This first collection of electrifying essays from Scotland-based Booker Prize-shortlisted and Goldsmiths Prize-winning author of the book Ducks, Newburyport is mostly a bold tirade of complaints. Needless to say, Ellmann is a fiery writer, and she’s certainly furious with a lot of people and things around her—something that she makes evident in this no-holds- barred book that has her venting her thoughts, and lashing on about everything from matriarchy to war and travel in the times of Covid.
She begins by criticising Trump—“one of the biggest failures of all time”, his followers and the US in general, to men and patriarchy the world over. In fact, her blatant hate for all things America couldn’t be louder and clearer. “When they tire of killing each other, they slaughter some Iraqis or Afghans,” she writes.
Ellmann emphasises on how the US has reached a whole new level of patriarchal absurdity. She feels that now that Trump—with all his “crassness, volatility, and tragic magnetism”—is gone, we need to start repairing the neurological damage he has inflicted on the world.
Another theme in the book is her aversion for technology, the web, digital art and just about anything that functions with electricity. In ‘The Lost Art of Staying Put’, the writer lambasts air travel in the 21st century. Despite a global pandemic—with its several perils and restrictions—she observes that modern-day explorers simply cannot stop their wanderlust.
“A million new reasons to travel are manufactured every moment,” Ellmann notes. On the contrary, she extols the many virtues of the lockdown and its stillness. “There is beauty in less activity, less financial transaction, less mayhem, less hurry, less frenzy, less movement,” Ellmann says.
In ‘The Woman of the House’, the author explains that feminism is no longer about just equal pay and abortion rights, rather about “appreciating femaleness for femaleness’s sake.” Continuing her feminist rage in ‘Three Strikes’, she highlights among other things the global rape crisis, something that those particularly in India can relate to.
Further, she believes that war goes directly against women’s interests, and is another way of silencing them. According to her, even books and films about wars and crimes often reinforce an interest in patriarchal behaviour patterns.
For all the ranting, Ellmann also offers some answers. She recommends that all women—“on a private, public, local, national, and international level”—go on strike in various ways (no housework, labour or sex). She also suggests that the solution for most ills in society is female supremacy. “To end sexism, racism, violence against women, worldwide bombing campaigns, and avert the coming ecological catastrophe, women need to get their hands on the reins, and fast.”
Things Are Against Us
By: Lucy Ellmann
Publisher: Picador India
Price: Rs 499