Soniah Kamal

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'Islam is not Pakistan's religion; Marriage is'

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rebecca Traister and True Blue and Madonna and Me

Leading up to my 'Madonna and Me' talk at the Decatur Book Festival, I will be interviewing my fellow contributors. Today it's Rebecca Traister. Rebecca's essay 'Touched for the very First Time' explores if it is ever 'too late' to watch an icon live in concert. My favorite bit from Rebecca's essay 'I was nine when I watched a ratty-looking woman pleasure herself on a Venetian gondola while a panting lion looked on in the 'Like a Virgin' video and my father, glancing at the television, asked, "Who is that?" I am sure that my father, who has barely glanced at a television since, had no memory of this. But I remember. Because while I didn't understand the first thing about who she was or what she was doing to that poor lion, I knew she was fascianting. And because my mother--who also never glances at the television and had never been able to remember anybody's name, including mine-- stunned us all by informing him, "That's Madonna."
And another but I just have to quote: "The trouble is she's (Madonna) has made her own job so much harder. Whether she herself trained us not to flinch in the face of manipulated sexual and religious iconography or whether she has simply ridden the larger cultural shock wave past its crest, I'm not sure what her future as a provocateur could possibly hold.'

And here's Rebecca herself.

Favorite Madonna song and why?
True Blue/Jimmy Jimmy/La Isla Bonita, because I have such vivid and specific memories of a beach vacation with my best friends that I took the summer that album was out.

Favorite video and look?   
Two -- Material Girl because it was when I fell for her and it was so stylized and fun, and then Live To Tell because it was her first radical departure in look and she surprised me and also I loved the song.

Madonna with Nickie Minaj and MIA: Ultra Diva or Desperate? 
I think it's neither. Performers, especially ambitious performers like Madonna, want and need to stay relevant. and it's hard as a popular artist you get older and further away from youth, both your own and that of the people keeping culture relevant. I think it's fine that she's trying keep her career supple, even if she's also destined, on some level to not have the power she had as ayounger artist.
Can you tell us a little about your writing and revision process for 'A Borderline History of My Relationship with Madonna'? 
I wrote the piece very quickly for Salon, after having been to my first Madonna concert. I don't remember much about the process.

What are you working on now? 
I'm writing a book about single women that'll be published by Simon & Schuster in late 2013 or early 2014. 

Rebecca's Bio:
Rebecca Traister is the author of Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women, a New York Times Notable Book of 2010 and the winner of the Ernesta Drinker Ballard Book Prize. A feminist journalist with for the past nine years, Traister has also written about women in politics and media for The New York Times Magazine, Elle, The Nation, The New York Observer and The Washington Post. She lives in Brooklyn and is at work on a book about single women changing culture and politics, due from Simon & Schuster in 2014. 

Thanks Rebecca!

Buy Madonna and Me

Tomorrow Q & A with Caroline Leavitt

Read Q & A with  Jen Hazen
Read Q & A with Maria Raha
Read Q & A with Sarah Sweeney
Read Q & A with Joshunda Victoria Sanders
Read Q &  A with editor of the anthology Laura Barcella
Read Q &  A with Wendy Tokunaga  

Sept 1, 2012. Decatur Book Festival. Local Prose Stage. 3: 15.
Soniah Kamal will be talking about growing up Muslim with Madonna. She will also read from her essay 'Through the Wilderness'. Please join her.

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