A thousand cheers for Hilary Mantel!!

The first Brit and the first woman to win the Man Booker Prize twice. From the LA Times:

It’s not often that someone accepts one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world by comparing it to a bus.

“You wait 20 years for a Booker Prize, and two come along at once,” Hilary Mantel joked after taking the stage in London on Tuesday night to accept the 2012 Man Booker Prize for “Bring Up the Bodies,” the second novel in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy.

Mantel also won the Booker for the first book in the series, “Wolf Hall,” in 2009. She is the first woman to be a two-time winner of the prize, Britain’s most prestigious award for literary fiction. The winner receives about $80,000.

“Wolf Hall,” praised for its lively evocation of the vicious intrigue of the court of Henry VIII, was a critical and commercial success on both sides of the Atlantic. “Bring Up the Bodies” has followed suit; the L.A. Times wrote that it is “more than the equal of its predecessor when it comes to intensity and drama.”

In “Bring Up the Bodies,” Mantel demonstrates a gift for the deliciously gory detail. This is her Cromwell on the doomed Anne Boleyn: “The colours should have had a fresh maidenly charm; but all he could think of were stretched innards, umbles and tripes, grey-pink intestines looped out of a living body … slit up and galloched by the hangman…. The pearls around her long neck looked to him like beads of fat, and as she argued she would reach up and tug them; he kept his eyes on her fingertips, nails flashing like tiny knives.”

I can’t find now the critics who are saying things about her being the most brilliant writer in English alive. And that’s too bad, because, of course, even last year many people were struggling with the idea that a woman might write as well as at man at all, as cornsay alerted us.

It’s that time of year again…

Avoid the usual run of the mill sexist and racist Halloween costumes with some great ideas from
Take Back Halloween!: The Costume Guide for Women with Imagination.

Here’s Emma Goldman, but there’s lots more:

“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” Did Emma Goldman (1869-1940) really say that? In a word, no. The sentiment was certainly hers, and in her memoirs she told of being admonished for dancing when she was a young radical; but the actual words? No. The quote (or rather, misquote) is best thought of as a paraphrase of Emma’s philosophy.

She certainly did love to dance. She loved life, period: food, wine, books, music, romance. “Red Emma” was the most famous anarchist in America, notorious for her stances on everything from labor unions to free love. But despite the scurrilous stories spread by her opponents, Emma’s anarchy had nothing to do with throwing bombs. What she believed in was freedom. She wanted people to be free from oppression, whether that oppression was economic or religious or social. It’s no wonder she’s been adopted as the patron saint of so many liberation movements over the past half-century.

For our costume, we decided to go with the most famous photograph of Emma, the one that’s on all the T-shirts (center above). She’s wearing a black blouse or dress with a square neck, a lighter color hat, and pince-nez glasses. The pince-nez were a constant, and probably the one thing you must have if you want to dress up like Emma. Though her look evolved over time, she never seems to have changed her choice of eyewear. The pieces we suggest, from left to right:

1. Evangeline blouse in black. The external lacing on this blouse makes it completely inauthentic, but it does have a nice shape. A more conservative option is the Lenora blouse.
2. Gibson Girl skirt in black moire. This is a full-length skirt, despite the way it looks in the picture. An extremely similar but less expensive skirt is available here.
3. Corduroy and satin hat in tan. The shape of this hat looks a lot like the one Emma wore; we suggest dressing it up with a scarf and cockade (next).
4. Red print scarf and red cockade. Wrap the scarf around the crown and tuck it behind the fabric leaves of the hat. Add a red cockade (which nowadays we usually call a “rosette”) for revolutionary flair. Just cut off the end ribbons so it won’t look like you’ve won a prize. Although black is the color associated with anarchists now, back in Emma’s day the more typical color was red. Revolutionaries would sometimes wear a cockade in their hats or on their lapels to show their allegiance.
5. Pince-nez glasses. The all-important pince-nez! Also available here.
6. Black high-button boots.

Cigar: Emma smoked cigars, which we do not recommend (evil addiction! run away, run away!). But if you do smoke, or if you just want to carry a prop and be in character, get a cigar.

Blintzes: If you’re going to the kind of party where people bring food, we suggest blintzes. Seriously. Emma was a great cook, and blintzes were her specialty. Cherry blintzes, perhaps?

The myth of premenstrual moodiness

From PMS and the Wandering Womb in The Atlantic:

“The idea that any emotionality in women can be firstly attributed to their reproductive function — we’re skeptical about that,” Dr. Sarah Romans told me, skeptical said with audible restraint.

She and eight other researchers at the medical school at the University of Toronto published a review last week in the journal Gender Medicine that looked at all of the clinical research they could find to date on PMS with prospective data. Their conclusion was that the articles, in aggregate, “failed to provide clear evidence in support of the existence of a specific premenstrual negative mood syndrome.”

Romans isn’t saying that the mood symptoms we attribute to PMS aren’t real and common. But she is saying that those symptoms are culturally over-attributed to the menstrual cycle, to the detriment of the medical community and those experiencing them — and as a broader issue of gender equality.