Sleeping Beauties: Chapter 2

[Sleeping Beauties Content Note: Trans Exclusion and Erasure, Misogyny, Violence Against Women]

Sleeping Beauties Recap: When this book first popped up on my radar, I expressed some concerns about the content on Twitter. This week, I purchased the book and read through it. As I read, I live-tweeted my thoughts on Twitter. This is a compilation and expansion of my tweets. The live-read will be spread out over multiple posts.

Sleeping Beauties, Part One: The Auld Triangle. Chapter 2

(Tweet Link) The next page is "Chapter 2". I... I am having OCD problems with the Cast of Characters and it's kicking my butt because new characters are being fired at my face. Why were they listed in this order? A main character (Clint) is on page 2 but his son ("son of Lila and Clint") is on page 1. The top name of the bunch is dead and I don't think he's going to be narratively important. Nor was he introduced first. [Note: He was not important in the slightest. The layout here is just bad.]

Chapter 2, Section 1. Tiffany calls the local dispatch to tell them about Truman's murder and that Eve blew up the meth shed. This... confuses. The dispatcher seems confused that there is a meth shed nearby. I'm confused that Tiffany would call the cops, period. I feel like the first thing a successful meth operation drills into its employees is to not call the police for things.

Chapter 2, Section 2. Turning away from burning meth sheds, apparently Lila has discovered that Clint has a secret daughter in high school named Sheila. I am dreading that the Unspeakable Deeds Clint did for his career may have involved sleeping with a lady Dean for career advancement. [Note: Clint did no "unspeakable deeds" for his career or even by choice. His big secret is that as a foster child he was forced by his terrible foster parents to fight other foster children in a human cock-fighting ring. Winners received a milkshake. Clint has residual trauma from this abuse.]

I've been resisting diving down this hole, but there has been a repeated character called Anton the Pool Boy. Anton is hot. Hotter than hot. He's been described as romance novel cover material, which..... yeah. Anton has been in Clint's backyard for what feels like hours, providing Clint with ruminations of envy and concerns re: his wife's fidelity. That same wife, Lila, is sheriff and leaves the house to deal with the exploding meth cabin, but she forgot to do up her shirt. (Who among us has NOT gone out with our bra flapping in the wind?) Anton is there so Lila can admire him and Anton points out in a flirty way that Lila's bra is visible what with her shirt undone.

I mention all this because Anton is so thoroughly and deeply objectified (over several sections!) that he's almost like a woman character? I don't know how to feel about any of this, so you guys are coming along on this ride with me.

What reason did insane people have to worry? Crazy reasons, probably, though in his fantasy of madness, Frank liked to imagine it was simpler. Do I pour the milk and cereal over my head, or do I pour it all into the mailbox? If you were bonkers, perhaps that was a stressful decision.

I don't. This. This occurs in a novel alongside presumably-researched psychiatrist Dr. Clint. I mean, again, characters do not have to be perfect, but you also don't have to fire stigma at our faces to establish imperfection? [Note: The mental illness stigma is never challenged and gets worse. This particular character, Frank, receives counseling and Zoloft medication in the epilogue, but the stigmatization is never unpacked in any way.]

Chapter 2, Section 6. To my utter astonishment, Tiffany Jones is still present and on the scene when the cops she called arrived. I am assuming (at this stage) that Eve infected her and that Tiffany will be sent to prison, thus infecting the women there. Disease vector. [Note: No. That would have been interesting, but no. Every woman in Dooling is infected on the same day, with no disease vectoring done. This is a theological plague, not a medical thriller.]

SIDE NOTE: I have checked the Cast of Characters. "Angel Fitzroy" is 27. She has no reason to not know about Queen Bey.

Oh dear. Tiffany stayed for the cops because her experience with cops as a meth-using sex worker is that they are "nice".




 She made no effort to dodge either right or left, but even in that hair-thin moment Lila saw no deer-in-the-headlights expression on her face, just calm observation. And something else: she was gorgeous.

I'm sorry, god, I'm so sorry, I really am trying not to be mean! But I almost scream-laughed at my desk, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Like. "Oh dear, I am about to run over a woman. Also she is naked under her shirt. And not gross-naked. Gorgeous-naked." *lies on the floor and cries happily* Lila, you are gaaaaaaay. I'm sorry, but you are.

I'm reminded so much of the old Dave Barry article about the Cosmopolitan sex articles.

So my advice to the editors of Cosmopolitan is: Just drop this subject for a while. Trust me: Even without technical advice from you, your women readers will have no trouble getting men excited, as long as the men are aware (and believe me, they are) that the women, underneath their clothes, are not wearing clothes.

I do like that, after finding out her husband has a secret daughter, Lila lingeringly stares at the "pool boy" and has a gay awakening. Live your best life, Lila.

The woman hadn’t run into the woods, nor was she beating feet up Ball’s Hill, where another road forked off toward the Ball Creek Ferry. She was just standing there, gazing over her shoulder. That glance-back, coupled with the woman’s bare butt protruding from under the tail of her shirt, was strangely coquettish; she looked like a pin-up on an Alberto Vargas calendar.

*whispers* gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

As she looked at those long, tanned legs and high breasts she flashed back to her driveway—could it only have been fifteen minutes ago? What are you looking at? she had asked. Anton had replied, Morning glory. If this woman standing in the middle of Dooling Town Road wasn’t morning glory, Lila had never seen it.

It's not even subtext anymore, she just is gay. Rock on, my Lila. [Note: When Lila enters the Sleeping World, she engages in a Schrodinger's Relationship with another woman there. The narrative very carefully never tells us whether they were or weren't in a romantic and/or sexual relationship. The queer-baiting is deliberate and infuriating and appears to think itself cute. I do not.]

Eve knows Lila's name and is just very clearly magic. I'm okay with this! That does explain why people will (according to the advertising copy?) think she's a demon. [Note: Though several people think Eve is supernatural--because she blatantly is--no one seriously suggests she is a demon.]

Silver had also suggested “some kind of counseling” when Frank admitted he sometimes raised his voice to his wife and daughter (taking care not to mention the time he’d put a fist through the kitchen wall).  Frank hadn’t seen either the lawyer or the therapist. In regard to the former, he still believed he could work things out with Elaine. In regard to the latter, he felt he could control his temper quite well if people (Elaine, for instance, but also Nana, his daughter) would only realize he had their best interests at heart.

Umph. Next in our cast of problematic men is a domestic abuser. I mean, I signed up for this; the Amazon advert copy warned that men have problematic urges when not tempered by the influence of women. But I don't have to like them, sigh. Maybe Eve will go through the town systematically killing the men in order of grodiness, while the women take a beauty rest? (If so, I'm hyped for this!!)

Okay, here we come to more Trans Advice From Ana, which is ostensibly the point of this thread. Here's the thing. If you really really want to do Gender Disease and really really don't want to have to grapple with transness, keep it local. A tiny prison could even work for this (and might've been the intent?), if you make it clear they only send cis women there. But. You can't have Breaking Worldwide News. You have to cut everyone off with a Mist scenario. Because when you have Breaking Worldwide News, you get this.

“Medical officials in Oahu, Hawaii, are reporting that the outbreak of what some are calling Asian Fainting Sickness and others are calling Australian Fainting Flu continues to spread. No one seems to be sure where it actually originated, but so far the only victims have been women.

This is impossible. This is not possible. Either trans women would be affected too (because it's a magic plague), in which case the news would be reporting some men are sick (because they wouldn't immediately realize all the trans women are women--some trans women are closeted!) or you have a biological outbreak on your hands that is going to exclude lots of women, including many cis women!

So. If you really really really need to have a Gender Plague but don't want to write trans people, you can't have news of the outside world. Or, if you do have news of the outside world, understand the media reports will misgender trans women--including closeted trans women!--which means the cast of characters won't immediately realize they're dealing with a Gender Plague.

I am here to report that Hot Anton's wife [correction: mother] is drunken and farty (really) and slovenly and Czech accented and loud and foolish. She watches the news and a local girl turned national news-anchor shows up.

“Most of the women are asleep and won’t wake up,” the orderly said in his alien overlord voice. “It’s just like in Hawaii.”   “But the men . . . ?”   “The men are dandy. Up and eating their breakfast.”

This can also work: Have the plague just not affect all women. Some women can be immune and presumably some of those women will be trans women. (Although I think we're going there in this book, so?) [Note: Yes. Supposedly "every woman" falls asleep, but womanness is defined as having "an XX chromosome". This is inaccurate on multiple levels.]

“That’s it!” Magda croaked, saluting the television with her drink and slopping a bit more on her cardigan. “Go sexy! Once they want to stir your batter, you can get anything out of em!”

I feel like being a woman in this universe is easier than in ours.

This ends Chapter 2. I'm hearing from other readers that... trans people just don't exist in this book world? At all? So I may not continue. There's not much more I can say except that this book is set in 2017 and apparently erases every trans person from the globe. I'll read a bit further to check but. Yeah.


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