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George is so fucking creepy. Do you remember him as a creepy dude? Yeah, I didn't either.
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Chapter two is up. Still a terrible book!
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Final chapter FINALLY up. See what I did there? Oh ho ho, I'm so clever.
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Chapter Six is now up!
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Chapter Five is up! There are tits.
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Third chapter now up! Go read it and learn about how bullying is wrong.

just sayin'

Nov. 6th, 2011 02:53 pm
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First chapter of Alanna: The First Adventure is up at SotD. If that's, you know, your jam.
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(This entry is public because Little Brother went through all my old posts and told me in no uncertain terms to stop locking things so he can read my wordmeats again. If he is reading this right now, I would like to point out that this would not be a problem if he got his own damn LJ. Plus then the Internets would know he is real and that I did not make him up. GET ON THAT, LITTLE BROTHER.)

I don't much like making small talk. I do like to read. These two facts in combination mean that I bring books to work to read on my lunch break. This would not be a problem were it not for the fact that many of the people I work with are who Bill Hicks was talking about here and therefore totally mystified by the fact that I, like, read books. For fun! Books with long words! Books without pictures! Books that don't even have a shirtless Edward Cullen in there to make up for all that strenuous mental activity! How weird, right?

Often if you tell a meat eater that you are a vegetarian he or she will bounce back with some variation on the theme of "YEAH WELL I LOVE ME SOME DEAD COW MMM STEAK." Similarly, I find that when people find out how much I read- three or so books a week, give or take- someone usually ends up declaring that they don't read. Ever. That is not in and of itself a crime. Some people don't enjoy reading! It happens! I don't understand it,* but I... kind of accept it. What I don't accept is the way these someones say it, which is proudly. "Fuck yeah, man, I haven't read a book since fourth grade! I don't even know if I CAN read anymore! I AM AWESOME, AS IS ILLITERACY."

What the hell is wrong with these people?

You know what? If you don't read books, and you are PROUD of the fact that you don't read books, I am going to think you are stupid. That's it. Moreover, I am going to think you are a fucking ALIEN and probably won't ever be able to understand how you work or think or can stand to get up in the morning. That is not hyperbole. That is how fucking bizarre the concept of not reading (and not WANTING to read) is for me. If you don't read books you're from fucking Mars and I have no fucking clue how to talk to you. That's not me being a neurotic bookworm, either. (Well, it is a little, but not as much as you'd think.) It's because while I have very few definite thoughts on the meaning of life, the universe, and so on, one of my most definite thoughts is that stories are important. Stories are more important than almost anything, because without them life would make no fucking sense. Without stories the world would just be... things. Stuff that happens. They're as much a vital part of life as food and water. We need them to fucking live.

Not reading is not something to be goddamn proud of. Aside from its many benefits- exercises the right side of the brain, helps develop and increase the vocabulary, promotes empathy by encouraging identification outside the self, relieves stress, gives you a better chance of not ending up a junior stockboy at a third-rate grocery store forever, et cetera- what isn't there to fucking love about reading? Reading is good! Reading is fun! Didn't you watch Sesame Street as a kid? They taught this shit there, and they had dancing letters and everything. AND they showed you how to count to ten in Spanish. Now go sit down, try to remember the goddamn alphabet, and stop interrupting me while I'm reading so you can talk about your fucking girlfriend's eczema.**

While we're on the subject of books, here are some I've read lately. )

I made myself a new summer mix the other day, and I feel like uploading it even though it is pretty unfashionable. I call it Love and Television. )

Post ten of any pictures currently on your hard drive that you think are self-expressive. NO CAPTIONS! It must be like we're speaking with images and we have to interpret your visual language just like we have to interpret your words. They must ALREADY be on your hard drive - no googling or flickr! They have to have been saved to your folders sometime in the past. They must be something you've saved there because it resonated with you for some reason. You do NOT have to answer any questions about any of your pictures if you don't want to. You can make them as mysterious as you like. Or you can explain them away as much as you like.

Mysterious is the way to go. )
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I listened to Battle For The Sun today and, well, I don't think I've disliked a Placebo album this much since Sleeping With Ghosts. Blah blah blah, I got opinions! )
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When my little sister heard about the upcoming FOBlink-182 tourvaganza, she got very big-eyed and said:

"I want to go to that concert. More than anything in the world."

"Huh," I said, intrigued. "Do you want it even more than, say, world peace?"

She nodded solemnly.

"You do know that makes you a bad person, right?" I asked.

"No!" she replied, shaking her head. "Because that concert will make world peace happen."

I love you, Little Sister.

Guyssssss it was so WARM today! So warm there were kids out playing on the street all day! So warm I got to lie out on my back deck and absorb the sunshine like a furry purry kitty! So warm I didn't even put on socks! (I pretty much always wear socks- brightly-patterned knee socks, for preference- so this is a big deal.) I've got my window wide open and I can hear frogs somewhere out there and it is SUMMER FUCK YEAH FINALLY. \o/

I mean, it snowed again a few days ago, but whatever. SUMMER.

I have been feeling kind of ridiculously optimistic about things lately. This is partially due to FUCK YEAH SUMMER, but also because I have decided to spend this summer Being Productive, and so far I'm doing pretty well! I've been writing and practicing bass and working like a motherfucker and it feels really good to be busy because I think I've been kind of doing nothing for a while. Even during the school year.

I've also been reading a lot, which I choose to count as Being Productive because, um, reading is good for the brainmeats? I dunno. Here are some of the books I've read, complete with pocket-sized reviews!

Books, books, books. )

I'm currently reading Out by Natsuo Kirino (delightfully creepy and full of social commentary) and The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir (interesting, but it's really easy to tell she usually writes nonfiction- her style is kind of clumsy and she can never seem to decide whose head she wants to be in). Books are fab.
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Some of which are pretty bad, because Kidston's book collection, she is not so premium.

Brown Girl In The Ring, by Nalo Hopkins

Voodoo! Gods! Monsters! Zombies! A dystopian Toronto! Although I found the dialogue a little confusing, this book has pretty much everything a good urban fantasy should have. Plus zombies. Did I mention the zombies? And the mean old ladies with magical powers?* And the graphic death? And the feminism? And the cases of mistaken identity? AND THE ZOMBIES?

Kindred, by Octavia Butler

This is a book about racism disguised as a book about time travel. It is utterly amazing on both levels. Read it.

Adverbs, by Daniel Handler

Daniel Handler's taken a while to really hit his stride in adult literature, I think- Watch Your Mouth was disappointing, and I can't even remember The Basic Eight- but he finally has with Adverbs. Focusing on the intertwined love lives of a few dozens people- some of whom may or may not be one another- the novel moves back and forth in time, space, and tone. Handler's style is both snappily ironic and totally earnest, and Adverbs itself is equally divided: it is about how love fails everyone and about how it's the only really important thing in the world. (Also, I think [ profile] uncommon_crow would really like it. Just throwin' that out there.)

The Onion Girl, by Charles de Lint

An artist named Jilly is seriously injured in a car accident, which throws her into Mabon, a kind of fairyland she's been trying to break into for years. Trying to lose herself in dreams, she learns to come to terms with her abusive past, her guilt over abandoning her sister, and the possibility of paralysis leaving her unable to paint again. I'm still not sure how I felt about this book. On the one hand, Charles de Lint is a really lovely writer and incorporates the fantastic into the everyday in a seamless, understated way that makes me really jealous; on the other hand, I couldn't get into Jilly as a character. Or, rather, I couldn't get into how all the other characters reacted to Jilly. A protagonist being well-liked is something I can deal with- not everyone can be a twisted anti-hero, because that would be boring as fuck- but half the city (literally) showing up to visit her in the hospital? It got to the point where I groaned every time the point of view switched to anyone who wasn't Jilly or her sister, because it meant I was in for another digression on how Jilly is such an awesome person, like, really, she's so nice, want to hear about all these selfless things she did for the poor and the homeless and the orphans and the kittens and stuff? De Lint's treatment of sexual abuse kind of bothered me as well- although it was easy to tell he empathized with Jilly and wanted his readers to identify with her and her pain, there was an undercurrent of voyeurism there that made it a very discomforting read. It was a good read in spite of that, and I certainly wouldn't encourage anyone not to read it- de Lint writes some good, meaty fantasy and has the guts to tackle subjects a lot of genre writers don't really address, or use as a cheap plot device.

Affinity, by Sarah Waters

What I got out of this book: Don't be a lesbian in Victorian England, you will go crazy/become a criminal/go crazy and then become a criminal and then kill yourself because the woman you helped to bust out of jail was using you the whole time and you'll never love again, woe, woe, etc. Okay! Thanks for that, Ms. Waters!

Soul Kitchen, by Poppy Z. Brite

Ricky and G-man, the cooks who took the world by storm in Liquor, are back and planning to open a new franchise called Soul Kitchen, which serves comfort food from around the world. After hiring on a man wrongly accused of rape and murder twelve years before things get a little tense; that tension only heightens when you add in Rickey's burgeoning addiction to prescription drugs, G-man's struggle with infidelity, and roughly a thousand other narrative threads that Brite seems eager to drop as soon as she picks them up. Remember how I loved Liquor? That was because it had a clear, concise plot, well-defined characters, and a sense of humour about itself. Soul Kitchen has none of those; on top of that, it cannot decide what kind of book it wants to be. A murder mystery? A meditation on race relations in New Orleans? A moral lesson on Why Drugs Are Bad, Use Acupuncture? A straight-up restaurant book? It tries to be all of them at the same time, and ends up being nothing much at all. Also, Brite's history of failing at characters of colour continues: not only does the only prominent black character in the book die at the end, but a good portion of the book is spent criticizing this Crazy Angry Black Guy being mean to all the Nice White Folks Just Trying To Help Him Out. I mean, what's a dozen years of wrongful imprisonment when someone offers you a job in a kitchen, man?

The Holy, by Daniel Quinn

Oh, Daniel Quinn. Please stop trying to write books with plots and characters and dialogue (and, uh, Satanic rituals) and go back to your telepathic gorillas, please.

Stardust: The David Bowie Story, by Henry Edwards and Tony Zanetta

This book taught me that David Bowie was a cockhead. And slept with a lot of drag queens. V. informative! (Hilariously, since it was written in 1986 it ends by noting that hey, David Bowie is gonna be in this movie with muppets and stuff sometime soon, he'll be wearing tight pants, it'll be awesome! TRUER WORDS, MY FRIENDS, TRUER WORDS.)

Glass, by Ellen Hopkins

Oh, God.

Okay. Remember Go Ask Alice and how it was a straight-up hoax book that was written to scare youngsters onto the straight and narrow? Imagine if someone wrote that in the aughts, in the form of a frillion calligrams, and pretended it was their daughter's experiences instead of their own, and you've got Glass. DON'T DO DRUGS, NOT EVEN ONCE, BECAUSE YOU'LL BECOME HOPELESSLY ADDICTED AND SPEND ALL YOUR BIRTHDAY MONEY ON CRYSTAL METH. ALSO DO NOT HAVE SEX, BECAUSE THEN YOU WILL HAVE A BABY AND GET FAT AND THAT WILL SUCK PRETTY HARD, RIGHT? ALSO MEXICANS ARE DANGEROUS. ALSO WHAT DO LESBIANS DO IN BED, I MEAN SERIOUSLY? ALSO REALLY GUYS, DON'T DO DRUGS, YOU'LL GO TO JAIL FOREVER. OKAY? OKAY.

Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay

Dear Mr. Kay:

If you call a vagina a "portal," I am going to laugh at you.

Love and kisses,

The Five People You Meet In Heaven, by Mitch Albom

Reading this book was like watching a movie- I enjoyed it, but I was still waiting for the credits to roll.

* Mean old ladies with magical powers make me happy. Just ask Granny Weatherwax.
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Because sometimes I read shit. Crazy, I know.

Potential, by Ariel Schrag

I think when people write about high school years after the fact, their memories are all in soft focus. Schrag's comic memoir Potential was written immediately after she graduated and describes her coming out in high school, losing her virginity, and trying to make sense of her first real relationship. Except that makes it sound stupid and Potential is actually good. Schrag's drawings are messy and scritchy and make me itch, and her writing is clumsy in the good way- it makes you realize how young she is, how earnest she is even though she's trying to defend herself with irony. This book reminded me of how awesomely terrible high school was, both the parts of it I miss and the parts of it I never want to think about again.

Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi

What I love about Marjane Satrapi is that she takes one look at the stereotype of Middle Eastern women as long-suffering submissive victims of their culture and laughs it off the face of the fucking planet. The conversations in Embroideries are the kind of conversations people across the world are having ion their living rooms- conversations about love, about sex, about money, and, more than anything, about juicy gossip. Satrapi's minimalist cartoon style scans almost like film noir at times. That combined with her snappy, raunchy dialogue makes Embroideries... hm, how do I say this without sounding like a total douche or someone reviewing a restaurant? Oh, I got it, ROCK AWESOME.

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, by Ariel Levy


Okay. I am going to put away my distaste for Levy's prose style for just five minutes (but seriously, could she maybe try to sound neutral? just once?), and concentrate on the things I did like about the book. I found her analysis of the "Uncle Tomming" done by women to benefit from raunch culture to be spot on. (How-fucking-ever, using racial analogies and implicitly comparing oppressions? Thank you, Ms. Levy, a truckload of FAIL shall be delivered to your doorstep post-haste.) I also enjoyed her take on the relationship between raunch culture and capitalism, particularly that "[m]aking sexiness into something simple, quantifiable makes it easier to explain and to market. If you remove the human factor from sex and make it about stuff- big fake boobs, bleached blonde hair, long nails, poles, thongs- then you can sell it. Suddenly, sex requires shopping; you need plastic surgery, peroxide, a manicure, a mall. What is really out of commercial control is that you still can't bottle attraction." (184) But throughout the book I found myself flipping to the author's picture on the back flap and scowling at her, because a lot of her writing is fucking sloppy. For example, she writes with the unstated assumption that her readers will agree with her ideological opposition to pornography and sex work; although she claims that pornography will FUCK YOU UP MAN, she does not include statistics.* Instead she quotes Jenna Jameson's autobiography and calls it a day. She criticizes the third wave for its perceived permissiveness and acceptance of marketed sexuality and idealizes the second wave as a totally radical space, ignoring its history of excluding women by their race or sexual practice (lesbians, leatherfolk, too "feminine", whatever). And oh, that charming chapter on those mean mannish lesbians objectifying women by... uh... sleeping with lots of them! And sometimes wearing men's clothing! And even TRANSITIONING, oh noes! (Don't even get me started on her back-asswards attitude towards trans folk. Say it with me, people: If I'm NOT transgendered, I DON'T get to use the word "tranny." I don't. Get. To. Use. It.)

All in all? Glad I read it once, will never read it again.

I've also been reading Runaways, but it is too awesome for me to write a proper review. Telepathic time-traveling raptors! Goth girls leading teams of superheroes! KILLER NAZI SCIENTISTS MADE OF BEES! \o/


* Just for the record: I identify primarily as a pro-sex feminist. I feel very uneasy about many of the images propagated by the porn industry, especially in relation to women and sexual assault, and I think they can be harmful, especially when it's the only way younger people can learn about sexuality; however, I think the solution to that problem is encouraging a society that is more open and honest about sexuality, not by shutting people down and censoring them. End PSA.
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Some books that I've read in the past few months. )

Next on the list: I Am America (And You Can, Too!), by Stephen Colbert; The Language of the Goddess, by Marija Gimbutas; Badlands by Robert Kroetsch (ugh).

Any recommendations?
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The Powerbook, by Jeanette Winterson

This novel does not have a setting, or a time, or even characters, really. The Powerbook is all about a feeling, the clarity of emotion that links all stories together. The main character is a writer who creates fictions for people who want to get lost in them. As the book goes on she gets lost herself, and every story becomes about herself and her ex-lover, meeting each other again and again. I haven't read many of Winterson's books- three or four at most- but she always communicates a sense of desire and passion clearly. She does that here; it aches, and it's beautiful in that way that makes you want to throw it away.

The Book Against God, by James Wood

I like books about philosophy, and I picked up this book thinking that was what it was going to be. Instead, it turned out to be a book about philosophers; one in particular, a man named Tom Bunting, who can't seem to keep himself from lying. The son of a minister, he himself is passionately anti-religion and a militant atheist, and has been working on a project called The Book Against God, a composium of theological tidbits and theological arguments that are meant to refute the existence of God. Tom is, frankly, kind of a loser- he's been working on his PhD for years with little progress, he drives away his own wife with his compulsive dishonesty, and seems incapable of actively working against the forces driving him, opting instead to lie there and bemoan his fate. He is, however, an eloquent, intelligent, and entertaining loser, which keeps things interesting.

Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood

Whatever, it's Margaret Atwood so it's awesome by default.

Virgin Territory, by Sara Maitland

Martine found this book in a bookstore on Barrington Street, a really old one where the books are stacked in towers and staircases and the bookshelves themselves are made out of books. A nun in Central America is raped in Central America while working as a missionary, and her sister Anna deals with the fallout in a very strange way. As in, starts hearing the voices of a group of men she calls the Fathers, communicating telepathically with a brain-damaged three-year-old named Caro, and hanging out with lesbian-feminists. This is a book from the early eighties about rape, power, and religion, which means that it's intense, earnest, and would probably never be published today. It's also very emotionally honest, and explores the concept of virginity, negative power, and its revolutionary possibilities in a curious way- curious here meaning not "strange" but "intrigued." Although it can be a little didactic, it's well worth a read. Also, the main character says at one point that "Jesus Christ is not on the side of the Fathers. Jesus Christ is on the side of the lesbians." I think that, in future, I need to yell "Jesus Christ is on the side of the lesbians!" as much as possible.

The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold

Hoo boy. So, we all know about this one, right? Girl is murdered, goes to heaven, watches her family from afar and tries to help them catch the guy who killed her. Fairly simple premise. Everyone and their dog has been telling me that I'd love this book for about... Jesus, three years, I think, so I finally caved and read it, and was completely underwhelmed. I think it might have been that she actively described heaven, and I really hate descriptions of the afterlife; maybe it takes away from the mystery, or something. Or it might have been how awful the character Ruth was; I didn't know that someone could simultaneously fulfill every stereotype for psychics, lesbians, and artists, but she does. Or maybe I'm just a damn philistine who can't appreciate good books. Regardless, this book annoyed the shit out of me and I was glad to be finished with it.

(Yeah, I could have just stopped reading it, but I do that very rarely. I can stop watching movies halfway through, but I can't stop reading books or my brain gets all itchy.)

Anyone have any suggestions for summer reading? I'm desperate for something new, and you can only reread Hairstyles of the Damned so many times.

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