The Female Man

The Female Man is a hard, but an intriguing novel to read. I liked that Russ decided to not just be normal and use one female character, but use four women. She is showing the lives and roles of four women across four alternative times.

What I found the most difficult, so far, is understanding the smaller paragraphs.There is not enough ‘meat’ in the paragraphs for me to take anything from it. The longer paragraphs, on the other hand, were easier to read and understand because they exposed more information to us, like names. At the start of reading, not going to lie, I was completely lost. I had no idea who was talking or where they were. The way Russ wrote this novel made it easy to understand what was going on, yet the jumping from timezone to timezone is where I became lost. I am still a bit confused as to where Janet ended up. I know she landed in Jeannine’s time. Yet she was hanging out with both Jeannine and Joanna in a limousine. I’m pretty sure that really happened. Oops.

Farther into the reading I was able to somewhat understand who was talking. What I found refreshing was that I felt that the narrators were addressing me. They were speaking to me, making me become more engrossed in the reading. For example at the beginning of Part II a character we still haven’t met, Jael, addressed us directly. It was interesting that Russ decided to write her novel in this way. Different, but fascinating.

I’m excited and nervous to continue on reading.


3 responses to “The Female Man

  1. With those smaller paragraphs, you might want to focus more on effect than content. Every paragraph supports another, so to figure out the content, look at the larger context. But you should also ask yourself: why is this paragraph so short? Why is this one sentence in isolation? What’s the effect on you as a reader? Does this punctuate or highlight a particular point? Does it interrupt the flow of the piece? Why might that be desirable? Authors make structural choices as well as narrative ones, so pay attention to the way Russ puts this story together, as well as what is going on within it. (Yeah yeah, easier said than done — but it’s one part of what makes this story do what it does, so worth the effort.)


  2. Don’t worry for a second about feeling lost! If you read my blog post, I felt equally as confused about having to place who is where and when is this happening. That being said though, doesn’t the scattered nature of the narration say so much about the content of the book? Plus, this different style is most intriguing.


  3. I also thought that it was really cool how the characters, and Joanna herself, at times directly talk to the reader. I think that one of the simple purposes of the smaller paragraphs is simply to shock the reader out of their comfort zone and keep them in the state of reading a SF novel. It seems like they occur right after longer paragraphs so as to reawaken that sense of other worldliness right as the reader is beginning to get comfortable.


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