Unclean Books for Women and Girls

Article by Danielle

Although feminists have been busily writing books for a very long time, it’s still a bit difficult to find serious literature by women with protagonists who push the boundaries of ‘acceptable’ female behavior. If you’re tired of perfect little angels, sweet young ladies, and good housewives populating your fiction, here are a few (somewhat shocking! somewhat indecent!) books that may empower you to subvert a few gender norms of your own. -Danielle

The Flamethrowers Cover Image
ISBN: 9781439142011
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - January 14th, 2014

Reno, the fierce, unforgettable protagonist of Kushner’s latest novel, certainly isn’t your average girl. She races motorcycles on the Nevada salt flats. She moves to gritty 1970s New York City alone to pursue her lofty artistic ambitions. She becomes embroiled in a student revolt in Rome. It may be hard to believe that one girl could do so much living in such a short span of narrative time, but these were the heady Seventies, and Kushner develops Reno’s character so well that it sometimes seems you could reach out and touch her. An intellectually rigorous and engrossing novel that is one of my favorites of 2013 so far.

Dora: A Headcase Cover Image
By Lidia Yuknavitch, Chuck Palahniuk (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780983477570
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Hawthorne Books - August 7th, 2012

I’ve reviewed this book before but it bears mention again here. Yuknavitch has written a female protagonist so uncontrollable, so filthy, and so rebellious that I can only describe her as an even more savage female Holden Caulfield. Ida’s fury at the hypocritical adult world around her is focused on her shrink, Siggy, who (of course) is based on the Sigmund Freud. Despite her ‘pathology’, Dora’s voice is clear, pissed off, and absolutely brilliant. This first novel captures the uncomfortable, claustrophobic intensity of a young woman on the verge.

The Orange Eats Creeps Cover Image
By Grace Krilanovich, Steve Erickson (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780982015186
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Two Dollar Radio - September 7th, 2010

This hallucinatory, terrifying little novel follows a band of meth-addicted, homeless, sexually crazed teen vampires as they rage through a Pacific Northwest hellscape, looking for victims and cheap thrills. The plot is simple - the unnamed female protagonist is the product of foster care, and takes to the streets in an effort to find her long lost foster sister. The book lurches along like a queasy fever dream, but Krilanovich’s writing is white-hot and self-assured. Certainly not for the faint of heart!

Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls Cover Image
ISBN: 9780984213320
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Starcherone Books - October 1st, 2010

You may already have heard about Nutting’s latest, the truly, deeply scandalous TAMPA, but I’m currently a zealot for her 2010 story collection. Nutting names each of her very short stories after a job, either real or imagined, that an unnamed female protagonist undertakes. Some of the stories are silly, some sad, some simply bizarre, but each imagines a woman in an unusual position and unpacks her relationship to it, providing brilliant, irreverent perspectives on what it means to be a woman in every walk of life.

How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250032447
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - June 25th, 2013

This novel/memoir/philosophical treatise is our latest - and perhaps most unruly ever - Brazos Book Club pick. The novel follows a writer named Sheila as she attempts to understand how she should live her life as a woman, an artist, and a citizen in the 21st century. It might sound dry, but it’s anything but! Heti’s writing is bursting with life, verve, and maniacal energy, and has been compared to the work of Henry Miller, perhaps because of its frank, even shocking treatment of sexuality.

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