I received Amy Schumer’s book The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo for Christmas, and I meant to read it before the end of winter break. Call it a reading goal, but I was determined to finish it before returning for Spring semester. And I did (and, yes, I am proud of myself for accomplishing said goal – sometimes it’s not easy to make the time to read).
The book chronicles various aspects of Schumer’s life, from her childhood to her rise as the comedian she is today. As a fan of Amy Schumer, I loved it. Her writing style invites readers into the text so that it reads less like an autobiography and more like a series of conversations you would have with a friend. She even includes photographs at the end of most of her chapters, furthering this personal connection with the reader, allowing them to see more into her life.
Schumer is candid – she admits her faults, her mistakes, her imperfections. She owns them, not dismissing them to try to glorify herself in the eyes of the reader. Her honesty is what makes her both appealing and approachable for the audience. This quality is something Schumer is known for in her work and why I look forward to her next project.
I intend for 2017 to be a year of books, among other wonderfulness. To kick things off, the first book I read so far this year is Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962).
I admit, I was drawn to this book because of the cover and because it’s by Shirley Jackson, one of my favorite authors.
The book is told from the perspective of Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood, one of the few surviving members of the Blackwood family. She lives in an old, large house with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. There used to be more members of the Blackwood family, but she poisoned her family’s sugar with arsenic to punish them when she was sent to her room without supper. Her sister survived because she does not take sugar (and that is the reason why Merricat poisoned the sugar and not something else) and her Uncle Julian only took a small amount.
The plot largely centers around the daily routine of Merricat and her family and their relationships with the other characters. The most fascinating part of the narrative is Merricat herself – she shows no remorse for having killed her family, and yet she respects various spaces and objects that belonged to them, even though they are deceased ( for example, after her Uncle Julian dies, she still does not enter his room, insisting that she is not allowed). As a reader, my reaction to Merricat was at times, “She’s crazy” and “She’s a brat,” but I still found myself happy that she and her sister were happy at the end of the story. I feel like it’s an odd reaction to have given how horrible Merricat is as an individual, but that’s part of the beauty of Jackson’s writing: she doesn’t just invite you into the psyche of a character, she thrusts you in, allowing the reader to become intimate with the character by helping to detach the reader from their own preconceptions to understand the world of the story through the character’s eyes.