Posted by: Corri van de Stege | January 15, 2012

Of feminism, e-publishing, nuclear physics and genre

This is a wrap up of some of the books and journals I have on the go, all at one time.  I actually finished a book as well, the excellent How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.  It’s been reviewed left right and centre of course, in all the papers and magazines I’ve come across: and the truth is that once you start reading you’ve just got to carry on, you cannot put it down.  It’s funny because it is so truthful, even as an older (female) reader you recognise yourself, the awkwardness of when you were 11, 13, 15.   Female bodies were even more secretive when I was a girl (in a particularly religious environment as well) and so confusion was rife.  Moran touches on it all.   The truths about giving birth, the sometimes casual misogyny and/or sexism you encounter in your life but are not quite sure whether it’s that or whether it’s simply you being so bloody uncertain about yourself. these are serious issues but approached in such a way that you cannot help but laugh and see the stupidity of the perpetrators, it’s not, it was not you, that is / was so stupid! Because everything is presented as it is, it is funny even if at times  a few of the arguments seem quite convoluted and a bit woolly.  At least I could not see the logic of some of them.  But the passion of her conviction overcomes this and you cannot but help enjoying the flow.

More importantly, Moran presents a feminism here that is true and in a hilarious way tells you what it is about: it’s about you as a girl, woman, taking your own life in your own hand, deciding what you want and don’t want, how a girl should not feel pressurised (in having that Brazilian, or wearing those killer high heels that no sane person can walk on for longer than five minutes,  on chosing the clothes that best fit and suit your body, rather than buying clothes and then feeling depressed because your body is somehow or other  wrong  for the clothes which were never intended for real bodies anyway, etc.) .  Presented on the page by Moran, it all seems to straightforward, so matter of fact because we’ve all had these thoughts and we’ve all gone through the agonies or are still going through them. This is a book that should be given to every teenager, niece, cousin, daughter, granddaughter because I’m sure it is the only one that brings up all those things that every girl needs to be armoured against in order to cope with the pressures and expectations.   This is an account of Moran’s  own experience of life between the age of 13 and about 30 and takes in a range of female / feminist issues and how she came to grips with them.  As far as I’m concerned she presents the convincing argument as to why every female should be a feminist and every man as  well.    I enjoyed this book.

The Rhapsody of Restraint by Roy Baldwin is one of the books I am currently reading  on my Kindle.  It is a book that also takes in  a lot of sex but in a different way: it’s a genre fiction book about a female nuclear scientist and in the words of a  reviewer on the Amazon website is a ‘mash up of chick lit and nuclear physics’.  And so it is, the woman Lauren Hind is certainly in charge most of the time, and has all the physical and wealth attributes  and mental capabilities that most of us could only dream of.  However,  as long as she is in charge, has fun and is enjoying all the sex, clothes and male attention,  there is no reason why she is not,  in terms of Moran’s definition, a feminist.

I am reading this book because of my curiosity into the new phenomenon of small Indie publishers, who increasingly bring out first authors  (their own books and others’) in e-reading format, bypassing all established publishers and often foregoing printed format altogether.  Not this one though: it is available on the Kindle and in paperback format.

Saturday’s Guardian has an article on the new e-publishing phenomenon.  With so many new Kindles having been sold over Christmas, this is the time that authors go for the self-publishing route and some are able to make it a lucrative enterprise.

The Rhapsody of Restraint comes as part of  this new phenomenon and I was intrigued by the book also because it tries to do something quite different: a female protagonist who seems to have it all, and a mixture of clever and understandable nuclear physics which is very well researched and believable, various locations around the world, with or without nuclear facilities, taking in London, Sicily and lots of good food and wine (as well as retail therapy) all of which puts it right in the middle  of today’s world , and with enough romantic suspense to want you to read to the end of the book to find out who or what.  It could be classified as a ‘lablit‘ book, but my preference goes for the ‘nuclear physics meets high performing female brain cell’ or something like that…..

The Kindle version is well-edited and pleasant to read, something which is definitely not the case with a lot of the self-publishing books I have come across.   I think it’s a good first book by a new author on the block, one that would not have seen the daylight (as so many others) without this new publishing opportunity.



  1. I preordered Moran’s book in paperback a few days ago, so I will read it in a few months. I can’t wait, since it seems such a powerful book.

  2. I like the sound of both these books…I’ve added the Moran book to my list.

    I am very curious about the new Kindle explosion, with indie writers going that route without the print versions.

    Something to think about.

  3. Aly – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I did: I’ll watch out for your review.
    Laurel – yes, this new Kindle ‘explosion’ is suddenly opening up all kinds of opportunities for new writers and it certainly makes it quite interesting to see what comes to the surface!

  4. How to be a Woman sounds like one I can recommend to several of my nieces. I’m sure even at 48 I would relate to many things in the book too and it would probably shed some light on some of my experiences when I was younger.

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