this article reminded me that, over the years, I’ve had a some dudely, writerly friends come to me for advice and perspective on writing kickass women into their oeuvres and, over the years, I’d forgotten that one of my first recommendations was to go back and read Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners and REALLY read it – not for a book report or an essay, but to read as a proper voyeur looking into the lives of people who have a narrative pushed upon them and how that works against their agency and is possibly THE BEST adventure in the divination (because, duh, “The Diviners”) of identity ever written. Morag is pulled into narratives that try to strip her of agency all through the book (I mean, she’s wrapped in Rapunzel and Mary Magdalene and a whole lot more – Laurence really makes it easy for us by laying it out in terms of references accessible to we North Americans) and does a lot of “whatever! I do what I want!”-ing, where other characters don’t fare so well because they play into the external narrative that is set against them.
and I hear a chorus of “but I HATED that book!” screaming out through the ether. and fine, you don’t have to read that particular book if you don’t want to. my real point is that, if you want to write strong women into your stories, you need to read books written by women about strong women. there’s a whole world of them out there.
but c’mon…Morag even has a superpower and I’m not going to tell you what it is.
she also kicks ass.