fictional: (dr. who family)
[ profile] rm gave me a gorgeous bracelet (at some point, I'll take a picture of it and post it -- IHNIIHBT fans will get a kick out of it, I think); [ profile] hofnarr, some awesome Whovian comics; Dave took me to see Chicago & Tam took me to see Le Corsaire.

I can't wait till the death trinkets begin to roll in! (Kidding. Obviously.)

But TONIGHT there was, courtesy of [ profile] faris_nallaneen the spectacular surprise of seeing Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer at Housingworks, where among other things, they read, sang, told stories, held hands and gazed adoringly at each other like total cuties (!!!) and finally came out of the closet and admitted that they are fucking dating. (All forms of punctuation appear to apply.)

It was the bit where they asked each other questions (supplied by audience) and Amanda says, "Ooh! I like this question... because I want to hear what you're going to say..."

And Neil says, "uh...."

And Amanda says, "So Neil, given that you and Amanda Palmer were naked in a bathtub together on twitter, are you going to admit that you're fucking dating or what?"

Then she blinked at him expectantly, and he stuttered, "Seriously???"

And then said very quietly, "yes, we've been dating for months."

And then Kali yelled said in a penetrating whisper, "Duh!" (I'd had a few glasses of wine by then.)

They gazed into each other's eyes some more, and then said: "AWKWARD!" and moved on. To Amanda auctioning off "Who Killed Amanda Palmer" + some used stockings for $1300. (!!!)

It was a great night.

There were also steamed clams with fennel and bacon, and an utterly divine caramel balsamic gelato. Mmmmmm.

I love Amanda Palmer. I want to buy all her albums.

TOMORROW THERE WILL BE FIC WRITING, OMG. I promise, you guys. (Especially Rach!)

Also, David Eddings is dead. Weird. I have a more contemplate-y post about authors and celebrity and memory, but that will wait for when I am not tired, achy, and soaked by incidental rainstorm.
fictional: (regency)
Item: Lord Peter Wimsey.

Sadly Dorothy Sayers wrote Lord Peter mysteries of a finite number, and then moved onto religious plays, and Dante of all things...[and I say, wasn't one infernal poet enough??? I ask you. When the world could have been blessed with tales of Lady Peter (nee Miss Harriet Deborah Vane) and the Wimsey sproglets in WWII to say nothing of Bunter & Lord Peter's engrossing activities in Intelligence as well as those of Viscount St. George alias Jerry (it occurs to me that nickname couldn't have done him any favors in the RAF, now could it???) and his adventures in the Battle of Britain... from where I am sure he effected a daring escape of some kind, Miss Sayers' opinion to the contrary. And Winnifred. Perhaps we might actually meet her. And some more Dowager Duchess wouldn't come amiss. But I digress.]

So, okay, you read all the mysteries, then move on to the continuations by Jill Paton Walsh, then you want more. Naturally, being a person of sound taste and judgement, you proceed to the Wimsey fanfic on the web, all of it being of a surprising quality, but small in number. (Perhaps the explanation of the former lies in the latter.) You watch the filmed adaptations (Strong Poison and Have His Carcase excellent; Gaudy Night unforgivably awful).

And then? What then?

There are numerous directions to go: one can proceed to the incomparable Miss Heyer for the regency worldbuilding tinged with a gorgeous and delightful twenties/thirties aesthetic - (Incidentally Lord Peter's world, and Heyer's Regency are... surprisingly similar, now that I think of it. Including rhythms of phrase, etc.; says something about our tendency to merrily and muddily accept anything prewar and historical as "back then")... and know the path from there is straight towards comedies of manners, and probably on into fantasies of manners. Unexceptionable, what?

But suppose that's not desired... one can go and read inspirational texts... not the spiritual kind (not the chicken soup meaning anyway), but the ones that have their genesis in love. I've got Lois McMaster Bujold at my fingertips... and I remember my last reread of the Sayers oeuvre was in fact a sort of reverse application of this phenomenon -- I was desperate for more Miles Vorkosigan, and clearly the only thing to do was apply poultice of Lord Peter and hope for the best.

However! Ruthlessly back to the original quandary. One could go straight into P.G. Wodehouse say, and maybe after that wind up with a little Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in A Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)... and then... maybe a soup├žon of Evelyn Waugh? Or backwards instead and choosing to indulge in a little, as Lord Peter might say, coming over all Galsworthy? I've always meant to give the Forsyte saga another wallop. And from thence backwards to Miss Austen? And then through to Emily Eden's "The Semi Attached Couple" and oh golly, back to la belle Georgette. A person could get dizzy with all this perambulating backwards and forwards in time.

[Incidentally, it occurs to me there is something quite Wimsey-esque to the Doctor and his TARDIS. Screwdriver/monocle, TARDIS/enviable Lagonda, post-(Time)war PTSD -- the arrogance, and the angst over condemning those that must be condemned... the list goes on and on. There's the fun of it all too.

Anyone up for a Tennant-Wimsey remake????

Incidentally, I wonder what pre-WWII era Torchwood would have made of Lord Peter....

...I but stir the pot.]

Thoughts? The important thing is to have a Plan.

Also, I really need a "reading books" icon.
fictional: (regency girl)
It's no secret to anyone who's talked to me for more than ten minutes about books, but just in case there's anyone of you to whom that doesn't apply, in my opinion Pride and Prejudice may be the most perfectly structured novel ever written. I think it is shocking in its sheer, staggering brilliance. And snark.

The P&P industry's taken a new turn though... and I gotta say, I can't wait!

Because you know what? Zombies make everything better!!

No joke: this is Mr. Darcy & Elizabeth... battle the undead!

And get a load of this: just green-lit, Pride and Predator: i.e. P&P meets TORCHWOOD.

Who's coming with me when this shit hits the screen???

Also found on the intertubes today: thoughts on polygamy from MsNBC. What do y'all make of that?
fictional: (full face)
I've lots of things to post about - drinking absinthe, bombs, food porn, etc. etc., but this is not that post.

I've just discovered that Lucy Maud Montgomery killed herself in 1942. Anne & Emily, Valancy & Pat and Jane - they were some of the dearest friends of my childhood. And this year, I've been reading L.M. Montgomery's journals for my dissertation - and reading someone's diary is such an intimate feeling, even after they've been published, even after they're dead.

I remember discovering the short stories - ghosts, and divorces and illegitimate children and alcholics and depressions, always depression - and I was so fascinated.

This, though. This makes me feel... I don't know what.
fictional: (Default)
Have you ever had the following experience? You are reading a book, and you think, "I really should like this!" Suppose your favorite thing in the whole world is tea, followed closely by magical adventures, and then you discover, Lo & Behold, someone has written a book about Enchanted Lapsang Souchong, and it even has an interlude in a cabbage patch, and cabbage just happens to be your favorite vegetable. In addition, it features a feisty heroine, and a stuttering hero (and you hate to admit it, but stutters make shivers crawl up and down your spine) - and you like to think of yourself as fairly fiesty, and admiring of fiesty-ness, so that should be all right....

...and then you sit down to read, and for some reason... it's just not doing it! want it to work! You ought to like it. You are rooting for the author, in fact you are the exact opposite of the traditional hostile and suspicious audience. They had you at Enchanted Tea, for God's sake!

You keep reading as hard as you can, till the taste of ashes filles your mouth, and you can no longer battle the despair.

What does this? Why does it happen? Sometimes all the ingredients are right, but the dish just didn't fly. This feeling is even worse when you can tell that the book is well written. It's a bit like having really bad insomnia - wanting to rest so very badly, feeling the tiredness wash over you, but unable to break through the glass window that's separating you and sleep. You can see sleep from there. You just can't get to it.

What throws you out of books? Thoughts?
fictional: (Default)
Reading [profile] mistful's autobiography book review post, I was thinking about how we take these accusations of falsehood way more seriously than we used to. I got into an argument with my office-mates at the College Which Must Not Be Named about this very subject, when I suggested that the whole trope of AUTHENTIC IT REALLY HAPPENED JUST THAT WAY memoir was a virtual impossibility, and at that, an undesirable result. Good story, well researched, well written? Who cares if it happened to you, your next door neighbor, or some dude the next interdimensional bypass over? I really don't get it. It's like those folks who watch "reality"-t.v. and then are like, shock, horror: "OMG it was staged?! You mean, it's not, you know...true?" Um. yeah. Of course it's staged, and p.s. who cares??

If it didn't happen that way, should have. And I can respect that.

It's the truth-shoppers I just don't understand. The American Dream for the past few years has been based on these ridiculous, "we were lied to" disclaimers. Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Fools and Liars Edition. We expect our govt. to tell us the truth? Please. [for the record, what I object to in that whole episode was not that "we were lied to" but that a) we were lied to so poorly! and b) that now other politicians were either too stupid to see that they were being lied to, or c) are now lying poorly about being convinced by other politicians' crappy lies. What the hell. Dear Guys-In-Charge-Of-Stuff: Spin a better, more interesting story, people. No love, Kali. Ahem. anyway.]

So I was thinking about all of that, and also remembering that I had heard of C.S. Forrester long before I ever sailed the seas with Captain Hornblower. Why? Kid-lit ppl in my audience may remember the episode that Roald Dahl recounts in "My Lucky Break" in which he tells a story about his plane crashing in Libya to a Mr. Forrester who has been sent to interview him for the Saturday Evening Post.  Forrester was so impressed by the tale which he had been meant to turn into a "real" story (assuming that this random soldier wouldn't be able to tell a story in a writerly fashion) that he insisted on its publication verbatim. In googling the episode, I turned up THE REAL STORY.

But who cares? "A Piece of Cake" is a great tale; and Forrester obviously really liked "Shot Down In Libya."

And Roald Dahl was a great writer, and I loved him. Should we revoke his writing license? No more "Danny the Champion of the World" because he told a story that was more good than true?

If it didn't happen that should have.
fictional: (Default)
A few days ago I read something - can't quite remember what, as it was a day filled and fueled by procrastination, so this was one in a long line of clicks- which said something like the following: Did there ever exist at any time, any girl for whom Jo was not their favorite character? The reference, which I apologize for mangling and vaguing and ungrammaticalling - went on to suggest that surely any red blooded girl, certainly one who wanted to be a writer, of course wanted to be Jo, and had no time for any of the other girls - housewifely, prim Meg, saintly Beth, and spoilt, vain, petulant Amy.  Naturally Jo, who wanted to be a boy, and was boisterous and adventurous and daring was the one to emulate.

I liked Jo fine, but I didn't want to be her. I liked Amy best. I cheered when Amy and Laurie got together; I thought they made a great couple. And in many ways I thought Amy's story far more tragic than any of the other girls. How terrible to desire greatness, and then graciously resign yourself to your own mediocrity. I thought she was great. Not pretty, perhaps - but none of the girls were really supposed to be, except Meg. Her juno-esque figure, her blonde hair, her blue eyes never made me crave them. But I liked her. I thought she was clever and funny and I adored her method of catching flies with honey, and her sharp tongue, and her aplomb.

It's odd because normally, I never like best the character that the author wants you to. I almost always root for the bad guy. Because if the author is God - and God loves you the most, you'll always be a little more blessed. The book will always give you the benefit of the doubt. That's why they need me, those bad guys. They don't have God on their side, so instead - they get me. I'm a firm believer in toppling the Kingdom of Heaven and forming a republic.

But - for books like Little Women, and Little House on the Prairie (both incidentally based on the authors' real families), this didn't happen. I liked Amy best, and I loved older sister, prissy Mary who always wanted to be reading and sewing, and WHO WENT BLIND and then could do neither (until college, but even then it wasn't the same...). And in both these books, I'm convinced both independent Louisa and adventuresome Laura wanted me to. These writers were writing about sisters whom they adored. Surely they wanted us to love and know them as they did. If they hadn't; if they gave their own fictional counterparts the god-dispensed "benefit of the doubt" that other, completely fictional characters often get, the books would have read like the worst kind of Mary Sue fic! But they don't.

So why are readers who happily go along with the author's judgement in other cases, so unwilling to do so [and even unwilling to believe that anyone else might do so] here? The Kingdom may have fallen, but Cromwell's already formed his parliamentary dictatorship. You're supposed to like the author-projection best, say generations of readers! Because? Well...They are tomboyish and devil-may-care! They have agency! They are rapscallions!

It reminds me of nothing more than the whole school of feminism which states that women have to be as man-like as possible in order to be treated equally, and any woman who does not follow this law should be ejected from the sisterhood. Or the kind of queer community that thinks there's not room in one lesbian relationship for two femmes - 'cause we all know the only way to do it, is to reproduce heteronormative norms as closely as possible. Or the kind of s/m folks who look down on submissives because they think they are weak (and not in a fun way).

There's nothing wrong with being a tomboy. I was never one, but I knew them, and thought they they were fun, and admired them (and probably thought they were hot.) I wasn't particularly successful at being a girly-girl either (too lazy and uninformed and self loathing).

But I reject utterly the idea that you have to be one to be worthwhile.

Amy/Laurie OTP!!!
fictional: (Default)
You know, having just recently written a rather good (even if the professor did not agree) essay on the boundaries between Fantasy & SF - I wonder why I'm still feeling so bemused on the subject.
I was looking at Farah Mendlesohn's blog - (kidlit & SF for the interested at ) and her SF questionaire which I would love to be able to fill out - (extra special procrastinatey goodness) and then I was thinking - I can't really think of any kidlit SF books I've read, even though I *know* I must have read a good many. If one were to ask me, I would say that SF is, in fact, one of my primary genres of choice. But do I actually *like* it?
Off of the top of my head: SF books that are desert island books, ones that I feel I couldn't live without having read - we have:

Julian May's Pleiocene Exile series & Galactic Milieu (involves elves!!)
Ursula Le Guin: Left Hand of Darkness (Might as well have been utopian fiction)
Neal Stephenson: Snowcrash (Er...does cyberpunk really count?)
Anne McCaffrey: Dragonflight (Er...dragons? but they are on a different planet, and genetically engineered)
Madeleine L'Engle: Time Quartet, Arm of the Starfish, Young Unicorns (Don't know quite what to say, but these just never felt SF-y to me - but do involve time travel, lasers, and Limb regenerative neuro'science')
Douglas Adams: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (But, again.)
Orson Scott Card: Ender's Game
Frank Herbert: Dune
George Gamow: Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland

Whereas if I were to name fantasy novels - I don't think the list would fit in one LJ entry. I'm not sure what that says. I feel oddly ashamed.
fictional: (Default)
So I was chatting with [profile] hofnarr last night, and we got to talking about Great Fictional Love Stories. (The conversation went from my saying that I think I would enjoy meeting the kind of people who believe Dangerous Liasons to be a romantic comedy - (there's love, there's amusement - seems perfectly clear to me) and devolved into attempting to list Great love stories in book universes. (We're tripping over the plethora of them in film media, so that's excluded from my search).

What are the really seminal love stories you've read - the ones that stick out in your head, the ones that you read and thought - yes, this is Love with a capital L. They don't necessarily have to be the complete focus of the book, but they need enough time spent on them that they have a profound effect on you. [Example of something that doesn't count: Aragorn/Arwen in LotR - their love story, while taken as read, takes place solely in the appendix to RotK - and is not really explored at all in the body of the novel(s)].

I came up with surprisingly fewer than I thought, considering how much romance figures in most books, and how much I feel my way of looking at the world has been influenced by stories in print media. Here's my list so far:
Under this LJ-cut you'll find spoilers for the following universes: His Dark Materials, The Dark Tower, College of Magics, & Deverry) where the love story I mention is not in pre-existence at the beginning of the fiction. )

Richard & Alec: Swordspoint
Beatrice & Benedick: Much Ado About Nothing
Mario & Tom: The Catch-trap
Jehane bet Ishak & Ammar ibn Khairan & Roderigo Belmonte: The Lions of Al-Rassan
Elizabeth & Darcy: Pride & Prejudice
Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine: The Lion in Winter
Shadow & Laura: American Gods
Eric & Shelly: The Crow
Nan & Kitty (or Nan & Florence, depending): Tipping the Velvet

I'm sure I've forgotten some, so this may get added to later.

Please comment, if you have some additions: I'd love to hear 'em.
fictional: (the look)
good things:
last night i managed to write two whole paragraphs on the silly novel type thing that i am working on. (the amount would be pathetic, but it's the most i've managed in weeks);
i cleaned half my house. (well maybe more like a third, but hey, who's counting.);
i fell even more in love with John Cusack last night as I re-watched Grosse Point Blank;
i exhausted myself, so that by the time i went to bed, i was really really sleepy, and didn't have to deal with insomnia eating my head.

not-so-good things:
the sunshine went away;
my stomach decided to try and come out of every orifice it could think of;
i had the nightmares again. those ones. with her in them. could i fucking get over this already? please?;
i still have the rest of my house to clean, and laundry to do;
i'm hungry, and there's no food here;
my head feels like it's been stuffed with sawdust and ground glass, and then, to add insult to injury, it feels like it's been pickled;
and, like Emily of New Moon, i am far too obsessed with italics.

and, did i mention that i'm hungry?


fictional: (Default)

August 2009

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