Book reviews

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (HarperVoyager, 2004; originally published 1953)

Must reading for Antifa domestic terrorists and Democrats who want to ban conservative books.

Ray Bradbury’s famous novel reminds me of the current political strife caused by today’s Nazis, Antifa domestic terrorists, who attempt to erase our history by tearing down statues, destroying property, and killing those who oppose their feeble demands.

Although written in 1953, a much different political environment than 2020, the novel reads like a prophecy fulfilled.  The similarities between what Bradbury writes and today’s Antifa and Democratic Party are clear.

Bradbury’s novel depicts “firemen” who burn books; today, NPR calls for the “decolonization” (i.e. banning) of our personal and (soon) public libraries.  People in Bradbury’s work use televisions spanning entire walls for mindless entertainment; today, ditto, except that the mindlessness of television is found in both entire wall-sized and miniaturized iPhone or iPad screens.  Bradbury’s futuristic citizens cannot engage in logical thinking on complex controversial issues, and their “conversations” mention only the briefest of surface details.  Similarly, a quick scan in 2020 of idiotic Facebook posts and even more vapid tweets would show that some of us (especially Antifa-minded young persons and college students satisfied being “snowflakes” instead of aiming for success in college to advance their careers in America’s capitalist society) have not progressed beyond ephemeral nonsense.

Unfortunately, many sections of the novel are so needlessly lugubrious that I wonder what the cohesion is between the affected section and the overall narrative.  For example, Captain Beatty’s lengthy justification for the firemen who torch books and houses containing banned books (in this imprint, pages 70ff), contains eclectic references, is often rambling, and probably is the result of material which Bradbury needed to add to reach the 25,000 more words which his publisher demanded so that the work could be printed as a lengthier novel.

Despite this content problem, which affects reading comprehension and the mellifluousness of the work, contemporary readers will understand one of the novel’s essential claims: books are merely containers for human ideas. Therefore, even though Antifa, the Democratic Party, and leftists in academia and the media will try their best to purge masterworks from our society, it will be impossible to do so—not because Al Gore invented the Internet (ha ha ha!), but because the ideas are essential to human existence and cannot be eradicated.  Any Nazi-like effort by Antifa or useless Democratic politicians to ban ideas contrary to their myopic perspective is doomed to failure accordingly.

Thus, when Antifa domestic terrorists or other wayward young leftists are arrested, prosecuted, and jailed for their destruction of property or murder of their fellow human beings, forcing them to read Bradbury’s novel may help them see that their quasi-political temper tantrums which lead to banning books are futile.  If they want political change, then they should do something truly radical—such as become Catholic and vote Republican, like their parents and grandparents.

Maybe the CHAZ looters could devote a day to read the entire book over loudspeakers instead of screaming about defunding the police.

Hurry and read this book or buy the DVD before Antifa or the Democratic Party ban it.  Otherwise, it, like some other famous literary works, may be gone with the wind.

Book reviews

Sue Ellen Browder’s Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement (Ignatius Press, 2015)

Browder’s autobiography is an important addition to the growing field of works documenting pro-life history since the 1960s.  Her knowledge of the machinations of famous anti-lifers makes her work compelling reading.

For example, twenty-first century readers need to know that Larry Lader was the rabidly anti-Catholic abortion activist who persuaded Cosmopolitan magazine and American feminists in the late 1960s to regard abortion as a right instead of an abuse of women’s bodies and the killing of unborn children (page 12).

Even though she argues that Betty Friedan at first advocated a “family feminism” that respected the rights of the unborn child (pages 29-31), Browder credits the famous former abortionist and later pro-life activist Bernard Nathanson for exposing Lader as the one who persuaded Friedan to include abortion as a right in the agenda of the National Organization for Women (page 51),

Similarly, Browder’s investigative reporter mode is evident when she documents the machinations behind the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton abortion decisions, which legalized abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy for any reason whatsoever.  The lazy legal “scholarship” behind the abortion decisions can be summarized in one striking cause-and-effect relationship: Justice Harry Blackmun relied too much on his law clerk, George Frampton, Jr., who depended heavily on Lader’s faulty and biased writings on abortion (pages 94-95).  (Fortunately, Lader’s reprehensible distortion of abortion history was rectified by Joseph W. Dellapenna’s scholarly work, Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History.)

Contemporary readers will feel a range of emotions on reading Browder’s autobiography.  They will be angry at the injustice that Browder experienced when she was fired from a journalism job for being pregnant (page 28).  They will feel sorrow that she was persuaded into aborting a child because of economic hardships (pages 104-105).  They will be astounded that her job at Cosmopolitan involved not investigative journalism, but a propaganda effort to sell the sex-without-marriage idea in almost every article she wrote (page 14 and passim).

But those are negative emotions.  Browder’s autobiography engenders many enduring positive emotions.  Today’s reader will rejoice that someone who promoted the rabid Cosmopolitan stance on sexual gratification at all costs and abortion as a “right” would ultimately convert to the pro-life perspective.  Browder’s testament of love for her husband as he lay dying is a fitting conclusion to the range of positive emotions that readers will experience.

Moreover, Browder’s journey to the Catholic Church (covered in pages 176-177) makes sense because it is credible.  Her story compares with other famous abortionists (like Nathanson) who converted to Catholicism as the fulfillment of their deepest desires for a life-affirming community.  One passage on her conversion reads as sheer poetry: “The Church, in her all-forgiving love, is so beautiful that I feel as if I’m living inside a too-thousand-year-old poem” (186).  Browder’s conversion is a delightfully happy ending to an otherwise tragic experience working among anti-lifers.

Browder’s autobiography is recommended for at least three groups: college students who need to know the beginnings of pro-life feminist history, activists who wonder if their involvement in the abortion business is a satisfactory way to find fulfillment in their lives, and Hollywood producers who want to depict the reality of a feminist who escaped the despair of a life-denying lifestyle and chose a life-affirming one.

Book reviews

Thomas Bulfinch’s The Age of Fable, or The Beauties of Mythology. (New York: Heritage Press, 1942; originally published 1855)

Interesting reading, but accounts for why no one cares about mythology.

Considered a classic, despite his anti-Catholic sentiments at the end of the volume, Bulfinch’s collection of the major Greek, Roman, and other European myths makes interesting reading.  However, if one wanted to read this as a prelude to reading the huge anthologies of European literature, then doing so would be a waste of time.  For example, if a literary allusion to Aristaeus occurs, then just google it and find out why he is connected with bees.

Besides that, the volume suffers from referencing too many dead white male poets who used mythological references, but who are largely unread now.  Milton?  Yeah, he wrote epic poetry.  So?  Who reads him now, besides English professors who have time on their hands during the China virus pandemic?  Spenser?  Yeah, he was that Elizabethan guy, right?  So?  Who reads him now?

Coupled with the above, this particular volume has the strangest prints by Stanley William Hayter.  The faces of the characters are weird, if not grotesque, and the preponderance of frontal male nudity would make any contemporary reader wonder what is going on with the fixation of depicting male genitals.

One excellent result of reading this antiquated volume of ancient mythological stories is that the parallels between mythic accounts in the ancient Mediterranean and Judaism and Christianity become apparent.  The ancients justly sought to interpret their world as a divine creation; thankfully, Judaism and Christianity fulfilled the inherent human need to understand our relationship with God.

Neopagans may read Bulfinch’s work and think that the sordid experiences of the ancient gods and goddesses are guides for their lives.  One can only hope that they will not become stupid and read this work only for what it is: a historical account of secular narratives which influenced past writers.

Contemporary readers who want to deepen their faith will finish Bulfinch with a great desire to do the Catholic thing and read the Bible a second, third, or fourth time.  Now that churches are reopening, Catholic Christians of all branches (Byzantine, Melkite, Roman, etc.) will appreciate how sensible Judaism and Christianity are against the swelter of jealous and corrupt gods of the ancient myths who based their actions on emotions more than reason.

Book reviews

Matthew Bunson’s Saint Pope Paul VI: Celebrating the 262nd Pope of the Roman Catholic Church (EWTN Publishing, 2018)

Without being an intrusive editor, Matthew Bunson has collated substantial quotes from St. Paul VI on a variety of topics in 288 pages.  While one can use the saint’s works on pages 289-92 as a reading list, if you don’t have time to read all of them as though you were writing a dissertation, this book will suffice.

The pope’s words sound like prophecies fulfilled.  Contraception?  Yes, the pope was right; people do not respect each other when they frustrate the two intentions of sex in marriage.  Abortion?  Yes, the pope was right again; disrespecting the life of the unborn has led to greater acceptance of infanticide and euthanasia.  Overweening pride in technology?  Yes, the pope was right yet again; it’s almost as though Pope Paul anticipated the Internet and our obsession with social media (what a laugh!) when he wrote that we are “not just a screen for the thousand impressions” to which our lives are subject (236).

Two takeaways from the reading.  First, no matter how dire the situation of the Church seemed in the late sixties and seventies (priest defections, unorthodox theologians arguing that artificial birth control was morally acceptable, legalized abortion, declining attendance a Mass, etc.), from the perspective of fifty years later, surprise!  The Catholic Church is still going strong, and what St. Paul VI wrote and spoke about in his pontificate is relevant today.

Second takeaway: in contrast with academic monographs written by secular or atheist scholars, it will be encouraging for young people to know that, even in Paul VI’s world of dissension, wars, social unrest, and other ills, the Church through this pope enunciated several positive things: we are children of God, we are not alone in our search for community, we can change the world, we uphold life, we make peace by upholding life, and love is the Christian’s modus operandi.  What anti-life feminist academic who supports the killing of the unborn child can say anything like that?

Unfortunately, there is no index.  The reader should read carefully and annotate well.

Book reviews

Mortimer J. Adler’s and Charles Van Doren’s How to Read a Book (Simon & Schuster, 1972)

Desperately needed in the age of rushed tweets, sloppy Facebook posts, and “news” from biased sources like CNN and MSNBC, agents of the useless and criminal Democratic Party.

Adler’s and Van Doren’s monograph, for which the publisher provided the subtitle “The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading” on the cover but not the title page, is something I should have read fifty years ago.  Their work is something contemporary students should be required to read as thoroughly as the rushed tweets, sloppy Facebook posts, and “news” from biased sources like CNN and MSNBC, agents of the useless and criminal Democratic Party which flood their smartphones.  Fortunately, the damage done by decades of reading for quantity can be corrected by Adler’s and Van Doren’s rules so that reading for quality becomes paramount.

The work is dated; originally published in 1940, the most current copyright is 1972—nearly five decades or two generations ago.  In some quarters (for example, feminist scholars who blabber about patriarchy, heteropatriarchy, and other ridiculous ideas like white privilege), Adler’s and Van Doren’s ideas may be disregarded as ancient relics of a patriarchal view of society that was supposed to have been abandoned by educated persons.

Since “educated persons” in our society are eminently stupid, Adler’s and Van Doren’s rules for reading are urgently needed.  As an English professor, I can affirm how helpful their suggestions on reading will be to contemporary students, who are often lost when it comes to discussing complicated essays in class.

Moreover, contemporary students rarely get beyond the surface details in any text, whether an essay, literary work, or online article—a phenomenon Adler and Van Doren identify among students in their time.  Since human nature has not changed over the past five decades, therefore, Adler’s and Van Doren’s work may help everyone get beyond the rushed tweets, sloppy Facebook posts, and “news” from biased sources like CNN and MSNBC, agents of the useless and criminal Democratic Party.

Readers may especially find the authors’ recommended reading list (340ff) helpful as a guide to major works in Western civilization.

Another great benefit of reading Adler’s and Van Doren’s work is that it will help all of us counter (as in blog, post, share, tweet, or write educated replies to) the rushed tweets, sloppy Facebook posts, and “news” from biased sources like CNN and MSNBC, agents of the useless and criminal Democratic Party.  Making all of us critical thinkers is surely worth the time needed to master the authors’ rules of reading.

Book reviews

Richard Antall’s The Wedding (Lambing Press, 2019)

A comedic and byzantine novel to remind us that priests are ordinary guys deserving respect.

Richard Antall has written a delightful novel showing how people often burden Catholic priests with crap when they should be treated with respect.  Granted, priests devote their lives for God’s children, but that doesn’t mean the children have to act like self-centered millennials who voted for the fraud Joe Biden and expect everything whenever they insist.  Reading Antall can give all of us a change in perspective; what we often think are disasters may not be so, and insisting that priests immediately tend to our disasters may disturb others more than we know.

In short, reading Antall’s novel can help us not only to show more respect to priests, but also to warn us to cool it with the nonsense we throw at them.

Antall paints a delightful cast of priest characters.  No Bing Crosby here, singing his merry way through a parish with relatively docile punks.  Fr. William Laughlin, the protagonist, is a forty-something priest who is hitting his stride in a parish loaded with odd characters and who finds contemplation of his daily prayers more a chore than a loving service to the Lord.  (Sound familiar?  How often do we lay people pray with rapt attention instead of tap away insipid messages within useless and leftist social media services like Facebook or Twitter?)

The pastor, Fr. Jako, is a grizzled old priest, who talks like an ordinary man, peppering his speech with vulgarisms like any other ordinary old (or, for that matter, young) man.  Jako calls his doctor “the tricky bastard” (130) and is unashamed to use the past participle “goddamned” as a choice adjective (63).  Fr. Laughlin himself is not exempt from using the ordinary speech of ordinary people, as when he calls Carl, the aggrieved groom whose fiancée called off the wedding, “Poor bastard” (7 and again on 42; italics in original).

Whether the publisher, an obviously Catholic outfit, or the author himself demanded it, several instances of vulgar terms are replaced with typographic bleeps, such as “&#%!” (41, 83).  It’s easy to determine what letters the characters substitute, so the reader obtains an investigative delight in solving the puzzle of such linguistic naughtiness.  Towards novel’s end, Antall pokes fun at this practice of omitting vulgar terms directly with Fr. Laughlin exclaiming, “No expletive deleted, Sherlock” (195).

The definition of “A parish is like Peyton Place” (87; italics in original) may be the guiding motif of Antall’s novel, and the numerous situations which present themselves to Fr. Laughlin justify such a claim.  The novel is ostensibly concerned with the cancelled wedding of Carl and Mary, but interspersed with the “resolution” of this plot are episodes where Fr. Laughlin wisely and compassionately counsels a young mother who aborted and regrets her choice; a gay man who is tortured not only about his same-sex attraction, but, more importantly, since having same-sex attraction is not per se sinful, having engaged in homosexual activity; a best friend who lost his business and needs medical attention; and several other crises—all of which are crammed into one day.

Aristotle would be proud.  The reader, however, may come away from the novel, wondering how any man—friend or psychiatrist or priest—could juggle such problems and claims on his time.

One technical problem can frustrate the reader: an annoying spelling out of verb tenses instead of the use of contractions.  “I’m sorry to call you this early…” and “It’s not an easy situation…” are the expressions which ordinary people would use instead of “I am sorry…” or “It is not….”

Overall, though, Antall has written an enjoyable novel where all plot points are (relatively) resolved at novel’s end.  Any items which are not resolved could become the bases for future novels.  It would be even more enjoyable to see this novel translated into film.

Attention: Mel Gibson, here’s your next new property….

Book reviews

Sharon Biggs Waller’s Girls on the Verge (Henry Holt, 2019)

Tedious teen abortion novel by abortion zealot, should have been cut 90%, but useful for pro-lifers.

If she reduced her 221 page teen abortion novel 90%, Waller would have matched Ernest Hemingway’s famous abortion short story “Hills Like White Elephants.”  Unfortunately, the reduction would not have improved the work; it would still be tedious and trite.

We’ve read stories like this before, and the plot is getting tedious, tiring, and tedious (did I say “tedious” enough?).  Camille is a pregnant teen mother who wants to kill the unborn baby using abortifacients and corrals her friends into helping her buy the drugs.  When the abortifacients fail to kill the child, she succeeds in having an office of the abortion business Planned Parenthood kill the unborn child.  That’s all.  End of story.

Not even the anti-male bias of the characters, or their angry feminism, or their “situation” (Camille lives in Texas, which has protective legislation to stop abortion as far as constitutionally permitted) changes the fact that this is just another teen abortion story.

However, fortunately for the pro-life movement, Waller’s novel shows how distortion of language is absolutely necessary among anti-life authors.  (Waller states that she is a volunteer for the abortion business Planned Parenthood [223].)  The distortion of language is something we can use as teachable moments to persuade mothers to reject abortion, which harms them, kills unborn babies, and alienates fathers.

For example, every pro-lifer knows how the pronoun “it” has been used since Hemingway’s time to dehumanize the unborn child.  Waller does the same.  Camille wants to “get rid of it” (22) because she denies that the baby is a baby (28).  Camille’s friend Bea asks, “How big will it be?” (78).  Camille will “Flush it down the toilet” (79).

The novel uses pauses and ellipses to show that even an anti-life author like Waller has her characters hesitate using the word “abortion” or any word referring to the unborn child, usually called a “fetus.”  (It’s amazing that virulently pro-abortion authors still don’t realize that the seemingly clinical Latin term “fetus” means one’s child or “offspring” and is meant to be affectionate.)

Moreover, Waller uses the technique of literary “stuttering” or “stammering” in several places.  Camille’s abortifacients would have her deliver the child: “I need to be near a toilet because…because” (78; ellipsis in original, and the sentence ends with terminal punctuation after the repeated subordinating conjunction).  Camille’s friend Bea asks, “How big will it be? […] “The…you know” (78; ellipsis in original).  Later in the novel, Camille’s use of “it” could refer to the abortion procedure or to the child (175).  Camille cannot look at the ultrasound of the baby (175).  Bea’s hesitancy in talking about the unborn child to be killed by abortifacients continues: “to cover the, uh, you know—” (197).

If the author’s stated intention is to help mothers and young women boast about the abortion killings, then these characters have far to go to force themselves into thinking that the medical assault called abortion is a good thing.

An egregious linguistic slip occurs when Camille comments on a time “when you can feel the baby kick” (178).  Was this deliberate, a Freudian slip, or an error on the part of the virulently pro-abortion author?

And, of course, the characters of this anti-life work must utter the standard canard of ignorance of bodily difference, that abortion is something which affects only the mother’s body.  Camille’s friend Annabelle (a stridently anti-male feminist who volunteers for the abortion business Planned Parenthood) utters her ignorance when she says, “It’s none of my business what you do with your body” (105).

Another of course: even Camille, rabid teen anti-life feminist that she is, cannot escape post-abortion syndrome (PAS), as is evident when she rhetorically asks, “How do you deal with awful things that happen?  How do you forget them?” (199).  It’s obvious, then, that she will never “forget” the abortion killing which she arranges.

The abortion itself is a one paragraph bit of linguistic obfuscation which any student in an English literature course would appreciate for its deception:

“Dr. Maria [the abortionist] inserts something in me.  I feel a pressure in my stomach followed by a pain that feels like the worst period cramps I’ve ever had.  But the pain only lasts a few seconds.  My paper drape rustles, and I feel the doctor’s hands as she helps me put my legs down” (213).

Note how the painful killing of the unborn child is obscured behind “the pain” that the mother herself feels, the verb “feel” repeated several times.

However, these are points that I leave for students to write about and for professors like me who will use this novel as an illustration of how a cadre of contemporary women writers are the new killers.

Pro-lifers who are more activist, such as protesters outside the offices of the abortion business Planned Parenthood, will be greatly encouraged by two statements in the “Author’s Note” about the effectiveness of pro-life picketing.  “Despite our best efforts to shield patients,” Waller writes, “they can’t help but notice the protesters” (224).  Waller testifies to the effectiveness of pro-life protesters again when she writes that “the political anti-choice [pro-life] movement is strong.  There are protesters at nearly every abortion clinic” (225).  Great work, activists!

While the novel can be read in several hours, it’s still feeble.  Pro-life activists, however, can use it as further evidence that anti-life authors continue to use the same standard and tiresome literary strategies to dehumanize the unborn child.

Book reviews

Dianne Touchell’s A Small Madness (Groundwood Books, 2015)

Well-written novel with both standard and clever dehumanizing language used by abortion supporters.

Supposedly meant for teens, this abortion novel can be enjoyed by all ages.  Pro-life readers studying how anti-life/pro-abortion people dehumanize the unborn child will be especially delighted in the plot and clever language.

Touchell does a remarkable job of using the dehumanizing technique made famous by Ernest Hemingway (calling the unborn child an “it”), and she adds several new twists to the anti-life/pro-abortion dehumanizing lexicon.

While one use of “it” is ambiguous (whether the term refers to the teens’ reactions about the pregnancy in general or to the unborn child him- or herself; see page 64), the uses of “it” to refer to the unborn child are extensive, closely followed by “thing” as another term to demean the unborn child.

Liv, the best friend of Rose, the aborted mother, suggests that she “get rid of it” (56).  Rose thinks the baby isn’t already, but “would […] become a real thing” (56).  Michael, Rose’s lover and father of the child, also queries, “Could they get rid of it?” (58).  Rose thinks of the baby as “the thing” and “it” (67).  Michael calls the unborn child an “it” who is now “like a manatee in his spinal fluid” (85).  When she thinks she is not pregnant but just has a delayed period, Rose declares that “I just created this thing in my mind” (115).  After she miscarries, Rose simply states that “It went away” (124).  When Michael and she reflect on what to do with the child’s body, Rose commands Michael, “Bring it to me”; “’It must be buried,’ Rose said again” (126; italics in original).  Looking at the corpse of the child, Rose calls her “the tiny gray thing” (128).  Even when he is drunk, Michael obsesses over the child’s burial, saying, “We buried it” (159).

Two of Touchell’s items of dehumanizing language towards the unborn child are certainly unique: snot and virus.  Michael compares having an abortion to “picking your nose” (58).  Certainly, likening his own unborn child (daughter) to snot says a great deal about this wayward young man.

Equating the unborn child to a virus may be a new entry in the fictional anti-life lexicon.  Michael concludes that his father’s disappointment in him is “just as much a virus as this thing inside of Rose” (62).  He repeats the metaphor later, referring to “this virus inside her” (82).  Rose herself uses this metaphor often; she says, “I have a virus in me” (97) when she is pregnant and “The virus had gone away” (172) after her miscarriage.

Rose clearly manifests post-abortion syndrome (PAS).  The novel is not a typical teen abortion work, where the mother goes to an abortion clinic to have the child killed; Rose is depicted as miscarrying, so the abortion occurring in this novel is not an elective, but a spontaneous abortion, morally neutral.  What may interest the reader more, though, is determining whether Rose’s intention and efforts to kill the unborn child herself (by smoking, depriving herself of food, etc.) meet the criteria of moral culpability in the child’s killing.

What’s even more interesting is that Rose follows a trajectory of personality defragmentation after the miscarriage and after the police come to speak with her on finding the baby’s body which the teens buried in an empty lot.  She becomes “disconnected” and “more detached and confused” (172).  She calls her thrust into reality “this disconnection” (181).  Another character labels Rose a “vacuous caricature” (186).  At novel’s end, only Michael obviously experiences “relief” after he apparently confessed his role in the child’s burial (189).

Taking only half a day to read, this novel not only definitely entertains, but also allows pro-lifers to study several linguistic ways that anti-life/pro-abortion people try to make the unborn child less than human.

Book reviews

Margaret Owen’s The Merciful Crow (Henry Holt, 2019)

Tedious plot, a funny teenage sex scene, yet the novel illustrates conservative and pro-life ideas.

The plot is implausible, the text could be rewritten in detailed paragraphs instead of one-liners, the novel has little to do with medical killing (euthanasia), and it confirms heterosexual normativity.

It was difficult reading the 369 pages of this fantasy novel for the reasons stated above, but readers can use some ideas from this novel to promote pro-life views about the sanctity of human life and conservative views about heterosexual normativity.

The sematic distortion in the novel is obvious.  Just as euthanasia supporters try to rename the killing of the elderly and the medically vulnerable as “death with dignity” or some other euphemism, the main characters in Owen’s novel are “Crows” who give “mercy” to persons either suffering from illness or dying.  The Crows don’t provide mercy, of course; they kill the people.  Pro-lifers can use this novel as an example of the linguistic distortion used to kill humans in an ancient pagan, albeit fantasy, world.

A major problem of the novel is conceptual.  If Fie, the main Crow character, has the power to create magic to make herself and others invisible to her enemies or to heal wounds obtained in battles, then why could she not use her magic skills to provide palliative care for those who are terminally ill?

Moreover, Fie’s knowledge of herbal sources used as either contraceptives or menstrual aids (171) indicates that even the pagan world in which Fie lives has great knowledge of natural remedies.  Why, then, could her society not have discovered a natural palliative to relieve the pain of those in a terminal condition?

Furthermore, perhaps the reason why Fie is so belligerent and angry throughout the novel is that she is stuck in the caste of being a killer.  Her character comports with the contemporary view that abortionists and euthanasia supporters are incredibly unhappy people.

However, the novel is not concerned so much with euthanasia killings as it is with a tediously narrated journey for Fie and two young men.  Thus, if you’re looking for a thorough fictional account of euthanasia killers, ignore this novel.

On the lighter side, the sex scene between Fie and Tavin is comedy at its best, thunder and all (241-243).  Yes, it is supposed to be titillating and probably is for young adult readers; mature persons, of course, would read these pages and laugh.

Besides being humorous, this sex scene reinforces heterosexual normativity.  Fie and Tavin are not moral exemplars; they are typical teens who think that sex is just an activity to generate pleasure instead of the expression of love between married persons.  It is extremely interesting, therefore, to see how the ever-snotty Fie has softened under the influence of having sex with a male (254).  Similarly, heterosexual normativity transforms Tavin’s idea about his purpose in life from a negative to a more positive one (243).

Whether promoting these heterosexual normative and pro-life ideas was the author’s purposes cannot be determined; the book jacket identifies Owen as someone who raises “money for social justice nonprofits.”

This novel was not worth the time I needed to plow through its 369 pages, but one can learn something from it, such as the above.  Otherwise, reading a master like Henry James (who writes in solid paragraphs) or Virginia Woolf (who is eclectic in her style yet does not lapse into ridiculous or tedious fantasy) would have been more entertaining.

Book reviews

Carrie Mesrobian’s The Whitsun Daughters (Dutton Books, 2020)

The masturbation scenes don’t deflect from the plot’s abortion; rename this novel “Teens Who Kill.”

The masturbation scenes in Mesrobian’s novel are titillating but not as remarkable as the euphemisms hiding the chemical abortion plot.  Of course, the scenes which abuse male sexual power are meant for the sexually immature (teens or young adult readers).  Serious readers (everybody else) can use Mesrobian’s fiction as yet more evidence of the linguistic gymnastics, if not duplicity, which pro-abortion characters use to promote a practice which harms mothers, kills unborn children (whether surgically or, as in this case, chemically with abortifacients), and alienates fathers.

The euphemisms to refer to the killing practice called “abortion” are numerous.  Daisy, a main character, expresses surprise that “the things required to unmake a pregnancy would be sold someplace as ordinary as Walmart” (84).  “Unmake a pregnancy”?  Why the euphemism?  You mean abortion, right?

Daisy’s claim that her aunt “knows someone who—” (87) with the dash indicating that the sentence is unfinished is a literary technique other writers have used to hide the fact that characters are talking about, yet again, abortion.

The chemical killing of Lilah’s unborn child is discussed with the usual impersonal third-person pronouns and deceptive language.  “It’s starting”, Poppy says, using “it” to refer to the abortion (155).  Poppy “explained […] that it would be slowly happening now, the lining shedding in layers of blood and tissue” (157).  “It”, of course, refers to the abortion, and “the lining shedding” obscures the fact that it is not only “the lining” which is “shedding” but the unborn child him- or herself who is being killed by “shedding” along with the “lining” and “tissue.”

Daisy’s boyfriend Hugh asks if her sister is “not-pregnant” (160).  The narrator records Daisy’s reactions that “whatever lived inside in Lilah began its descent” (162).  Translation: the dead body of the unborn child, now separated from his or her warm and life-giving uterus and therefore dead, is being passed out of that uterus, thanks to an abortifacient drug which his or her aunt gave to his or her mother.  (Yeah, nonsexist language is cumbersome but must be used to be fair to the unborn child character who may be one of the two genders.)

One character’s Freudian slip—“to get rid of the baby” (174)—is quickly covered by deceptive abortion language a page later when Lilah talks about what some mothers did to “expel the contents of the uterus” (175).

Just like other abortion novels, whether written for teens or adults, post-abortion syndrome is obvious even here, in a novel whose characters clearly do not advance pro-life ideas and are hostile to religious persons who are pro-life.  Typical of mothers who have aborted, Lilah seems happy after her abortion (197).

Jane’s last reminiscence, however, which closes the novel, suggests that Lilah suffers from post-abortion syndrome: “She thinks of the babe she did not have; she ponders names late at night in bed, her eyes on the once-fractured seam in the celling.  When I watch her, I find myself remembering what I cannot reclaim.  It is the closest I can come to human pain now” (208).

This is not literary evidence of abortion which is supposed to make a woman happy.  It is, obviously, literary evidence of post-abortion syndrome.

Overall, even though the author is most likely a leftist and pro-abortion Democrat (same thing; consult her Twitter feed), Mesrobian’s work could suggest a fascinating paper for a student to write about the dishonest language which abortion-minded characters and authors use to dehumanize the unborn child, to suppress evidence of post-abortion syndrome, and to ignore the role of the father.

Just make sure your professor is pro-life and not a feminist hag who thinks abortion is the only choice for an untimely pregnancy.