Anger in Steinberg’s Stories

I’m interested in Steinberg’s motivations behind writing Spectacle. In reading some of her interviews about the book, I found that a theme of anger seemed to be running through her thoughts about why this collection came about. In her interview with Matt Bell of Bookslut, she seems to be saying that the book allowed her to access anger that she “hadn’t, but should have, experienced.” What is this anger? And how do we see Steinberg — or the narrators in general — experiencing it and engaging with it? I think there is an anger present in these stories that is catalyzed by gender — or, the perceptions surrounding gender, and the way that gender is received in our contemporary contexts. For example, in “Superstar,” she’s writing about her encounter with two men in a parking lot after she’s hit the first one’s car with her own car. When the second man defends her, the narrator explains: “As for the rest of you. Just know I knew it was good to be a woman” (9). The “rest of you” is meant to be male, I think. The narrator exclaims later that is is actually bad to be a woman, at least it was in the parking lot context, truly. I think the way that the narrator qualifies her statements gives some indication of her perception of the female gender, and her reactions to how she is perceived as a female by others. The “goodness,” to an outsider, is the way that this second man defended her and aided her — because she was a helpless woman in need. The badness at root, though (I infer) is the almost debilitating place this puts our narrator in. She realizes the way that she is viewed by these men, as unable to help herself, as helped or scolded in these particular ways only because she is a female.

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