More Sheri Tepper (was Re: Good Haul)

Gross Family argross at
Thu Jun 28 23:27:11 EDT 2001

> Melissa said...
> > She has wonderful stories and good mysterious plots; she usually begins
> her
> > books with a strange, unexplained scene that sets up the main question
> > reader gets to puzzle out as the story progresses.

Dorian wrote

> As I said in my previous post, I have enjoyed some of her books.  It was
> "Beauty" that really put me off her.

I had a similar reaction to "Beauty", loving it at the beginning, and then
becoming increasingly disappointed and confused. I haven't read any more of
her stuff yet, but I've been given review copies of "Singer to the Sea",
and, most recently, "The Fresco", which, I must say, does look really

My feeling is that, if you're going to write ideology, write an essay, not
fiction. Of course, fiction does express a writer's deepest feelings and
beliefs, but if it's expressed in an overt, strident way, it usually ruins
the fiction. I think Ursula le Guin said that her own novella, "The Word for
World is Forest" was marred by just that.

[stuff snipped here]

> </sidetrack>
> > Her later works in particular have this rigid worldview that doesn't
> a
> > lot of room for dissent.  There are a lot of men who are just Evil or
> Stupid
> > and sometimes both.  Women in general are more intelligent, more
> > more capable of humanity than men in general.
> Oh dear.  I find that kind of thing terribly tiresome.  A similar problem
> bothers me in Elizabeth Hand's "Waking the Moon", where she depicts a
> horrible type of Paganism and, though she doesn't go quite as far as to
> that *this is what Paganism is like*, she comes disturbingly close to it.
> She also uses this version of Paganism to demonise feminism.  A most
> uncomfortable book, but I do like it, even though I disagree with a lot of
> what she presents.  Odd, that.  I think it's partly because the *story* is
> so damn good, and partly because she never quite crosses that line into
> didacticism.

I very much enjoyed "Waking the Moon", which I viewed as not so much a
misrepresentation of Paganism and feminism, as an imaginative exercise: What
would happen if were able to waken the goodess? What if the goddess was
really a dark goddess demanding blood and sacrifice? I read in an interview
of Hand that the whole idea was stimulated by historiacal reading and
research that seemed to suggest that the ancient goddess cults actually
contained cruel and dark practices such as the sacrifice of men. I can see
why people might get a completely wrong idea of Paganism and feminism from
this, but I think Hand's actual motive was purely imaginal (but then again,
I could be wrong!). Maybe after reading this historical stuff she felt
annoyed by what she might have then seen as the idealisation by some
feminists of ancient cultures thought to be ruled by women? Anyway, I can
certainly see why Pagans could find it offensive.


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