The Refrigerator Monologues

The Refrigerator Monologues, by Catherynne M. Valente, was published in 2017 by Saga Press. 
5 star

The Refrigerator Monologues does not present a solution – it rages about the problem. It’s a book about getting mad, getting sad, or getting embarrassed for the stories in the comic world. It’s about making a point and making it absolutely irrefutable so we can fix the problem and fix it now.

Refrigerator Monologues

In the series of connected stories in The Refrigerator Monologues, characters based on famous comic book women tell their stories from the afterlife. These are women who have been killed not as part of their own stories, but to progress the narratives of the men around them. One woman becomes so powerful that her male colleagues grow jealous and “need” to shut her down. Another is teased with love and affection until she gives up a key piece of intel. Of course the ultimate story is based on the original fridging, which inspired the title of the book.

So yes, The Refrigerator Monologues is more about illustrating a problem than solving that problem. Nevertheless, I love it.

I love Valente’s style – her character’s stories reads like dialogue or like stream of consciousness. They work really well as comic book stories in prose form.

I love this book’s world – for a set of short stories, there is a surprising amount of world-building, and that world-building is good.

Most of all, I love the characters. Valente has taken classic comic book women, distilled them, and created new, fleshed out, wholly sympathetic (even when they’re bad) characters from the basic pieces of the originals.

Ultimately, I finished The Refrigerator Monologues more educated than when I started the book. In fact, the book even led to a TV Tropes binge – that’s one way to know it’s good! I think any feminist comic fan who reads this book will finish it feeling both enraged and inspired – and ready for more feminist comics in the world.

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