Book reviews / Read Harder

Book review: Who is Mary Sue?

I don’t think I know enough about poetry to have sensible opinions. But I was drawn to this collection for the Read Harder challenge because of the association with women and fandom in general.

The collection defines the term, which is slight different than the context I know it from: “Coined by Paula Smith in 1973, ‘Mary Sue’ is a pejorative term used by writers and readers of fan fiction to describe protagonists who are believed to be thinly disguised versions of the fan fic author’s idealised self.”

Whereas the definition I am more familiar with is that the character who seems too perfect and unrealistic. Interesting how definitions shift.

Anyway, the bits I understood were really interesting. In the title poem “Who is Mary Sue” there are snippets from women who fight against this trope. The thing I loved was Joanna Russ (of The Female Man fame) telling an anecdote of being an a MA committee for creative writing with two men, who simply don’t understand what the women are writing (and the women don’t get in as a result).

The most compelling stories/poems were in that vein, where I got a sense of this world of men’s stupid wrong opinions and women’s rage.

There were lots of things to enjoy or be founded by. This was another favourite:

It was enjoyable and strange, but was definitely a great Read Harder book.

One thought on “Book review: Who is Mary Sue?

  1. Pingback: My Read Harder list | Blogendorff

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