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Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Mathews, Harry: My Life in CIA | Main | Hamden Historical Society: Hamden (Images of America) »

Buchanan, Andrea J. (ed.): It's a Boy

  

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Seal Press © 2005, 251 pages [amazon]
4 stars

Thirty essays by writers who are the mothers of sons comprise this collection edited by Andrea J. Buchanan. (Buchanan, herself the mother of a boy and girl, contributed the eponymous essay "It's a Boy!") The essays are divided among four sections, which, briefly put, explore topics related to "prenatal boy apprehension," the "otherness" of boys, gender expectations, and the transition of boys to manhood. Some of the essays are humorous, some poignant, some thoughtful, and readers will undoubtedly have their own favorites. But there really isn't a clunker in the bunch.

Boys are famous for having penises, of course, and they come in two basic styles.Among the more affecting essays in the collection are Susan Ito's "Samuel," about the baby boy she was forced to abort only two weeks before he would have been viable, and Susan O'Doherty's "The Velvet Underground," in which the author chronicles the lesser heartbreak of her son's emotional scarring at the hands of his insensitive playmates. Jacquelyn Mitchard's reflections on her son's transition to manhood ("The Day He Was Taller") are unexpectedly poignant, while Jennifer Lauck's "It Takes a Village" was simply chilling--in fact unputdownable.

Catherine Newman touches on the subjects of gender expectations and homosexuality in her sweet, amusing essay "Pretty Baby." She writes about the various reactions people have to seeing her son wearing his favorite color, bright pink:

"But here's where I get confused--simple pinheaded bigotry aside. If 'pink' and 'gay' go together like Froot Loops and Toucan Sam, is pink imagined to be the effect of gayness? Or its cause?  Because if it's the former--if pink is the mere expression of some extant essential gayness--well then, what's the point of worrying about it? It's a fait accompli, so pour me a glass of champagne, pop in a Barbra Streisand movie, and let's celebrate. But if it's taken instead to be the cause, then how, exactly does pink make a boy gay? Does he grow up to be a pink-wearing adult, at which point other men--woops!--mistake him for a Victoria's Secret model and hit on him by accident and, well, one thing leads to another, when in Rome, etc.?"

Boys are famous for having penises, of course, and they come in two basic styles. In her amusing essay "Making the Cut" Jamie Pearson recounts the arguments she and her husband had over the circumcision question prior to her son's birth: "I'd always felt more or less confident that Rich would come around to my point of view eventually, but now I knew exactly how to convince him. I'd simply portray uncut penises as mainstream, play up the frequent sex angle, and suppress the unconfirmed blowjob allegation."

Among the more thought provoking essays--because you probably never thought about the issue it raises before--is Katie  Kaput's "Things You Can't Teach." She writes about the peculiar difficulties she faces as a transsexual girl with a son who might or might not be--not that there's anything wrong with it--"light in the diapers." Kaput is keenly aware of the likelihood that any non-straight behavior exhibited by her son will be blamed on her. But she learns that her son "far from being an empty vessel for my unintentional brainwashing vibes, was his own little guy." It's a simple truth so many of the mothers in this book have been happy to learn from their children.

In addition to the authors mentioned above, It's a Boy contains essays by the following: Stephany Aulenback, Karen E. Bender, Kathryn Black, Robin Bradford, Gayle Brandeis, Faulkner Fox, Katie Allison Granju, Ona Gritz, Gwendolen Gross, Melanie Lynne Hauser (see my review of her book Confessions of Super Mom), Marrit Ingman, Suzanne Kamata, Caroline Leavitt, Jody Mace, Jennifer Margulis, Marjorie Osterhout, Lisa Peet, Jodi Picoult, Maura Rhodes, Rochelle Shapiro (see my review of her book Miriam the Medium), Kate Staples, and Marion Wink.

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Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.