Let’s start off with this: while it’s possible to like things that are problematic, I genuinely don’t understand what there is to like about these books. Is it the shitty writing? Is it the misogyny? Is it the jingoism? Is it the rampant, raging, explicit and relentless racism?
I’m not talking about the show, which I understand is slightly less racist than the books. This isn’t some “reading too much into it” thing; this isn’t even social justice crusading stuff. The racism in these books is absolutely obvious, undeniable, and constant. There is nothing redeeming in these books. There’s nothing good about them. All they do is confirm that barely-literate fiction that affirms and endorses popular bigotries will enjoy great popularity and commercial success. Well done, America.
Trigger warning: rape and rape apologia.
Belle Rive, the Bellefleur mansion, recently restored to something like its antebellum glory.
We are six pages in and we have this. The author is white. Sookie, the narrator, is white. The Bellefleur family is white. What is wrong with this picture? Who the fuck sees “antebellum” and associates it with “glory,” KKK members?
A fan may, at this point, insist that I’m reading too much into it: but here is the thing–words have meanings. Words carry implications and connotations. I’m not even black or American and I associate “antebellum” with slavery and Gone With the Wind, itself a deeply racist book. I associate it with people who hoist the confederate flag and are proud about it. Yet Sookie–and by proxy, Charlaine Harris–thinks “antebellum” and immediately follows it with “glory.” Yes, of course it’s glorious if you are white. This is most likely an inadvertent, thoughtless word choice, which is why it’s telling of deep-seated bigotry.
I was amazed that Halleigh had had the presence of mind to divest Tiffany of the bridesmaid dress before her departure for the hospital. Brides are ruthless.
Still page six and already we have got 1) another woman mentioned who is 2) in some way a terrible person and who Sookie must therefore 3) nastily criticize. Was Tiffany wearing the dress at the time? Most likely not. What is wrong with being sensible enough to get the dress, which is probably in the vicinity already?
Hey, I looked great. The dress was a super color for me, the skirt was gently Aline, the short sleeves weren’t too tight, and it wasn’t low cut enough to look slutty. With my boobs, the slut factor kicks in if I’m not careful.
AND NOW, INTERNALIZED MISOGYNY AT FULL SPEEEEED.
Glen had requested a night wedding specifically so he could invite some of his more important vampire clients. I’d been sure Portia truly loved him when she agreed to that, because Portia didn’t like bloodsuckers at all. In fact, they gave her the creeps.
Portia is portrayed as a horrible person because she doesn’t like undead blood-sucking monsters. Sookie on the other hand lurves them, because she’s an enlightened progressive like that. Keep this in mind, because Harris will make other statements that make it obvious she considers her vampires a metaphor for oppressed minorities.
There were a few black faces to be seen, and a few brown faces, but most of the wedding guests were middle-class Caucasians.
Charlaine Harris really, really wants to affirm the idea that the US south is home to what amounts to closeted klansmen. Note the phrasing here: the people of color are disembodied brown or black faces, whereas the Aryan master race is referred to as “middle-class Caucasians,” which is to say human beings with an ethnicity and a social status.
To all the regular wedding guests, he looked like a wellrounded, rather short African-American male wearing a nice suit and carrying a big camera. But Al turned into a wolf at the full moon just like Maria-Star.
Note the use of the word “male” here. It is applied to a black man who is described not, in fact, as a man but “a male.” You know, the way we usually refer to animals or, as @psychoxnino pointed out to me on twitter, how criminals are profiled?
And there was one werepanther, Calvin Norris. Calvin had brought a date, I was glad to see, though I was less than thrilled after I identified her as Tanya Grissom. Blech. What was she doing back in town?
Oh the misogyny gong, it rings and keeps ringing. Is there a woman Sookie Stackhouse doesn’t hate? That’s a trick question. She can barely refrain from spitting at every woman she comes across.
Now Glen was putting the ring on Portia’s finger, and Portia looked almost pretty as she looked down at their clasped hands. She’d never be one of my favorite people–nor I hers–but I wished her well.
There’s this grudging sense that she’s wishing Portia well only because it’s her wedding day, a cult-of-nice etiquette (and if there’s an icon for the Cult of Nice, Sookie is it); in any other situation she hates Portia’s guts because Portia doesn’t like vampires (omg so RACIST!1!!) and is a snobby lawyer, and Sookie loathes any woman who makes more money than she does.
I was lucky. Episcopalian weddings can be long, but the two couples had opted for having the shorter form of the service.
File this under “dumb western culture references that mean nothing.” Yes, I know I can wiki it up, but I don’t care to. Westerners expect to be hand-held through everyone else’s culture, don’t they? Christian denominations have no meaning to me. Sorry.
She’d had a heart attack and then recovered. After that, she’d broken her hip. I had to say, for someone who’d survived two major health disasters, Miss Caroline looked … Well, to tell the truth, she looked just like a very old lady who’d had a heart attack and a broken hip.
Can Charlaine Harris not write? No, no she can’t. Why would you set this up as though “for someone who’d survived two major health disasters” is going to be followed by a contradiction, only to then actually follow it with a reiteration of what has already been said?
“I did what I had been told to do by my queen. In so doing, I fell into a trap I couldn’t escape. I still can’t.”
The trap of LUUUUVVVV, I thought sarcastically. But he was too serious, too calm, to mock. I was simply defending my own heart with the weapon of bitchiness.
When I glanced back up, Bill’s dark eyes were fixed on me.”I would give anything to lie with you again, ” he said. I froze, my hands in the act of rolling the thighhigh hose off my left leg.
Sookie, are you twelve? But note that she explains to us here that Bill is “too serious to mock.” Consider that Bill raped her. From this link:
Sookie terminates the relationship after that point (though they were honestly on the rocks before that), but remains reluctant to really place any blame on Bill for what happened. It’s argued first that Bill, starving as he was, couldn’t help it or wasn’t aware that he was even doing it. It’s then argued that the blame lies with the woman who pushed Sookie into the trunk, and this isn’t just Sookie trying to rationalize what happened – other characters also say it’s the woman’s fault (her name is Debbie Pelt, FWIW). It isn’t even until book five or six that Sookie even calls what happened in the trunk a “rape.” Bill is never held accountable for his actions (except that he loses Sookie as his girlfriend), and Sookie even becomes friendly with him again after a little time has passed.
You may think that Sookie “froze” because of the rape thing, but nope: “Okay, that pretty much stunned me on several different levels. First, the biblical lie with. Second, my astonishment that he considered me such a memorable bed partner.” Sookie, in short, doesn’t believe Bill can be held accountable for having raped her; it’s rather Debbie Pelt’s fault for locking them in the same car trunk. In one smooth stroke Sookie commits rape apologism and turns around to make it all the responsibility of a woman she hates. Rape isn’t the rapist’s fault, it’s that awful bitch who made him do it.
This is vile beyond all belief.
I looked up from the wine I was pouring to see that Tanya Grissom was taking up space and breathing air that could be better used by almost anyone else.
Ah, more woman-hating. I’ll say that I don’t think a female character who hates another woman is automatically a sign of internalized misogyny but, as I’ve demonstrated before (and will again, because oh man this book), this is a pattern with Sookie. Tanya’s main crimes: “spying” for the Pelt family who’s looking for their missing daughter (whom Sookie murdered), being romantically involved with Sam, being romantically involved later with Calvin. You may notice something here, which is that Sookie’s previously been romantically interested in Sam though they never hit it off. Calvin has expressed romantic/sexual interest in Sookie.
If you ever get involved with any of “her” men Sookie will hate you for all eternity. You whore.
Tanya began to turn away from Sam as if her body was thinking of leaving, but her head was still talking to my boss. Finally, her whole self went back to her date. I looked after her, thinking dark thoughts.
“Well, that’s good news, ” Sam said with a smile. “Tanya’s available for a while.”
I bit back my urge to tell him that Tanya had made it quite clear she was available. “Oh, yeah, great, ” I said. There were so many people I liked. Why were two of the women I really didn’t care for at this wedding tonight?
Sookie, there are many men you like. Most women you’ve ever met you desperately hate. Do keep up. She’s being judgmental that Tanya is expressing interest in Sam again despite Calvin being “her date” tonight. However, Sookie is interested in multiple men and has expressed sexual interest in men other than the one she’s dating before. What gives? Oh, that’s right: if Sookie does it, she’s being in control of her sexuality. If other women do it, it’s slutty bitch whore name-calling time.
I uncorked one bottle of Royalty Blended, a premium blend of synthetic blood and the real blood of actual European royalty.
Does this make sense to anyone? Because royal blood would, actually, taste no different. This isn’t like vintage wine. How does anyone tell if it’s actually from royalty? Why is there a great big deal raised over this when America is supposed to be anti-monarchy and woo-woo-democracy? Why is it exclusively only European (and therefore white) royalty? Ah yes, people of color have gross blood?
When he knew he’d caught my attention, he put his hands together and bowed slightly. Since I’d been reading a mystery set in Thailand, I knew this was a wai, a courteous greeting practiced by Buddhists–or maybe just Thai people in general? Anyway, he meant to be polite. After a brief hesitation, I put down the rag in my hand and copied his movement. The vampire looked pleased. “I call myself Jonathan, ” he said. “Americans can’t pronounce my real name. “
There might have been a touch of arrogance and contempt there, but I couldn’t blame him.
Oh eat shit and choke, Charlaine Harris. Put a chainsaw up your eye socket. First, it’s likely she knows about this gesture for the same reason Sookie does: which is to read mysteries usually written by viciously racist white expat scum, and I’m sorry if that’s your window into the rest of the world you’re fucked well and good (and if that’s what you choose as your window into the rest of the world, what does that tell us about you?). Secondly, unless Jonathan is service staff and catering to tourists, he wouldn’t be performing this gesture.
Know why? Because westerners don’t deserve this kind of respect. I certainly never direct this gesture at any white westerner. A Thai person abroad would have no reason to do it because we don’t expect westerners to understand the gesture, and there’s no reason to show them such subservience. It’s stupid. Finally, “I call myself Jonathan”? No. This is ridiculous moronic bullshit. This tells me Charlaine Harris couldn’t be arsed to google up actual Thai names. Fuck you, Charlaine Harris, and go back to your racist shithole never to emerge again. Wallow in your own feces.
Jonathan was a smallish man, maybe five foot eight, with the light copper coloring and dusky black hair of his country. He was really handsome. His nose was small and broad, his lips plump. His brown eyes were topped with absolutely straight black brows. His skin was so fine I couldn’t detect any pores.
Does she think Asians are made of latex? This isn’t a description applied to vampires in general either. It’s this one man who for some reason has no pores. Who even notices that? What kind of creep is Charlaine Harris? What the hell is “dusky black hair”? Why does she think these features are “of his country”? Does she know we’ve got a significant population that’s neither of these things? How can your nose be simultaneously small and broad? Does Harris speak English or some animal gibberish dialect that only racists use?
Jonathan is also referred to as “the Asian vampire” or “I’m talking about the Asian guy; he’s maybe Thai?” Sookie, naturally, never refers to anyone as “the white vampire.” Watch that othering language, klanslady Charlaine Harris.
“Sookie, am I getting the wrong idea, or do you dislike Tanya?”
“I do have something against Tanya, ” I said. “I’m just not sure I should tell you about it. You clearly like her.”
“If you don’t like to work with her, I want to hear the reason, ” he said. “You’re my friend. I respect your opinion.”
This was very pleasant to hear.”Tanya is pretty, ” I said. “She’s bright and able. ” Those were the good things.
“And she came here as a spy, ” I said. “The Pelts sent her, trying to find out if I had anything to do with the disappearance of their daughter Debbie. You remember when they came to the bar?”
Sookie, why do you keep trying to make the Pelts out to be evil for trying to find out what happened to their missing daughter? You know, the daughter you killed? Why do you keep trying to paint Tanya as this evil bitch because she comes here on behalf of a possibly-grieving and stressed-out family? Is it your murderer’s guilt?
“So, I wasn’t happy to see Tanya, ” I continued. “I didn’t trust her from the start, and when I found out why she’d come to Bon Temps, I got really down on her. I don’t know if she still gets paid by the Pelts. Plus, tonight she’s here with Calvin, and she’s got no business hitting on you.”
Sookie, you lust after multiple men even when you’re dating someone all the time. Why do you write your character as a judgmental slut-shaming hypocritical stain, Ms Harris? Why the double standards?
“But if you want to go out with her, go ahead,” I said, trying to lighten up. “I mean–she can’t be all bad. And I guess she thought she was doing the right thing, coming to help find information on a missing shifter.” That sounded pretty good and might even be the truth. “I don’t have to like who you date, ” I added, just to make it clear I understood I had no claim on him.
“Yeah, but I feel better if you do, ” he said.
Ah, do you see. This is one of the many instances where Sookie’s prejudices, irrational hatred, and general fuckery are confirmed and endorsed by other characters (generally men, because men’s opinions are the most important). This is how you know she’s not an unreliable narrator, but the book’s ultimate and highest moral authority, not least due to her tendency to violate everyone’s privacy and dig through the contents of their brain.
His eyes flickered. He hadn’t expected me to persist in questioning. He had expected to be able to calm me, maybe at this moment was trying to coerce me with his glamour. But that just didn’t work on me.
This is Eric, by the way. Whom she’s attracted to. Whom she ends up with (and has had a relationship with previously). Somehow the whole “he constantly attempts to coerce me with glamour” isn’t a deal-breaker, but then again she has kindly feelings toward her rapist too, so whatever. And of course, Eric and Bill are hot white men, not men of color or women. Anything they do at any time is excusable; they cannot be held responsible for anything, because they lurrrrve Sookie and Sookie lurves them too.
Bill’s database contained pictures and/or biographies of all the vampires he’d been able to locate all over the world, and a few he’d just heard about. Bill’s little CD was making more money for his boss, the queen, than I could ever have imagined. But you had to be a vampire to purchase a copy, and they had ways of checking.
This is unbelievably stupid. It’s obvious Charlaine Harris knows nothing about technology, but this is rudimentary stuff: what happens if a vampire makes copies of this database? There have been vampires who work with anti-vampire groups before. They only need to upload this to a torrent tracker somewhere and within an hour it’ll become public knowledge available to anyone. No amount of DRM will protect this CD. Any DRM can be cracked, and if Bill is so ignorant that he decides selling this data on CDs is a good idea it’s doubtful he is capable of some supernatural encryption that’s proof against everything.
“Does the chauffeur eat at the same table as him?” I’d never dealt with employees. We just had the one table here in the kitchen. I sure wasn’t going to make the man sit on the back steps.
“Oh, God,” she said. This had clearly never occurred to her. “What will we do about Marley?”
“That’s what I’m asking you.” I may have sounded a little too patient.
Keep in mind that Amelia is extremely stressed and nervous because her father is a scary man and he’s coming to visit. Does Sookie sympathize? No, of course not! Amelia’s a woman, not a hot white man, so Sookie the perpetually self-absorbed purveyor of bullshit is already thinking she’s “a little too patient” with this silly bitch who’s her roommate. A roommate so awesome she constantly cleans the house. A roommate who contributes to the rent and adds to the furnishings. Sookie is an ungrateful narcissist.
I said hello to Maxine Fortenberry and her husband, Ed, as I reached the parking lot. Maxine was large and formidable, and Ed was so shy and quiet he was almost invisible.
There’s something I don’t like about the contrast here, which is the implication that a “large, formidable woman” must necessarily cow her husband into being so shy and quiet he’s “almost invisible.” It’s very odd, and given the existing pattern of Sookie hating all women, well.
“Holly’s a real nice girl.” I wasn’t sure I would have put it quite that way if I’d had time to think
Yes, yes, Sookie, we know you hate all women and you can barely, barely make yourself not murder them on the spot.
I pasted a smile on my face and went to Piggly Wiggly. I fished Amelia’s list out of my purse. It was pretty long, but I was sure there’d be additions by now. I called her on my cell phone, and she had already thought of three more items to add, so I was some little while in the store.
My arms were weighed down with plastic bags as I struggled up the steps to the back porch.
This is another thing I hate about these books (and many other books like it)–why this dwelling on mundane details about which nobody gives a shit? I know, it’s to make Sookie more “relatable,” to make her life seem more real or whatever. But it bogs down the narrative, fails to advance either plot or characterization, and exposes an unflattering adoration of the banal.
I straightened my spine, chilled my anxious brain
She chills what? How is this accomplished? By straightening the spine? I don’t think human physiology works like that.
He sipped the wine, which was an Arkansas label, and nodded politely. Well, at least he didn’t spit it out. I seldom drink, and I’m no kind of wine connoisseur. In fact, I’m not a connoisseur of anything at all.
I think this is supposed to make us think that Sookie is a lovely, sensible, down-to-earth woman. But instead it conveys that she has no standards. In anything. Including men, seeing that she still has fond feelings toward the one who raped her and the one who shamed her for her reactions to the rape.
“You have family in the area?”
“Oh, yes, we’ve been here forever, ” I said. “Or as close to forever as Americans get.”
No, Sookie, you mean “as close to forever as descendants of white people who committed genocide get.” Watch that spelling.
I didn’t like my brother’s wife much, and I thought it was entirely possible that any kids they had would be pretty rotten. In fact, one was on the way right now, if Crystal didn’t miscarry again.
What has Crystal done to Sookie? To my knowledge, nothing. What does Sookie know about her suitability as a mother? Nothing.
“My cousin Hadley was wild. She used drugs and people. She wasn’t the most stable person in the world. She was really pretty, and she had a way about her, so she always had admirers.
Yet another woman who has done nothing in particular to Sookie except exist. Incidentally, Hadley is bi. She is also dead. Her lover, the vampire queen, also ends up dead. In a previous book, a gay vampire was also a pedophile (and committed suicide to avoid raping any more children) and a black gay cook was raped and murdered. Charlaine Harris, champion of gay folks.
Why hadn’t [Hadley] mentioned the child in her will? Surely any parent would do that. And though she’d named Mr. Cataliades and me as the joint executors, she hadn’t told either of us– well, she hadn’t told me–that she had relinquished her rights to her child, either.
Because who gives a fuck? Giving birth to a baby doesn’t mean she’s forged a magical connection to it forever, Sookie. Maybe she hated her husband? Maybe it’s because she realized she liked women and didn’t want reminders that she had once touched a dick? Could you be a little bit less shitty and judgmental to a dead woman?
This was not the first time Amelia had neglected to tell me about a caller. I wasn’t pleased, but it was water under the bridge, and our day had been stressful enough.
Witness, as usual: a woman does something annoying but completely trivial. Sookie holds a grudge and criticizes her all out of proportion. This comes up a lot with Amelia.
we had shared blood often enough to have a much stronger tie than I liked. In fact, I loathed our bond, one we’d been compelled to forge. But when I heard his voice, I felt content. When I was with him, I felt beautiful and happy. And there was nothing I could do about it.
Yes, there is, Sookie: cut all connections and don’t meet him. But we all know you will forgive an Aryan man anything (she even felt bad for the pedophile vampire by the way).
He was built to swing a heavy sword to hew down his enemies. Eric’s golden blond hair sprang back like a lion’s mane from a bold forehead. There was nothing epicene about Eric, nothing ethereally beautiful, either. He was all male.
No one wants to know about your gender-essentialist claptrap, Charlaine Harris.
Part two (and counting) coming when it’s coming. In the meantime, amuse yourself by reading through this mindless cockrot.
Charlaine Harris considers herself a feminist and I think that’s evident in her writing. She doesn’t call women who are sexually active sluts, or glorify domestic violence and abuse (check out Peppermintyrose’s analysis of rape-as-romance, for more on this misappropriation of Sookie’s character), or promote a sense of male entitlement or masculine privilege, and she presents many diverse racial, ethnic, and sexual identities.
Hahahahaha fuck off.