Friday, August 14, 2020

Review of "'Every Man His Specialty': Beckett, Disability, and Dependence" by Michael Davidson

 Michael Davidson, "Every Man His Specialty: Beckett, Disability, and Dependence (2007) 14 pages. On The Free Library.

Originally, I struggled with Beckett and his (obviously important) portrayal of the disabled. Was Beckett ableist or was he satirizing the (at that time, popular) pseudo-science of eugenics (which includes all the disgraceful, harmful, hateful -isms). Was he for eugenics or against it? My initial reaction to Beckett was simply that I was triggered. In the real PTSD sense. Reading his work caused me to have chills, break out in a sweat, and become physically nauseous. It seemed on the surface to be the most blatantly ableist material I've ever come across. After reading this I have made peace with Beckett. I still have issues with his methods, but I no longer question his intentions and end game (pun intended). This also includes an interesting and much-needed discussion of the ableist worldview that independence and accomplishment are what make people worthy of life and participation in society to the exclusion of disabled people who require external assistance to survive, whether that be from assistive technology or other more able people. This view of what makes a human worthy to participate in society and to have life seriously needs loudly challenged and changed. This paper argues that Beckett is highlighting these so-called "codependent" and dependent relationships to do just that. Okay then. I can definitely live with that, Beckett, and on behalf of the disabled people trying to survive and even be (a different but equally important kind of) productive within the ableist worldview - thank you!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Book Review: E D Bird's "Bitter Sweet"


E D Bird, Bitter Sweet (Createspace, 2015) 358 pages, fiction, $13.00. On Amazon.

This is the sequel to E D Bird's Goldenviron which is also reviewed on this blog. As expected, it is another entertaining, rollicking "dude flick" of a book.

Better written than its predecessor, more gritty and graphic, this installment takes us from South Africa to Barbados as the lead character seeks revenge for the events of Goldenviron. Again we have an action-packed plot and the added complication of aliases to keep up with.

Some gimmicks are overused. There is an elephant, leopard, and lion attack. This is a bit much if the reader knows something about the actual behavior of wild animals and it all begins to feel like a cliched cop-out by the time it plays out.

Also, this is not a novel for the post-Me Too world. Again, here is your fair trigger warning. Sex is detailed and errs on the side of porn. The book is rather insensitive to the aftereffects of rape on a woman's psyche - especially that of multiple rapes. While there is an attempt to make the woman a strong character who rescues herself rather than waiting for her male partner to rescue her, it does fall short of real female understanding. Later in the book, a male character vomits after watching a bomb detonate and I at least couldn't help but think these two events juxtaposed against each other only served to highlight the lack of emotional depth regarding rape.

This is an easy read not meant for children. I sensed the author left things open for the possibility of a third installment.

Book Review: E D Bird's "Goldenviron"


E D Bird, Goldenviron (Createspace, 2016) 446 pages, fiction, £10.87. On Amazon.

E D Bird has written an entertaining, if clumsy, mystery novel set in South Africa. This is not the kind of mystery you read to exercise your powers of deduction, however. The reader isn't given the chance to solve the case. But we are along for a "dude flick" plot.

The title refers to a gold mining company at the heart of an alarming number of murders. The characters stumble through several adventures - a hot air balloon ride, an abandoned mine, a kidnapping, a hyena attack, and even an AIDS clinic straight out of Stephen King's imagination - in an attempt to unravel the knots. 

Those sensitive to themes of racism should avoid this book. The "good guys" do at times display a less than open mind and the "bad guys" are overt neo-nazis. There is even a smoking chimney. This is your fair trigger warning.

There are times when the author's clearly evident love of cars overshadows the story. But this is a somewhat fast-paced, action driven book that is sure to delight a readership that prefers an escape rather than a think.