouble imagining Alderman’s reality. Should every woman in the world wake up with this power tomorrow, I believe we’d face the same changes, challenges, and violence.

Ok, pairing time. This book calls for something strong. Preferably something that’ll make your throat burn, but also make you feel like you could take on the world. So, let’s go with a shot of fireball with an Angry Orchard chaser. I know some people out there may want to put their shot into their cider, but I’m telling you this book requires a shot.

Happy reading!

A

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Shakespeare Saturday: Magic and Shakespeare

Hi friends!

I didn’t have a good book pairing for yesterday’s post, so please forgive the absence of Boozy Books this week. (Trust me on this, you don’t need to read Artemis.)

Anyway, it’s Shakespeare Saturday! Hooray! Today’s post concerns the magic in Shakespeare’s plays. But not in the way you would think…

Yes, we know Shakespeare wrote supernatural elements into his plays (witches, fairies, Prospero), but what happens when you start adding real illusions to productions of these well-known pieces?

Well, in 2015 the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre invited Teller (of Penn and Teller) to pepper their production of The Tempest with tricks of the eye and sleight of hand. Unfortunately, we can’t actually see the production, but this interview with Teller is a great read that tackles Shakespeare from a very different place. 

The idea of being true to Shakespeare by utilizing visuals that person directly to the language is brilliant and a wonderful way of translating the language for modern audiences. I also just really love magic so I’m impressed that a theatre would go so far to flesh out the supernatural in their production.

Wish I could have seen it. *sigh* 

Oh well, guess we’ll have to see what Stratford comes up with when we see The Tempest next season!

A

Monday Muse: The Magic of Sleepless Nights

Hi readers, welcome! This post may end up being slightly late, but please note that I did, in fact, begin writing it on Monday…

Settle in, it’s story time. 

So, first off, let me preface this story by saying I attended a beach wedding this past weekend. A beach wedding? In December??? I hear you say. Well, yes… Please keep in mind that C and I live in the perpetual warmth and humidity of America’s penis: Florida. 

Anyway, I attended a gorgeous beach wedding, enjoyed a sizeable slice of delectable lavendar cake, and, oh, I was fairly eaten alive by no-see-ums (AKA sandflies (AKA bastards of the coast)).

And now, we move to the main portion of tonight’s post.

I did not sleep last night. Not a jot. My legs were painfully itchy, searing with discomfort, and neither caladryl, aloe, apple cider vinegar, hot water, nor cold water did anything to provide relief. It was agony!

Anyhoo.

Between multiple trips to the bathroom for various (useless) ointments, trying in vain not to scratch, and significantly disturbing the boyfriend’s sleep, I had an amazing hour of clarity.

You see, I’ve been developing a new project, but I’ve been stuck. The idea hit me like a ton of bricks in early October and then proceeded to settle into a pile of rubble rather than a solid foundation. I had character names, a basic premise, and a central conflict within a day, but I had no idea who was behind the conflict much less what his or her motive was. It was as much a mystery to me as it was to the characters who had already sprung to life in my imagination.

But last night, in the midst of itchiness that took me to the edge of madness, it all became clear. So clear, in fact, that I could recall every newly formed detail without the help of hastily scribbled “night notes.” (Which often don’t make any frickin’ sense, anyway.)

So, yeah. Losing sleep and wanting to cut off your own limbs may actually lead to epiphanies? At the very least, it’s true what they say: “Don’t worry, it’ll come to you. At 3 in the morning…”

A

Shakespeare Saturday: Hamlet Globe to Globe

Happy Saturday, cactus friends!  

Today’s Shakespeare Saturday takes the form of a book recommendation. I recently stumbled upon this book and I’d like to pass it on to you, the Nerd Cactus community. 

The book in question is Hamlet Globe to Globe: Two Years, 193,000 Miles, 197 Countries, 1 Play by Dominic Dromgoole, artistic director of the Globe Theatre in London. 

This book is the result of an ambitious quest to share Shakespeare’s Hamlet with the entire world. That’s right, in honor of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday the Globe embarked on a tour that would bring the Bard to deserts, jungles, and refugee camps. 

Dromgoole uses the book to take his readers on a journey that explores the power of Shakespeare across borders. He recounts the details of the tour, its successes and failures, and it’s challenges… from Ebola outbreaks and food poisoning to the threat of ambush in war-torn regions. 

The project itself was a truly immense undertaking and I’m so glad that Dromgoole put in another incredible effort to put together this book. The adventures of Dromgoole and his cast are accessible to all of us with a passion for theatre and Shakespeare, and I can’t wait to finish reading and put together a Boozy Books pairing.

A