The Yellow Wall Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892). This is not a book, it's a short story, but it got my interest on several levels and was worth reading and reading about, as it's at once considered an early work of feminist literature, and also psychological fiction, and also gothic horror. If you know me, you might guess I'm also obsessed with both yellow rooms and living, breathing wallpaper. I hadn't been thinking about this until I read it, but besides all the usual accounts of patriarchal oppression—which was at one time blatant and scarcely disguised, and in our present time just as blatant but more pathetically disguised—for political control, personal control, and control for the sake of control—the idea of not allowing a woman to write, for “health reasons,” is a particularly chilling one. That the husband in this story is a doctor who likely really believes he is acting in the woman's best interest is also horrifying. The idea of evil, I mean as an externally influenced (by Satan, etc.) force is of little interest to me, but “good” people—whose well-intentioned actions are harmful—is of particular interest to me. I also have little interest in “horror” per se, but am very attuned to everyday horror. Also, I have little interest in the exercise of writing from the point of view of the mind in descent into madness (it just feels like work, the writing part), but there is something about this story that is gripping, as I can't exactly figure out the point of view. Also, that it was published in 1892 and reads as pretty contemporary, and probably still will in 2112 in the Temples of Syrinx, or even 2525 (if woman can survive). Like many of us, my personal experience informs everything I come into contact with, and I remember writing a story called “The Yellow Room,” which may or may not be eerily close to this story (though mine is already all but lost). And finally, what is it about wallpaper that is so creepy? I can never really shake that feeling. And what is it about certain patterns of repetitious design (like why does houndstooth give me a migraine?) that's, while manmade, seem to take on a disturbing life of its own?
Books I've Finished Reading