Thursday, September 15, 2005

4th of July

4th of July by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

This is, obviously, the fourth book in the ladies' murder club series. Lindsay Boxer is a lieutenant in homicide in the San Francisco Police Department. She gets handed a horrible case, reminiscent of her first unsolved murder case. Lots of seriously lame red herrings and plot twists later, Lindsay wraps up all the cases. Yup, that's it. That's the book. Cookie cutter mystery, with the usual twists and a big mess that the protagonist must clean up.
For the record, Patterson is just as bad at writing adult women as he is at writing adolescent girls. He even has a female co writer on this one and still no realism in this female protagonist. I'm a woman. I talk to other women. I know how we talk and Patterson's conversations between women do not feel real to me. They are stilted and phony feeling. It certainly came across as more of a man's idea of how women speak to and behave around each other than what it's really like. Maybe it stems from men's idea that we are such unknowable creatures. Although there are plenty of male authors who write women beautifully, with all the nuances of female behavior seeming more organic. Yikes! Am I getting all new agey here? That is really not me. I am a modern girl, a term which I get to define for myself. I don't like the impression that my identity as a woman is or can be dictated by anyone else.

I'm really having a problem with the concept that there are set labels for women and a hierarchy of their value. What, you may ask, does this have to do with anything? Maybe nothing, but to be honest, I've been getting really worked up by the whole "Feminist Movement" thing. Between the gender confusion that it has heaped upon women and the scary anti-traditional woman attitude, I'm getting really freaked out.
In the past few weeks, thanks to good old Blog Explosion, I've encountered a number of "mommy blogs" that have received comments implying that the bloggers were unimportant and wasting precious web space. The rationale given for this viewpoint was that the commenter considered herself a feminist and therefore wanted a career and thought the Mommy track beneath her and the Mommy's themselves, I guess, are traitors to the cause. I can understand if some blogs don't appeal to or interest some people. Everyone is different and that's usually a good thing. We all like different things. That doesn't mean that a stay at home mom is worthless because her priorities are different.

My mother was a stay at home mom. She didn't work full time until after I started high school. She is also a great model as a feminist. She embraces all the strengths a woman has and makes a point of avoiding the traps that we can fall into. She proved herself as an excellent leader in the workforce. As a supervisor she was conscientious and caring. Her employees adored her and took pride in doing a good job for her. She's generally adored everywhere she goes.
There are plenty of women who feel the need to assert themselves by attacking other women, or by acting like men. A lot of women in power fall into this trap. It doesn't have to be this way. A woman doesn't have to be a bitch, or made of stone to get ahead. She doesn't need to sleep her way to the top and/or bitch slap everyone around her down.

A true feminist is a woman who embraces who she is. She can be whatever she wants. That's what feminism really is. She knows a man isn't always the best person for the job. Managing a household is not necessarily easier than managing an office, a major corporation, or a government. We're free to choose our own paths. Our choices made for ourselves and our control in our own destinies, that's what it's all about.

Okay, stepping off my little soapbox now. James Patterson tries on the voices of a disparate group of protagonists in his various series and I've never felt like he could make me believe they could be real. None give that sense that he is "writing what he knows." Although, on the other hand, he certainly can not be accused of being a Mary Sue. Maybe he would be more believable if he was.

I cannot believe that he has yet another book on the best seller list this summer. The man is a bad book factory. He's churning out more crap than can be swallowed by the book reading public. I think we're looking at about a half dozen books by Patterson this year. He's off my reading list, maybe, just maybe, if his stuff is all over the best seller list (why, people, why?) I will do the audio, but that's where I draw the line.

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