3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
In Damn Females on the Lawn, author Rachel Hurd foresees a future where women belong to lawn groups. What’s a lawn group? It’s a group of women, ostensibly from the same general neighborhood, who adopt a cause about which they are passionate and get together regularly to discuss various subjects that generally fall in or around that topic. And they usually do this – you guessed it – on the lawn of one of the member’s homes.
The book was published in 2017 by Mill City Press, Inc. My ebook comes in at 86 pages, but minus introductory pages and several blank pages between some chapters, it’s probably a total of about 60 pages of text.
The blurb on Amazon describes the book as a “visionary fiction” that takes place in a “future world.” But don’t let the phrase “future world” conjure up anything science fiction-y; the book is not at all about that. While a couple of statements tend to hint at some technology or something that doesn’t yet exist (such as "concussion devices" to test NFL players during a game, and rapists having to wear red “R”s on their clothes, or yellow ones for “teen love”), these are mostly throw-away comments and do not at all define the dominant focus of the book.
In a nutshell, the book is a series of discussions by a group of women in one particular lawn group; these discussions are always about issues that are important to women, and from a rather feminist viewpoint. Although the book is set in the future, the issues it addresses are quite relevant to 2017.
The narrative follows the casual meetings and discussions of the Kevin Lawn Group. (Other lawn groups in the fictitious city of Aurora are named It Runs Deep, Men are Joyful, I’ve Been Raped, Take Back Your Fashion, Waxing Poetic, Shout it Outs, and United to End Internet Talk about Women.) The Kevin Lawn Group is comprised of six women – Winifred, Yazmine, Caprice, Devon, Luna, and Norma. Each short chapter – of no more than four pages – has them meeting at one of their homes and discussing a specific topic. Among the subjects discussed are problems at work, women CEOs, Hollywood’s portrayal of women, being taken advantage of by mechanics, marriage, menstrual cycles, beauty, women they admire, dating and sex, and a lot about sexism and gender discrimination. Occasionally the Kevin Lawn Group visits another lawn group and participates in the discussion. Only once is there a bit of tension among the different groups.
The actual narrative comments of the book – the voice of the author – are sparse and unimportant. The author, in order to move the “story” along, throws in details about where the women are meeting or what they are eating or drinking, but these comments simply bookend the dialogue and don’t add anything to the whole, nor are they intended to. It’s a very dialogue-heavy book, comprised mostly of conversations among the women of the Kevin Lawn Group about whatever subject happens to be at hand. As such, there is no rising action/climax/falling action/resolution here. There is no plot. It’s just women talking.
It’s difficult to find a category for this book. It’s fiction, but there is no story, no conflict, no drama, and no character development; although there are six different women involved in the discussions, they don’t stand out as individuals in any way, and we never find out much about them. But that’s not necessarily a criticism. I suppose the important thing here isn’t the characters or setting, but the general message voiced by the collective whole: the world is still unfair to women, and that’s mostly the fault of men.
The book isn’t hard to read, as the dialogue is written in a fairly conversational, natural manner, and the discussions flow and have a natural feel to them. Although there is no plot to speak of, the book held my attention insomuch as I wasn’t uninterested in finding out what the next subject to be discussed would be and what opinions would be offered. As mentioned earlier, the chapters are from two to four pages, so each separate topic is discussed briefly and then we are whisked away to the next day and a brand new topic.
I might mention that the blurb on Amazon states that the Kevin Lawn Group, while not appearing to be the most radical, “might be the most extreme of them all.” The final chapter reveals why, but no spoilers!
Overall, I didn’t love this book, but I liked it. I’m the opposite gender of the principals, which may or may not have played a role in forming my overall impression. I suppose men and women who are more passionate about feminist causes will like the overarching theme and find things to cheer about. Of course, I can’t disagree with the general idea that women continue be treated unfairly and are discriminated against because of gender. And the canvas on which he author chose to present this theme is unusual and original.
It’s a “message” book, and there isn’t much more to say about it. The writing manages to get up off the page a little bit; it isn’t stellar, nor is it bad. But since the majority of the book is dialogue, it isn’t expected to be high literature. Because of the principal characters and theme, I’ll go out on a limb and say that this book might appeal more to women, and especially to those who feel strongly about gender equality and feminist issues. I rate Damn Females on the Lawn 3 out of 4 stars.
Damn Females on the Lawn
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Like PashaRu's review? Post a comment saying so!