Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

Completion Date: March 4, 2011
Reason for Reading: Reading Swap List from Ana

Tender Morsels took me three tries to get through. I read the first chapter twice and then didn't read any further. It's a book you sort of have to be in the mood for, and I never seemed to be in the right mood. When Heather told me she had read it and liked it, I decided to try one more time and see what happened. It was well worth it! It's an amazing book, but it can be hard to read at times. I am still glad that I did.

This is the second half of a buddy review with Heather from A Capricious Reader. To read the first part, head over to her blog!

Heather: Good point. I suppose I’m more of a realist, a “deal with it now, not later,” kind of person but you’re right, she did well in showing that escaping your troubles isn’t always the best thing, which it isn’t. And you’re right, there are many days I want to escape!

What did you think of the way Lanagan depicted men?

Kelly: Yes, but I just escape into a book or a movie... Or in my own dream world, go on a trip! Those are escape methods in this society.

hm, weirdly enough I never even thought about the men except when they did something really horrible, which I guess happened fairly often. Otherwise, they were just kind of there. There were a couple nice ones, but otherwise... Not a good story for men. She sort of gives the impression she doesn’t like them very much, but that might be reading too much into it. Whatever the case, they did pretty much every horrible act you can think of during the course of the book. A few of the things that happened are pretty graphic and I try not to think about too much...

Did you think she went too far, or do you think it all works out?

Heather: I agree, the men were just...there. There was the one kind, decent man, but for the most part they were all dirty-minded, dirty-acting, greedy, juvenile characters. She does give the impression she doesn’t like them very much. For the story she as telling, with the fairytale techniques, I don’t think she went too far. It felt necessary to me.

I don’t think we can discuss Tender Morsels without mentioning the controversy with Bitch Magazine. What do you think of that snafoo and the allegations that Tender Morsels is validating characters who use rape as an act of vengeance?

Kelly: That’s a good question... I heard of the controversy a bit, but I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to the blogging world at that moment in time. I brushed up on the details a bit before answering this question and have been sitting here trying to get my thoughts in order. First of all, I think the fact that it was taken off the list because of one negative comment was a bit of an overreaction. The list is just a suggestion to get you started, so there is no obligation to read and love every book. You don’t even have to agree with the books being on there. It was just one opinion out of many.

While I don’t think that the book really does use rape as an act of vengeance, I can see how people can interpret it that way. I just didn’t feel that the book had to wax poetical on how bad everyone in the book felt about what had happened. They had their horrified moments and then the book moved on. It also didn’t show the offenders in the first place feeling badly for the initial rape and no one was up in arms about that. I just think that some things are shown so much that people have become almost used to it, but other things are not shown as much and so they have more of an affect. I think it was very empowering that something was actually done to people that otherwise would have gotten away with it. That does not mean I entirely agree with what it was, but I also don’t think the book should have been taken off the list. Does this even make sense? What do you think about it?

Heather: I think I get what you’re saying. I also can see where people would see it as “rape as vengeance.” It really was, but I don’t see that as a good excuse to remove it from the list. Urdda, whether she meant to or not, got her mother’s revenge, in the same manner her mother was attacked. While I don’t in any way condone revenge, I can understand why some would want it. And I agree that is was empowering that something was actually done to the people who would have gotten away with it. How many times do we hear that a ‘bad so-and-so’ should have the same thing done to him? I hear it all the time! “Give them a taste of their own medicine” and what not. And people should be punished when they do something wrong; why not a taste of what they dished out? Might would curtail a little violence.... But anyway, I definitely do not think the book should have been taken off the list. On the bright side, it brought a lot of attention to the book it might not have otherwise got and it helped push me to read it!

So, any final thoughts?

Kelly: And by you really enjoying it, I finally got around to reading it! Well, that and Ana putting it on my reading swap list. I think we covered most things. I am really glad I read and enjoyed this book. Thanks for reviewing it with me!

Thanks, Ana, for bringing this book to my attention in the first place and then challenging me to finally read it!!

(Off-topic: I put pictures in my post yesterday and had fun, so I thought I might try and get a bit more creative... What do you think?)


  1. yay! You're most welcome :D

    I honestly didn't feel that the novel as a whole was unfair or overtly negative towards men. Yes, there are men who do horrible things in it, but then again, the same goes for the real world. And there are enough positive male characters to balance it out. I think that more than anything else, the novel denounces a culture of rough masculinity that paints all men with the same brush, and shows how even individual men who doesn't fit into it suffer.

    I enjoyed reading both of your thoughts on the whole Bitch debatable. I don't agree with the interpretation that it endorses the use of rape as revenge either (endorsing being of course completely different from depicting). It's funny how nobody seemed to mention that Urdda does it in her sleep, which is VERY different from a conscious, deliberate act. I actually loved how that whole aspect of the story worked as an acknowledgement of her right to feel extreme anger, which is something that so often seems to be taken away from survivors of sexual violence (or in this case their children).

    Anyway, I really find the whole idea that the book endorses an eye-for-an-eye justice system more than a bit on the shallow, lazy reading side. But as Justine Larbalestier said so well, this is definitely an important conversation to have. My favourite post on the topic is this one. I wish I'd written it myself :P

  2. Argh. *debacle :P One day I WILL write a typo free comment. Just wait and see :P

  3. I've been wanting to read this ever since Ana's review and have found it in my local library...victory!

    It does indeed sound like the kind of book I would need to be in the right frame of mind for. Great review, thanks.

  4. Another Book Blog, just starting, take a look


  5. Sounds interesting and if it's an Aus author I should be able to find it here.

    I love the addition of images to posts and often use them myself.

  6. I've wanted to read this for a long time and I actually checked it out from the library but never read it!

  7. Because of Ana's review this book has been on my radar also. I've had it out from the library last year, but like you, found I couldn't read it then. You give me hope that one day I will be able to! And enjoy it, also :-) like Ana's review does!

    It sounds like you had fun sharing the review too, these are fun to read!

  8. *Ana: You raise some interesting points and I think I can see your side for the most part. I have typos all the time, myself. I should really get better at rereading. Sometimes as things are posting I will notice I have one, but it is too late!

    *mariel: I hope you like it!

    *Skelton: Welcome to the blogging world!

    *Cat: Yes, she is Australian, so should be pretty easy to track down a copy.

    *Staci: It took me a while to get around to it, but I had to be in the right mood and frame of mind.

    *Susan: I hope you come to a point where you can enjoy this book!


Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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