Evelyn Copeland (Series), Reviews

Wonder Woman by Noah Berlatsky (Review)

If you’re expecting a biography on Wonder Woman, the icon, or its creator, you’d be better off reading Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman.

Noah Berlatsky is focused on Marston’s kink and fetishes and how those are obvious/not so obvious in the Wonder Woman comics from 1941-1948. Using selected cells Berlatsky points out Marston’s supposed thoughts on feminism, incest, misandry, misogony, and bondage…so much bondage (I mean Wonder Woman–bound, sorority girls and Etta Candy–bound, villians–bound, and is that…yep a purple gorilla–bound).

While I enjoyed the LGBTQ+ angle, Berlatsky goes on excessive tangents until even they lose the crux of his argument(s). When the focus sticks to Marston and his fetishes and how they specific relate to specific Wonder Woman comic issues, Berlatsky’s argument works.

The one thing this book made me want to do after finishing is to dig deeper into Marston’s original comics and even Marton’s original published work, fiction and non-fiction.

After all, according to Berlatsky, “Who is Wonder Woman, after all, if not Marston in disguise (172).”


How the Brain Lost Its Mind By Allan H. Ropper and Brian Burrell (Review)

If anyone asked me would I ever want to go back in time, my answer is always no. Reading Ropper’s and Burrell’s take on the history of syphilis made my “no” even more firm

It’s an uncomfortable fact to acknowledge how deeply 19th and 20th-century science and eugenics entwined. Blood tests were a prerequisite to getting a marriage license. These tests were often used as a means for the state to promote anti-miscegenation. But there were also genuine health risks associated with these tests, too.

After the invention of the Wassermann test in 1906, syphilis could be diagnosed with a simple blood test. Why this disease? It can lead to neurological disorders. Birth defects. And even death. And 10% of the urban population had it. Mabel Dodge Luhan, a famous patroness of the arts in New Mexico, had an abortion out of fear of giving it to her child, and nearly gave up sex all together after she was infected for the third time by her third husband.

Cures were spotty and dangerous. Savaraan 606 could give you terrible migraines, seizures, and death. Arsenic and mercury treatments amounted to sixteen-month injections that worked or didn’t. By 1917 pyrotherapy was introduced which often meant trading one disease for another (mostly malaria which got the body temperature up to 105 degrees).

Yes, there are plenty of things that suck about 2020. But modern medicine is not one of them.

Craft-Writing, NaNoWriMo, Reviews

No Plot? No Problem! (Review)

noplotnoproblemI don’t like reading fiction while I’m dwelling on a stretch of my own writing. But I do enjoy non-fiction (perhaps it requires a different part of my brain to process the information?). Anyway, I picked up No Plot? No Problem! by one of the founders of NaNoWriMo. While it’s a long way from November, I thought Baty might have some interesting advice to dispense even if I wasn’t planning on hunkering down in a bunker somewhere with a typewriter for thirty days to complete a first draft.

If you’ve never sat down to finish a manuscript, by all means read the first 2/3 of the book. There’s some great advice in there. But for those who have finished a manuscript, it’s a bit repetitive. The last third, though, was Baty’s strongest part. Here he breaks it down into the four week writing process and what to expect. Even if you’ve not done a book in a month, eventually every novel fits into these stages at some point or another.

First Week

  • Shut off inner editor
  • Don’t agonize over the first sentence
  • Ride the momentum
  • Italicize not delete
  • Keep the story to yourself

Second Week

  • Don’t Get it right, get it written
  • Take care of yourself / no sick
  • Check in / 500 words or less

Third Week

  • Appraising your progress
  • Support network attacks
  • Try to crank out 12,000 words over a two day weekend by dividing the time into small workable chunks

Week Four

  • Love your body
  • Look for forgotten ideas
  • Cross early and keep writing
  • When it happens, tell everyone you know

Baty in week one through four hits the nail on the head with the momentum of any manuscript. One thing he repeated is you gotta get it down. Even if it’s crap or doesn’t make sense. Write it down. Type it. Do it long hand. Use any method you can to get it from your mind to a computer or a piece of paper.  As he so keenly said: “Don’t get it right. Get it written.”

Good advice.