Busy freaking out

I have been reading books but not posting reviews of them.  This is mainly due to three factors: school having started, me having a ‘sode, and the damn damn damn hurricane.

I’m going to go ahead and blame it mostly on the hurricane, though that really isn’t fair.  But who cares?  HURRICANES ARE VILE.  Today a really loud whooshing noise woke me up which may have been a great big enormous jet plane going over my head, and I suspect that this is ALL THE FAULT OF THE HURRICANE.  I say no to hurricanes.  No more hurricanes.  Not one bit of a nasty unpleasant hurricane.  Definitely we will have to wait on having more hurricanes until someone has developed a workable group therapy for PTSD that is focused on things like hurricanes (rather than things like car accidents).  When such a therapy has been developed, then we can talk about it.  It will be another few years.  BACK OFF, GUSTAV.

Why I Don’t Like Those Vampire Books by Stephenie Meyer

I’m getting so much anger from Twilight fans I thought I’d go ahead and actually say why I think these books are bad. It’s not because they contain vampires (you’re talking to a girl who owns all seven seasons of Buffy and all but the last one of Angel), and it’s not because the characters contemplate having sex (I’m all for sex – plus, see above with the Buffy and the Angel, cause Buffy at least has people having sex all over the place, and not infrequently sex with vampires), and it’s certainly not anything to do with any belief of mine that teenagers don’t have to make difficult choices about relationship and a zillion other things (cause, you know, I was a teenager lo these many years ago).

I laugh about these books because they’re badly written and very, very silly, but I seriously do have problems with them. To wit:

The main one: The fact that there are dozens and hundreds and thousands of girls who are reading these books and finding Edward sexy and romantic. This creeps me out and gives me concern that they are going to grow up and not notice when their boyfriends are acting weird and stalkery. Stalkers = bad. Cause let’s review. In the first place, he desperately wants to kill her. (Bad.) Plus he’s scary and threatening and says things that suggest he’s up for killing people and is dangerous to her. (Bad.) He also tells her massive lies and treats her like an idiot, all the time, but especially when she suspects he’s lying. (Bad.) But she disregards all of these things because she “feels safe” with him. Balance of power issues much?

He eavesdrops on her conversations with her friends by listening to their minds. She doesn’t seem awfully bothered about how intrusive that is to her, and she’s completely unphased by how intrusive it is to her friends. (Which makes sense since she really doesn’t ever seem to give a crap about them anyway.) The boy is listening to people’s brains to make sure Bella’s safe, and by this means he saves her from four more of the Washington State men who can’t resist her charms. And, you know, that’s nice, that he saves her life, but think about it: If you knew a guy and you kinda liked him and then you discovered he’d, I don’t know, tapped your phone and was listening to all your phone conversations, would you think, That’s sweet, he must be trying to save my life, or would you think, Damn, he’s a stalker. Better watch out for stalker boy there, with all the stalking.

Oh, right, and he comes into her room without her permission or knowledge and watches her sleep. She knows she should be outraged, but instead she’s just flattered. Because he cares enough about her to break into her house and spy on her.

When she’s with Edward, she isolates herself from every other person in her life – friends and family – and spends all her time only with him. Again with the bad, because when the relationship breaks up, she has no one to support her. They’re constantly claiming that they need each other – neediness isn’t romantic, people! – to the extent that when they lose each other in New Moon they sink into deep depressions, can’t do anything normal ever again, and have much contemplating of suicide.

Uh-huh. That’s a functional relationship.

And here’s another thing: Gender roles. Nobody ever strays from theirs. Bella requires lots of rescuing and isn’t so good about the making of decisions. She doesn’t like sports or fishing because these things, they are boring (unless it’s sexy vampires playing sports). Know what she is good at? Cooking! Aaaaaaaaaaand dress-shopping! Her father can’t cook but he can fix cars. So can Jacob. And Edward. Much with the car-fixing among the dudes in these books.

The trashy accusation I stand by pretty firmly. Again not because of vampires and not because of the mad sexual tension (I can deal), but because these characters are never even remotely developed – what does Bella ever do apart from swoon over Edward and fall over her own feet? Edward’s handsome and reads minds, and he loves Bella and he doesn’t want to be a monster – voila, I’ve summed up Edward for you right there. And of course, with cardboard characters, you’re not likely to end up with fascinating relationships, and indeed, there’s no attempt to deal with relationships honestly. People who are in love get very, very worried when their significant other is in danger. And, uh, they tell each other lies to manipulate each other into doing what they want, and they never call each other on this behavior, ever. They’re just like, Oh, ha, ha, ha, you’ve outwitted me this time, you vixen! This peaks in Eclipse but happens, really, throughout the series.

And it is badly written. It’s just cliche after cliche after cliche. And not even any irony about the using of the cliches. Sheesh.

Most of this, honestly, I don’t care about. Nobody’s making me read books I don’t like, and if I don’t like Ms. Meyer’s books I don’t have to carry on reading them. (I may read the last one though – I don’t do that attacking-books-I-haven’t-read thing, as a trend. At least not seriously.) But I am genuinely bothered by the bad messages the book’s sending to its readers. Books are mighty and help many people to normalize. Life reflects art (as my beloved Oscar Wilde says). I have great fear that these books are creating a generation of women who’ll think stalking is sexy and exciting.

It’s not. Stalking = bad. It doesn’t generally lead to the saving of the stalked person’s life, as in Bella’s case. More heads in the direction of heightened emotional and physical abuse. Of which we are not fans.

I’m funny!

Says Box of Books.  (Though I think I’m only very occasionally funny.)  But I still like filling up questiony things.  Oo, except for when you have to bubble in bubbles like on standardized tests.  Once I knew what the pattern of my name was – up-spike at the E, drastic down-spike for the Y – which was around first grade – it got boring.

What kind of a book are you comfortable reading?

To be honest, the ones I’ve read before.  And every now and again, I come across a new book that feels comfortable, but there doesn’t seem to be any pattern about what kind of book it is.  Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell felt very comfortable, and so did Greensleeves the first time I read it; and His Majesty’s Dragon, as I’ve said, was like taking a nice hot bath (if you like hot baths…I don’t.  But I hear some people do.  So I guess it’s more like someone else taking a nice hot bath).  But I guess with new books, maybe memoirs?  I tend to like good memoirs.

What kind of a book do you love to hate?

Those inspirationaly books like A Purpose-Driven Life.  Kind of unfair since I’ve no idea what the guy has to say, but every time I see books that look like that, I want to hide them behind other, better books.  (Sometimes I do.)

What was the last book you surprised yourself by liking?

The Satanic Verses.  I was completely expecting to hate it.  I was reading it to get it over with so I could move on to reading Salman Rushdie’s other, better books, because I thought I was going to really, really dislike The Satanic Verses.  I started it once and didn’t care for it, that’s why.  But now, of course, having liked it a lot, I’m loath to read his other books (The Moor’s Last Sigh and Shalimar the Clown, that would be), in case they don’t measure up like how Fury and Shame didn’t measure up, and I’ll go off Salman Rushdie again.  Yes, I think a lot of thoughts.

What was the last book you surprised yourself by disliking?

I would say Waiting for Daisy, but the review I read of it before I read it kind of prepared me for the possibility of not liking it.  Before that, I guess Affinity by Sarah Waters.  I like Sarah Waters and I like spiritualism, so I don’t know where the bad was, but I couldn’t be bothered finishing it.

What would be the worst book to be marooned on a desert island with?

See, my first thought was Moby Dick.  But really, that wouldn’t be so bad.  It’s long, it’s got layers – I hate it now, but I can see growing to love it.  So now I don’t know.  I’m thinking – Barbara Cartland, The Sun Also Rises, a book of Wallace Stevens’ poems… I’m going to have to go with The Sun Also Rises.  I know it doesn’t say anything good about me that I’d rather have Barbara Cartland than Ernest Hemingway, but there it is.  The Sun Also Rises is short, it’s sexist, it’s dull, and I can’t stand Ernest Hemingway.

(Ernest Hemingway anecdote: One time I was walking past the civics classroom at my high school, which was taught by this insane woman who told us that when her daughter got kissed at the altar “it was very, very special because it was her very first kiss” (doubtful), and the woman was in there talking about expatriates.  She said, “I know a lot of you like Johnny Depp, but you should all know he’s an expatriate.  Anyone know any others?” and someone said Ernest Hemingway, and she said, “And look what happened to him!  (Pause) Suicide!”)

What book would you take with you if you suspected you might be marooned in the near future?

While this would depend on what size bag I had with me, I have to be unoriginal here and say the Bible.  It’s very long and written by a lot of different authors, giving it an edge over 1001 Nights or a complete works of Shakespeare.  But I might also consider taking the complete Sandman if I could get such a thing.

What forces you to read outside your comfort zone?

I don’t know.  I guess having read all my comforting books really, really recently, and desperately wanting something new to read, and being aware that a new book could become a comforting book very quickly like that time we went camping over Easter my junior year of high school and I spent the entire time in the cabin reading the Amelia Peabody series (wow, that was fun).  That’s pretty much the driving force behind reading other people’s book blogs.

The most unbelievable luck

So there was a book fair today, right, and do you know what I bought for one dollar, one dollar?

A shiny clean hardback of Crocodile on the Sandbank. For a dollar. A hundred pennies.

Wow.

I also got hardbacks of To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of King Midas, Stuart Little, The Trumpet of the Swan, Thursday’s Child, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Twilight, and The Little Lame Prince. All of these things, plus some assorted paperbacks, for a grand total of $20.10. I am one happy camper.

Edit on Friday to add: Oh I am so happy.  Today I got Shadow of the Moon in hardback, an earlier edition evidently than the one my mother has, as it is differently organized (more focus on Alex, it seems) and shorter.  I also got a book of Audubon for my father, a book of Robert Browning, a sweet little Latin grammar from the late 1890s,  and a book entitled The Tremaynes and the Masterful Monk, which now that I investigate turns out to be the third in a series of books by an ex-Anglican Catholic convert.  I foresee great things for me and Masterful Monk.  If nothing else, its title never fails to make me giggle.  Masterful Monk.  Oh, God, life’s too good.

Confession

I am a bad blogger, both here and on my regular blog.  This is because I am insanely busy with schoolwork (ugh, it never ends), and trying to secure my future in 500-1000 words; and when all that business is over with, I will still be a bad blogger because I have just discovered that in spite of being initially very unimpressed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it is actually a lot like crack cocaine in that I absolutely cannot stop now that I have started.  This is true to such a vast extent that I have had to give all the Buffy DVDs I borrowed from my sister to my mother to hide from me, so that I can’t put off writing my paper by watching Buffy.

Sheesh.

I just have to say

I’m in the middle of The Semi-Detached House, and I’m definitely much more charmed by it than I was by The Semi-Attached Couple. I like Blanche so far much more than I did Helen, and I am now definitely feeling the Jane-Austen-esque but bitchier thing. Behold:

“Are you going to this concert, Baroness?”

“No; it seems odd, but we are not asked this time,” said the Baroness, with an air of modest pride. “I suspect we are out of favour at Court, but a Drawing-Room is my aversion, and I have been sadly remiss this year; absolutely neglected the Birthday, which was very naughty of me, and so I am left out of this party.”

As that had been invariably her fate with regard to all parties at the Palace, the resignation she evinced had probably become a matter of habit; but she hinted an intention of bringing the Queen to her senses by staying away from the next Drawing-Room too.