Goodreads Review — Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Cover of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been reading & rereading near annually GWTW since 1996 – AAAAND (big sigh) although I’d argue this is a feminist piece (as women such as firecracker Scarlet, horse loving Mrs. Tarlton, & notorious prostitute Belle) are able to live their lives & earn a living in their own way (although Mrs. T never gets to ride her mare Nellie because she’s too busy taking care of the plantation) — this is an inherently racist book.

All Black characters are described in animalistic or child-like manners, and although Mitchell is careful to give the appearance of kind, benevolent relations between master & slave, this is clearly propaganda for a place that never was.

After the George Floyd riots & calls to remove historic statues celebrating the oppression of Black people, this becomes a book through which one must cautiously tread.

Scarlet, as a privileged white woman, is forced to overcome her socialized gender role expectations (of wealthy plantation daughter) and provide for a family who can no longer care for themselves. She gets here hands dirty, works her @ss off, and understands money is the only thing that will keep her safe. She does whatever it takes to provide that stability. All of this is admirable.

The uncritical depiction of slavery in the South is less so (Blacks depicted remain fiercely devoted to their oppressors) and one questions if Mitchell allows Scarlet to break her bonds, why not of the people she is dependent on as well?

Note: the review & rating is still pretty positive because overall, the book is well-structured, well-paced, and shows a complex array of (white) characters, especially as Scarlett takes on care of those dependent around her, and how she is literally dragged down by their incompetence and failure to adapt with the times. I found the change in Scarlett throughout the novel refreshing — a fall from grace, and reformation, and yet as so many others have mentioned, this novel retains it’s racist core, even in light of its publication (1936) between World Wars.

Margaret Mitchell, having lived on the cusp of racism and genocide for most of her life (born in 1900 to an affluent Southern family), in GWTW it feels like she sought escape from the discomfort of war that surrounded her in immediate life by creating a past that never was.

You can see my reviews at & be sure to visit my Goodreads Author Page

Goodreads Book Review — Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson

Cover of Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson

Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

True psychological horror. The darkness behind suburban affluence is apparent in Hangsaman, as is the privilege behind seemingly homogenous gated communities. The restraints of family and domesticity, loss of identity and self are threaded throughout.

For fans of Shirley Jackson – some of her short stories make reappearances here. Those familiar with Jackson and know her short stories, biography, and ‘The Birds Nest’ (Lizzy) will see many familiar elements skillfully interwoven in this chilling coming of age story about 17 year old Natalie going off to college; which strangely echoes Bennington, where Jackson’s own husband works —
and where terrible things happen.

Told at times through such a close and perspective the events unfolding around Natalie may be unclear, but key elements of her life (such as a father/husband figure openly carrying out an extramarital relationship with a neighbour at a garden party while her mother is inside the house and that same mother’s own mental health issues) echo the events in Jackson’s personal life.

One ‘complaint’ is that this novel at times feels like three disparate novellas stuck together; with a distinct part one, two, and three, carrying through the same main character through a disconcerting change in settings and surrounding action with each part being able to stand on its own. Honestly, the opening scenes of the garden party are worth reading as an accompaniment to Jackson’s own life, and the continuing adventures of Natalie going to school carry the reader further into psychological distress.

Themes of darkness, seeking self, and identity throughout. TRIGGER WARNING SA.

You can see my reviews at & be sure to visit my Goodreads Author Page

Notes from Stephen King’s On Writing

image from
Simon and Schuster

If you write, read this book. Seriously, if you write anything at all — memoir, romance, horror, essays or nonfiction or whatever — read this book. Advice and wisdom on strategies, plotting, grammar, and dealing with rejection — this book has it all. And no matter your opinion on Stephen King, I can’t say enough about the practicality and inspiring aspects of On Writing, other than just to read the damned book.

Key points from On Writing:

Finish a novel in 3 months – just one season – or it will feel like dispatches from a foreign  consulate.

Write 2000 words a day.  Every day. Even on Christmas and your birthday, just keep writing.

Grammar is as grammar does, check the guides, but don’t be afraid to strike out on your own.

Remove excess words, which is ironic advice from someone who writes 200,000 word novels.

Beware the adverb, or your prose will slip silently beneath the murky waters of insipidness.

Active voice is your man.  Passive voice and clichés are something good writers should avoid like the plague.  And sentence fragments too.  Unless you’re using them for emphasis.

Use words that matter.  Avoid vague descriptions of stuff.

Bottom line: keep on writing, even when it feels like you’re shovelling shit from one pile to another. And especially then. Just keep moving forward.