Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology

Jess Zimmerman. Beacon, $25.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8070-5493-2
In this wry and deeply personal essay collection, Electric Literature editor-in-chief Zimmerman (Basic Witches) uses the female-coded monsters of Greek mythology to explore the cultural constraints and contradictions of modern femininity. Pairing ancient archetypes with pop culture phenomena and intimate details of her romantic life, Zimmerman explores concepts of beauty and ugliness through the lens of the Medusa myth, and relates the archetype of the Chimera to the ways in which women “prune” themselves in order to fit stereotypical expectations of domesticity. Elsewhere, Zimmerman frames a discussion of abortion rights around an analysis of the child-killing sea monster Lamia, and links the Furies to the rage women felt in response to Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation. Occasionally, the book’s larger themes slip out of focus, as when an examination of the myth of Charybdis meanders through recollections of Zimmerman’s “weird relationship to food” when she was young, the four years she spent with “a man who wouldn’t fuck me,” and her second husband’s marriage proposal. For the most part, though, Zimmerman’s skillful pairing of ancient and modern, universal and personal, leads to nuanced discussions of how society suppresses female individuality. Zimmerman’s call for women to reclaim their own monstrosity rings loud and clear. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/17/2020
Release date: 03/09/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-8070-5498-7
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