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We Were Witches Spurred on by nineties “family values” campaigns and determined to better herself through education a teen mom talks her way into college Disgusted by an overabundance of phallocratic narratives and Freytag’s pyramid she turns to a subcultural canon of resistance and failure Wryly riffing on feminist literary tropes it documents the survival of a demonized single mother figuring things out Maybe this could be my new genre the memoirist’s novel My words could form a magical spell like an alchemical furnace built with the conscious intention of transmuting shame into power Wow I don’t think I’ve ever read anything uite like We Were Witches It’s part memoir since the main character is named Ariel Gore and has many of the same life experiences as Ariel has had in real life But it’s also part fiction with different elements of magical realism and fairytales And there’s also an inclusion of feminist history and the works of different prominent feminist writers Sometimes I don’t like it when a book uses to many uotes from other authors Occasionally it can come off as pretentious if it’s a character who is trying to show how smart they are by reciting things But in this case I think it really worked because the uotes were showing what Ariel was reading on her journey learning about feminism Much of the story is about Ariel’s life as a teenage mother and the shame that society places on her because of that She is working hard to provide for her daughter and continue her education but is still looked down upon by so many people and institutions There are so many serious topics handled in this novel from violence against women to poverty and ueer female sexuality and I think they were all handled wonderfully The writing was also gorgeous There were so many uotes that jumped out at me And the way she used fairytale stories and magical realism gave the book an interesting flow This is the first thing I’ve ever read by Ariel Gore but I definitely want to check out of her work It's the center of the story told by Atlas of the Human Heart and the End of Eve It's magical realist magick al and real It's a woman sweeping out her own path glorious and bright Read it Read them allI find Ariel's narrative voice incredibly natural yet affecting; after I read her books and I read them repeatedly my thoughts move differently When I finished this one I made a rather fussy recipe but as I did so under the influence of this book I felt I was working a spell Each of these tiny fragrant leaves of thyme is an appreciation of joy This mound of feathery grated Brussels sprouts is a wish for abundance The violence of coaxing the juice from this sweet lemon means I have to be strong And I crush these hazelnuts just enough so that they can be transformed This is a recipe but it is also hope Especially thankful for the reading list in the back of the book Thank you for making me smarter and softer at the same time Ariel Honest real and full of magic A story of a single mother a woman getting her education a woman following the magic in a world with pandemic violence against women I am going to be recommending We Were Witches to everyone I was wary of this book because it initially read like some of the disjointed experimental fiction sub memoir I tried to write in college which automatically made me think it was going to be bad But thankfully Ariel Gore is a much MUCH better writer than I and I ended up devouring this largely in one sitting It feels particularly timely considering the reemergence of witchcraft into pop culture feminism and it being October witching month Gore's text is labeled a novel and that is intentional she wants us to know that the idea of reality doesn't so much matter within the confines of this book Indeed there are delightful moments of magical realism throughout We Were Witches is both symmetrical in its use of theme and symbolism and asymmetrical it doesn't succumb to the rising and falling plot phallus that Gore references but instead builds and builds and builds upon itself I was particularly entranced by Gore's snarky re telling of the fairytale of Rapunzel just one of the many times throughout this book when Gore both punctured me with the truth of what she said and made me laugh out loud at the same time The chapters near the end about the normalization and erasure of violence against women are also extremely well done

  • Paperback
  • 292 pages
  • We Were Witches
  • Ariel Gore
  • English
  • 06 October 2015
  • 9781558614338

About the Author: Ariel Gore

ARIEL GORE is the author of We Were Witches The Feminist Press 2017 The End of Eve Hawthorne Books 2014 and numerous other books on parenting the novel The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show the memoir Atlas of the Human Heart and the writer’s guide How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead Farrar Straus and Giroux will publish Bluebird Women and the New Psychology of Happi


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