Since I spend so much time reading long-form non-fiction online, I’m going to link to my favourite one every week for anyone who’s interested in similar reading.

A growing army of pissed-off activists are convinced that the male species is profoundly endangered by our feminized society. They say it’s a woman’s world now—that women have the upper hand in sex, in universities, in custody battles. And don’t even get them started on all those bogus rape cases. It’s enough to make a certain kind of man join a revolution.

This article reports from the movement’s first national gathering and meets the true believers who want you to fight for your right to patriarchy. The views expressed by the attendees would have been funny had they not been so disturbing.

Albert Calabrese believes the age of consent should be 12 years old.

Albert Calabrese believes the age of consent should be 12 years old.

“Women gone insane with the power of the pussy pass” is how Elam describes the movement’s raison d’être in an essay called “When Is It OK to Punch Your Wife?” Another one of his provocations. Elam’s white, but he identifies with Malcolm X; he believes he needs to shock society to be heard. He says his talk of “the business end of a right hook” and women who are “freaking begging” to be raped is simply his version of Malcolm’s “by any means necessary.” To wit: Elam’s proposal to make October “Bash a Violent Bitch Month,” in which men should take the women who abuse them “by the hair and smack their face against the wall till the smugness of beating on someone because you know they won’t fight back drains from their nose with a few million red corpuscles.”

The night winds on, with discussion of rape and the smothering of penises, the sorrows of false accusations and the narcissism of young girls. A sore point for Factory, who has two daughters, who, like young women everywhere, he says, compete for the most exaggerated rape claim. It is, he says, a status thing. When one of his daughters came home one night and said she’d been raped, he said, “Are you fucking kidding me?” Sitting with us, he hikes his voice up to a falsetto in imitation: ” ‘Oh, I just got raped.’ ” He laughs. There’s a moment of silence. A bridge too far? “I told her if she pressed charges, I’d disown her.”

Elam, whose attention has drifted, grins through his beard. “That’s good fathering,” he says.

Factory loves his children. He would have reacted differently if it had been what he in theory considers a legitimate claim, but—”if you don’t have videotape or forensic, a whole lot of bruises, I don’t give a fuck.”

Are You Man Enough for the Men’s Rights Movement? by Jeff Sharlet, GQ Magazine

The Invisible Friend by Louise Arnold – Book Review + Activity Ideas

The Invisible Friend

The Sixth Sense’s eerie proclamation of “I see dead people” made the ability to spot ghosts pop-culturally relevant. And who hasn’t had a bit of an identity crisis where you start wondering, “Do I exist? Am I a ghost? Am I Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense?!” Or was that just me?

In Louise Arnold’s world, however, ghosts are decidedly not dead people. The Ghost World sits right on top of the Real World, and ghosts inhabit the same space as humans. The only difference is that humans can’t see ghosts.

Some humans tried to find explanations for ghosts. They’d say they were memories caught in time, or the spirits of people that had died, or a premonition of things to come. Ghosts would chuckle at that. Ghosts are ghosts, as simple as gerbils are gerbils and seagulls are seagulls, and there’s nothing to be explained. I haunt, therefore I am.

The story is about two boys – one human (Tom Golden) and one ghostly (Grey Arthur). Tom has just moved to a new house and a new school and is utterly miserable. The perfectly pleasant 11-year-old is the constant target of bullies and nasty whispers and doesn’t have a single friend to call his own. For no discernible reason, he is known throughout the school as a freak and life is just generally horrid. His parents are lovely but clueless – as parents tend to be in such books – and have no idea what a miserable time he’s having.

Grey Arthur’s misery, on the other hand, has another cause. He’s a ghost without a purpose. He has been around for centuries but he still doesn’t know who he is.

There are more different types of ghost than there are different colours of crayon, and yet Grey Arthur didn’t belong to any group. He wasn’t scary enough to be a Screamer, wasn’t naughty enough to be a Poltergeist, wasn’t melancholy enough to be a Sadness Summoner. Each different thing Arthur had tried to be, he’d failed.

On the Tuesday when the story begins, Arthur stumbles upon Tom’s loneliness and feels like he should help. So he decides to make up a ghost type of his own – Arthur Grey is going to be Tom Golden’s Invisible Friend. Invisible Friendship involves moving under your best mate’s bed and following him to school, looking out for him, helping him avoid bullies and generally making sure he stays out of trouble. The problem, of course, is the Invisible part of the Friendship. Even though Tom fares slightly better at school, he still doesn’t know that Arthur actually exists.

Until the day he’s hit by a car and lands up in the hospital. Apparently, a near death experience does wonders for bringing ghosts into focus, even when the ghosts aren’t dead to begin with. Tom finds that he can suddenly see clearer, not only his new roommate Arthur, but also every other ghost everywhere he goes. Even though he’s freaked out in the beginning, school becomes a less lonely place with a ghost friend in tow.

The rest of the book follows Tom’s encounters with other ghosts, his continued problems with his schoolmates, worried parents who hear him talking to Arthur and a suspiciously chipper child psychologist.

The premise of the book sounded intriguining but I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. The book is filled with fascinating throwaway details, wholly original plot elements and manages to fit in quite a bit in 280 pages. The writing manages to be funny and gently clever without resorting to any sort of gimmickry. I genuinely enjoyed getting to know the wide array of characters, human and spectral. The two protagonists are immensely likable and the writing steers them clear of becoming boringly predictable.

A quick bit of Google sleuthing shows that the book is the first in a series, even though it holds up pretty well as a standalone read. I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for Ghost School and A Good Day For Haunting the next time I’m at a used book sale.

You can buy the book here which seems to be the only place online that stocks it.

1

  • The book features three sorts of ghosts (not including Arthur’s made up Invisible Friend). Make up your own kind of ghost that could be a part of this world. What are these ghosts called? What do they look like? What do they do? Draw a portrait.
  • Dress up as a ghost – either a traditional one, one from the book, one that you made up, or one straight out of Bollywood.
  • Gather a few friends, parents and/or siblings and play a game of Complete the Spooky Story. One person starts by coming up with the first sentence, followed by another person with the next sentence, followed by the third person with the third sentence and so on. Two rules: 1) The sentences have to form a logical story, so you have to pay attention to what the previous people said. 2) It has to be as gruesome as possible.

2015 Reading Challenge – February Update

2015 is the year of reading challenges. You can have a look at my bookish goals for the year here.  

As Goodreads kindly informs me, I’m 3 books behind schedule in my goal of reading 150 books this year. I’m not too (just a very tiny bit!) cut up over that, to be honest, because it’s a slightly ridiculous goal. But I’ve fallen way behind on my 2015 Reading Challenge mostly because I just haven’t been paying attention.

1) One children’s book by an Indian author every month:

Raja Raja and the Swapped Sacks by Natasha Sharma

Being Boys by Various Authors

6) A Young Adult book:

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

18) 10 books from my Goodreads To-Read list:

Who Could That Be At This Hour? by Lemony Snicket

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Here’s hoping March has some better numbers!