Archive for May, 2021

Natalie’s review of “Virgins always bleed”

This was a treat to read.

This author has the feel of a modern, Ethiopian Jane Austen. The storytelling is witty and sardonic. It is deeply sincere, and almost eager in moments. The plot is grounded in nitty gritty of real life: the minutiae of family life, petty social interactions, overbearing aunties, important shit that happens at bus stops. As the author describes it, it is “A ‘culturally dense’ love story (between a man and a woman, between a woman and her community, between a country and its people) back when men wrote love letters and women could not accept a stick of gum without questioning its implication.”

But then the story moves past the point where we left off Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, and this is where it begins to feel like The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante. It is comprehensively, indulgently obsessed with the inner life of the female protagonist, letting the reader really live in her head and heart and body. I connected to soooooo much of it as a person who was once deeply religious and had to navigate the absolute minefield of dating and physical intimacy with all the voices of religion and society shouting over my own thoughts and opinions. I love writers that can use very specific characters and context to talk about universal experiences. Tilahun does that masterfully.

And the experience that she tells is a TRUE one. None of the glamour and enchantment of a fairy tale, but the reality of romance being all tangled up in culture and patriarchy and violence. These pages give us the inner dialogue of countless women who have stayed with a guy who mistreats or abuses her, who wonder if they should leave, why they are staying, why they let the bad behavior get under their skin.

Why indeed when she knows she’d take what he said, bury it somewhere she can’t revisit it, and continue to be with him.

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May 11, 2021 at 9:59 am Leave a comment


The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

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"I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." - Antonio Salieri, from the movie "Amadeus"

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