Perhaps there is someone in your life with exquisitely refined literary taste. Perhaps this well-read (and certainly well-bred) specimen of homo sapiens is a beloved member of your circle of family and friends. Perhaps this intimately familiar relative or friend with belletristic tastes is on your holiday gift list; and perhaps you have not yet found the perfect gift to lovingly wrap for them. And perhaps you detest this person with a burning passion.
Perhaps you would like this person to endure the worst tortures the human, humanoid, or artificially intelligent mind can devise. Perhaps you would like to inflict these tortures on this person yourself; no hired hand will do. But perhaps you would prefer to inflict these tortures in such a discreet way that no one could possibly fault you: you, this person’s innocently affectionate relative or friend! Perhaps you would like to be commended for the way you have cherished and supported this person, when in fact you have shoved them into the smokiest, dirtiest conflagration and caused them unparalleled agony.
If all these conditions happen to be met, I am pleased to present the perfect holiday gift idea! Do purchase and lovingly wrap The Woman Destroyed, a collection of three short stories by the renowned mid-twentieth-century feminist author Simone de Beauvoir. Everyone in your circle of family and friends will think this is the most intelligent, sophisticated, and delicately sumptuous holiday gift, because
- Simone de Beauvoir is famous for writing the influential feminist treatise The Second Sex, among other works;
- her books, though published many decades ago, have come into renewed popularity due to the #MeToo movement; and
- the three stories in The Woman Destroyed are very well written—they are true works of art.
And yet, . . . your recipient will experience merciless torture in the reading of this book, because
- each of the three stories features a woman enmeshed in such emotional toxicity that reading about her is physically painful;
- the three women experience so little emotional awareness that redemption is effectually unattainable; and
- the three stories in The Woman Destroyed are so very well written—they are true works of art!—that your haplessly bookish recipient will be unable to stop reading.
And there you have it—a holiday gift idea straight from the desk of Liza Achilles!
Oh, you’re so very welcome!!*
*Okay, . . . (hee-hee!) so if it wasn't obvious, this post is a joke. I read The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir earlier this year. I found it to be well written and could not stop reading for that reason. I also found it to be unremittingly depressing and difficult to keep reading for that reason. I have not read anything else by this author—though I know that, as a woman, I am beholden to the efforts of her and other feminist leaders to fight for equality. Go them!!!! Perhaps I will read another of de Beauvoir's books next year. Or, . . . er, . . . perhaps I won't.