Book Review: Black-Eyed Susans: A Novel of Suspense, Julia Heaberlin (2015)

Monday, August 10th, 2015

He Hunts Me, He Hunts Me Not

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for rape and other forms of violence.)

The abandoned field on the Jenkins property was licked to death by fire about two years before the Black-Eyed Susans were dumped there. A reckless match tossed by a lost car on a lonely dirt road cost a destitute old farmer his entire wheat crop and set the stage for the thousands and thousands of yellow flowers that covered the field like a giant, rumpled quilt.

The fire also carved out our grave, an uneven, loping ditch. Black-eyed Susans sprung up and decorated it brazenly long before we arrived. The Susans are a greedy plant, often the first to thrive in scorched, devastated earth. Pretty, but competitive, like cheerleaders. They like to crowd out the others.

One lit match, one careless toss, and our nicknames were embedded in serial killer lore forever.

Sixteen-year-old Tessie Cartwright went out for a run one night and woke up in a grave. One minute, she was at Walgreens, buying a box of tampons and a Snickers bar for Roosevelt, the homeless man she passes every Wednesday on her running route; the next, she was barely clinging to life at the bottom of a ditch in a field of Black-eyed Susans. From the moment she was discovered, Tessie and the three bodies lying next to her – two skeletons and a fresh corpse – would forever be known as the Susans. Strangers in life, but sisters in death.

Though Tessie has no recollection of the assault – indeed, cannot even hope to identify her attacker, having lost her sight (“hysterical blindness”) after waking in the hospital bed, only to see a get well card sent by the killer (maybe) – District Attorney Al Vega still calls her to testify. It’s her testimony, along with junk science and a racist justice system (a contradiction in terms), that lands Terrell Darcy Goodwin on Death Row.

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 14: Human(ity, or lack thereof)

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

King Kong (2005) - Kong & Darrow 02

Bitch Magazine: Trans Spotting—The media’s myopic vision of transsexuals

Not exactly “new,” but this piece from trans activist/artist Julia Serano (http://juliaserano.com) is an excellent complement to the “Our Bodies and Lives” series posted by Ida at The Vegan Ideal several weeks back (see Transsexual Knowledge and Resistance; Transphobic Trauma, Transsexual Healing; and Questioning Cissexual Politics). Serano directly challenges feminist stereotypes which hold that male-to-female transsexuals serve to reinforce the gender binary with their uber-feminine wiles. She also offers a few choice words for defenders of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival’s “womyn-born-womyn only” policy.

The article isn’t available online, though, so you’ll need to order a back issue of Bitch (Issue 26, Fall 2004: The “Fake” issue) to read it. Or, for just a few bucks more, check out Serano’s Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, published in 2007. It’s on my wish list!

The Vegan Ideal: Mirha-Soleil Ross on Justice for Sex Workers and Nonhuman Animals

In honor of the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (December 17), Ida highlights the words of Mirha-Soleil Ross, “a vegan, transsexual and sex worker justice advocate.” In snippets from several interviews, Ross addresses the topics of (radical) feminism within the animal rights movement; similarities between society’s demonization of prostitutes and coyotes; and the objectification of women and nonhuman animals – from all corners.

Johanna @ Vegans of Color: Don’t Use Classism and Anti-Sex Worker Rhetoric to Protest Fur;

The Vegan Ideal: Class Privilege in Anti-Sex Worker, Anti-Homeless Activism;

The Vegan Shoe Lady: Fur is for Beautiful Animals and Scary Hookers; and

Taste Better!: On framing fur

Johanna and Ida critique a recent anti-fur post written by The Vegan Shoe Lady (and later picked up and enthusiastically expounded upon by Taste Better!) in which the author encourages readers to engage in classism and sexism, as well as the shaming of sex workers and homeless people, in the course of their anti-fur activism. Because this just what the animal rights movement needs – to be perceived as a monolith of exclusionary white elitists, yes? Lovely!

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