by James St. James
2003 (originally published 1999) • 288 pages • Simon & Schuster
Quoth—or paraphraseth—Snatch Game: RuPaul’s Drag Race is so mainstream… (How mainstream is it, Clare?) RuPaul’s Drag Race is so mainstream that it won’t let you watch the current season online if you don’t have a cable subscription. Wherefore, RuPaul’s Drag Race? Why does being a millennial without a television mean that I must sacrifice the pleasure of worshipping at Kim Chi’s beautifully shod feet? Why can I not contribute to the eternal engine of RuPaul?
Yes, RuPaul’s Drag Race, RuPaul, LogoTV, and World of Wonder have become awful cuddly as of late—presumably the result of natural aging, a more welcoming society, and higher production values. (Although I still spend a lot of episodes murmuring, “Man, remember when Mac was a sponsor?”) But they weren’t always that way. Once upon a time, RuPaul and the personalities of World of Wonder were young, tough, and viciously glamorous. Case in point: James St. James,
The Price of Gold
2014 • 78 minutes • ESPN Films
Figure skating is the only Olympic sport I’ve ever actually gotten behind, culminating in the 2010 Winter Olympics being a very strange centerpiece to my sophomore year of college. (To this day, I have a macro of a tanning bed bellowing “FEED ME EVAN LYSACEK” that makes me laugh out loud.) Of all the sports represented at the Olympics, it’s the most overtly aesthetic and artistic. It’s also one of the most aggressively coded feminine sports, alongside gymnastics.
That makes figure skating densely symbolic in ways that other sports aren’t (or are in different ways), especially in terms of gender and class. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, two Canadian commentators said that Johnny Weir should take a gender test because his skating style was so flamboyant. (They later apologized.) I remember being particularly fascinated that year with American figure skater’s Evan Lysacek’s performance of gender—a lot of the material surrounding him seemed hilariously anxious to prove his masculine bonafides, especially in counterpoint to Weir. Lysacek won gold that year, soothing American masculinity’s precious nerves.
Similarly, the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding rivalry in American women’s figure skating in the early nineties was both about the two skaters and about acceptable performances of gender, class, and physical prowess. On one hand, there’s elegant, graceful, feminine Kerrigan, an ice princess of the highest order. On the other hand, there’s athletic, tomboyish, sometimes abrasive Harding, from the wrong side of the tracks. And then there’s the famous act of violence that linked them together forever and affected their lives in very different ways.
Under the Banner of Heaven
by John Krakauer
2013 • 372 pages • Doubleday
To celebrate the Fourth of July this year, my local Alamo Drafthouse Cinema screened two films—Top Gun, which we’ve already been over, and a Quote-Along for Team America: World Police. Specifically, a Quote-Along for Team America: World Police’s tenth anniversary. I’ve never seen that movie, but watching the brief advertisement for the upcoming Quote-Along, I was instantly taken back to the political climate of the United States in the early aughts.
While the nostalgia wheel has turned to the nineties (which explains the amount of Sailor Moon and Xena: Warrior Princess I’ve been consuming) per its traditional twenty year delay, the aughts are finally far enough behind us to take a certain narrative shape. There’s even a new VH1 series, I Love the 2000s, to prove it. This is nothing new for history and nostalgia, but it is something new for me.
Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly
Matthew Goodman’s Eighty Days is a really fantastic piece of nonfiction—the kind that’ll make you gasp out loud, even though you know how this race between two lady journalists in the 1880s is going to turn out. I’d heard of Nellie Bly in passing before (something something asylum something something), but Eighty Days introduced me to her in her entirety, from birth to death. Naturally, despite Goodman’s warnings about Bly’s subpar attempts at writing novels, I was interested in what put Nellie Bly on the map: Ten Days in a Madhouse. While it was originally published as a series of articles in The New York World, it was collected into a book the same year (1887), making it eligible for my establishment.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
As I was wading through blogs to get my Book Blogger Appreciation Week ballot in, I found a glowing review for Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City. It sounded familiar, and I tried to remember where I’d heard of it. It turns out that it’s the favorite book of parents of a friend of mine, who had finally gotten around to reading herself. (She loved it.) I always need nonfiction to break up my increasingly steady consumption of fantasy, and so I put The Devil in the White City on hold.
For those among us who have been living under a rock, the next three big book to film adaptations are Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (or, a generation grows up), Breaking Dawn (or, the death of Taylor Lautner’s career), and The Hobbit (or, I didn’t come with a funny name because I’m so freaking excited). The other thing all three of these films have in common? Well, as the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows trailer puts it, they’re all “presented in two parts”. As fannish friends, reader friends, and filmmaker friends express approval over this trend, I often feel a bit awkward when I admit that I think it’s a terrible idea.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
- BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Worse had occurred too, although these revelations emerged only slowly. A murderer had moved among the beautiful things Burnham had created.
pg. 6 of The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!
Good morning! How about some nonfiction books I’ve recently added to my reading list?
I don’t just read fantasy and sci-fi, you know–I do read nonfiction of my own volition. Could I really call myself an omnivore if I didn’t?