Sleeping Beauties: Part 2, Chapter 3

[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 Two: I'll Sleep When I'm Dead. Chapter 3

(Tweet Link) Okay, because several people are asking "how would the women even think to look for the dead people (which we still don't know if they're in the Sleeping World or not)", a breakdown:

1. Lila (the sheriff) personally shot the wife of one of her deputies, whilst that wife was in a zombie rage. Lila felt tremendous guilt over it. She hasn't thought to look for her here or ask the earlier women if they saw her. 

2. Women are still awake in the outside world at this three month stage in the dream world. That means they're trickling in slowly. Those "new" women would know about the Burnings (it's all over the news) and would be able to tell the women what men are doing.

3. So it would be easy to put two-and-two together: there are women being killed in the outside world, so is that having an effect on the sleeping world population? Plus, death in the dream world could be dramatic. A woman suddenly catches flame? Ouch. Again, that would be horror. They'd be completely helpless, never knowing when their body would go up in flames. Hell, there's your message about the monstrosity of men, et cetera, because it's a metaphor for unexpected male violence in the real world.

4. All the awake prisoners saw Ree Dumpster get shot in a zombie rage. Many of them fell asleep after. They'd look for her. They ought to be looking for her! Hell, for that matter, why aren't the prisoners telling the women in the Dream World about Eve? No one has mentioned her.

This isn't a plot. It's a soapbox! King wanted to write about women in a women world and their mimeographed newsletters (no really!). [Note: This has been bugging me. Lila is 45 in 2017, which means she was born in 1971. She feels really young to be so comfortable around a mimeograph machine.] The women talk about sex and men, but we don't see them talk about what happened. We're told they talk about what happened; we don't see it.

I don't want to see women talk about how great their hubby was at sex; I want to see women talking about the mothface flu. Mothface flu is inherently more interesting than the missionary position. Christ.

(Tweet Link) I'm aware that Twitter has completely shattered all my threading for Part 1. Fear not! I can still see my tweets and will make blog posts. This thread I'm starting here will be Part 3. Linkage to Part 2 below. Suffer with me. Alright, let's do this. *rolls up sleeves*

@emccoy_writer ...what happened to pregnant people? Especially those pregnant with probably-boys? Like, you're 8 months preggers... Cocoon?

I mentioned this before, but: where are the pregnant women? The women's bodies are in stasis in the real world, while their minds live on in a Matrix simulation. Are pregnant women pregnant there? Because here are your options:

1. 8-mo pregnant Millie wakes up in the matrix not pregnant and panics.

2. 8-mo pregnant Millie wakes up in the matrix pregnant and the pregnancy never advances so she goes into Month 12 by now.

3. 8-mo pregnant Millie wakes up in the matrix pregnant and gives birth to a dream-baby while her body remains pregnant in the real world.

All of those are horrifying. King doesn't seem to think about this. But that's jarring and takes us out of the story. [Note: Spoilers, but the women give birth in the dream world and (apparently?) (it's not 100% clear?) they wake up not-pregnant with their children nearby. This makes no sense.]

Things that are taking us out of the story:
- Trans people are knowable at a glance.
- No one on earth is pregnant. No one.

I'm actually glad that King dropped the ball on pregnant people because it makes a nice contrast to the trans problem. Because I say "your novel needs to account for trans people" and naysayers are like "maybe not everyone wants to write about you, Ana!" But when I say "your novel needs to account for pregnant people" it's like 'well, yeah, obviously'. Trans people are as real as pregnant people.

The violence and confusion and desperation they talked about seemed unreal to the earlier arrivals in this new place. More—it seemed almost unimportant.

At this point King does realize that the women are popping in on a time delay and would have news to share. But... the women don't care. This is a pendulum swing. They miss their men but they don't care about their men. They have winter to prep for! Why are they assuming winter would follow? This is obviously a magic world that doesn't follow any reality they know? This is so bovine. How can news from the real world "seem unimportant" when the news is "they're burning our bodies" and "they don't know how to wake us up"?

[Note: What the fuck is that "crazy ex-girlfriend"? Maura was Kayleigh's girlfriend. They were living together. Fuck you, King.]

The women talk now about how much better their lives are without men. They're excited to have their own jobs! 2018. This was written in 2017 and set in 2018. Can blue-collar families afford for the wife / mother to stay at home en masse?

[TW] Oh no. We come to the homeless woman, which we know in the real world that the Rapist and Bully are about to burn to death. She's happier and healthier in the dream world (because clean air fixes mental illness except when it doesn't, I guess), so I assume she's about to die horribly to prove Bad Men Are Bad.

Feelings, Lila thought. Men almost never wanted to talk about them, women almost always did. It could get boring. That came as a surprise. It came to her that she might have to re-evaluate some of her resentments about Clint’s stoicism.

*lays head on desk*

Janice is here to report "people are disappearing" (people? we're gender neutral now? fine whatever) and I assume those are the dead, but again, it is impossible for them to only be finding out about this months later! Lila shot a sleeper with her gun! The prisoners watched another sleeper, Ree, die right in front of them! Those two women either are here or aren't. If they aren't here, they would have a pretty good idea already that dying in the real world means you die in the dream world.

There was a dull thump and a soft cry from behind them. Lila glanced around. The radio lay on the grass next to Jingle, Pingle, and Ringle. The dolls stared up at the cloudless sky with their flat, beatific expressions. Essie was gone. There was a single brown moth where she had been. It fluttered aimlessly for a moment, then flew up and away, trailed, faintly, by the smell of fire.

[TW] Yup, I was right, the "disappearances" are people dying. But the women can't NOT know about this. Impossible. And, yes, King just killed the one homeless woman in the novel to tug at our heartstrings. *beats my head on desk* I'm frustrated because this scene should have impact, but the timing is such that it's annoying. Were no editors allowed to touch this?

They say that without females to protect, though their idea of protection sure isn’t mine, some central psychological underpinning of Judaism and Islam is gone. Like both of those things are the same.

.....there is unrest in the Middle East because the men no longer have "females to protect". I don't. I just.

How is this novel boring? How is that possible? It started out so promising. Cut to Frank: He sends cops to find Jared Norcross so he can gain possession of Lila's body and use it to get Eve from Clint. ("OUTLANDER!") Immediate cut to Clint: He calls Jared with a suspicion that Frank is looking for him and to hide everyone in the attic of the model home. That's boring! When the villain and the hero both have a direct line to the author and know what's about to happen, that's boring.

Evie was at the bars of her cell, watching this with what appeared to be sympathy . . . although with the mentally unbalanced, you could never be sure.

Clint, you... you have to pick one. Either you believe Eve when she says she's that Eve, or you think she's mentally ill. Clint is keeping Evie alive per their deal that if she's alive on Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday (she's not sure which), the plague will fix itself. That's a pretty damn big leap of faith, but okay! But you can't keep also thinking she's a random mentally ill nobody! Either/or, Clint!

Okay, Clint has decided she's a "carnival fortune-telling" fraud so.... why are we doing this? Why not drive her to the CDC? Why not drive her to the CDC anyway, Clint? I'm pretty sure they won't rip her ribcage open in search of a cure. [Note: Eve later says, and I think we're supposed to believe her, that this is exactly what the CDC would do. She mentions the man who killed the goose which laid golden eggs. This makes no sense.]

“Oh, no,” she said, smiling. “We’re on the same side, Clint. White king and white queen. On the other side, arrayed against us, is an entire army of black pieces. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men. Emphasis on men.”

Clint is the white king arrayed against the black pieces who are, I remind you, led by a Black man.

you need to let go of certain rational assumptions and rely on intuition. Embrace your female side. Every man has one. Just think of all the male authors who have put on the dress.

Women are all about intuition and not rationality and something something men in dresses. *lays head on desk* Eve tells Clint that Frank Geary--she uses his name--will soon have the men under his complete control and will come for her. Then Eve, mother of all women, bringer of death, admits that she's attracted to Clint because he wasn't enough of a Gary Stu.

Everyone in town has now heard about Eve. How is anyone talking about her? But, no, they're obsessed with her. Your spouse has gone to sleep in a cocoon, and your daughter with her. Your neighbor's house burned down. You have an infant son. Are you really going to care that much about a rumor (a drunken rumor!) about some chick who hasn't caught the flu yet? Or do you assume that it's a false rumor, a pipe dream, a lie. Or if she is immune, someone will figure it out and get her to the CDC?

@gil_deer Is Frank goddamn magic? Where he did this experience in manipulating people and whipping up an angry mob?

Earlier he was an abusive loner with no friends and a temper problem. Now he's silver-tongued Satan.

At first I thought—hoped—that maybe it was some sort of misinterpretation on the part of the newer arrivals. They’d been sleep-deprived, of course, and distressed, and maybe they saw something on television that they thought was cocoons being burned, but was actually something else.”

Oh, so the new arrivals did bring word of mass burnings but the older women didn't believe it and the new arrivals calmed down and ajshdjkad. In your rush to make the trenchant commentary that misogyny can be internalized, consider NOT making your women cardboard caricatures.

Women reacted when their cocoons were torn. They were dangerous. They fought. They killed. It doesn’t surprise me that a lot of men might see the situation as an opportunity, or a precaution, or the pretext they’d always wanted to light a few people on fire.”

A reminder that I can't be happy about the women having "rape protection" reflexes when that's used as a reason to murder them.

Coates gave no sign of offense. “Clint was that bad a husband?” “He was better than Candy Meshaum’s.” “Low bar,” Janice said. “Never mind. I’ll just sit here and treasure the gilded memory of my husband, who had the decency to pop off before he became a shit.”

The women are angry about the realization that men are killing them. Do they talk about privilege dynamics? No, they talk about husbands. Does King understand we interact with men who aren't our husbands? Lila was the town sheriff. She doesn't have any other men to talk about? When I come out here and talk about cis male privilege and power dynamics, how often do I mention my spouse? 1% of the time? 2%?

It’s worse, I think, than being lied to. A lie indicates a certain degree of respect. I’m pretty sure he was carrying a bag of stuff, real heavy stuff, that he thought I was just too delicate to help him with. I’d rather be lied to than condescended to.”

Lila, whose life was turned upside down by Clint's supposed lie about Sheila, now has her consistent characterization shredded. I wonder if writing is easier when you don't have to worry about consistency of characters.

It was dusk before they were talked out, and never once did the subject of Clint, of Jared, of Archie, of Candy Meshaum’s husband, of Jesus Christ, or of any other man, again arise to trouble their discourse.

This may be the world's first instance of telling us a scene passes Bechdel rather than showing us.

How does--


WOMAN 1: "So the burnings..."

WOMAN 2: "I guess that's happening?"

WOMAN 1: "Men are killing us, and we can't do anything."

WOMAN 2: " Indoor plumbing?"

WOMAN 1: "Right? WANT."

This is why I say these women are bovine! They're just... placidly accepting the slaughter heading their way while chewing the cud! I mean! Maybe they can't do anything! Maybe the situation is hopeless! But humans try! Humans stress! Humans anxiety! They don't try to find a cure? To look into a way to wake up? To send a message to the outside world? FOR SELF PRESERVATION?

I would be experimenting! "What happens if ya'll shock me? Maybe I could wake up then?" I mean, they know they're on borrowed time. They're going to die if they can't wake up. Wouldn't you try to wake up? WHY IS NO ONE TRYING TO RE-ENACT THE CLIMAX OF "BACK TO THE FUTURE" WITH A CAR AND A CLOCK TOWER AND LIGHTNING

They didn’t talk about Evie, but Lila had not forgotten her.

Why does everyone care about this woman, oh my god, do her tits dispense free beer, King???

Apocalypse Reality:
- If we don't wake up, we will die.

Apocalypse Discussion Topics:
- Husbands suck.
- Running water is grand.
- Eve.



Post a Comment