*Mope*

You’ve all probably seen The Twilight Saga: New Moon in lolcats already, but in case you somehow missed it, you should click on that link right now. It’s especially hilarious if you know the plot (which, sadly, I do — I read the first two books, trying to get a handle on what everyone loved about them so much, before I gave up), but I think Al enjoyed it almost as much as I did, with only “She has to choose between a vampire and a werewolf” as context.

Beyond that, I’ll call this an open thread, but please keep it relatively light. We’re short a couple moderators, and those of us who are around right now can’t be here every minute, so if this thread pisses me off half as much as the last one, I’ll close it a lot faster.

Posted in Fat

218 thoughts on “*Mope*

  1. In case anyone is interested, I am currently endeavoring (very sporadically, because it hurts my brain) to read the entire Twilight series and blog about it. Here are all the entries so far. I have only made it up to Chapter 5 of the first book, but I am told my ranting is entertaining so far.

  2. But Kate, has anyone ever told you the plot of Breaking Dawn? Because if not, I sense the opportunity for a game of “horrify the Twilight noob.”

  3. Oh, oh my. *dies of giggles from the link* Thank you so much for that link, Kate. Winter darkness is doing its best to crush me like a tiny bug again, and I badly needed that laugh. Everything is better in LOL cats!

  4. I read the first few chapters of Twilight because so many of my students love it. The writing is so amateur I couldn’t hack it.

    It looks like a snowglobe outside my house and we’ve put the Christmas lights on already. Festive!

  5. I read the first book, and that was all. As a native Washingtonian, it was hard for me to get past “it was raining out so everyone was wearing slickers and galoshes” to even think about the complete lack of character development and coherent plot. Isn’t one of the cardinal rules of writing that if you set your story in a place you’ve never even visited, you do a little research on it before publishing?

  6. Ahahahahahahahah. Studies show that, when reaching to the teenage demograph, mopeyness is almost as effective as sex in advertising. I’m not a great judge of male attractiveness, but Robert Paterson or that dude who plays the werewolf don’t seem particuarly attractive. All the pictures of werewolf man on the internet show him with a really bad teen ‘stache or gross hair. icky. :[

    I don’t think anyone’s gonna be interested in this, but Chris Knox, this new zealand musician who’s kind of famous as a ‘low-fi pioneer’ during the 80′s, had a stroke recently, and his site allows people to upload their covers of his songs. and the site accepted a cover performed by my sister and I. listen to it hear if you’re interested: http://www.chrisknox.co.nz/muscol/V/Various-Artists/More-Songs-For-Chris-Knox/One-Fell-Swoop-Claudia-and-Miguel.html

    I got my liscence yesterday. how frightening. =D

  7. I read the first book, and that was all. As a native Washingtonian, it was hard for me to get past “it was raining out so everyone was wearing slickers and galoshes” to even think about the complete lack of character development and coherent plot.

    Seriously (I’m from Oregon). That said, my roommate made me watch the movie, and the one part I liked was when they all went to the beach in their jeans and windbreakers.

  8. I LOVE YOU KATE. That was hilarious, as are some other posts on his blog. I needed that this week. Just posted one on my facebook.

    Going to read slythwolf now (no I’m not avoiding grading I have no idea what you mean)

  9. @shoutabyss, it’s okay, the Twilight vampires aren’t really vampires. Real vampires don’t sparkle unless Harmony Kendall happens to be wearing body glitter.

  10. I’ve read the entire series – thought if I wanted to critique it to its fullest level, I would have had to read it. So then no annoying 11 year old could be like “Well, you haven’t even read them!”.

    The books are HORRIBLE. Not only bad quality writing (seriously I have read way better fanfiction), but the racism and gender roles outlined in them are kinda scary. The domestic violence is disturbing and how it is portrayed as “true love” is even more scary. There’s flair of facebook that says “Edward Can Bruise My Body Any Day” (as reference to the 4th book where Bella and Edward finally sleep together [after marriage of course] and Bella passes out from so much intensity! And Edward continues to have sex with her [SHE's UNCONSCIOUS!] and when she wakes up she’s covered in bruises. Oh! how romantic.

    The LOL Cats made me smile – I enjoy reading mockery of twilight because it gives me hope for humanity. Not everyone has completely lost their minds.

  11. I read the entire Harry Potter series because it was fun to read with my kids, though by book six I was more dreading than anticipating each new one. Twilight may be better literature, I’m just not willing to put in the effort to find out.

  12. I have a terrible habit of allowing the readership of an author influence my decision to read their work. I suppose it goes without saying I have not read any of the Twilight series.

    I am all for some Y/A fiction. Bring on the Ellen Conford, M.E. Kerr, Norma Klein, Judy Blume and Constance C. Greene.

  13. And actually, I just read a YA vampire series – Vampire Academy – which was delightful. Not least because the central relationship was about two girls who were best friends and all about protecting each other, which was a nice change of pace.

  14. There was a book I read called The Vampire’s Beautiful Daughter or something along those lines, which was actually kind of cute.

    Wait, she has to choose between a vampire and Teen Wolf. Oh, no contest. Michael J. Fox ATW. (all the way)

  15. My very favorite YA fiction is Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series… perfect if you want to read about witches and werewolves and vampires without surrendering any IQ points.

  16. I found out that you can make your avatar fat in Mabinogi. I accidentally got my character up to Deathfat size (not knowing that different foods affect your weight), and it was pretty cool until the game’s graphics engine decided that clothing looked fine inside the character. Clipping problems suck.

    The completely awesome thing, if your character is fat, it doesn’t affect the game! I was running everywhere, riding horsies, chopping down trees, and just generally kicking ass. Then I got really broke and had to live off of wild berries, which reduce your weight. My character isn’t Deathfat anymore, but I managed to stop losing weight before she became smaller than an inbetweenie.

    The player base is unfortunately really immature about fatness in the game. Well, they’re mostly kids. They were all personally offended that I had a fat avatar and wasn’t trying to slim her down. ZOMG, I’m being fat at them!

    I’m having fun being the only fat person on my server, and transcribing classic rock songs so I can play them on my ukulele. I have a couple screenshots of her as an inbetweenie on my Xfire page, as well as some vids of me rawkin the uke. As soon as I get the phrasing fixed and I can play through without messing it up, I’ll have a vid of me doing “Folsom Prison Blues”.

  17. redlami — YES!

    One of these days, I should really read at least the first Twilight book. If I’m going to be angry at the books based on reviews, I should be a Good Librarian and read them. Also, if I ever get my dream youth services position, my patrons will look at me like I’ve grown antennae if I’m not at least familiar enough with them to recommend “similar” things.

  18. I hated the books (read the 1st and got through maybe 1/2 of the second), but I liked at least the first movie for no other reason than I got the impression that neither Stewart nor Pattinson actually LIKE Twilight and were just in it for the money. And apparently they’ve both had less-than-happy things to say about the book in interviews.

  19. @redlami: I love all things Prachett, but Tiffany, along with Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, is an all-time fave.

  20. @LilahMorgan *grin* Do I sense a fellow reader of Cleolinda Jones? I got to play horrify the Twilight noob with my friends and my sister after Breaking Dawn, and it was delightful.

    I don’t blame you for not wanting to waste your time on Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, Kate: those are hours of my life that I’ll never get back. But if you’re interested plot summary with snark, I highly recommend Cleolinda’s Twilight summaries. She’s summarized all four books (plus the draft of Midnight Sun), and done her Movies in Fifteen Minutes for both the Twilight and New Moon films. Here’s a link to a list of the book discussions.

    The Twilight entry has some interesting thoughts on exactly why the books are so popular with the teen girls.

  21. Speaking of young adult novels being made into movies, Youth In Revolt finally has a set release date, Jan. 8th!!! I don’t know if anyone else is excited about this, but I love the Youth In Revolt books, despite the obnoxious lead character. Plus, my deep love for Designing Women makes me very excited for seeing Jean Smart in it.

    As for Twilight, I read all the books except for the last one in high school, and my favorite memory of them is of reading the first one a second time and noticing the line “she didn’t think the volvo would fit into the tight space, but he managed to squeeze it in,” and screaming “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!” Other than that, all I can think of to do with Twilight is my 12 year old cousin loving the books and reading every one of them. Her dad is already a huge fucking sexist asshole, and now she’s reading those. Bummer, but she’s still got my influence to help her down the road to feminism.

  22. I started reading the series so that I could have a conversation with my 12 year old neice. It seems she talks of little else.

    Your Salon posts, Kate, were a great way for me to open a conversation with her about what I find distasteful about the Bella/ Edward relationship. She is “Team Jacob” anyway so I think she gets it.

    What was funny was that after I had read the second, I was thinking about stopping but then the neice read the fourth and ASKED me to stop reading…. so, of course, I had to finish! The fourth one was a hoot! So ridiculous.

  23. I liked at least the first movie for no other reason than I got the impression that neither Stewart nor Pattinson actually LIKE Twilight and were just in it for the money.

    Margaret, I haven’t seen the movie, but I got that impression from the interviews as well. My problem is that I don’t want to have anyone make any money off the movie, or accidentally have the popularity increased, so the only way I could see it is if a friend bought it and then I borrowed it. *sigh*

    And I don’t actually want to see it unless I can yell at the screen the whole time.

    But the lolcats are funny!

    And hey, LilahMorgan, Richelle Mead is TRYING to get people to make a lolcat version of her books — there’s a contest on her lj, which is blue_succubus or something like that.

  24. Margaret, I haven’t seen the movie, but I got that impression from the interviews as well. My problem is that I don’t want to have anyone make any money off the movie, or accidentally have the popularity increased, so the only way I could see it is if a friend bought it and then I borrowed it. *sigh*

    It’s true; as Wonkette put it about Sarah Palin’s book, money doesn’t know when it’s being used ironically. :-(

    I’d love a Vampire Academy in lolcats; too bad I don’t have talents in that arena myself.

  25. I have to share a good doctor story–I went to my GP recently for a sinus infection. And he’s always been awesome, but this time I had high blood pressure AGAIN–it’s been creeping up for a couple of years, and I’ve been resistant to going on more meds, but finally this time he was all, “Okay, you need to go on meds.” And I said, “Is there any lifestyle stuff I should be doing as well?” and braced myself for the “Lose weight!” lecture. (I’m an in-betweenie in clothing sizes, but about five pounds over the “obese” line on the scale.)

    And he said, “Fruits and vegetables!”

    I said, “I was exercising a lot until I got this crud,” and he said, “Great! Keep that up!”

    And that was IT. *loves him* (He’s hot too. Mmmm.)

  26. snarkys: omg, Vampire’s Beautiful Daughter! I thought there was a good chance I was the only person in the world who’d read that book.

    Judy Blume’s a tough one, though. I absolutely devoured her books when I was little, but each read-though of “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” made me angrier and angrier. (Yet I kept rereading it. No, I don’t know either.) By the age of maybe 11 or 12, I was screamingly aware of how sexist it was, and found it pretty offensive. I get that it’s the context of the time and echoes true experience, but that doesn’t mean I want to read it or think reading it is valuable.

    I haven’t reread any of her other books since I was old enough to know the difference, but my beef with that particular one makes me kind of wary to return. I mean … I get that she was groundbreaking, and I read Forever and was all “wow! porn! awesome!” at the appropriate young age – although the penis-naming scene still stands out in my mind as singularly squicky – but I don’t know that I’d hand her books to a middle-school aged girl today without thinking twice.

    Mostly, I don’t know. What do you think?

  27. I just wish I could figure out how to grab all those Twilight readers and get them to read *my* story about teenage angst and vampires and werewolves. I’d make a mint! :)

  28. The author isn’t getting a penny out of me either. I’ve read enough recaps and heard about it from other people and the thought that impressionable teens are reading this makes me ill! Not to mention the SPARKLY (not) Vampires. “We can’t go in the sun, because it will make us sparkle and people will know!” Really? Really? /rant.

  29. I loved the LOL cats.

    I have read the whole Twilight series. . .about 30% of my students are *seriously* obsessed with them, and I would feel like a bad teacher if I didn’t clue myself in. And actually, I enjoyed reading the first one all in one sitting–home from school with whatever I had caught from the veritable petri dish that is my place of employment. It was a page turner. And then, the next day, I was like, “Wait a minute! I was DUPED! Bella wasn’t a CHARACTER. She didn’t LIKE anything, or DO anything, or WANT anything. (Excepting, of course, Edward.)” It was sort of like eating cotton candy and then being surprised that it wasn’t a *meal.*

    I can kind of be okay with the girls (and one boy’s) fixation on the faerie-tale-with-fangs, provided that it doesn’t become the sum total of their reading. But, I have a student right now writing a paper about her mom’s obsession, and that’s a bit more unnerving.

    Prolly everyone has already seen this, but the Buffy Meets Edward mashup was one of the most clever things I had seen in a while:

    As for adolescent lit, I remember loving The Cat Ate My Gymsuit as a kid…and I devoured all the Judy Blumes, but don’t exactly recall *liking* them. . .never felt I had anything in common with the protagonists. . .as a girl who developed early, I sure as hell didn’t get why Margaret WANTED breasts and a period. It seemed like lunacy to a 5th grader in a c-cup.

    I just read Nick Burd’s The Vast Fields of Ordinary yesterday, and it was WONDERFUL. And a favorite read just lately was Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. (The movie was such a disappointment.) OH, and Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games series is FANTASTIC. My heart was literally pounding faster as I read the final chapter of the first book. I’m so mad I have to wait until August for the next. . . and there’s a brilliant and talented female adolescent protagonist, who struggles with everyone’s expectations of her. . .and a powerful subtext re: class warfare. Awesome stuff.

  30. (VAGUE SPOILER)

    Oh, btw, I thought the most recent book in the Twilight Series moved way beyond the cotton-candy-is-not-a-meal category and more into the “drinking battery acid is good for you” category. . . I don’t want to to spoil anything for people who want to read it, but for people who already have:

    a) the honeymoon
    b)the pregnancy
    c)the birth
    d)the imprinting

    . .. all left me saying WHAT the fucking FUCK?!

  31. I have weird reservations about Stephenie Meyer. I thought that she was just a poor but amusing writer a la Dan Brown, but then I read The Host – has anyone read that? She ultimately solves the major dilemma in the book by, um, kidnapping a seventeen year old and sucking out her personality so two of the other characters can get married and live happily ever after.

    That she thought that was an okay ending gives me the impression that she is a general no-goodnick who I don’t want anywhere near my brain.

  32. Indeed, Alica Maude. I mean the pillow biting alone! I can’t imagine how they’re going to make a movie out of it, though I’m looking forward to seeing some poor, unsuspecting director give it a try.

  33. I haven’t read the Twilight books yet, but am planning to based on my sister’s recommendation — something along the lines of “they’re total crap but kind of entertaining, just don’t take anything seriously.” And for those who don’t wish to contribute money to enterprises they dislike… library. Libraries are awesome. Back when Ike Turner was still alive, he didn’t get any money if I checked out some Ike & Tina Turner albums. Roman Polanski gets no cash if I check out “Chinatown,” and Stephenie Meyer’s royalty checks will not reflect my eventual reading of her books.

    Also, jumping on the Terry Pratchett/Tiffany Aching bandwagon. Love love love.YA books are often characterized by good storytelling, but not always by good writing. His have both. Those, I buy when I can afford new books.

  34. I read The Host. I kind of loved the premise–an alien invasion, and the humans bodies become host to the aliens, but the protagonist survives the invasion, so her body houses both her original self AND the alien. . .and then the alien proceeds to fall in love with the human’s boyfriend. . . so, like a love triangle, with two of the three people duking it out from inside the same body. Kind of clever, if yet another Meyer plot with the dude being the one and only reason for living.

    Oh, and everything after that main premise was a total FAIL in my estimation.

  35. And for those who don’t wish to contribute money to enterprises they dislike… library. Libraries are awesome.

    Libraries are completely awesome (says the librarian), but just so you know, you checking out a book does add to the circulation stats for that item and increase the chance that they will buy another one and/or buy the next thing that the author writes.

  36. My wife and I saw the first Twilight movie (we had a free rental code from the little outdoor DVD kiosks they have around town here), and I honestly thought it was the best comedy I’ve seen in a long time.

    I haven’t laughed that hard at a movie in years! My favorite part is when they’re in the science lab, giving each other meaningful mopey looks, and Edward turns so the stuffed-and-mounted snowy owl’s wings are right behind him, like a teen-angsty angel’s… I almost shot iced tea out of my nose at that point.

  37. Good to know, Sarah. I’m going to salve my conscience with the belief that one more check-out for Twilight is unlikely to change the circulation stats very much.

    Does that mean that if I get everybody I know to request Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere on Interlibrary Loan, the library might finally buy the copy I suggested?

  38. Not sure if anyone here but me cares about Mixed Martial Arts, but Roy “Big Country” Nelson knocked Brendan “The Hybrid” Shaub out in 3:45 of the 1st round last night to become Season 10′s “Ultimate Fighter.”

    Here’s a picture.

    Here’s an article about it. The blog author makes a point of countering another commenter’s assertion that Nelson “isn’t in shape,” saying, “I have to disagree with Smith about Roy Nelson, he’s clearly in excellent physical condition, he’s just fat.”

    Anyway, here’s a professional athlete operating at the highest levels in the sport against people who usually have less than 10% body fat. He’s a perfect example of “physically fit, and fat.”

  39. My favourite book-with-vampires-in is currently Robin McKinley’s Sunshine, which has them appropriately horrifying (in the pathos sort of way for the sympathetic vampire and in the aiyee sort of way for the non-sympathetic ones), although I don’t know if it’s YA appropriate as such. I would have read it as a young tween/teen, but I had very nonstandard reading habits.

    I echo the Pratchett/Tiffany Aching love! I also very much like Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series. It has one of the most interesting concepts of necromancy, magic, and afterlife I’ve seen in fiction. The characters are wonderfully written, and two of the three protagonists are very capable, believable young women.

  40. Does that mean that if I get everybody I know to request Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere on Interlibrary Loan, the library might finally buy the copy I suggested?

    Provided they have funds, yup :-)

  41. I have to say, the moment I decided Twilight was fucking ridiculous was when I read “dust moats” (no, that isn’t my typo, it’s in the book) in the first book. I just went “… Okay, obviously NO ONE is editing this bullshit.” I read all four books because I read Cleolinda’s amazingly hilarious recaps (suggested upthread, and I swear I DIED laughing more than once) and just wanted to see the train wreck for myself. And yeah, the fourth book? Is worth reading entirely for how fucked up it is. It sent me into incoherent rages on a lot of levels, but I can look back at how ridiculous it is and laugh insanely. I just wish the ending hadn’t sucked so hard it created a fucking black hole. x.x (SPOILER: yeah they set up for this entire huge battle and all of vampiredom takes sides and then no one fucking fights at all because Bella is MAGIC.)

    But when I requested them from my library, they had more than 200 copies of Twilight (granted that’s the whole library system, which is large because I live in a large city, BUT STILL). Also, even with that, it still took me TWO MONTHS to get a copy. x.x

    Also, I kind of love Twilight for one reason: It’s made vampires into punk ass bitches. I realize a lot of people are unhappy about that, but I had an extreme phobia of vampires as a child (we’re talking nearly traumatizing, went through a phase where I trusted no one, not even my own family), and have always had a lot of problems with vampires in fiction (there are a few vampire books I’ve read that I liked, but most of them freak me out). Twilight kinda helped neutralize that fear a bit, so I am totally okay with that.

  42. HT, a completely genuine thanks for saying what happened at the end of book 4. I have to admit I read all 4 books in the series EXCEPT, like, the last 10 pages of book 4. I just gave up, and have been too embarrassed to ask what happened at the end.

  43. Oh also, concerning YA fiction: I heartily endorse the Abhorsen series (even just the first book by itself is awesome, although the others also rock) by Garth Nix. I really enjoy Donna Jo Napoli’s fairy tale retellings (they often put the women in more empowering positions than the original fairy tales) and almost everything by Tamora Pierce (although I do take exception that not a single freaking one of her characters ends up childfree, especially in a world with contraceptive magic I find it very hard to believe there isn’t a single woman warrior who doesn’t freaking want kids, but I realize that’s just my personal pet peeve and it doesn’t seriously affect the goodness of the books).

    Some good vampire books are the Sonja Blue series by Nancy A. Collins and The Last Vampire sextet by Christopher Pike. Those are my favorites, anyway (The Last Vampire sextet especially because there are a lot of interesting religious and spiritual themes explored in it).

  44. Sometimes there are dust moats around my bed, when the cat dislodges the piles of built-up bunnies that live just out of reach of the mop.

    I can climb right over, though. No sparkly flying vampire required.

  45. Speaking of children’s books, I was sooo disapointed when His Dark Materials turned into a God-bashing-fest in the last book. It just seemed so silly and out of place.

  46. Hokay, someone mentioned good doctor stories, and I have one to share as well. I have a new doctor now because I moved recently, and last month I went in to get my Ritalin prescription, and she wanted me to come back this month to make sure it didn’t raise my blood pressure or anything.

    Well, in I go, and my doctor greets me and says, “Let’s get you on the scale, I want to make sure the Ritalin isn’t making you lose weight.”

    I love her! I’m so glad I found her! She just happened to be the first female doctor I could find who was taking new patients!

  47. Judy Blume’s a tough one, though. I absolutely devoured her books when I was little, but each read-though of “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” made me angrier and angrier. (Yet I kept rereading it. No, I don’t know either.) By the age of maybe 11 or 12, I was screamingly aware of how sexist it was, and found it pretty offensive. I get that it’s the context of the time and echoes true experience, but that doesn’t mean I want to read it or think reading it is valuable.

    The problem I see with “Are You There God…” is its lack of focus. When a book tries to be THE book it tends to leave a lot to be desired. One of the most interesting aspects of the book wasn’t the puberty angle or even the socialization rituals of tween girls, but the Margaret’s relationship to her faith. I found that far more interesting than anything else, even the bra padding and seven minutes in the closet.

    “Forever” had some very conflicting messages about female sexuality, with pretty much all of the female characters engaging in problematic behaviors without much commentary.

    Blume is a decent enough gateway drug, but ultimately, I try to steer folks to Norma Klein whose work tends to be a bit messier and realistic, but still has its share of problematic content as it was written in the 70s and 80s. Still, I much prefer the way in which the material is presented.

    I tend to go easier on Blume because she is not as preachy as Cynthia “Come a Stranger” Voigt or anything by Betsy “Pinballs” Byers.

    I heard a rumor that “Weeztie Bat” is coming to the screen. I have no idea how I feel about that. I can’t believe I actually read that book TWENTY years ago.

  48. @Godless Heathen

    Yay for fat avatars! It’s been my favourite thing about Sims 3 so far – I have whole families of gorgeous deathfatties! Size and muscularity are separate values, so there is a little bit of room to get different body shapes as well, so I have some nice soft round fatties and some lovely big-shouldered square fatties too. Some of the clothing patterns look a bit stretched on a big belly (though some of the bustlines are a bit weird on very thin sims, too) but it’s great to have exactly the same clothes there for all sizes and shapes.

  49. @Tim
    THAT IS SO AWESOME! I generally don’t watch any sport whose main premise is people beating the crap out of eachother. (But I do watch hockey… go figure.) But I think it is so great to see a fat guy doing well in any sport and being hailed as fit!

  50. @lilacsigil how is it that video games have gotten it right when clothing manufacturers have gotten it so, so wrong?! all clothes available in sizes to fit anyone sounds like a fucking dream.

    Also, I tried to read the Twilight books but the feminist voice of reason inside my head wouldn’t let me. I wanted to understand the hype, but it didn’t work. :( I did make it through the first movie, however, and I was happy I was spared the books.

  51. Well, okay, this Left Behind blog is totally destroying any chance I had of getting work done tonight. I had a roommate who read it for a class and read some of the choicest bits out loud for me, so I knew it was batshit, but I don’t think I realized it was this batshit. Twilight seems positively sensible in comparison.

  52. A friend co-authored this article http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/mediaculture/2052/big_vampire_love%3A_what%E2%80%99s_so_mormon_about_twilight/ on the certain aspects of the LDS teachings in the Twilight Saga.

    I think the Twilight Saga is pretty disgusting, but I’m reading it so that I can talk to my students and my god-daughters about it, plus, I feel obligated – as a fan of vampire and YA novels – to know what happens.

    I’m frankly much more concerned with the feminist issues (sexuality/abstinence, abusive relationships, patriarchal attitudes etc) than how bad the writing is. I would have eaten this up at 14. The reflection of LDS thought in the book is fascinating, though. Check it out.

  53. I’ve gotten through the first three of the Twilight saga as audiobooks. I’ve found them excellent background for folding laundry or doing dishes. I suspect if I actually tried to read them with the words on the page and everything, I’d probably end up putting an eye out. I am glad my daughter is only 4 so maybe they’ll be passe by the time she’d be old enough to read them. That said, I’m really looking forward to the trainwreck of Book 4.

    My favorite Judy Blume is “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.” I could just never identify with Margaret. I wasn’t allowed to read “Forever” (hey, I just realized that I’m an adult and I could read it now if I wanted to! I wonder if I want to?) Oddly, I was allowed to read “Then Again, Maybe I Won’t.” My mother would be mortified even today if she learned about the discussion of wet dreams (which 9-year-old me didn’t have the faintest clue about.)

    For excellent YA, I’d heartily recommend Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain. “The Black Cauldren” is still one of my favorite books.

    Also, the lolcat Twilight should have a warning on it for people suffering from bronchitis or other lung aliments. I hit the ubervampires and nearly had to cough up a lung.

  54. elisende: I had post-flu bronchitis for, like, a month, and considering how hard I laughed at those ubervamps you have my deepest sympathies!

    I’ve also heard that Bella is written as the medieval characature of women. Correct me if I’m wrong, as I’ve said I refuse to read them, but have I heard correctly? Is she portrayed as a hypersexualized woman who must be reigned in by her pure and chaste boyfriend?

    I had issues with that aspect as well as all of the Mormonizing that was being done.

  55. @Miguel: I’m not so sure about “out of place”, but it did seem a bit heavy-handed to me at the time, though also a very cool and interesting idea. I was twenty at the time, though, so heavy-handedness might bother me even more now. On the other hand, I’m not sure there’s any way to present a war against God without coming off as heavy-handed in promoting your worldview.

    Also, it didn’t seem MORE heavy-handed about this than the recent “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” movie. (I haven’t read the book since my age was in the single digits.)

  56. Also, it didn’t seem MORE heavy-handed about this than the recent “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” movie. (I haven’t read the book since my age was in the single digits.)

    Not to mention the last Narnia book, The Last Battle, which made everything come before it look kind of subtle about religion, as I recall.

  57. LB Fridays at Slacktivist are fabulous because Christians can appreciate them, too (Fred being one and all). It’s not “har har Christianity is stupid” so much as “wow, this writing sucks in a hundred different ways, and so does their particular flavor of theology”, and he does it brilliantly. I feel quite comfortable recommending him to all of my Christian family members who go on about how much they love the Left Behind series.

  58. Sarah B, thanks for the sympathy. And, closetpuritan, yay! I love those books.

    So, you really don’t want to get me started on Edward. In brief, yes, Bella is presented as the sexual aggressor and Edward has to curb her behavior because, well, he just does, I guess. I thought that he needed to because vampire bodily fluids are full of venom and will turn a human that comes into contact with them. That means no French kissing, no sex or Bella will become a vamp. But, then, Book 4 apparently doesn’t hold to that.

    Then, there’s also the subtext that he’s constantly having to control himself so that he won’t eat her. You end up with calm, controlled Edward versus passionate, aroused Bella and if Edward’s control slips, Bella dies. Nice message. It’s okay for girls to want sex but the boys need to be in control because sex = death for the girl? God, and I thought all those Danielle Steele novels we read in high school were fucked up.

  59. Holy crap, I love the Narnia books, but I wince when I come to The Last Battle. Not just because he basically ends Narnia forever (WTFF?!) but also the extremely heavy-handed religion. When I was a kid reading them, I loved them because I had no idea about all the Christian symbolism involved (I was raised agnostic), until I read The Last Battle. Then I kinda went “… I think this might kinda be about Christianity? Maybe?” and it made me sad because it was shortly after we’d moved to an extremely fundamentalist town where I was regularly told in school that I was going to hell because I hadn’t accepted Jesus as my savior (I mean, he seems like a cool dude and all, but I dunno if I’m ready for that level of commitment, especially as a ten year old). So yeah, extremely negative view of Christianity + realizing The Last Battle was about Christianity = sad child me.

    Also, I love the Chronicles of Prydain, and even more than them I love The Arkadians (same author) because it’s based on Greek mythology, and Greek mythology is my special study love from my childhood (we had a huge illustrated book of it at my house that I used to read over and over and over again). Also it was kind of like a feminist primer for me as a kid (zomg the girl gets to choose if she even wants to end up with the boy at the end? WOW) so that is also cool.

  60. I also had that “OMG he’s Jesus” moment while reading the Last Battle, at 11 years old and it kind of freaked me out – first, because I hadn’t *noticed* the whole “dies for your sins, comes back to life, goes away, but promises to come back someday, kthnxbye” thing in LWW and second, because I thought I’d been betrayed and tricked into reading Christian propaganda.

    However, I really like the model of Christianity and Jesus that Lewis gives kids. That is: Everyone who’s nice and does good stuff gets to go to the really real Narnia (i.e. Heaven) even if they never did it for Aslan (i.e. Jesus) and Everyone who’s mean and does bad stuff ends up with Tash (i.e. Satan) for punishment. I am much more comfortable with a Christianity that doesn’t depend on “accepting Jesus” and instead on BEING NICE.

    I really enjoyed the Narnia movies, but I really hope they don’t make one out of “The Horse and His Boy.” The major plot of that movie centers on the nice white people fighting the mean brown people (i.e. the Turks, when he wrote it). I think it could be pretty detrimental, if not done with a lot of care and sensitivity.

    Aslan, of course, is Turkish for lion and Tash is Turkish for stone.

  61. All this Twilight stuff is conflicting me, because while I loathe the books, I’m a big fan of Cleolinda Jones’s Secret Life of Dolls series, and I keep thinking you’re talking about The Little Edward and The Littlest Bella, and TLE is totally sweet, you guys! Sometimes fictional versions of things (even if they’re other fictional things) change my mind about the original version. I still love Britney Spears because of the Letters of Fug on Go Fug Yourself.

  62. Christina

    I can’t believe no one here posted this yet, so for those who haven’t Blogger Cleolinda Jones takes on the Twilight series with hilarious results. Cleolinda gives us the fabulous terms liek “fursplode” and “a fever of a hundred and werewolf” among others. If you haven’t read these yet, seriously, go spend the next 45 minutes reading these because it’s awesome.

    Smilarly, Stoney321 wrote an excellent synopsis. http://stoney321.livejournal.com/317176.html
    The illustrations really make this one.

  63. I had the same reaction as you, HiddenTohru. Raised agnostic, got to The Last Battle, and went, “wait a minute…” What’s funny is that I’d found Aslan’s death and resurrection puzzling and unsatisfying (it made no sense to 8-yo me).

    Livia_Augusta, I was always freaked out that I’d end up like the.. gnomes? dwarves? who think they are inside a dark room and can’t find their way out (is that right?) — anyway, they are unable to see what is really happening and therefore are trapped and miserable for all eternity.

  64. I really enjoyed the Narnia movies, but I really hope they don’t make one out of “The Horse and His Boy.” The major plot of that movie centers on the nice white people fighting the mean brown people (i.e. the Turks, when he wrote it). I think it could be pretty detrimental, if not done with a lot of care and sensitivity.

    ::sigh:: I loved A Horse and His Boy when I was a kid and didn’t really see the problematic aspects (of which there are many) till later. But the talking horses and the relationship between the two main characters is fantastic. I don’t know if they could preserve that for the movie and also make it non-racist — even if they make both the good guys and the bad guys a mix of POC and non-POC, there’s still all the icky stuff about Tash worshipers — but I’d love to see someone succeed at it.

  65. Seconding whomever said Tamora Pierce for good YA. Also thirding and fourthing it. I still keep up with Pierce, she’s just that good.

    snarkys: I hear you. I haven’t read anything by Blume since I was target-aged, so I’m definitely not in the best position to do any sort of analysis. “Margaret” has just left a bad taste in my mouth for years. And I only read “Forever” once, so I’ll entirely defer to you on that. On the other authors you mentioned, never read Voigt; loved “Pinballs” when my age was in the single-digits but haven’t read it, or anything else by Byers, since; and I’m intrigued by Klein! I’ve never heard of her before.

    Weetzie Bat, though … O. M. G. I was completely strung out on Block for years. I’d go to see that ten times, if they did it right.

  66. You know, whenever I want to get mean about the Twilight books and the people who LOVE them, I think of my own misspent youth, reading the Flowers In the Attic series. Inbreeding, incest, poisoned doughnuts… the creepiness of those books was intensified by the fact that V.C. Andrews died, and still kept on writing. Ghost writers, I guess.

  67. I also had that “OMG he’s Jesus” moment while reading the Last Battle, at 11 years old and it kind of freaked me out – first, because I hadn’t *noticed* the whole “dies for your sins, comes back to life, goes away, but promises to come back someday, kthnxbye” thing in LWW and second, because I thought I’d been betrayed and tricked into reading Christian propaganda.

    I remember having a vacation bible school teacher pull me aside, pleased I was reading Lewis and state, “The lion is Jesus!” in this unintentionally hilarious tone.

    She would later go on to “allegedly” embezzle funds from another church.

  68. Oh man, this is lovely. I enjoyed that. Good change of pace. Just goes to show, everything in life I learned about bad cinema, I learned from lolcats.

  69. Twilight = fail all around.

    On a more positive note, I went to my orientation workshop for the Vagina Monologues. I’m so happy, I got my favorite part in that show: The Woman Who Loved To Make Vaginas Happy. The workshops discussed feminism and women of color; and sexuality and feminism. It was one of the best workshops I’ve ever had.

    I’m having a corset made from red brocade fabric with black flowers on it. I can’t wait until it’s put together. I just know it’s going to be gorgeous…

  70. and I’m intrigued by Klein! I’ve never heard of her before.

    Oh Ms. Klein. Her books are all over the place, but guaranteed to provide healthy doses of sheepskin coats, teenage sex and protags who call themselves feminists (in a 70s sheepskin coat kind of way).

    I would start with “It’s Okay If You Don’t Love Me” then a “Just Friends” chaser. The former is her “seminal” (in a fluid sort of way) work and the other is her last published work. (She died in ’89)

    Actually, I get a bit giddier at the work of Y/A writers like:

    Kin Platt – “Crocker”
    Richard Peck – “Father Figure”, “Angel Dust Blues”
    Todd Strasser – “Time Zone High Series” (featuring “How I Created My Perfect Prom Date” which would later be adapted into a HORRIBLE, but do-not-miss Melissa Joan Hart/Adrian Greenier vehicle “Drive Me Crazy”) “Workin’ For Peanuts”, “A Very Touch Subject”

    On the M.E. Kerr tip:
    -Deliver Us from Evie
    -”Hello,” I Lied.
    -Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack

    I read way too much Y/A fiction.

  71. I had read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was a kid, but didn’t decide to tackle all the others until my late teens and early twenties. I knew Aslan was a God/Jesus figure in LW&W, but hadn’t had a problem with it at the time, since he seemed to be a really fatherly, selfless, happy kind of God/Jesus figure, and I was comfortable with it. THEN I read The Last Battle, and it all just kind of hit me at once with all the hate and racism justified by religion. The Narnians CALL the other guys DARKIES? That’s subtle. Then of course, there’s the evil ape-king trying to convince everyone that Tash and Aslan are the same person, capable of changing forms because hello, he’s god. And the message there was, “clearly this is an evil lie, since everyone knows Jesus is the GOOD god (also the white god), and Allah is the BAD god to be worshiped by ignorant (dark) people.”
    I kept reading it, out of hopes that Aslan would turn up in the middle of the battle and be like, “LolGuise, stop fighting. i luv all pplz.” Instead he ended the world. *sigh* Thanks Aslan.

    C.S. Lewis, why won’t you let me love you?

    He also had a lesser-known scifi series that, like the chronicles of narnia, started out really neat and got progressively more preachy. I forget what they’re called, but they’re about a guy named Ransom who travels to other planets, usually via kidnapping. The first one was really fun and inventive, but the second one, where he goes to a brand new planet, was like being smacked in the face with a steaming bucket of Creationism. Plus it was boring. Basically two Earthlings meet a green alien version of Eve at the same time and one tries to preserve her innocence while they other (the bad guy) tries to convert her to scientific thought. For a couple hundred pages.

  72. I also had that “OMG he’s Jesus” moment while reading the Last Battle, at 11 years old and it kind of freaked me out – first, because I hadn’t *noticed* the whole “dies for your sins, comes back to life, goes away, but promises to come back someday, kthnxbye” thing in LWW and second, because I thought I’d been betrayed and tricked into reading Christian propaganda.

    I grew up under a sufficiently large and insulative rock regarding religion that I still didn’t get the Christianity thing when I got to The Last Battle. This just meant that that book made no sense. And yeah, I felt very tricked when someone pointed it out. Though I really liked the LWW movie…at least going by my somewhat distant memory of re-reading the book, the allegory was at about the same level of obvious. It could have gone all annoyingly preachy but didn’t. My enjoyment was helped, though, by the fact that I have a rather grumpy friend from college who looks exactly like the actor who played Edmund.

  73. SPOILERY for the Host:

    bellacoker – wasn’t the new host body that the Host was given even younger than seventeen, because the host realised that her boyfriend would be all honourable and not touch her if he knew she was younger, so she lied that the body she was given was seventeen?

    Also, the whole book is pretty much a study in Mary Sue-ism, isn’t it? The Host suffers all the abuse passively, gives, and gives and gives to the community that hates her, lies to protect a man who has tried to kill her, and eventually, everyone ends up loving the shit out of her.

  74. I barely knew the Twilight plot and I was laughing at the lolcats. Lolcats make everything better. Then again real cats make everything better too, at least mine. I could just caption mine. We imagine what they must be thinking all the time.

    I read the DNA/obesity article. The article itself isn’t too bad, says the occurrence of missing DNA is a rare cause of obesity. I think anything that tells kids and parents that they are not to blame for their weight and gets them into a HAES mentality as opposed to a FoBT mentality is a good thing. Reading the comments cost me the week’s Sanity Watchers points though. Wow, does the general populace really hate us. I know that intellectually, but since I spend my time around people who don’t hate me or those I love, I don’t feel it on a visceral level. I swear, no one read the article. They just saw the word “obesity” and saw another opportunity to blame fat people for being fat, and better yet, for feeding their kids.

  75. Seconding the WTF at The Last Battle. I read it once when I was about seven and the scene where the cat (I think?) loses the ability to speak because it had done something bad or something and runs away yowling in terror and frustration SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF ME. That whole book was so incredibly fucked up, and I was a good little Catholic girl who’d loved most of the others. (Not The Silver Chair, though. Also weird and scary.) When I eventually realised Aslan was Jesus I was like “Wait. What?” There is a lot wrong there.

    I do still love 2,3 and 5. (Though I haven’t read A Horse and His Boy since I’ve been old enough to analyse it, and now I kind of don’t want to in case I have to hit something.)

  76. Mr Tumnus was a much cooler dude than Aslan. Mr Tumnus was Narnia’s The Fonz if you ask me…(apart from the bit where he goes off the rails a little).

  77. @Jessikanesis

    C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy was, collectively, called the “Space Trilogy,” which may be why no one remembers the series’s name (maybe that stood out more in 1950?)

    I’ve only read parts 1 and 2, and I’ll eventually read part 3. I found part 2 (Perelandra) to be pretty amazing, but it was definitely written from an unabashed Christian perspective, and (IMO), aimed at Christians as a specifically Christian-theology-based exploration of the nature of evil through a fictional retelling of the Adam and Eve story.

    Narnia was, I think, meant to be accessible and mass-market, as was most of Lewis’s stuff. But I really think Perelandra, at least, was meant to be read “in-house,” so to speak.

    One thing that’s difficult to deal with when reading mid-century British writers like Lewis and Tolkien is the implicit racism. Though Lewis does try throughout the series to show Calmarenes/Turks who are honest, smart, and valiant (which is, AFAIK, more than Tolkien ever tries to do with his “dark” races), the culturalism shows through.

    I try not to let it get to me too much. I’ve read Shakespeare as well, and of course, he’s a product of his times as well.

  78. Speaking of appalling cultural touchstones, I’ve been reading Slacktivist’s critique of Left Behind and Tribulation Force. He not only points out that they’re bad writing, misogynist, and homophobic, but they’re also not Christian. Fascinating and funny.

    You too, huh, living400lbs? I love LB Fridays. I started reading Left Behind and couldn’t get through it–much better to just read the blog and enjoy the snark.

  79. Oooh, just remembered another YA take on vampires — Peeps by Scott Westerfeld. (No, it has nothing to do with the little marshmallow chickies.) It’s completely unlike anything I’d read before: vampirism is the result of parasites, and most of the myths (garlic, sunlight, mirrors) are incorrect. (And just to demonstrate that parasites can in fact change behavior, it includes a few accounts of ones that do. Like the lancet fluke.)

    I’m also a big fan of Tamora Pierce. We’ve even been buying the Beka Cooper series in hardback, which we never do, because we’re lending them out to so many people. And snarkysmachine, there’s no such thing as “too much” YA. I once took a creative writing class from Orson Scott Card, and one of the things he said is that YA can be one of the hardest genres, because your target audience doesn’t care how good your writing is; they care how good your storytelling is, and will stop reading in a heartbeat if they get bored.

  80. Other Becky, that actually sounds a lot like “I Am Legend,” not the terrible movie, but the book. It turns out the vampirism is caused by a virius or something that the main character is immune to because of some government vaccine. It’s by Richard Matheson (who inspired Stephen King and Dean Koontz) and is by far the single best book about vampires I’ve ever read.

    I was really angry with the movie and how, basically they took the title of the book a few plot lines and just made up everything else. I don’t even understand why the used the same title it was so vastly different and fucked up.

  81. Count me as another person completely avoiding anything and everything Twilight. As I told a friend of a friend, I’d like Eragon to remain the worst book I ever read, thank you very much! Though I did suffer through the Anita Blake series through Obsidian Butterfly. I cried for an hour after that one and tossed the books into the charity bin.

    I’d like to add to the Pratchett love and the Narnia WTFery. I love children’s and YA fiction – mostly because of the amazing worldbuilding, but also because I’m less likely to be triggered by a rape scene. My current favorites are Diane Duane, Robin McKinley, Diana Wynne Jones, and Brian Jacques.

  82. Alibelle, there’s a similar virus-theme to Guillermo Del Toro (of Pan’s Labyrinth) The Strain, which I read early this summer. . . it devolves slowly into a gore fest in the last quarter of the book, but the set up was SO SCARY. I couldn’t read it at night, or even during the day when I was in the house alone.

  83. Meggie, you may have stopped at Obsidian Butterfly, but I kept reading.

    It hasn’t gotten better. In the last 3 books, a plot actually showed up in the midst of all the angst-riddled sex and Mary Sue-ing, but then it would flitter away as soon as Anita had to get laid.

    Although…Richard does suck a lot less. I think it’s because LKH is finally over her ex-husband.

    All the same, though, the most pathetic vampire in the Anitaverse could take down Edward.

  84. @Snarky: I will suspend disbelief and embrace the idea of vampires. Or lions that redeem mankind. Or maybe even zombies. But I cannot accept the premise that there is any such thing as reading “too much adolescent fiction.” (:

    How about Octavia Butler’s Fledgling? I thought there were some pretty interesting race/gender politics in that one. . .

  85. Other Becky, that actually sounds a lot like “I Am Legend,” not the terrible movie, but the book. It turns out the vampirism is caused by a virius or something that the main character is immune to because of some government vaccine. It’s by Richard Matheson (who inspired Stephen King and Dean Koontz) and is by far the single best book about vampires I’ve ever read.

    Are we talking about the first adaptation and the Charleston Heston howler “The Omega Man”? Those are total stinkos. I love the source material, and while some might not care for “I am Legend” Big Willie Style, I happen to believe in terms of actively reflecting what I believe is meant by “I am legend” it’s pretty darn impressive and NEARLY gets it right.

    SPOILER ALERT *SIRENS*

    Other versions tend to be hesitant to really put forth the protagonist as a monster and I was quite impressed the Big Willie Style version attempted to do so, despite the tacked on failsauce epilogue. If things had simply ended before the Vermont happy ending (dry land, sanctuary, etc…) it would have been so much more effective.

    END OF I AM LEGEND (2007) SPOILERS

    It’s one of my favorite sci-fi books and hopefully one day there will be a satisfying film adaptation.

  86. Other Becky, the parasite idea sounds cool, and more inventive than the more standard “it’s a virus” (although the latter is used more for zombies than vampires). The “most of the myths are incorrect” sounds like pretty much every single recent vampire book/movie. Which doesn’t make it bad, but it sure doesn’t contribute to its originality. There’s a reason why “Our Vampires Are Different” is a page on TVTropes.

  87. I’m actually unfamiliar with most modern vampire storytelling outside the Buffy/Angel universe, where most of the myths are correct — I didn’t know that ignoring them was common. I wonder why that is. Any thoughts?

    (Although, if there are many in which it’s caused by a virus, I can see the “myths are incorrect” thing being common, as it wouldn’t make much sense for a virus [or, in Peeps, a parasite] to cause people to catch on fire when exposed to sunlight.)

  88. Other Becky, I think it probably has to do with the power of the myths coming from playing into the fears of each historical context. . .paralleling whatever it is that people are fearful of and believe to be true at a particular time. So, the older vampire myths played into fears that resonated culturally–about damnation, the loss of the soul, etc.(which probably explains a lot about why, though Buffy was faithful to some of that old mythology, it was also not very scary). And in contemporary times, our society is fearful of bloodbourne diseases and viruses, so the mythology reflects/plays upon those fears. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but the original vampire myths predate knowledge about the ways disease is spread, so of course that didn’t show up in early versions of the stories.)

    It kind of makes sense that for a writer, playing into fears that people already have is like a Shortcut to Scary.

  89. Other Becky, I think the phenomenon with ignoring conventional vampire myths stems from the possibility that if the “rules” for being a vampire were consistent across the genre board then it would be exceedingly hard to create unique and original stories.

    That being said, I desperately want a “And then Buffy staked Edward. The End.” T-shirt. I would ask Santa, but I’m not entirely convinced I made the “nice” list this year. :-)

    Also, LOVE LOVE LOVE the Lolcats version of Twilight, and feel that with such a brilliant synopsis I’ll never be able to read the books because there’s no possible way to come close to that degree of win. Not that I had an irrepressible desire to read those books in the first place… this just gives me a convenient excuse to never, ever read them. Ever.

    Second on the Garth Nix books! The Abhorsen trilogy is amazing! Clive Barker has also written a couple books called Abarat, and Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War that appeal to a YA audience.

  90. Just wanted to thank y’all for closing the comments in the last thread. Two of the commenters that came in toward the end have some really fucked-up views of trans*folk and I started to feel my hackles rise as soon as I saw their screen-names.

  91. I Am Legend, the new one, has an alternate ending on the DVD. It’s incredibly sad.

    In regards to YA books, I loved Madeline L’Engle’s works. They are, imo, the best out there.

    MCM:
    “Your Salon posts, Kate, were a great way for me to open a conversation with her about what I find distasteful about the Bella/ Edward relationship. She is “Team Jacob” anyway so I think she gets it.”

    See, I have a huge problem with Jacob as well. From what I know of the books (I’ve read the first, and excerpts of the rest), Jacob not only tries to force Bella to be intimate with him, and threatens her with physical harm numerous times, but ALSO imprints upon a 2 year old, and promotes another werewolf’s relationship with a 7 year old. That is terrifying, to me.

  92. but ALSO imprints upon a 2 year old,

    SPOILER SPACE

    Ha ha, no, no. That’s just a misunderstanding. Jacob’s FRIEND imprints on a 2 year old. JACOB imprints on a two-minute year old. Who is Bella’s – his ex-girlfriend’s – daughter. Don’t you feel better about the books now?

  93. Sorry, guys; the spoiler space must have come out because there was no text there. I don’t suppose we could edit some lines back in? :-(

  94. Speaking of children’s books, I was sooo disapointed when His Dark Materials turned into a God-bashing-fest in the last book. It just seemed so silly and out of place.

    It was neither a surprising turn nor is this accurate. The books were a gnostic fable, which is pretty sophisticated and awesome for a kids’ book.

  95. I have mixed feelings on “Twilight” – not the quality of it but the phenomenon.

    I did a little happy dance over Thanksgiving when my 14 year old niece said she read the first “Twilight” book because her friends liked it. She didn’t care for it much, but everyone was talking about it. She doggedly started the second one and then threw it aside because, in her words, “Just… do something! Don’t just sit there! That’s pathetic!” I was so proud. Her 11 year old sister hasn’t read them. Yet.

    On the other hand, at PCA last year there was an entire crowded panel session ripping Twilight apart and a high school teacher from San Antonio schooled the whole room by pointing out that she teaches at a desperate school with a highly disadvantaged population and her female students are reading Twilight avidly – the only book they’ve ever read in some cases. As much as I hate the messages in Twilight, it’s hard to argue with her point that she’d rather her students read something, anything, that might get them to like reading, than try to keep them from reading because the messages are problematic (which is true for pretty much everything, when you come down to it).

    As for the Pullman books, my favorite comment on them is from Uncomfortable plot summaries (erm, read that link with caution – it’s not terribly work safe and I can’t vouch that all the summaries are safe):

    ‘THE GOLDEN COMPASS: Critique of Catholicism upstaged by polar bear fight”

    DRST

  96. A friend gave me the first two Twilight books because she said she felt dumber having them in her apartment. She’d read them because her neices were constantly nattering on about them. I took them out of curiousity. I just haven’t been able to make myself read them.

    For an awesome YA novel, read Melissa Marr’s “Wicked Lovely.” It’s great. Not vampires, instead it’s focused on the Fae. But damn, she can write, and her female protagonist has some serious backbone.

  97. eli:

    Oh, yeah. I had completely banished that from my brain. I spent the whole last half of the book thinking that the perfect solution for falling in love with a parasite would be sharing your own fucking brain/body with it, but apparently kidnapping children is a better ending because my way doesn’t end in piv sex or human-alien hybrid babies.

    For thoughtful kids books, I highly recommend The Uglies by Scott Westerfield. It had a strongly, smart female protagonist who is fighting against a distopian government that wants to make everyone beautiful and vapid.

  98. RE: Lilah Morgan

    Oh gosh. I am so glad I didn’t know that before.

    I have seen the first film, which I like as a movie to mock and because I love shitty movies in general (One of my favorite movies? Bring It On. AWFUL.). I will probably see New Moon either on Redbox or by interweb magic, partially so I can be prepared to explain why it’s awful to other people. I’m incredibly opposed to the sexism and general stupid and abuse within the books, but I feel more prepared against the more intelligent people I know who read the books and see the movies if I have seen and read them myself. I won’t be reading New Moon through the last book mostly because the entire premise of the final book scares me (I’m terrified of pregnancy in the first place. The excerpts I’ve read gave me nightmares.).

  99. On the question of whether any given source is ‘correct’ in its vampire mythology, I gotta ask: which mythology? The dominant vampire mythos in English-language/Western fiction (which is what I suspect most of y’all are thinking of) is but one part of this, and mostly derives from/riffs on other English-language/Western fiction rather than traditional folkloric sources … even European folkloric sources, which have a lot – a LOT – more variation in them than you might think. And vampire folklore on the whole, in the wild, is wonderfully diverse. So … personally, I don’t think there’s any there there, in claims that any one source or body of knowledge on vampires is ‘correct.’ Or weres, for that matter … which aren’t always strictly differentiated from vampires in folklore, when it comes to that.

    And yeah, I’m a lumper, not a splitter.

    I haven’t read much vampire fiction since the 70s … the only recent series I’ve read is Kim Newman’s. Which I enjoyed, but then, I like my vampires dangerous. And scary. Not sparkly.

  100. I’ve never read the Twilight series, and I am YA librarian. I didn’t read it out of spite. When something is too popular, I shy away because it usually means that it is poorly written or written to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Then in most of the more feminist YA librarian circles, they were describing the Twilight series as the abusive boyfriend manual. Plus, there are so much cooler and brighter female protagonists than Bella Swan. I don’t find Robert Pattison, a.k.a. Cedric Diggery, attractive. He’s too pretty, too slim, too dirty looking. Finally, I am a vampire traditionalist. All vampires have to die in sunlight.

    But, I succumbed and watched the first Twilight during a library viewing and I liked it. The awkward 13 year old girl in me appreciated it. I also saw New Moon last night, and I liked it for a bunch of different reasons. Mainly for, and let me just be 100% all heterosexual strictly dickly woman here, lol, for the bare naked muscular chests. I loved it. Then I would laugh everytime Jacob would show up, because he’d be shirtless and it would be RAINING. *titter* The cheese factor was high, and I loved laughing at it. I also generally liked it on its on merit as a film albeit a little long and a little overwrought.

  101. ChloeMireille, it was very frustrating to read a series that started with potential end up as Cinemax after dark. And I wish I had never read the phrase “alabaster penis.” Ugh.

  102. I might be very wrong on this, but I think in Bram Stoker’s _Dracula_, the Count can in fact be outside during daylight. He certainly prefers the nighttime, but I’m pretty sure that when Harker did see the Count in London it was during daylight hours. The “crumbles to ashes in sunlight” thing didn’t come about until later.

  103. Snarky:

    An amazingly potent mix of white and male privileges? And also the ability to be used as a puppet.

  104. My problem with SMeyer’s take on vampires isn’t that she’s done something different with them–it’s that she doesn’t seem to be riffing on any cultural mythology and has them mostly divorced from anything recognizable as ‘vampire. Had she not called them vampires, I’d never would have guessed that was what they were meant to be. Faery folk, maybe (especially with the glittery skin and eternal immaturity), but not vampires.

    I am all for new takes on established creatures–if that were a genre, it’d be my hands-down favourite. But SMeyer’s vampires aren’t a new take, they’re her sticking together a few things she thinks is cool and then not thinking any further about the implications or how to tie it in to existing cultural mythology to make her creatures resonate. Her craft is absymally lazy.

    In fact, my biggest gripe about her vampires isn’t even their bizarrely non-vampire physical characteristics, but how they completely lack the horror and/or pathos characteristic of all the vampire myths I’m even passingly familiar with. The only vampires of hers that exchange anything of importance for their immortality are the female vampires, who can’t bear children (but the males can obviously impregnate human females). Otherwise they’re super strong, super fast, not fatally weak to anything, and immortal. Despite the prattling on about how dangerous they are, they never manage to pose any actual threat. Their biggest problems are petty infighting, how to while away the time as an upper middle classed suburbanite immortal, and what teenaged girl to stalk next.

    They’re not horrifying, they’re not studies in what happens to a person who watches everything they know and love die and change around them–they’re immortals so boring that they spend eternity hanging around high school students and playing baseball.

  105. @Ven Detta, you’re right – in Stoker, Dracula goes out in the daytime, wearing a hat … possibly dark glasses as well, I’d have to look it up to confirm that and I’m too lazy. The earliest destruction by sunlight I can recall running across is in the film ‘Nosferatu’ … 1922, I think that was.

  106. The first time I read a Francesca Lia Block book (It was Witch Baby, for the record) I was horrified. It offended all my snotty, 17-year-old, moderately-conservative sensibilities and the really funny thing is I can’t remember exactly why. I love the hell out of them now and bought them so my kids could read them.

  107. @Eucritta: I think the only place where “correct” came up in regards to vampire myths was “most of the vampire myths are correct in X fictional universe where vampires are real.” (Did I miss something?) If vampires exist in a fictional work, then certain myths can be correct or not correct applied to vampires <i<within that work. I guess you could quibble with the phrase “most of the vampire myths” since we may not be sufficiently keeping in mind the myths that are less well-known in Western culture… but that would only make the statement “most of the myths are incorrect” more true, since the works we’re talking about are ALSO not incorporating the more obscure myths.

    So, I agree that there’s a lot of mythology that’s metaphorically left out of the conversation in mainstream Western pop culture, but I don’t think anyone here was arguing that there was One True Set of Vampire Characteristics.

  108. I disagree, Closet Puritan; in my experience, most people do have the impression there’s a singular, coherent body of folklore about vampires – or at least one within European folklore – which exists outside of a given story or series of stories, and from which those stories draw their material. But my comment was in reply to Other Becky’s -

    I’m actually unfamiliar with most modern vampire storytelling outside the Buffy/Angel universe, where most of the myths are correct — I didn’t know that ignoring them was common. I wonder why that is. Any thoughts?

    … which, it seems to me, does require just such an impression. Perhaps Other Becky will chime in and set me straight, if not.

  109. @Eucritta:

    If the people commenting here were “most people”, I wouldn’t be reading the comments in the first place. :) And if I thought you were talking about “most people”, I wouldn’t be disagreeing with you.

    I continue to read “correct” in Other Becky’s comment as meaning “true within the Buffy/Angel universe”.

  110. protags who call themselves feminists (in a 70s sheepskin coat kind of way).
    I haven’t even finished reading your comment, but I had to call this description out for being absolutely perfect. My … my dad has a gorgeous sheepskin coat =X

    And I totally second Other Becky on “no such thing as too much YA.” I’ve recently begun revisiting the YA of my childhood, and it’s been nonstop awesome. The Outsiders literally gets better every time I read it – I imagine by the time I’m 80 I’ll just open the book and start sobbing. So You Wanna Be A Wizard? (Diane Duane) is freakin’ fabulous too – I actually like it better as a grown-up than I did as a kid, though in a different way from The Outsiders.

    I could talk about this all day. So I will stop before I do.

  111. As regards “correct,” I meant that the most-commonly-known/held ideas about vampires are usually true in the Buffyverse — methods of killing, effects of sunlight (I know that not all myths are consistent regarding sunlight, but the most commonly known version is that it’s deadly, and it doesn’t cause sparkliness), efficacy of holy items, lack of reflection, need for blood (although, in the Buffyverse, it doesn’t need to be human). There are hints that garlic is also effective, although it’s never directly stated. The running water thing doesn’t appear to hold, and I’m sure there are others that also don’t.

  112. I was just thinking…

    In most vampire stories, it’s just not possible for the vampires to abstain from human blood, at least not for an extended period of time. Even for the notable exceptions, they struggle mightily with it. It almost seems that people seem to have more sympathy for the inevitability of a vampire sucking human blood than for the inevitability of someone going off their diet and binge eating.

    The thing where Edward has to resist Bella’s irresistable smell and keep from drinking her blood even after he’s just eaten tons of animal blood because she’s so darn tasty, etc, etc… In this and other vampire fiction, it’s seen as a sex metaphor, but blood is literally their food. And then indulging oneself with tasty food is seen as “sinful” in our culture, and there’s the “good food” of animal blood or blood from blood banks, and the “bad food” of humans, and the “dainty little bites” of not taking enough blood to kill someone, and the “gluttony” of draining their blood until the vampire is sated…

    Of course the not-eating and the only-eating-”good”-foods behavior is the one that corresponds to literally good behavior in the fictional universe–not killing people.

    And of course the comparison between abstinence-only sex-education and food/diet culture has been made before, including by The Onion.

    What if we sicced MeMe Roth on all the vampires who simply cannot resist drinking human blood?

    Someone could make a good story keeping the blood=food parallel, rather than the blood=sex parallel, in mind. It might be a good way to comment on our culture’s weird relationship with food.

  113. @Other Becky, yeah, those commonly-known/held ideas are what I meant by the dominant vampire mythos in English-language/Western fiction. Which … borrows and riffs off of itself, mostly, rather than dipping back into the well of … actual folklore. I don’t want to call it ‘real’ – that’s why I used ‘wild’ before – because in a sense the Western fictional vampire mythos *is* folklore, albeit … consciously created. Or something like that.

  114. Someone upthread mentioned Fledgling (Octavia E. Butler) as a vampire book to read, and I have to second this. While I actually didn’t like it the first time, when I examined why, I realized it was because I read it directly after reading the Lilith’s Brood trilogy (same author) and the central theme of big families living together and poly relationships is so intensely similar that it felt like Fledgling was just “Lilith’s Brood 2: Now With Vampires!” I realized later that if I’d read them further apart, I wouldn’t have gotten that impression. XD It’s a great book, in fact it’s kind of a “everything Twilight got wrong is right in this book” kind of book. There’s intense feelings from everyone, the dangers are incredibly real and important, and even at the end you aren’t sure if everything is going to turn out okay. There’s real risk in everything, not fake risk (and when vampires gather to battle, THEY ACTUALLY FIGHT). It’s awesome.

  115. Oh thank you. Now I don’t have to choose between seeing Twilight or never having a clue what my students, colleagues, friends and romantic interests are talking about. Can haz Cliffnotes!

  116. LilahMorgan

    Not to mention the last Narnia book, The Last Battle, which made everything come before it look kind of subtle about religion, as I recall.

    You are correct, for The Last Battle C.S.Lewis decided that no one who’d made it that far was going to quit halfway through the seventh and last book and started beating us over the head with the Jesus Hammer. However:
    1. I’m Jewish and I love The Last Battle (and the others). It’s a good story, with good characters and plot.
    2. Aslan/Christ tells us that people who do good in the name of false religions are cool with him. Given the immutability of standard Christian convictions that the rest of us (and most of them) belong to false religions, I think this anti-Inquisition statement is pretty progressive.

  117. @aleks:

    Unfortunately there’s also an enormous serving of misogyny. Susan is the only Pevensie who doesn’t make it to heaven-I-mean-Narna and narrator tells us it’s because she likes lipstick and stockings.

    I guess only tomboys will be joining the bros in heaven.

  118. Renatus

    In fact, my biggest gripe about her vampires isn’t even their bizarrely non-vampire physical characteristics, but how they completely lack the horror and/or pathos characteristic of all the vampire myths I’m even passingly familiar with.

    I’ve always gotten the impression that Meyer didn’t know there was already something called a vampire when she decided to call sparkly dream boys that.

  119. Gnatalby

    @aleks:

    Unfortunately there’s also an enormous serving of misogyny.

    I don’t disagree. Something could also probably be reasonably read into the lack of any adult women who aren’t witches.

    Susan is the only Pevensie who doesn’t make it to heaven-I-mean-Narna and narrator tells us it’s because she likes lipstick and stockings.

    She chose the things of this world, which Jesus and C.S. Lewis (I’ve read Mere Christianity and a few others) in particular didn’t want Christians to take very seriously. Susan wanted to be cool and go with the popular view (no Narnia) instead of trusting to what she knew was right (yes Narnia) I had no conception of feminist analysis the last time I reread Narnia so I am entirely at your mercy in believing that this was presented in an overwhelmingly gendered way.

    I guess only tomboys will be joining the bros in heaven.

    Then I’m stuck with the princesses and dilettantes? Forever? Hell indeed.

  120. Well here’s the quote:

    “‘Oh, Susan!’ said Jill. ‘She’s interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up.’”

    So the charge is “being grown up” but it’s definitely a gendered grown up. It’s not like “Susan is only interested in paying her mortgage and providing for a family.”

    I’ve read basically all of C.S. Lewis and I love him dearly, reading A Grief Observed when my mother died was like being able to talk to a friend who really gets it, but the man has some gender issues. (See that Sci-Fi story about what a bummer it is that the space hookers are old.)

  121. I had this looong reply re: Susan’s treatment in Narnia and then managed to close the tab. Go me!

    Shorter version: I completely agree with Gnatably that Susan’s big crime is growing up, something which bothered me as an oblivious child on my first read-through and bothered me even more when I read TLB as an adult. She was barred from Narnia by Aslan at the end of Prince Caspian for being ‘too old’, and was expected, without being told, to keep the faith–even though she is previously portrayed as the reasonable one, the skeptic. We never get to hear her opinion on the matter, but only how she is second hand, and I got the very strong opinion the other characters resented her.

    It’s curious, too, that Susan grew up in that way in her own reality, when her first time around in growing up (remember that all the children are in Narnia long enough at first to be adults by the time they leave) she was channelled into a gentle, passive mommy role. Hmmm.

  122. The Horse and His Boy and The Last Battle are also egregiously racist in the depiction of Arabs/Calamarians. Even young I was uncomfortable about that.

  123. @aleks:

    Agreed about The Horse and His Boy. I’m going to sound one-note here, but I’m particularly disturbed by the treatment of Aravis, who is basically the sad Oriental hottie who needs Western Values to rescue her from the dastardly Arabs/Calormenes.

  124. Someone upthread mentioned Fledgling (Octavia E. Butler) as a vampire book to read, and I have to second this

    Third it! Butler is one of my personal heroes and is thoroughly missed. I was never drawn to SF&F writing as a kid because much of what was available to me offered no glimpses of brown peeps in “teh future” – okay Lando does not count (and technically SW happens in the past).

    I had Lando, Sulu, Vader and Uhura and had no idea what to make of those representation.

    Still, I’m glad my geeky parents pressured me to read SF&F because the absence of representation inspired me to write (though not SF&F).

  125. Susan was always my favourite Pevensie. When she wasn’t allowed back in I remember being confused and sad about it, and I never really loved Narnia quite as much after that. Maybe I realised they wouldn’t want me either? You seemed to have to live by a really specific set of rules to be welcome there.

    And obviously this whole conversation has me singing Wicked Girls to myself. Susan’s verse:

    Susan and Lucy were queens, and they ruled well and proudly.
    They honored their land and their lord, rang the bells long and loudly.
    They never once asked to return to their lives
    To be children and chattel and mothers and wives,
    But the land cast them out in a lesson that only one learned;
    And one queen said ‘I am not a toy’, and she never returned.

  126. My thoughts on Narnia, let me show you them:

    I watched the BBC version on TV when I was target-aged and was mesmerized, even though I thought the White Queen was kind of cheesy. I watched it often enough that I *did* pick up on the Aslan/Jesus Connection. At the time, raised in a Christianity that had a lot more in common with Aslan than with Left Behind, I thought the Christian allegory was just fine and dandy. I read the books when I got a little older (and the White Queen/Jadis became basically my favorite character, fwiw) and had a lot of preteen geeky fun teasing out the Xtian symbolism. I also really appreciated Aslan’s saying that any good done in Tash’s name was good enough for him–that really jibed with my understanding of a loving and compassionate deity. And I noticed the EXTREME RACISM anytime the “swarthy people from The South” appear, but wrote it off as CS Lewis’s being a man of his time. (I don’t write it off anymore. But as a literate and history-minded tween, I read a lot of books that were worse, so Narnia did not seem so ergregious to me at the time.)

    But Susan. Susan’s ultimate fate rang false and kind of ruined my Narnia happy. First, she’s punished for growing up (and growing up to be interested in lipstick, oh my). Second–SPOILER
    SPOILER
    SPOILER–

    –her whole family is killed in a train wreck! And despite being “grown up”, she is still so young when it happens. (Peter’s grown a beard, but Eustace is still in school, so I figure if Susan is about 12 in LWW she can’t be older than 20 in TLB.) That more than anything was just about the saddest thing I ever heard.

  127. I’d never really thought much about Susan until I read the Neil Gaiman story “The Problem of Susan” a few years ago, at which point my reaction was “Wow! That’s really nasty and unfair — why didn’t I notice any of this stuff before?” I recommend this story to anyone who thinks Susan got a raw deal, with the caveat that it’s rather disturbing.

  128. @Caitlin: That’s a great song! Thanks for introducing me to it!

    @Fnord Prefect: Yeah, I don’t think I’d calculated Susan’s age ever, but that really is incredibly sad. I remember feeling very let down by the fact that children dying in a train wreck was a happy ending.

    It was like reading the little mermaid and the “happy” ending being that she got to be a statue and wait around hoping to get a soul. If these are happy endings, then life is really just unbearably bleak.

    The Last Battle stuff also seemed a bit at odds with C.S. Lewis’s grown up theology. In A Grief Observed he writes that his grief for his wife is so total because while he believes in an afterlife, he thinks souls can’t be resurrected exactly as they are or life would serve no purpose, so his earthly relationship with his wife, in his view, was finished despite both of them being believers.

  129. ChloeMireille, it was very frustrating to read a series that started with potential end up as Cinemax after dark. And I wish I had never read the phrase “alabaster penis.” Ugh.

    Yeah, when I recommend the Anita Blake series to vampire-lovers, I tell them to stop reading after Obsidian Butterfly because it immediately turns into Porn With Plot. Mind you, it doesn’t bother me as much as it should, but it still bugs. If you’re going to write vampire-based erotica, do that. Don’t just slip it into your perfectly good paranormal horror series that was just fine before, especially when you’re trying to get a TV series or movie deal from it.

    What magical powers does the “alabaster penis” possess?

    Not enough to prevent its owner from being led around by it.

    Seriously, I love an empowered female lead, but her character development shouldn’t come at the cost of widespread Character Derailment.

  130. snarkysmachine, Fledgling was my intro to Butler. . .and have ordered some more. . .any recommendations about where to start?

  131. I just have to say that because of this thread, I have a whole bunch of books and authors written down to look for! Thanks everyone.

    aliciamaud74 – the Lilith Iyapo series by Butler is fantastic, but you know, you really can’t go wrong with Butler – get anything that looks good!

  132. Slightly OT, maybe, but I tutor a 6yo who’s just learning to read. I figure to strike while the iron’s hot and get him reading good books now. I know a lot of great children’s books, but none of them have black characters, and I’d like at least one book to have a hero/heroine that looks “like him”. Any suggestions?

  133. @aleks, I don’t have any specific suggestions, but I do know a place to look for possibilities: the index for PBS’s ‘Reading Rainbow.’

    Back the last time I had a long recovery from surgery, I watched ‘Reading Rainbow’ just about every day, and it was amazing. Lots of books with brown faces in them, and lots about heritage and history.

  134. @aleks: Virginia Hamilton. Everything I read by her was wonderful. Some of her books are for kids older than this one, but I think some of her books are for younger kids too.

  135. Eucritta,
    Jordy LaForge was the king of sexy librarians.

    Eucritta and Other Becky,
    Thank you, I’ll look into those. I certainly don’t want to act like there should be a correlation between your skin and the books you read, but I also think a kid should see some heroes/heroines that resemble him/herself.

  136. @Aleks: Oh, also check out the Coretta Scott King awards. They’ve been giving them since about 1970, I think, and there are usually runners-up as well as the winners.

  137. alex — “The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamont County” is fun, spunky, and has *amazing* collage illustrations. Depending on what sorts of things he’s reading so far, this might still be in the “read to” territory rather than “read on his own”, but seriously, this book was awesome :-)

  138. aleks, i loved ezra jack keats “a snowy day” as a kid. . .and the illustrations are still quite beautiful.

    finding the green stone by alice walker is pretty groovy. i have a tattoo inspired by it, actually. (:

    and i LOVE christopher meyers’ “wings”. and i haven’t read them, but i know he did some collaborations with walter dean meyers that i’m sure would be worth checking out.

  139. snarkysmachine
    (and technically SW happens in the past).

    From the chronicler’s point of view. He or she or [enter as yet undiscovered gender's pronoun] could be writing in our further distant future. Yes I’m a dick.

  140. alibelle
    Other Becky, that actually sounds a lot like “I Am Legend,” not the terrible movie, but the book. [...]
    I was really angry with the movie and how, basically they took the title of the book a few plot lines and just made up everything else. I don’t even understand why the used the same title it was so vastly different and fucked up.

    Blame Will Smith, cause they did the same with I, Robot. #$%#! Robots don’t kill people, people kill people, and if you say otherwise don’t pretend it’s based on Asimov! BTW Katherine Kurtz’s Knights of the Blood and IIRC Blade also take vampirism as a virus tracks. Zombies have also become fast, feral, infected people in recent years rather than slow walking corpses.

  141. Um, I’ve been reading the Black Dagger brotherhood series. yeah they’re vampires and yes, it’s paranormal romance. But I’ve really been enjoying it.

  142. You know, I can’t agree with the idea of C.S. Lewis’s racism in the Narnia books, if they’re taken as a whole.

    The undoubtedly worst civilization in the book was that of the Telmarines, who were clearly European. They were at least as violent and treacherous as the Calmorenes (sp?), but in addition, they were genocidal (trying to wipe out the native Narnians) and cannibalistic (they intentionally hunted talking animals for sport, then ate them), two things Lewis’s Pseudo-Turks never did.

    Although, to be fair, Jadis’s burned out civilization (as seen in _The Magician’s Nephew_) might have been worse than either, but we don’t really know much about them, other than they destroyed themselves via some sort of doomsday magic. But they seemed European, too (Jadis was certainly white, and the castle the kids found seemed European in design).

    The only civilization in Narnia that is portrayed at all positively is the multi-species society of the native Narnians.

    Individual Telmarines and Calmorenes are shown to be good, but the societies are overwhelmingly dysfunctional.


    This contrasts strongly with Tolkien’s portrayals. His “good societies” were all variations of white, and mostly different versions of English societies. There are a few bad apples, but the societies are good.

    I don’t recall a single member of Tolkien’s various “dark” races being shown to be anything other than a rampaging soldier of evil.

  143. It’s calormenes from the Latin word for heat: calor.

    And there’s more than one way of being racist, it’s not all impugning that the other is genocidal.

  144. @gnatalby

    I’m sorry that I was unclear. I didn’t mean that Lewis wasn’t racist because he didn’t accuse the Calormenes of genocide.

    I meant to point out that all three monolithically one-race civilizations that appeared in The Chronicles of Narnia were portrayed as dysfunctional, and two out of the three were clearly white and European.

    @Eucritta: I agree that Lewis’s Calormenes is an example of Orientalism…however, the idea of Orientialism does put western fiction writers in quite a bind – can they write nothing outside their own culture without being accused/guilty of racism or some shade of bigotry?

    Further, if you watch much Anime, you can see that eastern interpretations of western culture are often filled with howlers as well. How does this relate to Orientalism?


    This is fairly rambling post, but what I’m getting at here is:
    The Calormenes are a fictional civilization
    Sometimes in conflict with the Narnians
    With good as well as bad people
    Shown to be no worse (and arguably much better) than the other non-Narnian/solely-human cultures (which are both European in nature) depicted
    But still shown to be somewhat disfunctional

    Orientalism? Yes, but with the caveat that a fictional society does not paint any real society with the same brush. Though they fit a certain British stereotype of the Turks, they are not, at any point, said to be members of or even descendants of, any real earth culture.

    Lewis was a product of his time (he was born in the 19th century, for pete’s sake), but as far as racism goes, I’m really not seeing the case if you look at the entire Chronicles as a whole.

  145. the idea of Orientialism does put western fiction writers in quite a bind – can they write nothing outside their own culture without being accused/guilty of racism or some shade of bigotry?

    This is a straw man. The fact that it’s difficult doesn’t remove the burden of not reproducing imperialist attitudes in writing about other cultures. The Calormenes are depicted as more primative, more savage, and more misogynist than the Narnians, which is too familiar a dynamic to be a coincidence, particularly given the clues that we are meant to read the Calormenes as Middle Eastern (turkish and arabic loan words, the “storytelling culture” of Aravis’s people, the harems).

  146. … can they write nothing outside their own culture without being accused/guilty of racism or some shade of bigotry?

    This is a straw argument. Of course it would be possible for a Western author to write about other cultures with knowledge, respect, and affection. However, I don’t think this is the case with Lewis’s Calormenes, which seem to me to be an amalgam of stereotypes about the ancient and historical Near and Middle East, than a fictionalized portrayal of a culture or cultures Lewis was intimately familiar with and held in respect. That he writes in a few positive portrayals of individual Calormenes also doesn’t change this, any more than, say, Dennis Wheatley’s inclusion of a ‘good’ Jewish character – i.e., wholly anglicized – in his Duc de Richleau novels absolves him entirely of anti-Semitism.

    And while I used to accept the ‘product of his/her time’ argument, these days … well, it’s worn out its welcome. Mostly, for that matter, I think it’s used to shut down discussion, rather than enrich it; in this case, I suspect what you’re saying is that even though you know Lewis has his flaws you still enjoy his work. Well, so do I. That doesn’t mean I’m going to give him a pass, though, or make excuses for why it’s really alright because he didn’t really mean it.

  147. I think maybe the synthesis of the Calormenes discussion is that while C.S. Lewis didn’t necessarily see Turks/Middle Eastern cultures as overall inferior/morally impoverished compared to Europeans (perhaps even morally superior, because they are portrayed as less genocidal/destructive), he used glib stereotypes in creating the Calormenes rather than doing solid research. And the glib stereotypes resulted in the portrayal of the Calormenes as morally/culturally inferior in certain areas, in very particular, essentialist ways.

  148. I’ll get to the C.S. Lewis/racism stuff in a sec, but first:

    Blame Will Smith, cause they did the same with I, Robot. #$%#! Robots don’t kill people, people kill people, and if you say otherwise don’t pretend it’s based on Asimov!

    Sob!

    Full Disclosure: I am a lover of both Asimov and Big Willie Style.

    As a cinema junkie who is particularly fascinated by film adaptations of books, I have to take issue with characterization of I, Robot. As a stand alone piece, I think it’s really wonderful. As a companion to the source material, it’s quite weak.

    The main problem with I, Robot is using Will Smith to tell yet another “We’re all just a little bit racist.” story. In my opinion, that’s a lot more annoying than straying from the source material, which honestly, isn’t even one of Asimov’s better works.

    Orientalism? Yes, but with the caveat that a fictional society does not paint any real society with the same brush. Though they fit a certain British stereotype of the Turks, they are not, at any point, said to be members of or even descendants of, any real earth culture.

    If we lived in a world where artists were able to create work independent of their societal influences this still wouldn’t fly. Since we don’t, it’s pretty difficult to make the case that problematic fictional characterizations get a pass because their influences aren’t explicitly stated. I believe work – even created within a fantasy universe/world – is deeply influenced by the society in which it is created thus making it subject to criticism, particularly when it seems to model existing relations/tensions/etc.

    Lewis was a product of his time (he was born in the 19th century, for pete’s sake), but as far as racism goes, I’m really not seeing the case if you look at the entire Chronicles as a whole.

    No excuse. I am product of my time and as a writer I do not believe that gives me a pass on future literary critiques of any problematic content in my work.

    Also, whether or not YOU note the racial dramedy is of little importance/comfort/use, especially if these are not your lived experiences. I tend to really enjoy Lewis, but it does not mean I am unaware of some really problematic racial stuff in his work.

  149. No excuse. I am product of my time and as a writer I do not believe that gives me a pass on future literary critiques of any problematic content in my work.

    Thanks. Blood and razor blades come flying out of my sinuses every time somebody says that something horrible is morally acceptable in the context of its period, since it was customary in that time and place. (This only applies to dead white people’s horrible behavior, and not the horrible behavior of modern cultures who practice female genital mutilation or make armies of small children, or whatever horrible thing you can think of that’s customary among some group or another of not-white people.)

  150. Oh yeah, as far as the whole “product of his time” thing:

    Are we trying to decide if the writer is a good person, or if his work is good? The “product of his time” thing arguably can excuse (to some extent) an author’s morally problematic ideas, but it doesn’t really have any relevance to whether a work is good. (At least not in the context of racism, etc. As opposed to the context of, “This is the first time this narrative trick appeared! At the time, it was revolutionary. Now it’s been copied a million times”)

    Reminder: bad person does not equal bad writer. Most people know this, but even some people who know it lose sight of it. (Didn’t this conversation appear during Polanski Week?)

    Of course, since whether the writer is a good person has little or no bearing on whether a work is good, having a morally problematic message might not make the work bad if it’s executed well. (If “good” and “bad” are used in an art-y sense, not in an “is it annoying to read?” sense.) However, an additional, art-relevant charge of laziness in using stereotypes/did not do the research could be leveled in particular case of the Calormenes.

  151. Oh yeah, I feel like I should note, especially in light of Grafton’s comment:
    The actions that result from morally problematic ideas are still just as damaging, whether they’re due to someone being a product of their time or due to someone being part of the racist/sexist/etc rearguard. I think that it’s a bit less blameworthy for Lewis to be a racist than it would be for one of us to be a racist, though, because there were not as many people around to challenge his ideas, and plenty of people reinforcing them.

    Not that our decisions about whether an author is a good person and how blameworthy they are for their repugnant ideas really amount to much. They basically amount to no more than, “Would I like to have a beer with this guy?”

  152. I will agree with closetpuritan and add on the fact that C.S. Lewis was writing heavily moralistic stuff to begin with. The whole Jesus/God = Aslan thing trickles down. I have to wonder if he’s trying to subtly infuse that message to children, what other “subtle” messages is he trying to transmit to the next generation.

  153. Not that our decisions about whether an author is a good person and how blameworthy they are for their repugnant ideas really amount to much. They basically amount to no more than, “Would I like to have a beer with this guy?”

    True. But making some judgment about the author’s worthiness as a human isn’t (to me, anyway) an interesting exercise. Pointing out that the work seems to promote failures in ethics is useful. The thing to do is not to stop people reading The Horse and his Boy (which I quite love) but to get them to be conscious of what it’s saying.

    It’s remarkable how people can fail in that. A lot of people really love Gone With the Wind and they are largely staggered when I say, “It seems to be saying that the real tragedy of the reconstruction is not the construction of a new form of institutionalized racism that lasted over a century, but that a pretty white woman had to eat a turnip.” It’s probably good for them to absorb this notion.

  154. Speaking of problematic content being products of the time, there’s this weird/interesting bit on the wikipedia article about The Jazz Singer and the metaphorical signifigance of black face in the movie:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jazz_Singer_(1927_film)#Critical_analysis

    “Jack Robin’s use of blackface in his Broadway stage act is the primary focus of many Jazz Singer studies. Its crucial and unusual role is described by scholar Corin Willis:

    In contrast to the racial jokes and innuendo brought out in its subsequent persistence in early sound film, blackface imagery in The Jazz Singer is at the core of the film’s central theme, an expressive and artistic exploration of the notion of duplicity and ethnic hybridity within American identity. Of the more than seventy examples of blackface in early sound film 1927–53 that I have viewed (including the nine blackface appearances Jolson subsequently made), The Jazz Singer is unique in that it is the only film where blackface is central to the narrative development and thematic expression.[43]

    The function and meaning of blackface in the film is intimately involved with Jack’s own Jewish heritage and his desire to make his mark in mass American culture—much as the ethnically Jewish Jolson and the Warner brothers were doing themselves. Jack Robin “compounds both tradition and stardom. The Warner Brothers thesis is that, really to succeed, a man must first acknowledge his ethnic self,” argues W. T. Lhamon. “[T]he whole film builds toward the blacking-up scene at the dress rehearsal. Jack Robin needs the blackface mask as the agency of his compounded identity. Blackface will hold all the identities together without freezing them in a singular relationship or replacing their parts.”[44]

    Seymour Stark’s view is less sanguine. In describing Jolson’s extensive experience performing in blackface in stage musicals, he asserts, “The immigrant Jew as Broadway star…works within a blackface minstrel tradition that obscures his Jewish pedigree, but proclaims his white identity. Jolson’s slight Yiddish accent was hidden by a Southern veneer.”[45] Arguing that The Jazz Singer actually avoids honestly dealing with the tension between American assimilation and Jewish identity, he claims that its “covert message…is that the symbol of blackface provides the Jewish immigrant with the same rights and privileges accorded to earlier generations of European immigrants initiated into the rituals of the minstrel show.”[46]

    Lisa Silberman Brenner contradicts this view. She returns to the intentions expressed by Samson Raphaelson, on whose play the film’s script was closely based: “For Raphaelson, jazz is prayer, American style, and the blackface minstrel the new Jewish cantor. Based on the author’s own words, the play is not about blackface as a means for Jews to become White, but about blackface as a means for Jews to express a new kind of Jewishness, that of the modern American Jew.”[47] She observes that during the same period, the Jewish press was noting with pride that Jewish performers were adopting aspects of African American music.”

  155. Man, I’m with whoever upthread said that they were raised without Christianity, so The Last Battle was just damn confusing. I totally didn’t get what was going on there — it seemed like a total cop-out of an ending. In fact, the summary in this thread is the first time I’ve understood it, since I’ve been undergoing a bit of a crash course in Christian Mentality lately.

    I think that’s a really interesting idea, closetpuritan. Food and sex are confused enough as is, and using vampires to explore that would be pretty fascinating — I know I’ve heard people talk about “food puritanism” being the modern replacement for “sex puritanism”, and perhaps the fact that vampires think of bloodsucking as food, and humans think of it as sex…? I will let that one simmer for a while. Very interesting indeed.

    And alabaster penis? WTF lack of blood flow?

  156. This was an unexpectedly timely thread for me — in my Children’s Services class today, we discussed what one does with popular older children’s books in your library’s collection that have elements that are now recognized as racist/sexist/xist. (Conclusion: it’s tricky, and whatever you do, have a really clearly written collection policy or it will all end in tears.)

  157. Grafton

    It’s remarkable how people can fail in that. A lot of people really love Gone With the Wind and they are largely staggered when I say, “It seems to be saying that the real tragedy of the reconstruction is not the construction of a new form of institutionalized racism that lasted over a century, but that a pretty white woman had to eat a turnip.” It’s probably good for them to absorb this notion.

    Not just any pretty white woman, Vivian Leigh! Yeah I heard something about a book coming first but by God is life ever too short. Seriously, does GWTW make any pretense past the opening text about being anything other than a valentine to antebellum Southern Culture? (Or a fairytale of being a princess in a glossy chivalric society that never actually existed).

    snarkysmachine
    As a cinema junkie who is particularly fascinated by film adaptations of books, I have to take issue with characterization of I, Robot. As a stand alone piece, I think it’s really wonderful. As a companion to the source material, it’s quite weak.

    The main problem with I, Robot is using Will Smith to tell yet another “We’re all just a little bit racist.” story. In my opinion, that’s a lot more annoying than straying from the source material, which honestly, isn’t even one of Asimov’s better works.

    But it’s not an adaptation of the book. It has nothing to do with the book. The central point of the movie, robots* killing people, was absolutely anathema to the Asimoverse. Asimov very clearly didn’t want to take the easy scifi thriller route and have a Frank-Herbert’s-disappointing-son-and-everyone-else story where our hero shoots his way through hordes of robots (which could easily be switched out for zombies, orcs, etc. without changing much else). IIRC, several Asimov stories including I, Robot revolve around the point that a robot may not kill a person, so something else (human) must be at work. Robots as enemies is taking the lazy Tolkien way out (and by God I love Tolkien*) and making the enemies literally inhuman. And that’s fine for a Will Smith thriller, my objection is claiming inspiration from an author who, if alive, would have spit on it.

    *Yes, when Tolkien introduces human enemies (the cowardly, treacherous Easterlings, the cruel, savage, elephant riding and face painting Harradrim of the south) there’s an even bigger problem . . .

  158. Just to clarify, I say “a valentine to antebellum Southern Culture?” with a sneer of utter contempt. I detest Confederate and proto-Confederate sympathizers and apologists.

  159. Seriously, does GWTW make any pretense past the opening text about being anything other than a valentine to antebellum Southern Culture?

    I am not sure what you mean.

    Sure it’s a valentine, but I think what you’ve written makes it sound like it’s culturally insignificant?

    The film held the ‘Most Academy Awards’ record for twenty years. The AFI consistently ranks it high in the top ten in their periodically produced list of the 100 greatest films of all time.

    The novel won a Pulitzer, it is one of the best-selling novels in the history of novels. It is well-researched, really and I understand it meshes perfectly with actual history. I’ve encountered a lot of people who say it’s their favourite book, and are very much moved by this turnip-eating tragedy, in spite of the fact that turnips are really too good for racist twits who say that Uncle Tom’s Cabin is bullshit because slaves are all well-treated, and yet longs to see people beaten bloody because they smile and laugh and are happy when they are finally free.

    I can kinda sorta maybe see why somebody would find it fun to sympathize with this creepy person on a sort of lets-pretend part-time basis. When it comes to defending the character because “she’s a product of her time” or defending what the author was saying via that character because she got the idea from listening to her grandmothers who had to eat turnips after the war, well, then I don’t want to play.

  160. But it’s not an adaptation of the book. It has nothing to do with the book. The central point of the movie, robots* killing people, was absolutely anathema to the Asimoverse. Asimov very clearly didn’t want to take the easy scifi thriller route and have a Frank-Herbert’s-disappointing-son-and-everyone-else story where our hero shoots his way through hordes of robots (which could easily be switched out for zombies, orcs, etc. without changing much else). IIRC, several Asimov stories including I, Robot revolve around the point that a robot may not kill a person, so something else (human) must be at work. Robots as enemies is taking the lazy Tolkien way out (and by God I love Tolkien*) and making the enemies literally inhuman.

    You might not agree with the adaptation, but the Asimov estate was paid for the rights to use elements so I’m sorry we’re going to have to part ways there. That’s what adaptation means. You can take issue with whether or not it’s a faithful adaptation, but you still have to operate with the facts.

    Also, you’d be really surprised how little many authors care about the way their material is adapted once they are paid. It’s more of a fan thing. Though if you and Asimov had a chat about I, Robot then my bad.

    And that’s fine for a Will Smith thriller, my objection is claiming inspiration from an author who, if alive, would have spit on it.

    I just threw up in my mouth a little. Seriously? Gosh, this train is NEVER late.

  161. Yeah it’s not Will Smith. It’s the movie companies and what I blame the fuck up of I Am Legend on is that people hate downers and (spoiler) him being taken by the vampires, who have evolved and begun to create their own society, to be killed because know he was the big scary monster who was different and going around killing their families is a downer (spoiler over). That ending was genius, and I would have forgiven all the other stuff they changed if they had just kept it.

    Will Smith is an actor that I actually really love, as a white girl who grew up in a relatively small town in missouri he was one of the few black people I ever saw, and so he holds importance to me for that. Also, he’s cute, he’s funny and he’s in some of the best worst movies ever made. Wild Wild West anyone? So I don’t blame him for how the movie got messed up. I blame mostly the fact that the book was and still is relatively unknown, except by nerds and horror fanatics and so the studio knew they could do whatever they wanted with it. It wasn’t like Watchmen where the studio knew if they changed too much (they did, but still good movie, better book though) there would be fucking rioting in the streets.

  162. Yeah it’s not Will Smith.

    Plus he’s like really obsessed with sci-fi and is kind of a geek, from what I’ve read about him. So he does need some spanks for not being as much of an advocate for faithful adaptations (considering his status and influence in the industry) but he didn’t write those movies so there’s lots of blame to go around.

    I guess my hackles go up because I don’t often see the scorn heaped on Harrison Ford (Blade Runner) and blamed placed at his feet in the way I see it done to Smith.

    As a writer I tend to be less desiring of faithful adaptations, since they don’t always yield great movies, in my opinion. I don’t go to a movie to read a book any more than I read a book to see a movie.

    That said, the best medium (if we’re talking adaptation) for Sci-fi is probably television. I would love a more faithful adherence to Asimoverse explored on TV. That would be kind of fun, actually.

  163. If cracked.com has it right, test audiences ‘didn’t like’ the original ending for I Am Legend (more on Wikipedia, so we got blindsided by a moralistic sapfest instead. Bleh.

    I’m also a Will Smith fan. The man can act, and so far everything I’ve seen him in has been made better by his presence. Even Wild Wild West, heh.

    As a writer I tend to be less desiring of faithful adaptations, since they don’t always yield great movies, in my opinion.

    I totally agree, Snarkys. A different medium requires different techniques to come through effectivel–and being made by a completely different person than the original author (Princess Bride nonwithstanding), the works in the different medium are going have different perspectives.

  164. I’m also a Will Smith fan. The man can act, and so far everything I’ve seen him in has been made better by his presence. Even Wild Wild West, heh.

    I loved his “James West” though I kept holding my breath hoping they wouldn’t drop a “message” about race, but they did, thus taking me RIGHT out of the fantasy of a movie existing in an alternate universe where a black dude, white dude, Salma all walk into a bar and it’s not the set up for a terrible joke.

  165. If I’d read or seen Blade Runner, maybe I’d have feelings about it. I did not intend to make you feel sad or ill.

  166. Grafton,
    When I say that GWTW is just a valentine to a romantic, Camelotty dream of what the antebellum South never was, I don’t mean that it’s not culturally important, just that it really shouldn’t be. Birth of a Nation was a cultural icon too, thank you very much for your moral leadership Woodrow Fucking Wilson.
    As I said I haven’t read the book, so I can’t speak to research, but in the opening of the movie makes explicit that the South was the greatest, most noble and chivalrous society evah, and as discussed this case is made by portraying slavery in a sickeningly idealistic and racist light.

  167. I found GWTW a worthwhile read (I haven’t seen the movie since I was a kid and can’t speak to that) not because the characters were necessarily great people and certainly not because you felt that their society was worth saving, but because it painted picture of the death of a society that wasn’t worth saving and what happens to the not-great people within it, which is a great deal of human suffering. Which can be a powerful thing to think about when you’re in agreement that their way of life had to end one way or another. I found it thought provoking.

    I certainly see why a lot of people wouldn’t want to touch that book with a ten foot pole, given all the racism with it, and it might very well have done more harm than good in its existence generally. But I thought there are non-racist lessons that can be gleaned from it too, and I didn’t regret reading it. (Of course, that’s inextricably linked to my white privilege as well.)

  168. I should also say that I watched GWTW for explicitly misogynistic reasons, as I was (unfairly and douchily) pissed at a recent girlfriend I felt manipulated and exploited by and wanted to see Rhett tell a vain pretty girl to FOAD.

  169. Aleks, we are in accord about how important GWTW should not be.

    Actually, I like that movie too, but sometimes I just like a film for the colours, and it is very pretty to look at. My wife liked Twilight because she thought it was absolutely hilarious, and I liked it because it was mostly a very pleasing shade of blue.

  170. Grafton, I certainly didn’t think I was telling you anything you didn’t know. I’m a teacher and sometimes (always?) take a didactic tone when speaking to people I have no intention or capacity to educate. I like to think my insecure giggling and crater sized dimples help mitigate this factor in person, but I’ve been told I come off as pretty pompous online.

  171. “All vampires should be like George Hamilton in Love At First Bite (1979)”

    This. Is. So. True.

    I have felt compelled to attempt to read at least the first book. I just want to be able to relate. When I was 14 I was all about Lestat and Louis and Claudia, though that series started the year I was born. :D I was into the vampire thing back when kids who were into the vampire thing were kinda ostracized; but then, the vampire thing seems to come back every decade with some new vampire “twist.” This one seems to have a Mormon flair? Is that what I’ve heard? Jeebus.

    My personal reading right now: I’m a little over halfway through “The Well of Loneliness” and whoa.

  172. And so I think it might be obvious but I will just say that when I commented I think I had made it only halfway down the thread, which. Yeah. I just can’t keep up.

    :: hangs head in shamez ::

  173. Elaina,
    Love At First Bite is glorious.

    As for Twilight, as far as I can tell Meyers just wrote about her dream boyfriend, then decided to call him a vampire either not knowing or not caring that the word was already in use.

  174. As far as Blade Runner goes, it’s a good movie, and I liked it, although it could have used more Edward James Olmos. (Many things would be better with more Edward James Olmos, in my opinion, but YMMV.) It has very little in common with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, though. I liked the book much more; I tend to be of the opinion that Philip K. Dick’s writings just don’t work that well onscreen. Too much of the really interesting stuff is either internal to the characters or hidden in the nuances and details of the worlds he creates.

    I just finished reading I Am Legend, based on the recommendations in this thread, and really enjoyed it, but wouldn’t want to see a movie of it. A movie that was true to the text wouldn’t be very good, it seems to me. Again, most of the interesting stuff is internal to the main character. And movies that purport to be based on books I like are usually disappointing — staying faithful to the book makes a less interesting film, and deviating from the book makes me go, “But, but, but, they left out X!”

    I have mostly enjoyed the Harry Potter films (although I skipped #5, because I hated the book), even though I thought Goblet of Fire glossed over some interesting moral dilemmas in favor of special effects. I think the reason I enjoy them more than I usually do “based on book” films is because I don’t actually like J. K. Rowling’s writing all that much. I love love love her storytelling, but I’m not a fan of her writing. (Example: book 3 contained approximately eleventy billion scenes of Ron and Hermione fighting about whether Crookshanks wanted to eat/would try to eat/had eaten Scabbers; the movie contained, I believe, two, which got the point across just fine.)

  175. Becky – I strongly agree with your Edward James Olmos assessment!

    Also, you might want to try watching the three filmed adaptations of “I am Legend”. They are all pretty horrific in their own special way. (with The Omega Man being the WORST of the bunch, but deliciously campy.) If you approach them as being distantly related to the book, it’s a lot easier to deal with.

  176. Too much of the really interesting stuff is either internal to the characters or hidden in the nuances and details of the worlds he creates.

    This is why I think they might do well as miniseries, or limited series. I did think that the recent ‘A Scanner Darkly’ did well, though, much to my surprise. I’d also like to see PKD’s own screenplay for UBIK done. Someday. Maybe.

    I do think there’s lots of sf/f that would make good movies without losing too much. But so often, even the ones I’ve thought would be fairly easy are just mangled. I will never, ever forget nor forgive the 1977 adaptation of Zelazny’s ‘Damnation Alley.’ Just thinking about it makes me want to bang my head into a wall.

  177. New favorite vampire novel: Let The Right One In. Scary, touching, horrifying (for human and supernatural reasons). Perfect antidote for the teenage drama zero danger Meyerpires of today. But reading this book and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo are giving me a phobia of Swedes.

  178. Aleks – I have that movie in my Netflix queue. How scary are we talking here? I really want to see it after hearing so many fantastic reviews, but I hung up my scary movie goggles after the last Friday the 13th.

  179. SM,
    I haven’t seen the movie yet (although it scored 98% on the ever reliable Tomatometer*.) It’s not slashery (I don’t watch those, yawn) but there’s a lot of violence (vampire on human, human on vampire, human on human, something on human, human on something, vampire on something, and something on vampire, animal on vampire, sunlight on vampire, animal on vampire). There are also lots of reference to sexual violence, including against kids. This is not your daughter’s vampire! Not much moping, not many sparkles, lots of real emotion, real drama and danger.

    Also, having read this and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo I am now extremely suspicious of Swedes.

    * http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/lat_den_ratte_komma_in/?critic=creamcrop

  180. I tried reading the first book of Twilight. I stopped after twenty pages because I didn’t think that hysterical laughing fit the mood for a library.

    Only the Left Behind series was, and still is, worse.

  181. On an unrelated-to-anything-else topic (this is still an open thread, right?) I recommend to those seeking refuge from the unrelenting materialism of the Shopping Season that you see whether your library has “This I Believe” on audiobook. I’ve been listening to it when I go into stores and can’t bear another iteration of “Frosty the Snowman,” and boy is it helping. It’s a mix of the original Edward R. Murrow series (mostly notable/famous people) and the current NPR revival (mostly non-famous people). For those unfamiliar with it, it’s people reading short essays about something they believe in, sometimes serious, sometimes not. I just listened to Jackie Robinson, whose piece I had heard before, Margaret Sanger, whose piece I had never heard, and a contemporary one about the fundamental importance of barbecue. (There’s also a printed book of the essays, but I really enjoy hearing them read by their authors. Also, if I try to read while shopping, it takes longer, and it doesn’t do half so well at drowning out “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”)

  182. Snarky,
    I’ve now watched LTR1I and there’s some gristle. Did you see The Dark Knight? If Two Face’s acid burn didn’t bother you this probably won’t as far as images. Also, every act of violence is clearly telegraphed beforehand, it’s not stuff jumping out at you.

  183. While we’re recommending Pratchett, I’ll add that I read Nation this week. It’s a standalone YA book (not part of Discworld), and it is absolutely superb. There’s a typically Pratchettian strong-minded girl as one of the major characters (as real as Tiffany or Angua), and the boy Mau is amazing.

    TRiG.

  184. Aleks said:

    Snarky,
    I’ve now watched LTR1I and there’s some gristle. Did you see The Dark Knight? If Two Face’s acid burn didn’t bother you this probably won’t as far as images. Also, every act of violence is clearly telegraphed beforehand, it’s not stuff jumping out at you.

    At first I was like, wait, did they show Tommy Lee Jones getting TwoFaced??? and then I realized I was old and you were talking about the new jack TwoFace. Yeah, I could handle TDK. I’m excited about LTR1I since it’s available for instant viewing and it’s still DAYTIME. Woot.

  185. Right. I’ve now read the full comment thread and want to get in on this Last Battle / Problem of Susan stuff.

    I have yet to read Neil Gaiman’s story “The Problem of Susan”, though I’m told I must. In the meantime, Andrew Rilstone’s essay “Lipstick on My Scholar is well worth a read. For the record: Susan was not exiled from heaven for “growing up”. Not quite, anyway.

    And Lewis was very clear that his stories came from pictures in his head. He did not sit down to write a Christian parable. He sat down to write a story about a little girl and a fawn. I suspect that the main problem with The Last Battle is that this was no longer the case. He’d probably got a bit fed up with Narnia, and the the allegory, not the story, had come to the forefront of his mind. As I remarked in a comment to Andrew’s post, “[The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe] does work as an analogy, but it also works as a novel in its own right, which Last Battle certainly doesn’t. And that, I think, is its problem.”

    A commenter at Andrew Rilstone’s (also called Andrew, and currently the last commenter, just after mine (The boy with the green tambourine)), makes some interesting points about Lewis, Susan, sexuality, and the patriarchy: “Female sexuality, then, is only good when it’s regulated by patriarchy. And that’s why Susan is innocent, and C. S. Lewis can go slap himself with a sea bass.”

    My main problem with The Horse and His Boy (which is a good story, and which certainly does work as a novel in its own right, quite apart from any allegory) is the “lessons” the main characters are taught. Particularly Aravis.

    Wikipedia: Through a series of “lessons” and encounters, Aravis’s character is transformed. Always a strong character, confident and brave, her arrogance and self-centeredness are revealed to her, and she acquires humility and empathy.

    At one point, Aslan deliberately hurts Aravis to teach her a lesson. And then explains it to her. I don’t like that at all.

    TRiG.

  186. @Trig:

    I think it’s undeniable though that the things in which Susan is allegedly exclusively interested in now are very female things. It’s not that Susan is only interested in drinking whiskey or jazz music, so I think it’s fair to say that Lewis is criticizing adult femaleness. (And really, it’s totally patriarchy to live in a world where women are expected to jump through a series of hoops just to survive and then criticize the women who did it. If C.S. Lewis hate the beauty myth so much, I hope he was on the front lines of feminism and writing about female characters who are not idealized beauties. Oh wait when Susan grows up in Narnia she’s a grade A hottie? Huh.)

    This Andrew person quotes the passage about Susan as she grows up in Narnia:

    “Susan grew into a tall and gracious woman with black hair that fell almost to her feet, and the king of the countries beyond the sea began to send ambassadors asking for her hand in marriage. ”

    And calls the match in his favor. But I disagree. Susan may have grown up to be hot, but it’s an entirely passive sexuality. So growing up to have men interested in asking you is fine, but taking active steps to attract someone means you don’t get to heaven and instead have to deal with your entire family dying.

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