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Aug 07, 2007



I couldn't put this book down. I think a lot of the reasons it resonated so well with me, you've all described above, particularly with regards to women and violence. I didn't have problems following the chapters and nor with picking up the series in the middle (I can't wait to read the first two books now).

"Girls are just never taught how to fight"---O hadn't thought about this really, but it's true. Perhaps that why I like Aud so much, she can do so much that I can't. I don't think it's hard to believe that a woman can fight like Aud, it's just a rare thing.

As for Kick and Aud's relationship in the future, I imagine a very bumpy road. But if Kick can forgive her after the cherry tree incident (one of the moments where I didn't like Aud) then perhaps it can work.


I think what really surprised me was that they talked about how women can't fight in this story - it was in fact a major topic. This sort of thing has been played for laughs before, but having someone like Aud get serious about why women can't fight and what they need to know is very unusual.

Our society just doesn't think about it much and yet the legacy of this notion - that women somehow "ask for it" because of their behavior or dress and deserve some level of abuse - has permeated human culture for generations. Look no further than the recent horrific honor killing that Joss Whedon wrote so eloquently about for evidence of that.

What if she had known how to fight back?

Nicola Griffith

'What if she'd known how to fight back?' Well, it all depends on what 'knowing' means. I speak from personal experience when I say that learning how to make a fist doesn't mean one knows how to feel righteous about using it. I got badly beaten many years ago simply because I couldn't bring myself to actually use the martial arts I'd learnt. (For the whole story listen to my To the Best of Our Knowledge interview--you can get there via the audio page on my website--or read a more detailed version in my memoir And Now We Are Going to Have a Party, which you can preview at Payseur and Schmidt's site.) It takes serious personal internal reschooling to get past the brainwashing women--just about all women, I think, all over the world--are subject to from birth.

Nicola Griffith

Meghan: Yep, I know what you mean about not finding other women to read about who have learnt to take the safeties off. There are women out there--very few, sigh--but I haven't seen anyone write about them. And televisually we get La Femme Nikita, and Buffy and Xena who all spent as much time positioning themselves for the light as believably walloping other people. When TBP first came out, I got lots of email from men saying, 'Well, clearly this is just a man in girl's clothes' but nothing like that from women. Oh, lots of 'Eew, that's *scary* (or *wrong*') comments, but nothing to suggest girls can't really do that.

Colleen: I'm chuffed that you picked up on the throwback nature of the prostitute scene. Aud really was regressing here, in total denial of her real feelings (for Kick, about Julia, about her own vulnerability).

Or perhaps you were just sensing my own ambivalence. I took that scene out and reinstated it so many times I got dizzy. The scene that might have gone in there instead was a moment with Aud and her mother, all about grief and love. But it was difficult to make it work with the double narrative; it pulled things off balance. If anyone's interested, I could try to find the alternate scenes and post them on my website.

And the whole notion of Aud being 'one of the most human characters' you've read in ages pleases me (almost) beyond speech. I've wanted ever since the beginning for Aud to be human, to embody all those things in our society that are normally divided: man/woman, strong/vulnerable, mind/body. I want her to be whole and human. Thank you.

And, oh, Gwenda, don't get me started on genre... It's been the bane of my writing career.

As for Megan/Bookdwarf's comment about the cherry tree: yes, Aud can be a real pill. That cherry tree scene was the one that almost all my early readers wanted me to pull. No, I said, and folded my arms,! For a while I didn't know why, I just knew it had to be there; Aud had to fuck up horribly in that gotta-be-in-control way. Her relationship with Kick had to be at risk. (And, yes, I think their relationship road will be bumpy. I have several scenes in my head already about that. I just don't know when I'll write them.)


Part of why the ATL scenes were so appealing to me - and read as so unique - was because they were about "knowing how to fight back". I agree with you Nicola - I don't think knowing how to make fist accounts for much (although it is clearly part of the battle). You have to be willing to fight back. That's one of the things you wrote about so well in those scenes with the other women characters in ATL and something that I thought was so relevant about their discussions. So many times we read about people (mostly women or children) who are led away when they could have fought/escaped but didn't know how - or maybe didn't know they could. This is something that I just don't think is explored enough in literature, let alone in real life.

As I said in the discussion, maybe if I'd read the earlier books then that hotel scene with the prostitute would have worked better as part of Aud's evolution - but coming at the book on its own it just seemed out of place for me. (But only for me...don't read too much into my thoughts!)

And yes, her humanity shined through to me from start to finish. And that's why I think she and Kick have a chance - they are both so good at being human.

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