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Anything That Moves Me

Rears and Vices

In the last JASNA-NY (Jane Austen Society of North America, New York region) discussion group, the topic was deceptively simple: What character do you identify with? Only Elizabeth Bennet was off limits, considered too obvious a choice--unnecessarily as it turned out.

The runaway favorite was  Read More 
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Fay Weldon's Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen

Letters to Alice on first reading Jane AustenLetters to Alice on first reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


"Alice" is a fictional character, the author, Fay Weldon, signs her letters to this nonexistent niece "your aunt Fay" and most of the book reads more like essays than a novel. Sounds ghastly, right? It probably is if you read it at the wrong moment.

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Jane Austen and Zombies

By a strange confluence of programming during last month's Jane Austen Society of North America's annual general meeting (JASNA AGM), I would come home after a full day of sessions about the seduction of conversation, coded sexual references in Austen's fiction and gendered ways of speaking, and watch a couple of episodes of Season 2 of The Walking Dead, the popular zombie-apocalypse cable TV show--my own version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  Read More 
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Seduction and Conversation

The Jane Austen convention (formally known as the JASNA AGM, the Jane Austen Society of North America's annual general meeting) that ended a week ago on Monday was such a mind-blowing experience for me that I had hoped to write up a kind of "what I did last summer (week)" school report. I'd discuss, in chronological order, or more ambitiously, in order of fabulousness, the events of the five days, and devote a paragraph or two of evaluation to each.

Well, that's not happening.  Read More 
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Survivors

Most of us, if asked, will probably say we enjoy reading or seeing movies about survivors, not losers. But if presented with genuine survivors, people who struggle so hard at just getting by that all other concerns—love and sex and leisure and pleasure and creativity, must of necessity be pushed aside—we don't like that either. It's too depressing, too…threatening.  Read More 
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Country Dancing and Dirty Martinis with the Troops

I spent this last weekend at West Point. No, I didn’t have my head shaved or suffer through “beast barracks.” I was visiting, as part of a fabulous excursion organized by the fabulous ladies who coordinate the programs for the Jane Austen Society of North America.

But why? What do Austen and the United States Military Academy have to do with each other?  Read More 
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Writing Dirty

In a recent post, I talked about the problems of trying to write while earning a living at the same time. The issue comes down to the ability to write—that is, write well, produce good prose, the best you can—and work at a full-time job.

But the ugly secret nobody talks about is as old as the change from nomadic hunter-gatherers to villagers:  Read More 
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Disinterested Love

A couple of years ago, when I was a regular participant in a “bisexual social discussion group,” I used to have fun with a good friend, a bisexual man married to a woman, debating the difference between a bisexual man and a gay man married to a woman. We weren’t seriously trying to name names or define other people—it was more of an amusing unresolvable question, the middle-aged successor to those college dorm philosophy all-nighters that some people supposedly enjoyed as undergraduates.  Read More 
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The Pleasures and Perils of Prono

I got my first angry e-mail message the other day from a Jane Austen fanfic site:

“It is thoroughly disgusting to read of your use of the P&P characters to write prono [sic] to Jane Austen's works.
You should be ashamed but I am sure the money you are raking makes it all worth it to you.”

Where to start? Surely Austen fanfic writers are better spellers, although perhaps it's a clever device for getting the message past my e-mail program's spam filter. And does anyone really believe that writers like me are “raking” in money? Seriously? Or that we write for any other reason than that we need to, have to--that it's a labor of love? And what, exactly, do fanfic writers do, if not “use” another writer's characters? And why is using them in anything, from “prono” to alphabet books to Christian inspirational romance, reprehensible?  Read More 
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Emma's Perfect Mood

I saw the “new” Emma (from the BBC) the other night. And I'm in love: with Emma herself, as portrayed by Romola Garai; with Blake Ritson (Mr. Elton); with Tamsin Greig (Miss Bates)—and most of all, with what I can only call the “mood” of the production. I haven't been so excited—heart racing, blood pounding, given to jumping up and exclaiming out loud unexpectedly and out of context—since I saw Prick Up Your Ears, Alan Bennet's amazing screenplay of John Lahr's book about Joe Orton.  Read More 
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