We were witches

Ariel Gore, 1970-

Book - 2017

"Spurred on by nineties "family values" campaigns and determined to better herself through education, a teen mom talks her way into college. Disgusted by an overabundance of phallocratic narratives and Freytag's pyramid, she turns to a subcultural canon of resistance and failure. Wryly riffing on feminist literary tropes, it documents the survival of a demonized single mother figuring things out"--

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Subjects
Genres
Bildungsromans
Historical fiction
Published
New York, NY : Feminist Press 2017.
Edition
First Feminist Press edition
Language
English
Physical Description
292 pages ; 20 cm
ISBN
9781558614338
1558614338
Main Author
Ariel Gore, 1970- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Gore, who has written several memoirs about motherhood, including The End of Eve (2014), takes a fictional approach to her own coming-of-age story in the form of a "memoirist's novel." In the book, as in life, Gore becomes a single mother at age 19 to a daughter, Maia. Combating poverty and her family's disapproval of her sexuality, Ariel struggles to make ends meet for herself and Maia while trying to secure an education in a world that looks down on just about any choice a woman makes that defies convention. Deemed a "welfare slut" by a violent neighbor and subjected to spontaneous and often-destructive visits from Maia's mercurial father, Ariel mulls over all the ways women are judged and oppressed. When she goes to court for a restraining order against her ex, she's pushed into filling out paperwork that triggers a custody battle. Gore's novel is a scathing indictment of a system that works against people who are poor and female as well as a piercing and wise look at one woman's struggles to overcome it. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Gore (The End of Eve) calls this deeply autobiographical work a "new genre: the memoirist's novel," with the intention of "transmuting shame into power." Bodily shame (and violence) is indeed front and center here: an early scene includes a harrowing description of the teenaged Ariel in childbirth, undergoing an invasive mediolateral episiotomy that leaves both physical and emotional scars. As Ariel—despite the objections of her family, her neighbors, and the larger 1990s single mother–shaming culture—grows determined to mother her daughter and get a college education, she rewrites fairy tales (like "Rapunzel") and encounters new models of feminine strength, particularly through the supernatural. The "witches" of the title, however, are her powerful literary foremothers, the ones to whom Ariel returns most consistently: Audre Lorde, Tillie Olsen, Adrienne Rich, Ntozake Shange, and others. Gore's magic-infused narrative, with its pleasantly rambling structure that intentionally inverts Freytag's phallic narrative pyramid, is a moving account of a young writer and mother striving to claim her own agency and find her own voice. (Sept.) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"Spurred on by nineties "family values" campaigns and determined to better herself through education, a teen mom talks her way into college. Disgusted by an overabundance of phallocratic narratives and Freytag's pyramid, she turns to a subcultural canon of resistance and failure. Wryly riffing on feminist literary tropes, it documents the survival of a demonized single mother figuring things out"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"In this novel, Ariel Gore is a teen mom, aspiring writer, and feminist witch trying to get a college education during the first Bush administration, all the while combating queer scapegoating, domestic violence, and high-interest student loans"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

This inspirational 'magic-infused narrative . . . is a moving account of a young writer and mother striving to claim her own agency and find her voice' (Publishers Weekly).Buying into the dream that education is the road out of poverty, a teen mom takes a chance on bettering herself and talks her way into college. But once she's there, phallocratic narratives permeate every subject.Wryly riffing on feminist literary tropes, We Were Witches documents the survival of a demonized single lesbian mother as she's beset by custody disputes, homophobia, and America's ever-present obsession with shaming unconventional women into passive citizenship.But even as the narrator struggles to graduate, a question uncomfortably lingers: If you're dealing with precarious parenthood, queer identity, and debt, what is the true narrative shape of your experience?

Review by Publisher Summary 4

This experimental novel uses magick spells and inverted fairly tales to combat queer scapegoating, domestic violence, and high-interest student loans.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

This inspirational “magic-infused narrative . . . is a moving account of a young writer and mother striving to claim her own agency and find her voice” (Publishers Weekly).Buying into the dream that education is the road out of poverty, a teen mom takes a chance on bettering herself and talks her way into college. But once she’s there, phallocratic narratives permeate every subject.Wryly riffing on feminist literary tropes, We Were Witches documents the survival of a demonized single lesbian mother as she’s beset by custody disputes, homophobia, and America’s ever-present obsession with shaming unconventional women into passive citizenship.But even as the narrator struggles to graduate, a question uncomfortably lingers: If you’re dealing with precarious parenthood, queer identity, and debt, what is the true narrative shape of your experience?