Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh, and with a note of honesty, the problem the Yarn Harlot describes here is also my current problem. Although, I have nothing finished from my trip, not even the things I was meant to finish before I left, so I'm even worse.

spotting the wonder

I realized this morning as I tried to pry The Wonder Spot from my hands that the reason I like Melissa Bank's writing so much is that she's so remarkably good at a first person narrative. In general, I get irritated by novels in first person, which I began to think was just a preference, but then when I read good first person, I realize that I don't have issues with the style, I take issue with folks who just don't know what it should be.

Not to take horrible steps backward, but if you look at Twilight, nothing about it needed a first person narrative. And it reminds me of something I said when I was in a writing class in college, a lot of writers use first person because they don't have the energy to separate themselves from the story. I should also note that I was about two steps away from becoming a huge Edith Wharton fan (I still am, but I'm no longer a new fan, I'm a seasoned and respectable fan). There are also a couple of other things I've noticed about the first person narrative: diehard fans of that particular voice tend to be younger (or maybe I was just younger when I liked it a lot, but I do think it tends to draw you into the experience more when you're younger) and many writers of first person stories tend to not describe as much.

This isn't to say that there aren't awesome first person authors, because there are; it's just that sometimes people forget the skill required to pull it off. And I was about to go into my arguments on the chick lit sub-genre, but it's getting me a bit riled up, which leads me to the slippery slope towards yelling about Switzerland in 1971 (when women finally got the vote in that backwards nation). But I will say that if Candace Bushnell exemplifies modern chick lit, Melissa Bank deserves better that to be grouped there. Bank is such a plainly honest writer and so separate from the consumerism that seems to typify the new chick lit, that she should be exempt from genre definitions. And now I need to know when her next book comes out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's been about a week now since I finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and I'm still trying to decide if I liked it. And part of me is worried that I'm judging it as an adult, separated from the time the book depicts.

Things I really liked about it:
-The letter to a "friend" device. There's something freeing about that idea. It reminds me of Postsecret a lot, and I love Postsecret. There's an element of unflinching honesty at the same time that there's an element of self-censoring.

-The coverage of so many teen issues.

-The growth in Charlie's voice over the course of all those letters.

Things I didn't like:
-Sometimes, especially in the beginning, it felt like I was reading a letter written by a 12-year-old, not a kid who was supposedly tremendously bright.

-The layers and layers of abuse storylines. I'm not denying that this aspect is probably very honest to some, but it seemed overdone. It's as if once you adjust to one person's story involving sexual abuse, another is added. And I'll admit that it helps explains some things, but then it gets in the way of other aspects of the story.

-Charlie wore me thin, and it's a thin book. That's why it took so long to finish. I could only take that kid in small doses.

And I think what Sam describes as a wallflower is only related to Charlie at brief moments and for particular people. Charlie never gets to know much about the people he doesn't love completely.

I think I'm voting that I didn't like the book enough to say that I liked it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sometimes, the day is only salvageable because of xkcd

And sometimes the difference between a good and bad day is how long it takes me to notice xkcd's random function.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Work is defeating me and I am tired of thinking about chlorinated solvents.

The shawl that I need to wear next Saturday is beating me, but only because work has depressed my strength.

I am resenting a tree planting that I'm going to on Saturday because it interferes with my ability to finish work and the shawl before I go to New York on Monday. Then there are the various wedding and new baby gifts that I'm resenting too. I am a walking vessel of resentment.

Although, escaping to New York for a little over a week sounds lovely. Except that people will be calling me from California and forgetting the time difference, or worse calling from Guam. Plus, there's the bonus points associated with seeing one of my best friends that I don't get to see often enough. If only there was time to jaunt down to Connecticut to visit my former home of four years. But I do get to go to Niagara Falls finally and be the weirdo looking for things that were in Wonderfalls.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

bits of random

Things that were ignored during the Twilight overdose:

The Chihuly exhibit at the DeYoung...There are moments when the art world seems to do everything in its power to piss me off. Kenneth Baker did it. It's how he takes the word "decorative" and turns it into a pejorative. It's like taking the word "craft" and translating it as "scrapbooking." He claimed that Chihuly's pieces were empty, which also makes me wonder if he really saw them. I'm not saying that Dale Chihuly has depicted peace or agony in glass, but art is more than what one person who doesn't feel it thinks. Art is what any one individual makes of it. And sometimes art is defined more by the audience than the artist. To presume that because he walked out of that room empty, that I would do the same, is arrogance. Or that's my stand at least. And I am a girl who loves everything Marcel Duchamp ever did, especially the snow shovel.

Then, there's the picture I finally took of my beloved battlestar museum...the deYoung.

And the tomato that decided to arrive just before autumn. It will be a miracle if it turns red.

So far, the only thing that has endeared the American Life on Mars to me is the David Bowie song. Harvey Keitel is not Philip Glenister. Gretchen Mol is not Liz White. It's the sort of thing that it hard to like because you loved the original. It has to exceed at such an extreme level in order to manage against sincere affection. Not to mention, I love the end of the British Life on Mars, and knowing that the American show won't take the same course hurts. But I hope that Americans like it because it is a good show, I just can't give it my vote. Harvey Keitel is not Philip Glenister.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

But Awesomeness While I'm Recovering

Magic For Beginners as a free download! I love Kelly Link! Her writing is weird and subtle, which are both lovely things.

the book that no longer is

My sister was on vacation last week, so yesterday when I was halfway through Breaking Dawn and she called to discuss something like being scarred by the horrible pasta she had, I mentioned why I hated Breaking Dawn. And it's not just a dull hate, it's full out hate. Let's say I can ignore the fact that I feel like Meyer betrayed her characters, there's the crushing fact that the book was nothing more than some horrible SciFi Channel movie that you look at the ad for and ask "Who would spend the money?" But I can't ignore the betrayal, it hurt when suddenly the character I loved became someone else. It hurt when Bella made so many horrible and wrong decisions that I couldn't even pretend to like her. And so what did I tell my sister? "I hate this book like the Matrix sequels, and like the Matrix sequels, once I finish this book, I will no longer acknowledge it." So, this is my last acknowledgment of the book. In my mind, there's a book that will never be written that was the true end to the series. There's an end where Bella chooses Jacob, where she chooses her mother and father over vampirism, where she makes the right choices.

Okay, let's say I didn't think Jacob was awesome until the book I will shortly ignore. Even if I didn't like him, the Edward I would have expected would have been a better man, a man who knew what was wrong and what was right. A vampire having sex with a human? That's wrong. A vampire marrying a human? That's wrong. A vampire claiming to love a human letting her choose mortal danger over safety? That's wrong. Everything the whiny, little vampire does as it relates to Bella is wrong. Everything that his family condones is wrong. For moral vampires, they're lacking in sense and morality as it relates to human interaction. If they were the good guys they claimed, they would have stayed away from Bella. They should have stayed away from her, even if Mr. Whiny found her irresistible. Even if they wanted Edward to not be lonely, letting him develop that great a fondness for a human was wrong. It's morally reprehensible of them to let it go on. It's a matter of safety. My only wish is that when Bella went cliff jumping that one time, that Jacob had been there, because then we would have had a responsible story.

This is of course also ignores the fact that Bella Swan is an idiot on so many levels, and I say this as I mention that her lack of self-worth is disturbing. Why's she an idiot?

1) Her safety is ignored.
2) Her family's safety is ignored.
3) She's willing to die for what's killing her.
4) She chooses someone who struggles not to kill her with every breath over someone who struggles to protect her.
5) She has sex with a vampire.
6) She marries a vampire.
7) She chooses an eternity with a vampire over her family. (I actually find this offensive. It makes me hate Bella.) It's one thing if her family's horrible, but they aren't. And for someone who thinks so poorly of herself, why does she want eternity when she fears that he might not even want her for real?

What I did like about the book?

On page 611, there's a footnote made after a comment that made me crack up. I love that sort of thing. I love the self awareness Meyer left in that comment.

And then, when Bella hears the child's nickname, she screams that someone gave the girl the nickname of the Loch Ness monster. I loved that bit.

But now, the book no longer exists.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

eclipse-y twilight

If I don't finish the Twilight saga this weekend, I promise you I will crumble in defeat and tears of fatigue. I just can't maintain this schedule anymore. And I can honestly say that in spite of all marriage talk in Eclipse, which does make me vomit a bit, I think I might like it as much as Twilight. And if I'm honest about my honesty, 90% of that has to do with Jacob Black who is plain endearing; the other 10% has to do with Edward realizing he might lose the Bella battle. Because damn it, Jacob is the right choice. Now I'm just afraid of all of the wedding talk in Breaking Dawn.

On other notes, Cat Bordhi kicks ass.