Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman

First published in The Star on 9th February, 2017

THE POWER

By Naomi Alderman

(Viking, 339 pages)

ISBN: 978-0241015728

IF you identify as feminist, you are likely tired of explaining that the women’s movement is about gender equality and not the domination of men by women. If you are a feminist you are probably  sick of hearing it said that you and your ilk hate men, burn bras, and are all lesbians (closet or otherwise). If you actively oppose the oppression of women in whatever form, you will have rolled your eyes countless times in response to those who declare that feminism is a sexist movement and that they prefer being called humanists or equalists.

Feminism is not about women being better than men, but it is about and attempts to address personal, political, social and economic power disparities between the sexes. So, what if women had the power? Would it automatically result in gender equality?Read More »

Poem for Thursday

Ode to the Cat

The animals were imperfect,
long-tailed,
unfortunate in their heads.
Little by little they
put themselves together,
making themselves a landscape,
acquiring spots, grace, flight.
The cat,
only the cat
appeared complete and proud:
he was born completely finished,
walking alone and knowing what he wanted.

Man wants to be fish or fowl,
the snake would like to have wings
the dog is a disoriented lion,
the engineer would like to be a poet,
the fly studies to be a swift,
the poet tries to imitate the fly,
but the cat
only wants to be a cat
and any cat is a cat
from his whiskers to his tail,
from his hopeful vision of a rat
to the real thing,
from the night to his golden eyes.

There is no unity
like him,
the moon and the flower
do not have such context:
he is just one thing
like the sun or the topaz,
and the elastic line of his contours
is firm and subtle like
the line of a ship’s prow.
His yellow eyes
have just one
groove
to coin the gold of night time.

Oh little
emperor without a sphere of influence
conqueror without a country,
smallest living-room tiger, nuptial
sultan of the sky,
of the erotic roof-tiles,
the wind of love
in the storm
you claim
when you pass
and place
four delicate feet
on the ground,
smelling,
distrusting
all that is terrestrial,
because everything
is too unclean
for the immaculate foot of the cat.

Oh independent wild beast
of the house
arrogant
vestige of the night,
lazy, gymnastic
and alien,
very deep cat,
secret policeman
of bedrooms,
insignia
of a
disappeared velvet,
surely there is no
enigma
in your manner,
perhaps you are not a mystery,
everyone knows of you
and you belong
to the least mysterious inhabitant,
perhaps everyone believes it,
everyone believes himself the owner,
proprietor,
uncle
of a cat,
companion,
colleague,
disciple
or friend
of his cat.

Not me.
I do not subscribe.
I do not know the cat.
I know it all, life and its archipelago,
the sea and the incalculable city,
botany,
the gyneceum and its frenzies,
the plus and the minus of mathematics,
the volcanic frauds of the world,
the unreal shell of the crocodile,
the unknown kindness of the fireman,
the blue atavism of the priest,
but I cannot decipher a cat.
My reason slips on his indifference,
his eyes have golden numbers.

~ Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973)

The Other Woman

When my ex husband left me for another woman, he was quick to inform me that she was ten years younger (and infinitely more supple) than I was.

eyeroll

Ten years later, they have finally gone their separate ways. She is still ten years younger than me, but she is now forty and I wonder if she regrets the decisions she made in getting involved with a married man who made no move to divorce his wife (I was the one who pushed for divorce and he resisted to the bitter end), and who, it appears, never intended to marry her.

In the early days of their relationship, they did talk about marriage and children. It’s of course entirely possible that she changed her mind. In my opinion, she would have seen his true colours and thought better of getting legally joined to a verbally (at times physically) abusive and emotionally manipulative man. If she has no intention of getting married (to him or anyone) then that’s fine. I just hope that if she has arrived at that conclusion, it’s not because he treated her badly.

There was a time when I hated her deeply. I no longer have any strong feelings towards her. Too many years have passed and too much has happened for me to remain angry and resentful.

 

What Books to Pack

When I move to Lagos, Nigeria I will be leaving behind over a thousand books. I hope to ship them all to me one day, but until then I have my Kindle, which contains a large number of my favourite titles. I also intend to take about twenty ‘real’ books with me and trying to choose just twenty is proving difficult (you don’t say!).

(For practical purposes, I shall take books that aren’t on my Kindle.)

goudge

I have decided on four so far: Three are Elizabeth Goudge comfort reads: Towers in the Mist; City of Bells; and The Dean’s Watch. And the fourth is Gratitude, a small and beautiful, posthumously-published collection of essays by Oliver Sacks.

sacks

I am trying to decide if I should take The Complete Uncle, the crowd-funded collection of J.P. Martin’s original six Uncle books. It’s a large, handbound volume that weighs a tiny bit over 1kg. Perhaps I’ll put it in my hand luggage or my ‘dainty’ lady’s handbag.

uncle

 

 

Picture Me a Monday!

by-monica-barengo

By Monica Barengo

A book, cats, tea. Yes.