800 Page Monstrous Nonfiction? Never Again!



CURRENT BOOKS:  The Second Shift by Arlie Russell Hochschild and A Raison in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

First of all, I am trying to make sure I’m set up to finish The List now that I have less time left than I care to admit.  I was almost a year out when I started.  The milestone birthday was in the distant future.  Ummm…six weeks can still be distant, right?  Anyway, I’ve been plodding through Our Bodies, Ourselves in between other books.  Then I picked up The Second Sex at the library on the way home from work today while returning The Second Shift.  ANOTHER 800 pages of nonfiction, and from what I saw it is a rambling essay at that!


If I was not THAT close to being able to say I actually did it and finished the project, I would forget about The List entirely.  I even looked to see how long the rest of the books were and I am glad to see that there was nothing else monstrous on the horizon.  But at 50 pages per day it would take me over two weeks to finish The Second Shift, and I can’t afford that right now.

For nonfiction, The Second Shift was reasonably interesting, and not torturously long.  The author studies the different dynamics between various couples whom she interviewed for case studies, regarding how they share the work of running a household and caring for children.  The book was written about the time that more women were joining the workforce, however, many of the same issues remain today. Ultimately, it seems the key to finding the kind of balance the author thinks is ideal, is for both partners to be flexible as far as their gender boundaries and how their responsibilities are divided.  Unfortunately, one truth she examines is that women continue to care more about maintaining the home and nurturing the children, because this has traditionally been the purview of women.  I find this to be true in my own marriage…my husband just doesn’t have as much interest in keeping things clean and tidy as I do (not that either of us has much energy or motivation after working a full day).  Hochschild also discusses how some of the housekeeping and nurturing responsibilities are being outsourced for low pay, although I don’t agree that this means that the traditionally female responsibilities are being devalued.

A Raisin in the Sun, being a play, was also blessedly short, which will perhaps give me a bit of breathing room to read The Second Sex.  More so than in fiction, I found that the interactions between the characters were dynamic.  The story focuses on a black family in a poor section of Chicago, including a married couple, their young son, and the husband’s mother and sister.  Although there is a strong undercurrent regarding race, and racism is even addressed quite directly at the end, many of the other themes such as poverty and relationships between family members and romantic parters, transcend black and white.  However, as far as racism, I felt long ago that The List had included enough of it.

Anyway, see you later when I’m not bogged down with nonfiction.  I have 800 pages of rambling essay (or superfluous detail and annoying sidebars) to read.  I reserve my right to skim.  I can still say I read it, right?


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