This month's journal prompts theme is "productivity." This, of course, means different things to all of us. For some, it is about achieving plans and goals. For others, it is about doing things that align with their values and ethics. One thing almost everyone will agree is that it is never about getting "a lot of stuff" done. Rather, when activities are driven by some kind of purpose and focus, those accomplishments feel like time that has been well-spent, time that has been productive.
My review of Danielle Lazarin's debut short story collection, Back Talk, is up at PopMatters. The book came out in February this year. The main theme that unifies these stories is female desire (of many kinds.) The girls and women here deal with their desires, and the underlying needs and fears, with vulnerability, suppressed anger, self-awareness, and self-denial. I enjoyed, particularly, Lazarin's precise sentence-level craft.
On Shakespeare's birth and death anniversary, some notes on one of his comedies, 'Much Ado About Nothing'. The entire play is a “skirmish of wit”, as Shakespeare himself called it, between a playboy bachelor, Benedick, and a sharp-tongued spinster, Beatrice (one of my all-time favorite Shakespearean women.) To read this as simply a love story would be to short-change its overall wit and insightfulness. It is also more than a light-hearted comedy because, through these two characters, Shakespeare makes many nuanced observations about men and women and how we (mis)understand and (mis)play with each other.