Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Novel Approach to Dating

Yesterday, Nathan Bransford blogged about "gap" books, the books that everyone seems to have read but you.

I had two reactions to this topic.

First, I don't have gap books; I have gap movies. I can read on the playground or while the kids give themselves haircuts with nail scissors. But babysitters, tickets, and popcorn cost beaucoup bux. If I intend to read something, I do--except when I'm writing a first draft, when I hold off reading other people's fiction so it won't mess with my voice. That being said, my desktop "intend to read" pile is more than two feet high. But the ones that everyone's talking about I pull out first--I hate being left out of the conversation.

Second, every third comment (and there were over 250 of them) seemed to rag on TWILIGHT. Someone compared to fan fiction. Others made a point of saying that they'd intentionally avoided reading the series--as though, if they hadn't been on their guard, BREAKING DAWN might've flown off the shelf at Borders and latched, parasitically, onto their brains.

What's up with all the hate for popular fiction? Are people trying to prove that they're too "upscale" or "literate" to enjoy these things?

The same thing happened when the movie TITANIC came out.
At first, everyone lost their minds because it was SO GOOD.

Next, we read about ALL THE RECORDS it broke, and we collectively pictured James Cameron (or J.K. Rowling, or Stephenie Meyer) rolling around giggling on a big pile of money, a la Scrooge McDuck.


Then, everyone seemed to mock it and pull it apart. Is it envy? Are people trying to distance themselves from their initial reaction of exuberant emotion? It's almost like people BREAK UP with the story.

"Yeah, TWILIGHT and I went out for a while, but it wasn't right for me. I need to be with a more intellectual story."

But even though we're not dating HARRY POTTER anymore, most of us can still be friends.

13 comments:

Disgruntled Bear said...

"I'm King of the World!"

OK, that line was worth mocking.

anicalewis said...

I definitely agree. It frustrates me when people lump all popular things together in some "popular baaad" pile.

Not that I don't think SOME of them deserve it - I read the first 3.5 books of the Twilight sequence, and while the crack-laced-Twinkie appeal held me in its grip for awhile, I was horrified by the message and the writing quality even then, and I think the books are genuinely bad on many levels. Harry Potter, on the other hand, I think is popular for all the right reasons, e.g. being awesome. Hearing people lump them together - especially without reading either one! - bums me out.

Disgruntled Bear said...

Anica, I think you're right about HARRY POTTER being an example of the best YA literature has to offer. I can't think of a book that surpasses that series. Not NARNIA. Not LOTR.

I think people need to have read the book for their opinion about it to count. So, while I thoroughly enjoyed the crack-laced Twinkies that were the TWILIGHT saga, I completely respect your right to call them that.

Which message of the books horrified you? The I-can't-decide-if-I-love-you-or-I'm-going-to kill-you part?

Mmm...crack-laced Twinkies.

StephTheBookworm said...

Yeah, I agree. What's up with all the Twilight and popular fiction bashing? Not cool.

anicalewis said...

Ooh, boy. Well, since you asked:

I took quite a lot of exception to Bella's behavior, whether she's giving up on happiness for the rest of her life after Edward leaves (she actually refers to herself as "damaged goods"!) or being unable to stay angry at Edward or Jacob for ten seconds after they take the engine out of her truck/carry her around like a sack of potatoes/kiss her against her will. And, um, I also had some pretty serious issues with the guys for doing these things. But Bella's got some pretty screwy expectations/priorities/self-esteem issues, too.

Also, Bella casually does the cooking and laundry for her dad, and when she gets bored, cleans the house. Really?

Basically, I found her whiny, passive, and full of obnoxious ennui, while I thought the male characters were possessive and controlling (although I admit that I liked Jacob in New Moon - actually thought then that he was waaay too good for Bella). It bothers me particularly that, despite Bella's repeated claims of knowing how unhealthy her relationship with Edward is, the books totally glamorize it as Perfect True Love. Meanwhile, I'm thinking, "No, it really is unhealthy! Seriously!"

Also, I thought the writing was bad. Occasional gems, but it was hard to see them in the mire. (At the beginning of New Moon, when Edward first appears, there is a whole paragraph just about how beautiful his eyes are, followed by more description of the rest of his perfect perfectness, all despite the fact that the first book spends hundreds of pages basically telling us how mind-meltingly gorgeous he is.)

So . . . them's my thoughts. :)

Disgruntled Bear said...

Anica,

Your thoughts on TWILIGHT are spot-on; Bella's passivity is one of the the main complaints I had about her as an MC. How do you feel about strong female MCs, even if they're not very "nice?" Would you be up for reviewing my book MINDER on your blog? Please email me (kate at katekaynak dot com) with your mailing address if you'd be up for posting a review on "Fancy That."

glacierlilies said...

Hey, Kate. I'm still totally dating Harry Potter. obsessively. and feeling sad that the fan-fiction is dying down, and wishing she'd get on with writing that encyclopedia, and make it like thousands of pages. But Twilight totally didn't do it for me. I dislike vampire fics, thought the quality of the books declined as they went, and by the end was irked by something that, yes, irks me in fan-fiction...the tacking on of super-powers. She couldn't JUST be a vampire... she had to be an incredible super-ultra vampire-plus! I felt all 'oh puh-lease' over them by the end, and gave them to our library. (so you see I'm not against other people reading and liking them. Whereas there have been some books so bad I've recycled them rather than send them out in the world to corrupt some other poor parent...they've all been horrible parenting books).

I guess when I fall in love with something, it's character-problem driven, not...super-super superpower driven. Within the world they're in, Harry et al are normal people. It irks me to have Bella et al transcend the world they're in. It's just not a type of story I enjoy. It ends up feeling like the author couldn't set up and solve a problem within her own constraints. The people stop feeling like people to me, and start feeling like cartoons, and they don't draw me in. Clearly there are tons and tons of people who don't feel this way, and I understand different kinds of escapism work for different people. But for me? Ugh. Not bothering with the movies...those would be gaps for me!

ps. loved titanic. would have named a girl rose.

Andrea Franco-Cook said...

We live in a superficial society where status is reflected by what we have, rather than who we are. Unfortunately, this has contributed to a frenzy of jealousy, obsessive competition and hatred. Sometimes it makes unhappy people feel powerful to devalue other's success.

The reason book stores stock publications in a variety of genres, is to ensure there is something for everyone. If people don't care for Meyer's books, then simply don't buy them. However, I think it is hypocritical to purchase and read the entire series then bash it.

If the Twilight books stunk so badly then most readers would not have finished them. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Meyer is a Hemmingway or Steinbeck, very few authors are. However, she can tell a story.

IMO, Meyer's books met my expectations. They were a quick read and I was immersed in another world for a short time. In other words, the books were entertaining.

Yet, when some readers didn't get the literary prose of Milton's Paradise Lost out of Twilight,they were up in arms. Paleeeze, if those people want literature, then the Y.A. vampire genres are not the place to get it. Give Meyer a break. Just my two-cents.

anicalewis said...

I'm flattered! I don't actually use my blog to review books, but I think it's smart of you to be looking blog reviewers to read Minder.

I went to your website and read the two-chapter preview - good stuff! I recommend that you contact the bloggers at http://giveagirlapen.com/ - they recently reviewed Lisa McMann's Wake, which seems like it would have a similar target audience to that of Minder.

Good luck!

anicalewis said...

I'm flattered! I don't actually use my blog to review books, but I think it's smart of you to be looking blog reviewers to read Minder.

I went to your website and read the two-chapter preview - good stuff! I recommend that you contact the bloggers at http://giveagirlapen.com/ - they recently reviewed Lisa McMann's Wake, which seems like it would have a similar target audience to that of Minder.

Good luck!

Disgruntled Bear said...

Thanks for the link, Anica, and I'm glad you liked the first bit of MINDER! Actually, WAKE is one of my comps, so your recommendation is spot-on. Take care!

anicalewis said...

Oops - don't know how my last comment posted twice. But again, good luck!

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