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The Refrigerator Monologues Hardcover – June 6, 2017
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"This is Valente at her sharpest and most pointed, ably assisted by illustrations from comics artist Annie Wu (Black Canary)."
(-- Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW))
"Valente proves her adroitness with imagery and emotion in this extraordinary book of linked stories." (-- Library Journal (STARRED REVIEW))
“In this novella, the superhero girlfriend gets to tell her own version of events in the afterlife. The women’s voices are strong: bitter and full of pain, yet steel-tipped in sarcasm and humor.” (-- The Washington Post)
""The real fun of The Refrigerator Monologues comes from Valente’s hyper-stylized voice, inflected by turns with pop, jazz, and opera as she moves from heroine to heroine, genre to genre. It’s by turns bitingly sarcastic and wistfully regretful, and always ferociously angry at the narrative in which this collection of women has been trapped.” (-- Vox)
"The illustrations by longtime comic artist Annie Wu are an extra gift to this heartbreaking series of stories. Don’t turn from their stories, no matter how hard they can be to hear. Verdict: Buy it, damn you, and listen to their stories.” (- BookRiot)
"It’s hard to single out one tale. They are all of a piece- and they expertly dissect a common type of lazy storytelling that still crops up far too frequently. It’s not about angry polemics; instead, these monologues have their own energy and life that is both painful and captivating” (-- Locus Magazine)
“Readers adventurous enough to parachute into unfamiliar literary territory will be rewarded by Valente’s biting wit, outlandish world-building and well-focused sense of outrage." (-- Portland Press Herald)
About the Author
Catherynne M. Valente is a New York Times bestselling author of fantasy and science fiction novels, short stories, and poetry. She has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, and has won the Locus and Andre Norton award. She lives on a small island off the coast of Maine with her partner, two dogs, one enormous cat, a less enormous cat, six chickens, a red accordion, an uncompleted master’s degree, a roomful of yarn, a spinning wheel with ulterior motives, a cupboard of jam and pickles, a bookshelf full of folktales, an industrial torch, and an Oxford English Dictionary.
Top customer reviews
This novella emphasizes the lack of respect for female characters in comics, and in media in general. Many times, female characters aren't allowed to feel sorrow (they are "too weak" or "unstable"), they aren't allowed to make mistakes (they are "dangerous" or "a b*tch") and they must never get in the way of her hero (or villain) living it up. (Honestly - how many times has a comic writer/television writer/book writer admitted that they killed off a female character, because the male character "needed a sexier love interest" or "needed character development via a painful event" or "needed someone less equal to him." Heck, one writer even admitted he killed off a female character because: "I got bored writing her." - he then brought in a nearly carbon copy of the dead girlfriend, but this one was a hero, too. And let us not forget that they killed off Gwen Stacy in 1973, because "She had lost her edge. She was just a nice person. Mary Jane had an edge to her. We needed to bring her to the forefront." Like, WTF Gerry Conway.)
The ladies in this novella live in "Deadtown" and gather together to tell their stories. The stories, are actually nearly copies of famous comic book stories. Honestly - that makes it so much worse. To realize that women characters have been killed, depowered, raped, go insane, become addicts, or some combination of the above since at least the 1970s. And, it is still happening today.
Catherynne M. Valente's inspiration for the Refrigerator Monologues seems to be a disappointment in woman's portrayal in comics. As a ghost at many a comic book store for many years, it seems to me that the industry has been trying to crack the female market forever with no luck. The buck a book racks are filled with interesting female leads. Even when there are successful female characters like Spiderwoman, the new Hawkeye, Gwenpool, X-23, and the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, the people I see buying those comics are mostly middle-aged dudes.
It is a testament to Valente's skill as a writer that even though I disagree with the premise of this book, I loved every word of the story and plan to read it again.
I definitely suggest this for comic book fans, but honestly I have no idea whether non-comic fans will appreciate it as much. I'm sure they will like it, as the writing is very witty and clever, but I don't know if the story would be confusing for anyone who isn't aware of the comic stories they're parodying. But regardless I'm giving a copy to my friend who isn't the biggest fan of comics and will see what she thinks about it.
I appreciated Valente's ability to spin a new universe where these women who had been shoved to the side to serve someone else's narrative finally have a chance to recenter themselves in their own stories. It was apparent that Valente loves comics and the lens she criticizes with isn't mean spirited.
The monologues were entertaining and I found myself wickedly delighted by these six women and the ways they define themselves after death.