Transgressive Women: How Bad Covers And Sexism Threaten All Of Literature

Look at this book:

'The Rehearsal' by Eleanor Catton

Mentally project said book onto a shelf as you walk by. Assume your eyes flicker to it. Does it appeal? Would you reach up (in my hypothetical situation, you are short or the shelf is high) to read the back copy, maybe flick through the pages?

If you answered yes, you and I differ. My girlfriend recommended the book to me with great enthusiasm, saying it was the exact kind of writing I would enjoy. A quick Google brought up that cover. Surely this was emphatically not my kind of book. This was not even "proper" literature. A woman (only seen from the neck down) all in green, leaning back against a row of cabinets. Cliche upon cliche; I thought of that dreaded epithet: "Chick-Lit". Not only a mass-marketed pulpy waste of time, but one specifically designed not to appeal to my gender. There's nothing inherently wrong with any genre, even teen supernatural romance, but with so few years to spend cracking spines (of books) and tearing through pages (again, in books. Not ushers), could I really waste time attempting a book like this?

Authors are swaddled together with no regard to plot, themes, character or prose style. All they have in common is their gender.

Now, I'm amplifying my snobbery a little. All these thoughts were knee-jerk, occurring in the five seconds after first seeing this cover. "Don't judge a book by its cover" – one of the cliches that is so cliched, most people would wince if anyone in their vicinity offered it as serious food for thought. Even so, what a hard habit to break.

I read Eleanor Catton's book. It's one of the most haunting novels I've read in the last year. A sex scandal is a catalyst for a strange and charged friendship between two girls at an Australian school. Teenagers become aware of their bodies, the potency of said bodies, and the borders between reality and performance begin to drain. As all of this culminates, the all-knowing saxophone teacher plays her students off each other, her intentions mysterious and possibly malevolent. It's a wonderful novel. Eleanor Catton was in her early twenties when she wrote this for her Master's thesis. Damn her. The chasm between what I expected from this book, with its trite and inappropriate cover (though how, having heard a rough synopsis, would you capture the novel in an appealing and original image?) highlighted a real problem: many women writers are writing incredible books, boundary pushing and transgressive in the real sense, but are left spiraling out of reach from readers who would love their work. This is a well-documented problem, but it's easy to fall into that old cognitive trap: I'm a diligent reader, knowledgeable of such things. That won't happen to me. The Rehearsal revealed my foolishness.

It's a great book, and I urge you to give it a try. The US cover is a little better but still hardly representative of the greatness within:

'The Rehearsal' by Eleanor Catton

This is an issue affecting fiction written by women. The reasons are many, intricate and explained far better that I could hope to by more learned people. Meg Wolitzer, herself a well-respected novelist with "chick-lit" covers, writes at length about this categorization of literary writers cast down into the limbo of "women's fiction". Authors are swaddled together with no regard to plot, themes, character or prose style. All they have in common is their gender. The covers are ambassadors of this faux-taxonomy, presumably disregarding the contents in a desperate scrabble to filch the odd susceptible consumer looking for a light read. As Wolitzer puts it:

These covers might as well have a hex sign slapped on them, along with the words: “Stay away, men! Go read Cormac ­McCarthy instead!

A brief caveat: these issues are not new or undiscussed. I don't want this to be the patronizing ramblings of a white middle-class man who's discovered that, hey, the other gender can write too. Obviously. A large network of reasons and factors are at play here, far more than there is room for in this piece. What matters is our imagining ourselves as above this somehow.

With this in mind, what are we missing? Furthermore, it's impossible to read everything anyway. Who cares?

Here is something that embarrasses me: I'm a white middle-class male with liberal views and hope to be devoid of bigotry: yet the ratio of books by male to female authors is roughly 9:1. Certainly this is not intentional. In trying to think out how exactly my reading was so lopsided, one thought occurred to me: I've always loved the rambling, nonlinear and baggy novels, the magnum opuses like Gravity's Rainbow, 2666 and Ulysses. Those have always been the glorious pinnacles of literature for me. And, foolishly, I couldn't name a single woman writer who delivered these kinds of things. Not that I'd been looking. I didn't think I needed to.

In fact, I can only think of one female-authored work in the vein of the above, large experimental works: Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook- that obscure work that, uh, is on almost every list of greatest novels and inspired generations of women in the sixties and beyond. The one that changes time, characters and modes of storytelling between chapters. Communism, loneliness, masculinity and artistic failure all invoked perfectly. Achingly beautiful prose, both true to life and dreamlike. This book that everyone called a masterpiece fifty years ago and are still calling a masterpiece has turned out to be a masterpiece. Doris Lessing is hugely well-respected (as is this book, usually considered her greatest) and won the Nobel Prize in 2007. Despite this, I had never attempted this book, even though it exactly matched the criteria for books I love.

This is exactly the problem with fiction by women being hamstrung by poor covers and marketing. It goes beyond us, the readers, being refused quality books. The Golden Notebook is the anomaly, a great ambitious and cerebral book that slipped through. It is assumed that, for whatever reason, you will not buy a "grand opus" if it is by a woman. Regardless of your gender, if you are a decent human being that should bother you. Whatever your personal views and beliefs, you are being treated as if you are sexist. Furthermore, what is signified by the term "chick-lit"? I think of pink and glitter, shopping and shoes spoke of in rhapsodic hyperbole, and the trials of attracting and dating men. Women: this is what your culture thinks defines you. This is your quick summary, how you'd be labeled on the bottle.

Follow it down the rabbit-hole, and the concern about bad book covers traces back to the central issue that, for all recent strides, bullshit stereotypes – harmful stereotypes – still exist. And crap begets crap. What great works can arise if books by women are only sold to an imagined female reader, only interested in "women's things"? If great novels, ambitious and daring, are neutered and forced to compromise or pray for readership on a tiny press? Again: these books do exist. They're just hidden behind ugly covers and cowardly marketing.

But it needs to go further. Otherwise there can be no hope for the true transgressive woman writer, the female Georges Bataille or William Burroughs. Naturally, there are plenty of examples of woman writers that do transgress and take literature to new and exciting terrains. (One even teaches here; the supremely amazing author Lidia Yuknavitch.) Yet, for now, the canon is rarely altered. Doris Lessing's masterwork is accepted, but few other similarly ambitious works make the cut. Gertrude Stein might hover around the fringes. Kathy Acker's work has a devout following, but is rarely esteemed to the levels of her male equivalents.

As I said, these books are out there. I've spent the last few months seeking them. Real eerie and outlandish works by women that, while finding much-deserved fans, may often be ignored by the wider readership. Amelia Gray's Threats (justifiably gaining momentum – and look at that awesome cover!) unsettles with a few choice sinister words scrawled on paper, and the mental decay of a recent widower (or is he?). Ali Smith's There But For The dissects the nature of fame, loneliness and connectivity in a strange novel about a dinner party guest who locks himself in the spare bedroom and refuses to leave. Books like these deserve to be read.  Right now I'm 100 pages into Nicola Barker's Darkmans. A young boy is possessed by the ghost of a court jester and THAT'S NOT JUST HAPPENING IN THE BACKGROUND. I'm in love.

To repeat: I'm not an expert. Nor do I have answers. I'm merely hoping that my unintentional ignorance serves as a suggestion, and a warning. By their nature, experimental and strange books are marginalized enough. If transgressive fiction has a duty to go beyond literature and affect the real world then, here, please, let it transgress.

Photo from PrintMag

Image of The Rehearsal: A Novel
Author: Eleanor Catton
Price:
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books (2010)
Binding: Hardcover, 320 pages
Image of The Golden Notebook: A Novel
Author: Doris Lessing
Price: $11.94
Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics (2008)
Binding: Paperback, 688 pages
Image of There But For The: A Novel
Author: Ali Smith
Price: $17.31
Publisher: Pantheon (2011)
Binding: Hardcover, 256 pages
Image of Threats: A Novel
Author: Amelia Gray
Price: $9.28
Publisher: FSG Originals (2012)
Binding: Paperback, 288 pages
Image of Darkmans
Author: Nicola Barker
Price: $14.14
Publisher: Harper Perennial (2007)
Binding: Paperback, 848 pages
Jack Joslin

Column by Jack Joslin

Jack is a graduate of the University of Warwick. His current project is a surreal biography of the band Paris and the Hiltons. He lives in the UK, where he founded the netlabel Portnoy Records. He can't juggle yet, but really is trying very hard. Often he tells people he's ten feet tall, even when they're standing in front of him, which makes for awkward pauses. He writes incoherent thoughts and opinions at the International Society of Ontolinguists.

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Comments

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books August 9, 2012 - 12:16pm

It's funny. I know you said you don't want to come across as a white middle class male just "figuring it out", but I've noticed when women authors voice these kind of complaints and concerns, we get tuned out. Inevitably the people around us list the female authors that have success or that don't get shelved in women's lit and/or they imply (however obliquely) that we are making future excuses not to succeed. 

It's actually kind of nice to see a man pointing these things out, rather than being oblivious or defensive.

AnnieNeugebauer's picture
AnnieNeugebauer from Texas August 9, 2012 - 12:38pm

I think this is a thoughtful, emotionally honest, well-written piece. And it is nice to hear it from a man. Ironically, male critics' (or authors, bloggers, reviewers, etc.) opinions are usually more highly esteemed -- just like their books -- so in spite of how infuriating those circumstances are to female authors, men standing up for women's equality is indeed a great step.

Dennis's picture
Admin
Dennis from Hollywood is reading The Bone Clocks August 9, 2012 - 1:20pm

This was a great article, Jack.  If only I could get you to write more of them.  ;)

Keep it up!

Irvine Black's picture
Irvine Black from Canterbury, UK is reading Infinite Jest August 9, 2012 - 1:22pm

"I've always loved the rambling, nonlinear and baggy novels, the magnum opuses like Gravity's Rainbow, 2666 and Ulysses. Those have always been the glorious pinnacles of literature for me. And, foolishly, I couldn't name a single woman writer who delivered these kinds of things."

Zadie Smith?

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne August 9, 2012 - 1:30pm

This is a complicated thing. I've read a fair bit about it from a number of different perspectives, and it clearly indicates something being off-balance, but it's also frustrating. I don't even want to think about gender when I read a book, I want to think about the author, and there are a number of female authors who have defied my expectations based either on what they wrote or who I know that read them or the general opinion of them amongst my circles.

I think the problem lies more with publishers than anyone else. I don't consider myself bigoted (though I do have a tendency to prefer male authors), but I'm not going to go search through tons of chick-lit garbage just to find what might be a gem. Which I realize is a lot of what you're talking about here, the covers. But that doesn't make me feel bad or like I'm shirking my duty at all. If the publisher can't market to me, that doesn't make me an ignorant man, it just makes me someone with better ways to spend their time. Like reading books I suspect I'll like.

Recommendations here are so important. When someone recommends something to me, the cover isn't what I look at. Tell me about an amazing book written by a woman and I'll potentially be as excited as anyone before I've even seen the cover, and that's the way it should be.

Though to be honest with you, The Rehearsal is a pretty terrible name for a book. My guard would be up based on that alone, even with a great cover. Good titles are tough, I know, but "The _____" is about the least-compelling format there is, because it leaves you almost zero room to actually give a feel for the book, even just by way of atmosphere and connotation.

511Kinderheim's picture
511Kinderheim from Calgary, Alberta is reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman August 9, 2012 - 3:46pm

I love this article, because this is an ongoing fear I have as I write with the goal of one day being published. "Does this sound to much like teen romance? Too chick-lit?" "Would I sell better if I published under a gender-neutral pseudonym like J.K. Rowling?" Most men don't have to deal with these problems. They can write a thriller, add a relationship or romantic fling, and not automatically get knocked down to 'chick-lit'.

But speaking of transgressive female fiction, I just finished reading a novel by Natsuo Kirino, a Japanese feminist who writes dark, unsettling stories mostly surrounding a murder, from the perspective of Japanese culture and classist structure.

Jack's picture
Jack from England is reading texts of rejection from pretty ladies August 9, 2012 - 3:57pm

@SparrowStark and @AnnieNeugebauer : Thank you both for your kind words.

It can be a powerful thing, when people not part of a movement/group/demographic stand up for those within it. Anxiety does arise, though; in talking about something that's important, but ultimately not yours in the strictest sense, can occasionally smack of bandwagoning, or, worse, using a movement's struggle for the purpose of bolstering one's ego and/or image. My great worry was that I'd drop clangers and sound like a drunk uncle attempting txtspeak (except with more consequence). It's important for me to convey that I'm in no way an expert, but attempting to shine this light on matters literary.

@Dennis: Oh, you. *Blush*

@Adam: Never read her novels. Loved her essays. One of these days, etc etc.

@Michael: Exactly, an author should stand by their work and their work alone. Unfortunately, no matter how intelligent or aware or sophisticated a person is, we are ultimately led into dangerous ideological pits. A constant self-awareness and openness to change - meagre tools though they be, and put to impossible work - are essential. 

Publishes are at fault, but where does that go back to? What people buy. What people buy is dictated by what appeals to us. Which is decided by the publisher, and round and round we go. The problem is that things like this get entrenched, and ultimately stop literally half of all writers from their works being taken as seriously as they should. This results in fewer brave and interesting works getting sold. So publishers don't want to sell them like that. And it goes on. A cycle enforcing prejudice, bad in itself, and stops everyone from reading good books. It's been decided for you, and that's something we shouldn't be okay with.

And I agree about the name, though I'd struggle to think of something else. After reading it, the title seemed perfect. Reminded me of Tom McCarthy's Remainder, which I put off for ages because of that title. Eventually read it, not only loved the book but couldn't think of a better title. Sometimes the aptness of it comes afterwards.

Jack's picture
Jack from England is reading texts of rejection from pretty ladies August 9, 2012 - 4:03pm

@511Kinderheim: Oh, would that be "Out"? Great book. You're right, that's a perfect example of the kinds of books I meant. Extreme, but for a purpose. Wonderfully disturbing, but not exactly a "crime" book, so doesn't slide easily into categorization.

drea's picture
drea from Rural Alberta, Canada is reading between the lines August 9, 2012 - 4:19pm

Don't forget Katherine Dunn. 

 

 

 

Jack - I loved this piece. So many of the books you mention are being discussed in Lidia Yuknavitch's current LitReactor class (which you would love and is just not the same without you).  Also, congratulations on girlfriend retention. 

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words August 9, 2012 - 5:47pm

thanks for the recommendations - I'm always trying to find transgressive (or experimental, or something off the beaten path) female authors to close the gendre gap in my reading list.

Kathy Acker was my first love, Zsuzsi Gartner my most recent one.

Aleksandra Basińska's picture
Aleksandra Basińska August 9, 2012 - 6:20pm

Look up "Byatt Opętanie" in Google Images and guess why A.S. Byatt's brilliant Possession is not very popular, not to say: not read at all by men in Poland.

sameasiteverwas's picture
sameasiteverwas August 9, 2012 - 8:49pm

Interesting, thoughtful post. The Golden Notebook just shot to the top of my reading list for sure.

I'm interested particularly in the question of what makes a "good" cover vs. a "chick lit" cover. I agree that there are often obvious signs, but to what degree can the mere fact of having a woman on the cover of a book (in an non-overtly-sexualized depiction, anyway) pigeonhole said book as "chick lit"? That is to say, is there more bias in the beholder than just a reaction to the cliched signs of chick lit? 

In any case, as a woman who also guiltily admits to reading majority-male writers, I applaud your immersion into fiction written by women. 

Bekanator's picture
Bekanator from Kamloops, British Columbia is reading I'll Never Go Away Vol. II August 10, 2012 - 12:21am

I'm interested particularly in the question of what makes a "good" cover vs. a "chick lit" cover. I agree that there are often obvious signs, but to what degree can the mere fact of having a woman on the cover of a book (in an non-overtly-sexualized depiction, anyway) pigeonhole said book as "chick lit"? That is to say, is there more bias in the beholder than just a reaction to the cliched signs of chick lit?

This has always interested me as well, because it doesn't take very long a trip in the bookstore to realize that all the "Chick Lit" books looks the same. It's always the severed female in a particular scene. I think it all sort of links to that fairy tale fantasy all women as sold as young girls. Like, we (as in us ladies) have always wanted to be the princess and have always wanted to be swept off our feet by some handsome prince for no particular reason and get married and live on the Happily Ever After Train.

Even now that we're all grown up, that fantasy just kind of follows us around like we're still not living that dream life even though we've got jobs and we're living independently or married and having kids or drinking every night because that's pretty fantastic, right? Life still isn't good enough.

When you look at the success of Twilight and the rest of the teen romance genre that is so popular now (including 50 Shades of Grey), there's this running theme of a naive, relatively plain sort of female protagonist that all this fantastic stuff just happens to. It's a modern fairy tale, and it's what women are sold over and over and over and over and over.

I think that's the appeal of these chick lit covers, is that the model never really has a face, so we can put ourselves there. Even Stephanie Meyer "admitted" that she created Bella Swan as a plain character so the reader could insert themselves as the protagonist. Most chick lit books don't even have that much depth. It's just escapism. It's that place where dreams come true.

Women who enjoy chick lit know what to look for, because it's neatly packaged. You wouldn't even need to read the summary on the back of the book to care whether or not you'll enjoy the book. You just see the headless chick and cut and paste your face in there and it's off on another adventure with a happy ending.

The fact that some good stories are concealed in shitty chick lit covers is a shame, really. Just read this 2-star Amazon review on Holiday Reinhorn's short story collection, Big Cats:

I picked this up because the cover looked cool and i expected it to be full of fun, hip stories, but it wasn't like that at all. I am a fan of authors like sophie kinsella and love books like the nanny diaries and the devil wears prada. But if you like books like that this is not for you. All these stories are about looserish people with bizarre problems and none of them are very funny. If your looking for a fun summer read this book is not worth your time.

SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading terribly written student essays August 10, 2012 - 5:07am

All of this makes me really sad and I can admit that I've been drawn in by a pretty cover. I've purchased a book simply because I liked the shoes featured on the front (it was 80% off at Borders' closing sale) http://www.amazon.com/Love-Language-Cupidity-Romantic-Comedies/dp/1442403136/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1344588811&sr=1-3

I tend to read more female authors than male, because I took a lot of feminist themed literature courses. Ellen Hopkins, Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, Zora Neale Hurston, etc. Part of what makes me sad is knowing that I am a woman who wants to be published. A woman who likes flawed and broken characters, who make mistakes and mess up their lives. But I also like happy endings from time to time, a sort of reward for the hell I put them through. This has been one of my biggest issues. I don't want to market my book as romance, chick-lit, or women's fiction. It is a contemporary fiction. Period. Why are women forced into these categories? I'm going to stop ranting now. Just recieved another rejection letter yesterday morning and my nerves are a bit raw.

drea's picture
drea from Rural Alberta, Canada is reading between the lines August 10, 2012 - 9:55am

@Bekanator -all excellent points. Reading book reviews often puts me in mind of that scene in trainspotting where Renton drops the H down the loo and has to dive through all that shit; I just don't want to go there. The link you posted is exactly what I'm referring to. Poor mindless masses. 

@SammyB - don't despair. If you don't submit you won't get rejected, right? Have you read Monica Drake's Clown Girl? Talk about flawed and broken characters - I have never wanted a happy ending for a character as badly as I did for Sniffles. It is another great example of a book that doesn't read like conventional "chick lit," despite being written by a woman about a woman, AND the cover is not typical chick lit

Furthermore, the term "Chick-Lit" really does need to die, not only because gender bias has no place in literature - this is an artform that literally speaks for itself, but also because every book written about women by women runs the risk of being swept up with all the fluffy chick lit literary dust bunnies. Poorly written books should simply be known as Chap Crap (or some such cautionary moniker) and the decent work can go back to being referred to as literature. Stein is spinning revolutions in her grave. In her day, books were shelved by their spines vs. selected for the merits of their covers- such is the sad state of our age of information and the "hook" which every item requires to lure people into consuming, books included.  

Some readers will always judge books by their covers. 

 

Bekanator's picture
Bekanator from Kamloops, British Columbia is reading I'll Never Go Away Vol. II August 10, 2012 - 11:07am

But I also like happy endings from time to time, a sort of reward for the hell I put them through. This has been one of my biggest issues. I don't want to market my book as romance, chick-lit, or women's fiction. It is a contemporary fiction. Period.

@SammyB - I don't know a whole lot about the publishing industry, but when it comes to marketing for larger publishers, those people know how to do it. For the mainstream female reader, they just want that light fantasy, the beach read. A lot of the middle-aged women I work with enjoy mysteries with female leads. It's not quite as bad as "chick lit" but it's still...ugh.

I with more women were into reading books with more depth. Sadly, I feel when a book has a female lead and some kind of romantic plot (doesn't have to be the main story but it has to have some kind of larger feature in the book, plus a happy ending) then it's pretty much always sold with a chick-lit cover.

People just gravitate toward comforting stock photos, I suppose.

Monica Drake's Clown Girl is a great example of non chick-lit. It's like the only way out of that niche is to get really dark and really gritty until the mainstream mass gets uncomfortable.

Also, was that book you bought actually good? I'm just curious. I'd be interesting to read a bunch of different "chick-lit covered" books and see how many of them don't actually fit the stereotype of the chick lit novel. (Naive/ditzy girl + prince-like man + quirky shit + happy ending).

@drea - I'm glad you mentioned that scene of Trainspotting. It's the only one in the movie I really remember, apart from the baby on the ceiling scene.

April Victoria's picture
April Victoria from California is reading Mortal Ties by Eileen Wilks August 10, 2012 - 11:13am

I wish there was a larger version of the column header graphic. I can't really read it and it looks interesting!

 

Shared this on facebook and it's generating a lot of interesting conversation. Great article.

Scott Kimsey's picture
Scott Kimsey August 10, 2012 - 11:40am

Female author, experimental, non-linear, and you didn't check out Virginia Woolf? Try "To The Lighthouse." Nice book.

Amber Sutton's picture
Amber Sutton August 10, 2012 - 7:27pm

I thought we were beyond the days when women would have more success writing under male or gender-ambiguous pen names. It seems I'm sadly mistaken. :(

SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading terribly written student essays August 11, 2012 - 1:58am

@drea, you are absolutely correct. Going to continue sending out query letters. Maybe I should give in and market it as Women's Fiction? I don't know what to do. I need to read Clown Girl. Will add it to my list.

@Bekanator, I haven't read it yet. It was a YA book that I picked up to add to my classroom library. I keep books for students who forget their silent reading books. Haven't added it to the shelf yet, because I haven't read it. Looks like it will be pure fluff though. From what I undertand, it is two books in one. The description is something like this: Book 1 - a plain Jane pretends to be a foriegn exchange student and tries to win the heart of some guy named Julian. Book 2 - Some girl is trying to find romance in high school, which is virtually impossible. Due to this, she needs help from Cupid. Neither of those books are really my kind of thing, haha.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books August 12, 2012 - 4:49pm

I'm interested particularly in the question of what makes a "good" cover vs. a "chick lit" cover. I agree that there are often obvious signs, but to what degree can the mere fact of having a woman on the cover of a book (in an non-overtly-sexualized depiction, anyway) pigeonhole said book as "chick lit"? That is to say, is there more bias in the beholder than just a reaction to the cliched signs of chick lit?

Ah, but like Bek pointed out--all these  books DO look the same. They usually feature a shade of turquoise or equally non-threatening pastel (but NOT pink), a woman without a face (because she is an EVERY WOMAN! THIS COULD BE YOU!),  shoes (either on the woman or just THERE on the cover), and some metallic accents--not a lot, just enough.

And, you know, they're often shelved together.

Bias in the beholder? Well, yeah, I think that's what the article was getting at--but the publishers are doing that on purpose. They pour money into market research and design to get these covers "just so", it's not an accident that they all look alike. Its also probably not an accident that books by female authors often get the "chick lit" treatment in an effort to sell the books to female readers who may not read it if it were on a table display next to Chuck Palahniuk and Bret Easton Ellis.

And it goes deeper than all of this, sure. It's about a lot of things, but the cover art is definitely symptomatic of these things and does its fair share of damage.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books August 12, 2012 - 4:55pm

Oh, and when the faceless woman (THAT COULD BE YOU!) is not present, you get covers like these:
 

A stilleto! AND AND ENGAGEMENT RING! A REALLY BIG ENGAGEMENT RING!

It's jewelry! And a heart! And a big house!! ALL IN ONE!

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from Danville Virginia is reading Wide Sargasso Sea August 13, 2012 - 2:09am

I've just started reading Dorothy Richardson. Add her to the list!