Book Acquired Recently: James Tiptree, Jr.’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever

Tiptree, James Jr. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. San Francisco: Tachyon, 2004.

Bought at amazon.com

I read one of Tiptree’s short stories, “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” about a year ago and loved it, and since then I’ve been looking for her (James Tiptree, Jr. is a pseudonym for Alice Sheldon) books in bookstores. Salt Lake City has a fantastic bookstore scene–the best I’ve encountered outside of New York City–but it lacks in the science fiction (SF) department, so I finally broke down and ordered the book online. I am only two stories in thus far, but the second story, “The Screwfly Solution,” is immediately one of my favorite SF stories. Like “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?,” it manages to communicate a strong feminist message without being pedantic. The epidemic of femicide that breaks out as a result of Christian fundamentalism is not that far-fetched. It is a slight extension of the misogyny portrayed in texts such as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which already occurs in places such as Iran and in polygamist Mormon sects in rural Utah (see Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven for more on this topic).

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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