July 30th, 2019

books - reading dreaming: coloryourdream

Reading about Wonder Woman's creator should not give me a headache

I hate it when good ideas are so poorly executed.

I checked out the ebook of Jill Lepore's The Secret History of Wonder Woman a couple weeks ago. I am most definitely not a comics person, but I did read a few WW growing up, watched the show, loved the recent movie, and knew a teensy bit about the creator, so I figured, "Why not?"

Apparently, the answer to that question is, "Because you will tear your hair out for two weeks, trying to get past the crappy editing."

The book is basically a biography of William Moulton Marston, with photographs and comic strips interspersed that relate to the telling of the story (which, in Kindle's defense, were actually legible; they often are a jumbled mess). He was a pretty out-there guy, defender of feminism, convinced of his own superiority, believer in polygamy. He created the first lie detector. He was into bondage. He wasn't nearly as smart as the women he loved. He was, in my opinion, a real asshole.

Not for these reasons. No, it's mostly because I have very little tolerance for people who are convinced they are the best thing since sliced bread. And boy does he fit that mold. He habitually lied to make himself look better. He also gave his wife ultimatums about bringing other women into their relationship. She convinced herself of the one he eventually "married" by saying this was the only way she could have children and a career at the same time. All of the women dote on him like he's the second coming, and it's infuriating.

But I'm not judging the book on the man she's trying to talk about, even if much of what went into Wonder Woman were aspects ripped from his everyday life (for instance, he gave his second "wife" bracelets that she wore all the time). No, the book doesn't work because the author, in all the research she did, all the letters she dredged up, never found a fact that wasn't worth putting into the book. The first 2/3s meanders all over the place, introducing people that have absolutely no bearing on anything before making a sharp left back to one of the principals. I got a deep dive into the rise of the birth control movement, the evolution of psychology on college campuses, various criminal trials, politics at Harvard, and so on. By the time it got to the WW stuff, I dreaded picking it up.

I wish I hadn't wasted my time. Yuck.