_Summerland_ and Society

hallieod at indigo.ie hallieod at indigo.ie
Thu Mar 27 13:30:48 EST 2003

Apologies for coming back to this so late - but it's nice to know 
that if you leave a reply unfinished long enough around here, someone 
is *bound* to say something which clarifies your thoughts for you. :) 
It was Deborah this time, with the 'kinda subversive, kinda 
hegemonic' quote.  Thanks, Deborah (and Rebecca was it, who found 

So really, this summed up my reaction to _Summerland_ , when applied 
in a purely subjective manner.  I found it wonderful, really enjoyed 
it, would (and have) recommend it to most people, realise that Chabon 
is writing about something he loves, in a way which almost makes me 
share that love, and yet, it's just not as subversive of societal 
expectations around athletic ability as I would want it to be to 
match my experiences of the same.  And just for the record, those 
experiences are almost all around what I've seen happen to my kids 
and their peers - I have no bad memories of sport from 
primary/elementary school, and was lucky enough to go to a secondary 
school too poor to have either gym or playing fields.  Score! :-P

This doesn't mean that I'd accuse Chabon of being 
anti-athletically-challenged-people - we need a term for this - any 
more than I think DWJ is anti-fat people, though I think at least 
some of us agree that her subversiveness doesn't extend as far as 
we'd like it to in the direction of assumptions about weight.  Or any 
more than I think The Princess Bride is misogynistic, though 
Buttercup is *such* a drip.  (I love TPB too - this isn't an attack!)

As to Melissa's point about what I think we should do about it, if 
society does have skewed perceptions of athletic ability or lack 
thereof, or achievement in general - I think we are doing it. 
Unfortunately, I have found that even though I will always do what I 
can, I'm really pretty powerless to influence my children's 
experience outside of the house.  I cannot make the principal of 
their school develop a brain (or a conscience and yes, I'm 
exaggerating wildly, but you know what I mean and this saves me 
giving example after example), nor can I make the cool and popular 
gang perceive emotional intelligence as equal in worth to athletic 
ability or the willingness to dress like Brittany Spears (Speares?). 
Yeech - I'm depressing myself as I write! :-)  Anyway, what I can do 
is talk about these things, and I think it's valuable to talk about 
them here too.  The fat characters and lit. discussion was great, I 
thought, and if you (singular, Melissa, or emphatically plural) think 
I've got porridge/oatmeal for brains for having this reaction to a 
wonderful book, that's fine too.  My kids *regularly* think that! :-)


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