Hag is not a nice word.
Yet there comes a time in every woman’s life when nice is tedious, when nice is insipid, seeping into the soul like souring milk, warping the mind. Indeed, nice can, at times, be all that is offensive.
Hag: it’s a fascinating word. As I speak it aloud, the sound is as smooth as an out breath. Aspirated, its vowel is extended and then clipped as if with a warning kick of death. It is a primal word, formed with barely any effort required. It whispers of cold
wind, of thick fog and the stench of stagnant water. It is a word robed in spiders’ webs, dusty and worn, unsure where to place itself on the shiny veneers of today. Lingering at the edges of life,
it waits to run a broken nail down some blackboard of the soul.
No, hag is not a nice word. Like princess or pole-dancer, the word quietly slips us a picture, and though for each of us the image may differ slightly, it invariably embodies all that is declared to be simply and irrefutably not nice in woman.
This book is about her.
It is about us all.
I've taken this quote from the beginning of 'Kissing the Hag' - it gives a flavour of the book, in terms of both the writing style and the content. It's a very readable book, in which some quite difficult subject matter is handle in prtty accessible ways.
The story of Gawain and the Loathly Lady runs through this book - a mythic counterpoint to talking about issues of modern femininity and gender relations. I've talked about that aspect of the book in more detail in another blog post - http://nimueb.booklikes.com/post/1274838/of-knights-and-hags