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The final Weekend Pick of October is presented by Roy Edward Jackson, an assistant professor of education at Goshen College in Indiana. His greatest joys are mentoring future teachers, creative writing, and spending time with his husband and menagerie of pets.
Halloween is in the air, so Roy Edward's suggestion is themed. Get ready for some tricks and treats!
Christopher Barzak’s new story collection, Monstrous Alterations
In The Creeping Women, Barzak retells the famous short story many read in high school, The Yellow Wallpaper. It is one I still love to read today. I shout in my head at John, feeling he’s the root cause of all that is wrong with Jane. I’ve claimed to have read this story through a feminist lens, however often forgetting that there are two other women in the story, I’m not sure I truly have. The Creeping Women, a well-intentioned title I must say, tells the story through the nursemaid (and sister of John) Jennie. Barzak’s story is one of desire and oppression. John isn’t just oppressing his wife who most likely is suffering from postpartum. He is also oppressing his sister. He convinced their parents to place Jennie’s inheritance in his care until she is married knowing she will never marry. Jennie explicitly states her sexuality in her backstory when she shares her teenage crush and first kiss to a girl that was witnessed by John. She, like Jane, is captive to the financial and mental captivity of John. This story truly goes to the heart of what the collection is about as Jennie is marginalized as both a woman and lesbian. Worse, she is living in a time with no freedom and without money. John holds her purse, forcing her to watch over Jane while he does what he pleases in the city for days on end. I can think of a number of worthy conversations to have with young readers about this story and character.