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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Reader's Diary #1928- Pénélope Bagieu: Brazen

While I quite enjoyed Pénélope Bagieu's Exquisite Corpse when I read it a few months back, I still wasn't overly excited to read Brazen, a graphic novel style collection of Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World.

I'm all for the topic, it's just that I've never seen such collections really work. To summarize a life into a overly brief biography seems, I don't know, insulting perhaps? Too elementary in any case. I'm often left wishing that the writer had just picked one life per book as a focus. I suppose it depends on what we want from such a collection and if it inspires more independent research into a person, that might be considered a win. And on that note, Bagieu did make me download some music by Josephine Baker and Betty Davis.

Another reservation that I had with the collection was Bagieu's take on different cultures. Not from those cultures myself, I cannot say with any authority that she misrepresented them, but I did wonder if it was best for her to tell their stories. Of course, had Baglieu focused only on western white women, that wouldn't have sent the right message either. Maybe it could have been a collaborative book instead?

As it was, with only Bagieu's voice, I found that too many of the women blended together. She has a sort of irreverent sense of humour (it reminds me of Kate Beaton's), which I enjoy a lot, but when almost all of women here are presented with a similar personality, I felt I lost some of their individuality.


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