Saturday, June 03, 2006

Weekly SRC tally: Novels: 0.5; Government reports: 2

Do government reports count as literature? I've just finished reading the Site Management Options manual for the Spanish River Valley Signature Site, and am wading through the Background Information booklet. Since I'm only halfway through Midwives by Chris Bohjalian (an Oprah book, I must admit, and not on my original SRC list but I was four short anyways if I'm going to read one a week...), I thought I'd add these two reports since technically, they are reading (and in a way, they could be considered popular literature since they do in many ways shape the ways in which we view and experience the landscape...).

I guess this opens up the question: what counts as literature? Do government reports? For some people, maybe, if that's how they view the world. Does having an Oprah's book club sticker affect a book's classification as literature or does it bring it into it's own realm of genre fiction such as Chick Lit or Romance, just that it's called Oprah Lit?

Anyways, from what I can tell of the first half of Midwives , it's a fairly light read, but an interesting concept. Essentially, the protagonist, a young woman in her thirties, narrates the story of her mother's prosecution as a midwife, when she is charged with killing a mother to save a child. Some interesting tensions in this book are:
  • the suggestion of a modern-day witch hunt,
  • the battle between male-dominated science and female-dominated intuition (represented by the midwives) and finally,
  • the very fact that this story is being written by a male author.

What does it mean when a man tries to place himself in a woman's shoes, especially when the woman he is writing about is marginalized or discrimated? (to that end, if anyone's read The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke, what does it mean that he chose to write a post-Colonial narrative in a female voice about the experiences of a marginalized black woman?).

Anyways, these are things that are running through my head. Has anyone else read it or do any of you have responses to my questions? I'm off to finish the rest of the report and try to free up some space for my novel.


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