Sunday, December 07, 2008

HP, Jane Austen, Twilight, Recipes, LOST, Movie Pitches, Baseball, Cassons, Words, and Old Ladies/Politics.

In other words, everything ever in the history of the world! AND the results of the great Socks vs. Underwear debate.

  • I had the great pleasure of being a guest on PotterCast this week for a live discussion of The Tales of Beedle the Bard at Books of Wonder. You can listen to the audio here. Thanks as always to the PotterCasters for having me on the show!
  • During the discussion, I start to articulate a theory of what I think might be a personality test based upon which tale you like the best. "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot": You are cheerful and enjoy seeing justice done. "The Fountain of Fair Fortune": You're something of a romantic and probably supported Barack Obama (since we are the change we've been waiting for). "The Warlock's Hairy Heart": You have an unexpected Gothic streak. "Babbitty Rabbitty": You also enjoy seeing justice done, but by rabbits. "The Three Brothers": You like contemplating the big questions of life. (This is only the start of a theory, mind you . . .)
  • A must-read if you're an Austen lover and/or Facebook member: AustenBook. (Thanks to Christina and Suzi for posting this on FB in the first place.)
  • A very smart review of Twilight from the British newspaper The Guardian. I'm trying to read the novel this month (after not being captured by it back when it first came out), and so far this review seems spot-on. Do people who genuinely love the book and think it's good (as opposed to the legions who know it's bad but read it anyway) actually find Bella and Edward interesting as people? Hmm. (via child_lit)
  • If you're having a holiday party, I highly recommend both this Hot Spiked Cider and the Caroling Wine.
  • LOST fans, the videos posted beneath the comic here are hilarious, and for you.
  • A list of Endangered Words (via Judith Ridge on child_lit). The voting on this is now closed, but the words are excellent: embrangle, nitid, skirr, fubsy . . .
  • A seven-year-old plots Jurassic Park IV -- this time with Nazis!
  • A fascinating essay about George Steinbrenner by my favorite sportswriter, Joe Posnanski.
  • If you love the Casson books by Hilary McKay -- Rose has a blog! (via GraceAnne DeCandido on child_lit, which is where I evidently get everything)
  • But this one is via Andrew Sullivan: Two old ladies, best friends for sixty years, blog about politics, Sarah Palin, family Christmas letters, and breastfeeding. Meet Margaret and Helen.
  • Finally, I am very pleased to see that Underwear trumped Socks for both women and men in our highly scientific poll. Thank you for confirming my faith in humanity.


  1. I loved all the Twilight books. Here's a link to a Caitlin Flanagan essay in this month's Atlantic that explains that love better than I could, and hopefully answers your question about loving the series and/or thinking Bella and Edward are interesting people.

  2. Twilight - I know they're bad but love them anyway and think Bella and Edward are interesting people.
    AustenBook was cute. Thanks!

  3. Hmm, clearly answers to that comment are going to come down to how each of us defines "interesting." And I loathe Caitlin Flanagan, so that article didn't help.

  4. thank you so much for the link to that gaurdian article:

    "Whenever she responds physically to his kisses, he immediately draws away and berates her. Supporters will call this the erotics of abstinence. I call it fear and distaste for female sexuality and a poisonous message to be feeding young women."

    excellent review - sums up basically everything i hated about twilight..

  5. I didn't know anything about Caitlin Flanagan, apart from the Twilight essay, and I was so surprised to see the word "loathed" that I had to look her up to see what inspired it, and yeah serious yuck. But I did love those books, for the reasons she described. My problem with so much of the Twilight hate is that it's really nasty, and disparaging of the readers who liked the books. I also think that much of the vitriol comes from writers and want-to-be writers and is rooted in envy because the series made so much money.

    But I do feel weird for liking an essay written by a someone with whom I seem to disagree about everything else.

  6. I don't have any contempt for the readers -- many of my good friends love the books (indeed, I'm reading TWILIGHT because one of my best friends said I had to do it), and I understand the basic appeal of Edward and the situation (I love BUFFY and DIRTY DANCING, so I get hot vampires and female sexual awakening). What puzzles me is how the book works as a whole while the individual pieces of the writing are so bad: the voice is pretty flat, the tone unwaveringly high-pitched, Edward and Bella have nothing to talk about but themselves, he's condescending to and pushy with her (not to mention sparkly), most of the action is the two of them talking repetitively about their situation, everyone loves Bella instantly and unjustifiably, unnecessary adverbs and overly strong dialogue tags everywhere . . . and yet I too continue reading it. It's a very strange book.

    I just met Jacob, and I like him.

  7. Ah, envious of all the money?

    More like the attention, I would think. As a writer, I often wonder where it is that that story comes from-- that spark or hook that snags a reader, forces them to continue-- That certain something that makes a character's voice impossible to get out of your head, or the puzzle that makes a girl scream over her intercom at her friends when they ring her doorbell during the middle of Deathly Hallows, "What in the world could you POSSIBLY need right now?"

    The hook here just seems so... cheap. Almost as if anyone could do it? I don't mean unoriginal-- vamps who sparkle in the sun is certainly different. I just mean... well, boring, I guess. Effortless in the non-fluid way.

  8. I'm glad you agree with me on Twilight. I thought maybe I was the only one who thought it wasn't good because it came so highly recommended. My biggest complaint is that nothing interesting EVER happens! I was finally excited when a chapter ended with me wanting more...I wanted to find out what happened to him in the sun. And I found out that what happens is he SPARKLES. I just had to close the book in disgust at that point.

  9. I read all of the Twilight books, begrudgingly. Bella seemed pretty vapid and drove me crazy. For such big books, they seemed like they had a lot of filler. And I don't feel like they had to cut a lot to make the movie.

    I was also looking for complex plot points that carried between the books, but was disappointed. Gee, I wonder where I got that expectation from?

  10. "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is about female empowerment as it’s currently defined by the kind of jaded, 40-something divorcĂ©es who wash ashore at day spas with their grizzled girlfriends and pollute the Quiet Room with their ceaseless cackling about the uselessness of men."

    Spot on! The Guardian article simply recycled the same tired feminist arguments that made me a pariah in Women's Studies class. Feminism is also about choice!

  11. I'm also in the process of reading Twilight and think it's abysmal. Not only is it poorly written (can we have some more redundnat adverbs and adjectives, please? The "shiny car" and "loud slam" just aren't doing it for me!), but the characters are horrific. Bella's only flaw is that she falls over every now and then, and Edward is apparently perfect. And Bella isn't even sympathetic: her interior monologue is just one long bitching session.

    ARGH. I'm persisting just to pacify friends, but... but... it hurts.

  12. Ha, and now I've read your comment about the adverbs. YES, the editor agrees with my technical critique. WIN.

  13. Twilight is readable, but why? I work with books, but I'm not an editor, so I'd love your take on why you can't put Stephenie Meyer's books down. (Also: New Moon is different for the characters present in it I think; if you get to Breaking Dawn I'd just love to know how far into it you get.)

    Another question: Any comments on editing a blockbuster author with very strong opinions on her work?

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