62°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

“Brave on the Rocks” Vent for Feminine Angst

Brave on the Rocks Vent for Feminine Angst

When I was asked to review the new book by Sabrina Ward Harrison entitled “Brave on the Rocks”, I was intrigued. Complete with a foreword by actress Hilary Swank of “Boys Don’t Cry”, it is feminist literature disguised as art.

Although the cliché tells us that ‘you cannot tell a book by its cover’, I have always been a sucker for flashy packaging. This little book is no exception. Bound in that waxy, matte paper that stands up to wear and tear well, one would think this is meant to be the kind of book any young GenX woman would keep in her Eastpack. She would turn to it frequently to justify her feelings and comfort herself in the fact that there is someone else out there that feels just like her.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what the author seems to suggest. This is a scrapbook of sorts, a conglomeration of pieced-together images overlaid with the scribblings and scrawlings of Sabrina’s “secrets”. She regurgitates her twenty-something years into a collection of musings about youthful idealism, unacceptable feelings, and strange notions about life. In the midst of all this chaos, she inserts pictures of herself, her drawings, and clippings from newspapers and magazines, like splatters of paint and plaster cast into the colorful void of space.

The problem is that the reader is left completely confused about what it is she’s saying. Too complicated to be just a simple statement about life and growing up as a female, this pictorial diary strikes me as merely a published version of the scrapbook many of us kept in adolescence. Perhaps my understanding of Sabrina’s work extends only as far as my understanding of myself and this is the lesson this book is meant to teach me.

It is hard to say for certain, of course. Still, imagine the power of the press. The printing press, of course. Imagine the notion of being able to take all your little insecurities, your convictions, your sympathies and decorate a 100 page book (sans page numbers, of course, to express your individuality) and mass market it to the world. Not only would you now have the entire English-speaking world as your personal whine group, you would also be an established “sensitive artist”.

This is what Sabrina has done. It works, I suppose, or it doesn’t work, depending on your own personal outlook. Being somewhat more private about my feelings, this book was embarrassing to read as I felt like I was sharing in a part of the author’s psyche that I didn’t belong in. For the more gregarious and socially outgoing person, this may not be the case. The bottom line is that as a society we’ve become enamored of ourselves. What we do, say, think, and how we look is all something we feel we have a right to and must express. It is individualism taken too far.

As always, I encourage you who are now intrigued by this book, to take out a copy from your local library and see for yourself. Just don’t expect it to be the next great American novel.