I'm re-reading this article from The Atlantic, about Annie Dillard and her writings - The Thoreau of the Suburb. I read the article while the afterthoughts of my recent readings was slushing around in my brain. Without quite being that conscious of it - although, perhaps being subconsciously aware of it - I have been picking up books related to the idea of women and retreat and journey. I recently read Rebecca Solnit's Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness, where she mentioned the bizarre controversy about Thoreau's laundry: did Thoreau's sister do his laundry? (She probably did. *gasp*) I'm re-reading Cheryl Strayed's Wild, and that has been interesting, including reading about the controversy that arose that some of Strayed's worse critics seem to object to her casualness with her sexuality in the book. (Why is it even an issue?)
Which amused me (and annoyed me a little) when I read that Annie Dillard had considered writing her book in a male's voice, because she had the idea that readers could not reconcile with the idea that a female would venture "into the wild".
“It’s impossible to imagine another situation where you can’t write a book ’cause you weren’t born with a penis,” wrote Dillard in her journal. “Except maybe Life With My Penis.”
Somehow, reading this, I thought, "She wields a pen". Sometimes I have no idea why I think the thoughts I do. But I do. The whole idea that one type of narrative is more gender-appropriate than another is sadly archaic, yet persistent. Even as Cheryl Strayed made her journey (and oh, how she suffered along the way) hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail, she's constantly behind reminded of how she was a woman, and how strange it was for a woman to do this. Perhaps this is why her book is so important, and it so speaks to me, for all the heartbreaking moments inside it. This is too, a woman's narrative.
Anyway, on an off-tangent note, I will end this post with First Aid Kit's cover of "Walk Unafraid" - taken from the "Wild" movie soundtrack. Catch it if you can. Reese Witherspoon is wonderful in the movie.