Thoughts on reading: Club Dead

The Book People come to where I work and sometimes you can gets lots of books for little money. The last time they had eight Sookie Stackhouse novels for a tenner. Even taking off the two I’ve already bought, it was still a bargain, so here I am, reading more pulp fiction.

Club Dead by Charlaine Harris is the third in the series. Like the others there is something compelling about it but I can’t put my finger on what. The writing is ok; it’s not great but worse gets published.

Sookie’s overwhelming attraction for the supernatural men around her is tiresome. She’s so special and different (undefinably, because it’s not about her telepathy for all them) that they just have to have her. Of course she says regular men find her unattractive but there aren’t actually any in the books. In Club Dead, Sookie is angry with Bill for cheating on her, but she doesn’t know that for sure, and she goes off to rescue him anyway. Along the way, she smooches with Eric and a werewolf without managing to pick up any understanding for Bill. Reversing the double standard doesn’t make it better.

I don’t think I can even read it as sex positive, because Sookie doesn’t have agency. She is at the mercy of passion, swept along by the force of male desire, unable to help herself. And that’s why it’s not sex positive. Sookie isn’t having these encounters because she is choosing them, she’s having them because she is unable to resist. Which just reinforces negative stereotypes about women and sex.

Of course, for all its many faults, it is a great story that is an easy read. And there is no doubt I will read the rest, probably soon. I’m not sure why I like them, and I feel slightly soiled, but I do like them. Can anyone explain it to me?

Non-fiction titles I’ve been reading are The Gods of the Celts by Miranda Green and Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture and the Body by Susan Bordo. Gods of the Celts was really interesting, if a little dry. The evidence is largely archaeological and the Celts didn’t leave behind any written explanation of their own, so inferences must be carefully done. It was fascinating and represented a take on religion that is different to the current dominant paradigm. Unbearable Weight was awesome. It is a collection of Bordo’s essays on feminism and the cultural aspects of eating disorders. Highly recommended and for a serious academic work, very accessible.

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