The Refrigerator Monologues, Catherynne M. Valente

I’m in the middle of a great book right now, and while I definitely had planned on being done with it so I could post my review, life had other plans. As a result, I’m digging into the back catalogue of exceptional books I read on maternity leave, and The Refrigerator Monologues immediately presented itself.

the-refrigerator-monologues-coverIn case you’re not familiar with the concept of “fridging” a character, it’s short for “women in refrigerators” (I didn’t know this, but apparently the term originated with a Green Lantern storyline, where the hero’s girlfriend was killed and put into a fridge for him to find). It’s used when a female character is killed, maimed, stripped of power, and/or raped by the villain for the express purpose of furthering the male hero’s journey.

This happens on television all the time. I can’t count how many shows I’ve quit watching after one (or more – often more) great female characters are fridged to motivate a man to action. It’s an infuriating trope, which is why I was so delighted to find this dark gem, a book that follows the stories of fridged victims – both superheroes and the girlfriends of superheroes – and gives them the spotlight they were robbed of.

I’ve enjoyed Valente’s more family friendly fairy tales for years, and it was fascinating to see this side of her work. While I wouldn’t recommend this book to just anyone – even fans of hers may be wary of the language and themes – for those who find the fridge frustrating, who debate pointless character deaths bitterly with friends, who could just do with a breather from mainstream fascination with the exquisite pain of the white male journey, this one’s for you.

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