Friday, February 01, 2008
always a bridesmaid
You know when you re-read something and some new perspective you've gained over the years makes you not like it as much? Hmmph. I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible right now, and it's... weird. In some ways, I like it better than I did before; I really appreciate the way she manages to give five totally different voices to her extremely varying narrators, and I appreciate the lines of linguistic and metaphorical continuity that she at least mostly manages to sustain. Plus, who doesn't like an epic now and then? But anyway, throughout the book, the mother continually refers to the Congo as a wife, a woman, somehow a battered rape victim at the mercy of white greedy capitalists. While I would never argue that the Congo and the people there were not royally fucked over by American and Belgium capitalists, if I have to read anything more along the lines of "Poor Congo, barefoot bride of men who took her jewels and promised the Kingdom," I'm going to scream. The geographical area named "Congo" is not a woman or a wife. The people there are not bound together into a single shapeless mass called "Congo," which was anyway the invention of white colonialist mapmakers. I suppose that in the context of this book (which is more or less about how the Price family disintigrates beneath the will of their patriarch) the symbolism comes together, but I still deeply resent the generalization and gendering of a place. Bah.