Marieke Bivar
What Silence Can’t Hide

a review of

So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman. Simon & Schuster, 2011, 304 pages

I wrote So Much Pretty because I wanted to talk about family and community and the ways in which things that have become familiar to us are often not what they seem, are rife with meanings that elude our selective senses, that turn us into unwitting accomplices, secret sharers of observable but unspeakable things. Our desires for security, or belonging or freedom suddenly becoming the weight that sinks us...I wanted to discuss how well meaning people are often complicit in destroying the things they most want to preserve.

--Cara Hoffman

from www.carahoffman.com

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Marieke Bivar
Creating a Community Against Abuse

A review of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities, Edited by Ching-In Chen, Jai DuLani, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Preface by Andrea Smith. South End Press, 2011, 325 pp, $16

The Revolution Starts at Home is a series of articles, accounts, and discussions aimed at not only dealing with the aftermath of abuse, but also challenging the underlying institutions and values that perpetuate abuse and violence. The aim of the anti-violence movement, as Rebecca Farr of Communities Against Rape and Abuse (CARA) writes, is to “create a world where so many people are walking around with the skills and knowledge to support one another that there is no longer the need for anonymous hotlines.”

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Marieke Bivar
When the War Comes Home Cara Hoffman’s new novel examines the consequences of war when a damaged soldier returns home to a small town & she’s still in battle-ready mode

a review of

Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman. Simon & Schuster, paper edition 2015, 289 pp. $26

What sacred thing could pass through her lips now? What choir could shield her from the sound of her own voice?

“I did terrible things,” she said.

“Of course you did, Troy said calmly. “Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

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Marieke Bivar
Women’s bodies as capital Laurie Penny’s essays say women will gain power by saying, “No!” in all spheres

a review of

Meat Market: Female Flesh under Capitalism by Laurie Penny. Zero Books, 2011, 68 pp., $12.95

“Contemporary pseudo-feminism is all about the power of yes. Yes, we want shoes, orgasms and menial office work. Yes, we want chocolate, snuggles, and straight hair. Yes, we will do all the dirty little jobs nobody else wants to do, yes, we will mop and sweep and photocopy and do the shopping and plan the meals and organise the parties and wipe up all the shit and the dirt and grin and strip and perform and straighten our backs and smile and say yes, again yes, we will do it all.”

—from Meat Market

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Marieke Bivar
Of Sports & Women’s Bodies Book review

a review of

The Little Communist Who Never Smiled by Lola Lafon. Seven Stories Press, 2016, 320 pp. English translation from French by Nick Caistor

“Today, it is an older, wearier Nadia who raises her arms. She leans into a back walkover, but she falters and falls. “I am not a perfect 10 anymore,” Nadia says. “I can only try my best.”

People Magazine, 1990 (she was 28)

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Marieke Bivar
Running to Find Ourselves New fiction from Cara Hoffman

a review of

Running by Cara Hoffman. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks 2018

Inspired by her own youth spent travelling and working in Greece, Cara Hoffman’s third novel, Running, is a suspenseful punk adventure tale.

It follows Bridey, Jasper and Milo, wild, hungry youths luring unwitting tourists to stay at a shabby Athens hotel in exchange for a place to crash and a commission to spend at the bar.

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Marieke Bivar
This Is What Direct Democracy Looks Like Book review

a review of

Deciding For Ourselves: The Promise of Direct Democracy, Cindy Milstein, Editor. AK Press, 2020, akpress.org

“There are always movements, societies and communities in existence that are intimate and locally organized, where no one person owns every damn thing, and people can talk to each other and work things out among themselves; where everybody is relatively equal. Our most immediate work should be to learn how to adjust our vision so we can see these examples for what they are.”

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Marieke Bivar
Diane di Prima (1934–2020) Beat Poet & Activist

Diane di Prima has died. Now we have no choice but to introduce her to each other, since she is no longer here to introduce herself.

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Diane Di Prima, 1960s

On paper, you could say, “she was a poet, she was a feminist, beatnik, anarchist, Buddhist.” You could list her famous friends and lovers. Promote her books, her poems, her art. But she was so many things.

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Marieke Bivar
Cherishing the Secret Knowledge of Fulvia Ferrari

a review of

Secolo Nuovo or The Times of Promise by Fulvia Ferrari. Detritus Books 2021

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“There are people in this world committed to spreading rebellion as far as possible. They appear amid the disaster and guide people away from the [wreckage]. They carry a secret flame that can infect entire cities with its brightness. Fulvia carried this flame along with many others, living and dead, and they passed the sacred flame to us. It’s possible Fulvia never had children. Maybe those children are us.”

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Marieke Bivar
Breaking up Families How Medical Colonialism in Canada is Retraumatizing Indigenous People

a review of

Fighting for A Hand to Hold: Confronting Medical Colonialism against Indigenous Children in Canada by Samir Shaheen-Hussain, Foreword by Cindy Blackstock, Afterword by Katsi’tsakwas Ellen Gabriel. Mcgill-Queen’s University Press 2020

On May 30, 2021, the land surrounding a former residential school in Canada was found to contain the unidentified remains of over 200 children. Since then, nearly a thousand other children’s graves have been uncovered. A horrified hush fell over those of us willing to accept this reality. Then rage.

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Marieke Bivar
Stories and Stories and Stories of Womanhood Pandora is out of the box

a review of

All of Me: Stories of Love, Anger, and the Female Body Ed. Dani Burlison. PM Press, 2019

In this collection, women’s bodies are discussed as sites of healing, burnout, grief, joy, transformation, and growth. The essays, interviews, and other writing vary immensely in tone and style, and there is a sense that this is a place where women’s anger is being expressed freely, however the contributors choose to do so.

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