Commentary

Sep. 25th, 2011 06:26 am
sartorias: (Default)
As it's evolving on the Net.

Commentary on art forms (fiction) has been around for a long time. One of the things that delighted me about Chinese novels when I first discovered them was that people added their commentary into the text when copying them. In Western Europe, with the evolution of print, we didn't go that way--commentary developed in separate venues.

Now there's commentary on film and television on DVDs, and some are way better than others at it.

Then there's the Rifleman Harris commentaries, which I think achieves ekphrasis.

Commentary

Sep. 25th, 2011 06:26 am
sartorias: (Default)
As it's evolving on the Net.

Commentary on art forms (fiction) has been around for a long time. One of the things that delighted me about Chinese novels when I first discovered them was that people added their commentary into the text when copying them. In Western Europe, with the evolution of print, we didn't go that way--commentary developed in separate venues.

Now there's commentary on film and television on DVDs, and some are way better than others at it.

Then there's the Rifleman Harris commentaries, which I think achieves ekphrasis.

Swearing

Aug. 8th, 2009 12:40 pm
sartorias: (I am seriously displeased)
Will link to [livejournal.com profile] bittercon--

There was an otherwise totally forgettable SF show aimed at young teens during the nineties. I can't even remember the star's name, except that she had long blond hair. My daughter was exactly the right age for that show, but she bailed after one episode, she said at the time because she couldn't stand how stupid it was that the girl exclaimed, whether surprised or angry, "Fahita Zapita!" "Nobody would ever say 'Fahita Zapita!'" my kid insisted.

Segue up to a couple of weeks ago, when scientists show proof that cussing when hurt actually relieves pain. Anyone who has heard about the fact that recovered black boxes from crashed planes most frequently end with blue language--has been a coach at a birth, and heard an otherwise mild-mannered woman blistering the wallpaper--practiced at a dojo and heard someone who has just taken a hefty hit yell a word in the same tone that they usually yell their Chiai--wouldn't be surprised, I don't think. At least, my reaction was kind of, "So you've finally caught up with the obvious, eh, just like 'Dogs have emotions.' Rah science!"

When I was first thinking about this subject, I realized that many of the terms used are not exactly interchangeable. Swearing is not cursing, which is not cussing. Swearing used to mean swearing oaths--an important part of many cultures. If you look at Beowulf you discover that oaths are not cussing at all--the insults are flyting, which is a different matter, often ritualistic. Oaths are meant to be kept--a person's oath was their honor. Often these included oaths before a deity. God is mentioned many times in Beowulf but you won't find a single one of those tough warriors using 'God' in their cussing.

In recent decades 'oath' has been used in fiction as a politeness for cuss words ("The villain uttered a coarse oath as he tied the maiden to the railroad tracks") unless it's specified ("She raised her right hand and swore her oath of office."). "Vow" tends to be used for those types of oaths now--"Marriage vows." "Vow of vengeance." "Vow of silence."

I think oaths are pretty much gone, as is is the notion that one is as good as one's word. Many say that is because we have become such a secular society. My tentative theory is that that is not quite right. One only has to look at the mind-boggling duplicity and ethical and moral swamp of the later Roman republic to see that religious cultural trappings in no way held back those determined to do what they were going to do. Caesar and Pompei and Cato and Augustus used religion to serve them, like they used gold and power and clothes and rhetoric. My feeling is that moral and ethical breakdown is related to enormous cities full of plenty. Those in the cities do not have to worry about survival in quite the sense of rougher days, so they don't have to worry about tight bonds of kinship and community that not only can be the difference between survival and non, but make life worth surviving for. Now, if we don't like the people we're around, it's easy enough to move, and find a fresh bunch of people.

Ideally religious conviction includes moral and ethical conviction. We've seen enough hate spewed in the name of religion to know that religious language is not an automatic ticket to goodness--but neither is an officially non-religious state. Outlawing religion did not, from any evidence I saw, make people behave one iota better toward their fellow human in the Soviet Union. From what I see, both religious and non-religious people can be raised with moral and ethical awareness, or with moral and ethical torquing to justify "us against them."

Anyway, these days we are bombarded with so many lies that we have automatic filters on our machines (TiVo to edit out commercials, spam traps to try to stay up with spam, training oneself to look past billboards and ads) as well as in our heads. Though again, there were ads in the days of the Roman empire, such as the ladies and gents of the evening who had the soles of their sandals treated in such a way as to leave foot prints to lure those who wanted to pay for play. Whenever we go out to buy something--a house, a car, a couch--we try to arm ourselves with facts the better to filter out the lies we'll be told by the seller. Until relatively recently (and some fume that it's still not what it should be) the medical profession was largely made up of charlatans preying on the credulous. For a real stomach-turning experience, take a look at the history of medicine in Western Europe, right up until about a century ago. Eugh!

'Cursing' is even older, the idea of making a formal curse so that harm would come to another. There was certainly magical thinking here, but cursing could also be a social signal to go after the cursed one. And his or her family, friends, and possessions.

'Cussing' I think of as using impolite language. The crazy thing about human cussing--and it probably reflects the extraordinary inconsistency of human behavior and thought--is that cussing isn't constant except in a very narrow range, usually having to do with excreta. Styles and modes seem to vary not only from culture to culture but from region to region and in time. Cussing that relates to sex can vary wildly, but some of the most opaque cussing is that relating to class. Then there are periods of history where cussing can get you into serious trouble . . . which means it dives underground. It doesn't go away any more than hierarchical behavior goes away.

Sometimes it loses its teeth. Like "Drat!", which is considered fairly innocuous, once meant "God rot your bones!" which wasn't innocuous at all during the middle ages. "Plaguey" is merely a quaint adjective, usually put into the mouths of cliche pirates, along with "Arrr!"--no one anymore says, "Plague take you!" which was an extremely serious imprecation indeed after the mid 1300s, when half the population of Europe died within about a year. "Zounds!" was "God's wounds!"--one of those expressions one swears by.

I don't think there's much swearing 'by' any more. A hundred years ago it was okay to swear by something that didn't cross serious religious boundaries--so in early nineteenth century novels, men say, "By Jupiter!" but "By G--!" is written for the real blasphemer. Religious imprecations still resound all around us, secular though the society is. But when someone asks God to damn us, we no longer make the sign of the cross to ward it, much less drop flat in order to avoid a direct hit from the curse. It makes us angry just the same, even if we don't fear we will be instantly blasted to the eternal rotisserie on this person's word.

As always, cursing inspires its own euphemisms, like "effing" or "f***"--we know what it means, but we're not saying the word. A sort of magical thinking without much magic.

Much more fun to contemplate are the origins of phrases like the holies--"Holy Toledo! Holy Smoke! [not-so-innocent term redacted]!" and in fandom, "Holy crom!" Or "Fiddledeedee!" which women could use. The tone of voice had to give it the necessary oomph, which Vivien Leigh understood quite well when she tossed her hair and stamped her foot in Gone With the Wind.

Back in the seventies, when many friends were trying hard to divest themselves of the phony trappings of the past and create a totally gender-equal, classless society, I remember a few earnest conversations about the matter of cussing. Some women felt that so much male cussing had to do with violence against women, and of course there were the many, many socially acceptable bigoted terms meant to keep racial or social groups outside the main group. I remember one woman declared that from now on, cussing had to be expletives of heinous acts, and it didn't work to have long phrases, so she proposed exclaiming "Rape!" As I recall, when I saw this in practice, hearers either laughed or seemed uncomfortable, but it did not catch on. Nor did some earnest phrases that I saw put forth in forgettable allegorical stories as well as in real life--"You anti-egalitarianist!" or "Classist!" (which I thought would have been better for the use of the good old-fashioned "Snob!")

Sometimes terms do catch on, such as Yankees, and gay (which apparently goes clear back to Chaucer, but narrowed in meaning all during the 20th c).

Anyway, the writer who wants to posit cultures does have to consider this aspect of behavior, even if only to dismiss it. There are ways of dealing, of course--just like writing about battle, or eating, or sex, or any other activity, there are ways and degrees and styles. "They ate lunch" can be stated as "They chowed down on tacos" or "They ordered crispy tortillas slathered with refried beans, rice, shredded cheese, fresh tomatoes, and salsa made with cilantro, and savored each bite, then washed down the whole with a foaming glass of Dos Equis." Speaking as a reader, I like it when the details of a culture feel real. If the people think that the deadliest insult of all is "Horse-feathered chicken-beak," the worldbuilding details have got to convince me that there is meaning in those words, or else I'm going to snicker.
sartorias: (Default)
So . . . Worldcon looks really good, and it also happens to be starting a day or so after the release of one of my books. But I guess celebrating with a friend or two can just as easily be done at home as there. Cheaper, too.

But the community, the discussions? Ow ow ow ow ow! So in hopes I am not the only one stuck home, I thought I'd try to come up with some discussion topics to fire up during those days when the rest of the genre world is whooping it up.

Wanted to see if anyone else likes these, or should I try to think up better ones?

Culture and Cussing

A friend has my copy of Beowulf or I'd type in a bit of Unferth's flyting. Nowadays, flyting is alive and well on the Net, called slapfights, and sometimes *fail when one group feels that someone else has committed egregious social error. Though many times the error deserves correction, sometimes I sense (and I might be totally alone in this) the sideways checks to see that one's position in the group is secure by the assurance with which some dogpile onto the erring one, making them sometimes seem the group scapegoat.

Then there's the other aspect, which calls to mind the story about Johnson, after a holier-than-thou society woman commended him for excluding indelicate language from his dictionary, whereupon he replied, "So you were looking for them?"

This came to mind at Mythcon a week ago, when someone on a panel commented that it frosted their cake when people wrote F*** or S***. They said something like, "When I see that, I know what the word is. I'm supposed to know what the word is. So the person who wrote it is saying I'm morally superior to you because I don't use bad language, but I put it into your head just the same, ha ha.

How much of that is inherited from the eighteenth century habit of writing things like B***** so that the publisher wouldn't get in trouble with censors, and how much is social euphemism at work, that I know and you know but I'm too nice to say it. And you better not either though we're both thinking it?

Anyway, inventing cusswords for worlds is not as easy as it would appear. Sometimes it works--I see and hear a lot of people using the 'frakking' of Battlestar Galactica. Mark Twain got around the question of blue language by inventive fumings that are quite funny, but still convey the smoldering ire of cussage. When you are a writer, it's a good idea to look at your culture and determine which words and concepts are taboo, or offensive to that culture, and which words would get a shrug--like a certain German cussword, which still apparently carries fairly strong heft, just sounds funny in English. Call someone a pigdog here, and they just laugh.

What happens to cause a group to embrace an insult? I'm thinking about 'Yankees,' which began as a putdown but became a term of strut for us in the U.S.A.

Changing Views of Text

When I was in school, the text was regarded as isolated, if not immutable. There wasn't much said about the contract with the reader. Although the French Structuralists were already talking about narratability and so forth, I didn't discover them until I was much, much older.

Now it seems pretty well understood that the text will be a different text to different readers, or even the same reader. If I think of all my readings of Lord of the Rings as a complicated cityscape, each reading at different periods of my life has lit up different parts of that cityscape, shedding more light in a complicated spectrum. That first reading was garish light and dark shadow--black and white adventure.

Another aspect for possible exploration: Relations between story and history--literature as story kernals around social and personal upheaval--narrative truth--these are all goodies, but what really interests me is how communities now form around text. Leading me to

Communities and Text

At Mythcon, Diana Pavlac Glyer spoke about how small groups, or communities, form to support one another. This is not big news to many, but the way she described how these small groups not only support, but keep each other sustaining effort even if they are not critiquing or participating in one another's creative endeavor, I found pretty interesting.

The thing I'd hoped to explore at Mythcon, but we really didn't, is how communities engage with text as creative act. Recently a group released the The Hunt for Gollum, a fan-made movie for under five grand. What's more, they've released a soundtrack, with bits of Shore's themes woven into their own music. The fact that Newline hasn't hurled lawyers at them indicates to me that attitudes toward ownership of text are changing, for bad or good might be worth discussing.

We know about fanfic, both for living authors and dead. Recently there's been a lot of reinventing of Jane Austen's work. Some is probably aimed at raking in the cash, but the cash wouldn't be there to rake if people weren't interested. Zombies--squids--Austen herself, aside from her work, hunting spies and solving mysteries, two activities the actual lady probably would have been bewildered to contemplate in reality. I myself recently proofed one of these, James Fairfax, which is a reinvention of Austen's Emma, by Adam Campan, from what we discover deep in the text is an alternate timeline. Vera asked me to proofread this book, as I read a lot of 19th C stuff for fun. I approached the project with deep misgivings, and ended up so absorbed I don't know if I caught all the typos. I especially loved what Campan did with Mr. Elton--the whole thing with Harriett Smith is much funnier with this added overlay. (And I also notice on one of the many Austen sites that I follow, while zombies are okay, gay characters are just too too unspeakable in this sniffily superor dismissal. . . From the huffy comments it doesn't look like anyone has actually read the text. Is that taste, or prejudice, that zombies are squids are okay, but gay characters aren't? Campan says in his introduction that the book began as a thought experiment, and it seems to me that it's already working.)

Anyway, reinventions of text, movies that extend movies, vid mashups, fan fiction, all these things are ways of taking a story and engaging with it through group as well as individual creativity. All these are possible topics, if anyone is interested besides me.
sartorias: (Default)
When [livejournal.com profile] coneycat makes her impassioned plea for identifying with The Diary of Anne Frank, she talks about that visceral sense of kinship that comes of character identification. How many kids have I taught who read that book, and came out of it with a new, a personal sense of the horror of the Holocaust? You can tell kids that eight million ordinary people were summarily dragged out of their homes and put to death, but the numbers are so daunting it's difficult to comprehend them. We do better up close and personal, including through books.

Critics like Nabokov scorn the reader who identifies with characters. In his lecture on Flaubert's brilliance, he says, Books are not written for those who are fond of poems that make one weep or those who like noble characters in prose as Leon and Emma think. Only children can be excused for identifying themselves with the characters in a book, and he goes on to define why elsewhere in the Lectures on Literature.

I admire the Lectures for Nabokov's skill at conveying his love of literature, but his love is frequently alien to my love. He feels the good reader is like the scientist in the lab. My good reading is achieved when I sink into a book and world.

The kind of literature I loved made me feel better for having read it, not worse. It gave me characters whose experiences I could live through and learn by. Most of the time I could enjoy the process, but at times--for example, reading Anne Frank's diary, I could not enjoy it--I knew what was coming--but I was interested, and my sympathies were the more sharply engaged because I knew that this diary had been written by a living, breathing girl. My age. Who was dragged out of her home and killed, though she had done nothing whatsoever to warrant that. Sometimes I sought out literature that would similarly engage my imagination so I could better comprehend, and then I wanted stories in which the character triumphed over the evil. And in real life, if I saw evidence of that same evil, I'd resist it in my small and fumbling attempts to lead a good life, and to make life better for my kids.

Lately, after having read Diana Glyer's superlative The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and L.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community, and having slowly made my way through Kathy Burke LeFevre's carefully presented case in Invention as a Social Act I'm coming to some tentative conclusions.

One is that delving fictionally into the futile and the ugly can be the intellectual game of the comfortably insulated mind, a mind that hasn't had to worry much about the short sharp shocks being up close and personal. Fictional hell, in other words, is fun when you're not living in real hell. When you're in any species of real hell, most (or many, anyway, remember these are tentative thoughts) reach for fiction that depicts a better life, and certainly a better ending.

Another tentative conclusion is that creativity and fictional empathy are necessary social acts, that by identifying with characters we are encouraged at least passively to try to be better people. If one feels good after closing a book, one is more likely to go out and do a good deed. If one has just finished a book that says that everything is useless, futile, and dreary, why bother?

A third tentative conclusion is that the Internet is encouraging users to participate in creativity far more than when I was young, when authors of literature were presented as isolated beings--and that all essential information is contained in the text. We are encouraged to bring our own art and experience to the medium, and by that act, participating in a great dialogue that can better civilization.
sartorias: (Default)
Thanks to the heads up from [livejournal.com profile] krylyr I read China Mieville's brilliance for today, which cracked me up.

But wait. Down there in the first comment or two is another New Literary Movement I've already noted, the Brutalist Children's Lit. We all draw conclusions from our own experience, but we know that the blind person who can only reach the elephant's tail will marvel at how tiny and thin is this beast, while not perceiving the rest.

Here's what I see, and tell me what you see: that now that the lid is off in kidlit censorship, the grit, grue, sexual kink and misery and violence are pile-driving YA . . . and it's selling like hotcakes . . . but not to kids--it's the college age crowd, especially the ones who were kids when Potter started coming out, but also the ones just a tad older, who have discovered YA, and are going to town with it, the darker the better.

It's as if YA is splitting off, with a range of books for real young adults who are actually adults, though young, and kids, who seems to have different tastes.
sartorias: (Fan)
Yesterday's discussion about synopses led to this exchange, which I thought might be useful for further exploration.

[livejournal.com profile] green_knight made a response to a line from [livejournal.com profile] fashionista_35's comment, I fall firmly in the shooting myself in the foot category in that I refuse to compromise.

by saying:

It's a continuum. I've looked at some of the things I've written on this topic (and am still working on my own post) and thought 'I sound just like every self-published writer whining about how the publishing industry does not understand my stories' and went back to work on that post some more ;-)

And I think the only way to square that particular circle is if we accept that our own judgement might not be good enough, and seek out the opinions of friends and editors and agents and reviewers to ensure that believing in a story, wanting to tell a particular story, not pandering to the market, finding one's own voice etc etc do not turn into self-aggrandizement.

Where does 'refusing to compromise' and 'being true to the story' become 'refusing editorial advice'? Right now, I'm working on a book I love - but it's also the (hopefully) most commercial idea of the ones that were floating around in my head. I think every writer - maybe every book - has a line where listening to people who know how to make it more marketable turns into 'no longer being true to the story' (aka 'producing hackwork') - which does not mean one should never consider such suggestions at all. (Nor should one always consider them.)

No answers. Just a lot of questions to ponder.


to which [livejournal.com profile] fashionista_35 replied:

You know, I've been traditionally published by NY houses. I also had a book canceled by a traditional NY publisher. Here's the kicker-- the published books were the ones that were fussed with the least-- one revision and done, while the canceled book was the one that was revised over and over, to the tune of four drafts, where I took the editorial suggestions and tried my best to work with them even if they didn't feel completely right for the story.


Where does 'refusing to compromise' and 'being true to the story' become 'refusing editorial advice'?

As amorphous a concept as it seems, the thing is, it has to feel right for the story. Those revisions I did on the canceled book, they didn't always feel right, but I was trying my best to adhere to the editorial suggestions while not compromising how I saw my story. The ultimate irony is that the editor herself was quite happy with the story, which eased my concerns over the changes I wasn't completely sure of-- the publisher, however, HATED the book. A lot. So go figure. Lesson learned. What the lesson is, exactly, I'm still trying to figure out. *g*


I've read some of her work, and loved it. From my perspective, [livejournal.com profile] fashionista_35 is dealing with difficult subjects and she is also breaking many rules. For writers who want to sell, dealing with difficult subjects and breaking rules is risky, as editors' parameters seem to roll back and forth along this tense, never-resolved axis between what they are sure will do well in the marketplace, and what might be new, and a big hit. "New" is so often difficult to describe: what one reader thinks new and daring, another reader will say, "Henry Miller did that, and better, back in 1963." Also, "new" can fall flat: readers don't like it. So someone else is going to have to try with that "new" subject again.

Or it can hit the bigtime.

Rules: when one goes back in literature, the rules of character behavior really stand out. At one point in Jane Austen's Emma, she makes brief but acid fun of a then-popular trope, of a heroine nobly refusing the hero in favor of her friend who is also in love with the hero, even though the friend is "unworthy" in some way. Female noble sacrifice was as "in" as utter innocence in emotional love, until Austen held that particular trope up to be as ridiculous an idea as it really is. You don't find it in much literature after Emma came out.

The rules in romance have gone through enormous sea change during the past thirty years. I remember the rigid requirements of Harlequin back in the early eighties: there had to be kissing closing chapter one, there had to be sex (but problems) by this chapter, etc etc. Romance has broken those bonds as it reinvents itself again and again. There are lines all over that feature this or that type of storyline. But still they are romances, there are certain things the characters do that don't emulate real life--because for the most part, readers read romance to escape from the sharp shards of real life. It feels good to relax into a book knowing that the problems won't be horrific, or if they are, all will be right in the end. When character behavior dips skillfully into reality a little more--pushing the rules--editors can get scared that the book, even if beautifully written, will tank. Market versus art.

Difficult subjects. There is a LOT of "I'm writing risky subjects" going on that I see. The problem, from my aged perspective, is not the risky subject itself--the lid seems to be off right down to YA level now--but handling it well. For some readers, the presence of a risky subject is enough; for a goodly set of them, a summary solution is almost required. Most of the "risk" I see in genre is resolved with simplistic solutions, sometimes even arbitrary ones. ("My solution is wise because my characters say it is.")

This is not a recent phenom. I used to see it back in the early days of Spock and slash fandom, when writers were working out all the various knots and kinks in Vulcan culture, inventing wildly, and when that wasn't enough inventing cultures based on the Vulcans, but pon far was the kernal. Actually, I think the kernal was rape, and the timing (seventies) had a lot to do with how lingering the impact of "Amok Time" was. How many stories did I read that basically boiled down to Oh well, in my culture, this is how they resolve rape, and everybody accepts it. Or incest. Or self-abuse in various forms. The stories presented a wide variety of quick fixes that some readers found wise and comforting because the subject was considered risky and daring, and others wrote in response, "This is a pretty bandaid over a still festering wound. What's all the self-congratulation about?" Could be that writing, and reading, these fandom stories was therapeutic as well as entertaining; it certainly gave vent to discussions of subjects that, for women of my generation, were considered forbidden territory--things no lady would ever talk about.

In fandom, you don't have to get past the gate keepers. What about the world of print? It was interesting to watch the launch of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series, which now has prompted a zillion echoes. Some thought the books incredibly daring and risky, others wrote long reviews saying variations of, "What's risky about long descriptions of torture-sex when the central character is never harmed, but magically fixes all problems just by letting herself be tortured?"

Some editor got the feeling that the time had come for this story--and was right. I wonder if Jacqueline Carey had to make several tries before she sold that first book--if she was advised to tone down her subject matter, or tell another story altogether, making her central character into a swordswoman, or something that would be more easily marketable.

Back to compromise, and [livejournal.com profile] green_knight's question. How can you tell when advice to change things is good advice, and when not? In refusing advice, how can one tell the difference between ego-massage and the high moral ground of protecting the integrity of one's art? I guess one can say that the writer who is constantly endeavoring to reach for some kind of truth through art, C.S. Lewis's "lies breathed through silver," is the one who is making the right choices, but what about the fact that so many people's truth varies so much? One has only to look at the recent election in this country to be reminded that "the right thing to do" can look different from various vantage points.

My feeling is that we can't be sure, but that doesn't excuse us from trying. We're a species of mimicry as well as imagination, we build our civilization by echo soundings as well as trial and error. Art is a mirror; it not only reflects our fascinating selves, but also the stars.
sartorias: (Default)
Yesterday's discussion about synopses led to this exchange, which I thought might be useful for further exploration.

[livejournal.com profile] green_knight made a response to a line from [livejournal.com profile] fashionista_35's comment, I fall firmly in the shooting myself in the foot category in that I refuse to compromise.

by saying:

It's a continuum. I've looked at some of the things I've written on this topic (and am still working on my own post) and thought 'I sound just like every self-published writer whining about how the publishing industry does not understand my stories' and went back to work on that post some more ;-)

And I think the only way to square that particular circle is if we accept that our own judgement might not be good enough, and seek out the opinions of friends and editors and agents and reviewers to ensure that believing in a story, wanting to tell a particular story, not pandering to the market, finding one's own voice etc etc do not turn into self-aggrandizement.

Where does 'refusing to compromise' and 'being true to the story' become 'refusing editorial advice'? Right now, I'm working on a book I love - but it's also the (hopefully) most commercial idea of the ones that were floating around in my head. I think every writer - maybe every book - has a line where listening to people who know how to make it more marketable turns into 'no longer being true to the story' (aka 'producing hackwork') - which does not mean one should never consider such suggestions at all. (Nor should one always consider them.)

No answers. Just a lot of questions to ponder.


to which [livejournal.com profile] fashionista_35 replied:

You know, I've been traditionally published by NY houses. I also had a book canceled by a traditional NY publisher. Here's the kicker-- the published books were the ones that were fussed with the least-- one revision and done, while the canceled book was the one that was revised over and over, to the tune of four drafts, where I took the editorial suggestions and tried my best to work with them even if they didn't feel completely right for the story.


Where does 'refusing to compromise' and 'being true to the story' become 'refusing editorial advice'?

As amorphous a concept as it seems, the thing is, it has to feel right for the story. Those revisions I did on the canceled book, they didn't always feel right, but I was trying my best to adhere to the editorial suggestions while not compromising how I saw my story. The ultimate irony is that the editor herself was quite happy with the story, which eased my concerns over the changes I wasn't completely sure of-- the publisher, however, HATED the book. A lot. So go figure. Lesson learned. What the lesson is, exactly, I'm still trying to figure out. *g*


I've read some of her work, and loved it. From my perspective, [livejournal.com profile] fashionista_35 is dealing with difficult subjects and she is also breaking many rules. For writers who want to sell, dealing with difficult subjects and breaking rules is risky, as editors' parameters seem to roll back and forth along this tense, never-resolved axis between what they are sure will do well in the marketplace, and what might be new, and a big hit. "New" is so often difficult to describe: what one reader thinks new and daring, another reader will say, "Henry Miller did that, and better, back in 1963." Also, "new" can fall flat: readers don't like it. So someone else is going to have to try with that "new" subject again.

Or it can hit the bigtime.

Rules: when one goes back in literature, the rules of character behavior really stand out. At one point in Jane Austen's Emma, she makes brief but acid fun of a then-popular trope, of a heroine nobly refusing the hero in favor of her friend who is also in love with the hero, even though the friend is "unworthy" in some way. Female noble sacrifice was as "in" as utter innocence in emotional love, until Austen held that particular trope up to be as ridiculous an idea as it really is. You don't find it in much literature after Emma came out.

The rules in romance have gone through enormous sea change during the past thirty years. I remember the rigid requirements of Harlequin back in the early eighties: there had to be kissing closing chapter one, there had to be sex (but problems) by this chapter, etc etc. Romance has broken those bonds as it reinvents itself again and again. There are lines all over that feature this or that type of storyline. But still they are romances, there are certain things the characters do that don't emulate real life--because for the most part, readers read romance to escape from the sharp shards of real life. It feels good to relax into a book knowing that the problems won't be horrific, or if they are, all will be right in the end. When character behavior dips skillfully into reality a little more--pushing the rules--editors can get scared that the book, even if beautifully written, will tank. Market versus art.

Difficult subjects. There is a LOT of "I'm writing risky subjects" going on that I see. The problem, from my aged perspective, is not the risky subject itself--the lid seems to be off right down to YA level now--but handling it well. For some readers, the presence of a risky subject is enough; for a goodly set of them, a summary solution is almost required. Most of the "risk" I see in genre is resolved with simplistic solutions, sometimes even arbitrary ones. ("My solution is wise because my characters say it is.")

This is not a recent phenom. I used to see it back in the early days of Spock and slash fandom, when writers were working out all the various knots and kinks in Vulcan culture, inventing wildly, and when that wasn't enough inventing cultures based on the Vulcans, but pon far was the kernal. Actually, I think the kernal was rape, and the timing (seventies) had a lot to do with how lingering the impact of "Amok Time" was. How many stories did I read that basically boiled down to Oh well, in my culture, this is how they resolve rape, and everybody accepts it. Or incest. Or self-abuse in various forms. The stories presented a wide variety of quick fixes that some readers found wise and comforting because the subject was considered risky and daring, and others wrote in response, "This is a pretty bandaid over a still festering wound. What's all the self-congratulation about?" Could be that writing, and reading, these fandom stories was therapeutic as well as entertaining; it certainly gave vent to discussions of subjects that, for women of my generation, were considered forbidden territory--things no lady would ever talk about.

In fandom, you don't have to get past the gate keepers. What about the world of print? It was interesting to watch the launch of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series, which now has prompted a zillion echoes. Some thought the books incredibly daring and risky, others wrote long reviews saying variations of, "What's risky about long descriptions of torture-sex when the central character is never harmed, but magically fixes all problems just by letting herself be tortured?"

Some editor got the feeling that the time had come for this story--and was right. I wonder if Jacqueline Carey had to make several tries before she sold that first book--if she was advised to tone down her subject matter, or tell another story altogether, making her central character into a swordswoman, or something that would be more easily marketable.

Back to compromise, and [livejournal.com profile] green_knight's question. How can you tell when advice to change things is good advice, and when not? In refusing advice, how can one tell the difference between ego-massage and the high moral ground of protecting the integrity of one's art? I guess one can say that the writer who is constantly endeavoring to reach for some kind of truth through art, C.S. Lewis's "lies breathed through silver," is the one who is making the right choices, but what about the fact that so many people's truth varies so much? One has only to look at the recent election in this country to be reminded that "the right thing to do" can look different from various vantage points.

My feeling is that we can't be sure, but that doesn't excuse us from trying. We're a species of mimicry as well as imagination, we build our civilization by echo soundings as well as trial and error. Art is a mirror; it not only reflects our fascinating selves, but also the stars.
sartorias: (Fan)
I’m beginning with the assumption that before print, when few in Western Europe were literate, and most texts copied laboriously, there was a sense that texts were authoritative, or truth.

I’m also assuming that the access to cheap print helped erode that, especially with the Reformation coming hot on the heels of print books, and a brisk trade in forbidden books keeping printers afloat. I also wonder if the flood of translated texts inspired by Dante and the Reformation also helped erode that.
But I’m going to assume that enough of a sense of textual authority persisted that propagated the scholarly position, taught when I was in high school and college, that the text existed in isolation. That what the author said about the text might be interesting, sometimes was laughable, occasionally insightful, but always it was irrelevant: the text must stand alone. Its meaning existed outside of the authorial existence, surrounded by an intellectual cordon sanitaire.
We already know that publishing history has largely been in the hands of men, and quite naturally (believing themselves to be the sex designed for authority) they published authoritative texts about texts for one another.
Two hundred years ago, literary salons gave insiders access. The elite, socially involved on a daily basis with authors as well as the publishing process, gained authority. Social groups who met to discuss books were another way for readers to engage in discussion of text, and then along came the Net.
Now we have the interconnectedness of artist and viewer, writer and reader, maker and consumer. So actually, encountering a text in isolation can become a challenge, as everywhere people cry, “No spoilers!” in an effort to choke off the tumble of discussion until everyone has had a chance to read. As for textual authority . . . who has it now?

Writers and Readers

Watching authors and readers interact over a text in Netspace has been fascinating and occasionally unnerving, even disturbing. I think that the lack of physical space—the author on a podium, the readers below in chairs facing the podium—has reinforced the sense of equality, and also of anonymity. It’s so much easier to deliver drive-by criticism from behind a user nym.

Things I’ve seen recently:

*People angry with an author who talked about why she was making world-building choices for a book some time before it was published, carry their impressions of the discussion to the book, or decide that the book will not be read because of that discussion.

*Writers with sufficient personal charisma become Personalities on the Net, which creates a receptive audience for their texts . . . the text is popular before it even appears.

*A writer of a piece tells her fans what the text means (that it is great literature), though there is no sign of any of that meaning, power, or glory when I actually read the text. Should I lay the explained meaning over the piece in a mental palimpsest because I read the explanations? Is that what those adoring readers are doing, or do they really see something there that I do not see? How do you pin down meaning, when readers are going to bring emotion and experience to a text, however they came by it?

If the answer is no, I should separate the author’s pronouncements on her text from what I actually saw in the text, then I shouldn't bring to a book the knowledge that this other writer over here is steeped in a certain type of history? Though my sense that some of the incidents in the book might be based on real experience added to my sense of enjoyment?

Our Affair with Text

Fanfiction exists beside its (canon? Interconnected? Utterly separate?) text, it engages with it, it flirts and teases and marries and has children.

The artistic conversation intrinsic to fanfiction has been talked about before. It’s been going on for centuries, for example the thousand year love affair that Western Europe has carried on with the Arthurian saga. Over those centuries, writers have enjoyed that story in every possible combination, permutation, degree. Like fanfiction writers now, those ancient writers usually didn’t make a cent off it, but the stories had to be told anyway.

What about a text that is a cultural icon, and depends on that gravitas for the joke when it's changed? Like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Which raises another question, in these days of zombies attacking the quiet English countryside of Jane Austen’s novels, or real historical (or fictional) figures suddenly revealing a secret career as detectives, is there an ethical obligation in fictionalizing real people? Or in borrowing famous figures from other books?
sartorias: (Default)
I’m beginning with the assumption that before print, when few in Western Europe were literate, and most texts copied laboriously, there was a sense that texts were authoritative, or truth.

I’m also assuming that the access to cheap print helped erode that, especially with the Reformation coming hot on the heels of print books, and a brisk trade in forbidden books keeping printers afloat. I also wonder if the flood of translated texts inspired by Dante and the Reformation also helped erode that.
But I’m going to assume that enough of a sense of textual authority persisted that propagated the scholarly position, taught when I was in high school and college, that the text existed in isolation. That what the author said about the text might be interesting, sometimes was laughable, occasionally insightful, but always it was irrelevant: the text must stand alone. Its meaning existed outside of the authorial existence, surrounded by an intellectual cordon sanitaire.
We already know that publishing history has largely been in the hands of men, and quite naturally (believing themselves to be the sex designed for authority) they published authoritative texts about texts for one another.
Two hundred years ago, literary salons gave insiders access. The elite, socially involved on a daily basis with authors as well as the publishing process, gained authority. Social groups who met to discuss books were another way for readers to engage in discussion of text, and then along came the Net.
Now we have the interconnectedness of artist and viewer, writer and reader, maker and consumer. So actually, encountering a text in isolation can become a challenge, as everywhere people cry, “No spoilers!” in an effort to choke off the tumble of discussion until everyone has had a chance to read. As for textual authority . . . who has it now?

Writers and Readers

Watching authors and readers interact over a text in Netspace has been fascinating and occasionally unnerving, even disturbing. I think that the lack of physical space—the author on a podium, the readers below in chairs facing the podium—has reinforced the sense of equality, and also of anonymity. It’s so much easier to deliver drive-by criticism from behind a user nym.

Things I’ve seen recently:

*People angry with an author who talked about why she was making world-building choices for a book some time before it was published, carry their impressions of the discussion to the book, or decide that the book will not be read because of that discussion.

*Writers with sufficient personal charisma become Personalities on the Net, which creates a receptive audience for their texts . . . the text is popular before it even appears.

*A writer of a piece tells her fans what the text means (that it is great literature), though there is no sign of any of that meaning, power, or glory when I actually read the text. Should I lay the explained meaning over the piece in a mental palimpsest because I read the explanations? Is that what those adoring readers are doing, or do they really see something there that I do not see? How do you pin down meaning, when readers are going to bring emotion and experience to a text, however they came by it?

If the answer is no, I should separate the author’s pronouncements on her text from what I actually saw in the text, then I shouldn't bring to a book the knowledge that this other writer over here is steeped in a certain type of history? Though my sense that some of the incidents in the book might be based on real experience added to my sense of enjoyment?

Our Affair with Text

Fanfiction exists beside its (canon? Interconnected? Utterly separate?) text, it engages with it, it flirts and teases and marries and has children.

The artistic conversation intrinsic to fanfiction has been talked about before. It’s been going on for centuries, for example the thousand year love affair that Western Europe has carried on with the Arthurian saga. Over those centuries, writers have enjoyed that story in every possible combination, permutation, degree. Like fanfiction writers now, those ancient writers usually didn’t make a cent off it, but the stories had to be told anyway.

What about a text that is a cultural icon, and depends on that gravitas for the joke when it's changed? Like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Which raises another question, in these days of zombies attacking the quiet English countryside of Jane Austen’s novels, or real historical (or fictional) figures suddenly revealing a secret career as detectives, is there an ethical obligation in fictionalizing real people? Or in borrowing famous figures from other books?
sartorias: (Fan)
A lot of people have expressed a wish to be reading sf and f (in addition to other genres) in other settings besides western civ.

I applaud this wish. I agree! Great idea! Here's the problem I keep butting up against: so many writers in English have been so long steeped in their own culture, when they venture far out of it, the research really shows. Sometimes one can even recognize sources by conclusions drawn, and the way facts are presented; other times the world feels thin, the characters may be earnestly drawn to represent a culture the writer respects, but they don't act like people.

I don't know a way around it, except immersion, but we really need several lifetimes for that.
sartorias: (Default)
A lot of people have expressed a wish to be reading sf and f (in addition to other genres) in other settings besides western civ.

I applaud this wish. I agree! Great idea! Here's the problem I keep butting up against: so many writers in English have been so long steeped in their own culture, when they venture far out of it, the research really shows. Sometimes one can even recognize sources by conclusions drawn, and the way facts are presented; other times the world feels thin, the characters may be earnestly drawn to represent a culture the writer respects, but they don't act like people.

I don't know a way around it, except immersion, but we really need several lifetimes for that.
sartorias: (I should infinitely prefer a book)
Wishing a wonderful seder celebration to all who celebrate.

Last night I was going through a bunch of old school papers and tossing most out, but there were a couple of things I wanted to keep. Including the scribbled notes from the day I had to take over a class due to emergency, with absolutely no lesson plan, and as it was the end of the year, I couldn't give them an assignment and expect them to buckle down to it--they knew grades had been turned in. Since it was an English class, I figured I had to think of something book related, and (I still remember looking around the room, at the books on the shelves selected by this other teacher, some of which I knew, some I didn't, some I liked, some didn't) I came up with this:

"If you were to design the perfect book to read, what story element just has to be in it?"

I don't remember exactly what I said any more, though I have a vague recollection of "Something funny!" and talked about humor, and what I found funny, and asked what they found funny. Humor usually gets a restless class who doesn't know you on your side.

I scribbled down a lot of what the kids said, thinking maybe I could combine all their suggestions into a sure-fire hit, but alas I don't have the brains to knit together such disparate items as "Monsters! NASCAR! Soccer! Cool guns! Mcauley Culkin!" [you can see how old this is] etc.

The kids didn't quite get what story elements I was asking for, though their favorite things to do [video games! soccer! football!] is certainly a legit response. But I'm throwing this open in case anyone passing by wants to play.

I'll start.

A story element that is almost sure to get me every time, even more than humor (which can be stale, or labored, or just not right for me for a number of reasons) is disguises. I just love stories with disguises, especially when what the characters know, what the author knows, and what the reader knows are all different, and revelations are cleverly worked out so that I can't predict who will know what when, why, and how. Levels of disguise are even more intriguing. Maybe this all comes under the header of "intrigue" but anyway, open question: what would you demand to see in the perfect book?
sartorias: (I should infinitely prefer a book)
Wishing a wonderful seder celebration to all who celebrate.

Last night I was going through a bunch of old school papers and tossing most out, but there were a couple of things I wanted to keep. Including the scribbled notes from the day I had to take over a class due to emergency, with absolutely no lesson plan, and as it was the end of the year, I couldn't give them an assignment and expect them to buckle down to it--they knew grades had been turned in. Since it was an English class, I figured I had to think of something book related, and (I still remember looking around the room, at the books on the shelves selected by this other teacher, some of which I knew, some I didn't, some I liked, some didn't) I came up with this:

"If you were to design the perfect book to read, what story element just has to be in it?"

I don't remember exactly what I said any more, though I have a vague recollection of "Something funny!" and talked about humor, and what I found funny, and asked what they found funny. Humor usually gets a restless class who doesn't know you on your side.

I scribbled down a lot of what the kids said, thinking maybe I could combine all their suggestions into a sure-fire hit, but alas I don't have the brains to knit together such disparate items as "Monsters! NASCAR! Soccer! Cool guns! Mcauley Culkin!" [you can see how old this is] etc.

The kids didn't quite get what story elements I was asking for, though their favorite things to do [video games! soccer! football!] is certainly a legit response. But I'm throwing this open in case anyone passing by wants to play.

I'll start.

A story element that is almost sure to get me every time, even more than humor (which can be stale, or labored, or just not right for me for a number of reasons) is disguises. I just love stories with disguises, especially when what the characters know, what the author knows, and what the reader knows are all different, and revelations are cleverly worked out so that I can't predict who will know what when, why, and how. Levels of disguise are even more intriguing. Maybe this all comes under the header of "intrigue" but anyway, open question: what would you demand to see in the perfect book?
sartorias: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] cinda_cite asked what I thought an intriguing question: is there a moral obligation in fictionalizing real people? What questions of craft, consideration, etc, enter in?

My own tentative thought is that it's easier to deal with long-dead figures, and the closer ones comes in time to the present--especially living memory of the person--the tougher the challenge.

Any thoughts?
sartorias: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] cinda_cite asked what I thought an intriguing question: is there a moral obligation in fictionalizing real people? What questions of craft, consideration, etc, enter in?

My own tentative thought is that it's easier to deal with long-dead figures, and the closer ones comes in time to the present--especially living memory of the person--the tougher the challenge.

Any thoughts?

PC and C

Jan. 22nd, 2009 01:11 pm
sartorias: (Default)
A post made by [livejournal.com profile] raanve the other day has got me to thinking about the evolution of human behavior, specifically the changing nature of the net, and how for so many of us, it's become our primary site of social interaction.

Politically correct. What do we understand when we heard that? It was first defined to me decades ago, during the period when I didn't have a TV because when I asked someone what it meant, the response was something to the effect of, "Haven't you been paying attention to [show] and [talk show] and the subsequent rug chewing and fulmination in the opinions sections of [national newspapers]?" and when I said, No, I'd managed to miss it, the definition went something like this: "An effort to be so cognizant of various interests that converse is reduced to meaningless euphemism." Whoa. Wow. That charged definition has chased me down through the years since: do others feel that an attempt to find acceptable terms is meaningless, and do these 'various interests' become ridiculous simply by their number?

I think it's difficult to get past that word poilitical, which to so many of us implies Orwellian Doublespeak or Doublethink. On the other hand, there's that word correct with its implied brandishing of the verbal ruler to whack those deemed incorrect.

When I was growing up there was a resistance to the perceived rules of "courtesy"--which, I believe, was a medieval word for the bow of deference, as in making a courtesy, which became 'curtsy' as well as 'courtesy', meaning polished manners, ceremonial usage, or respect and consideration of others. So much of courtesy drummed into us during the early sixties was tied up with "women should hide their intelligence/let men lead any conversation," and "wherever you are, you must be the least and the lowest in the room, or people will think you arrogant." Smiles and soft words, compliments and cheer, whatever you thought, which translated out to teens bursting with resentment as hypocrisy and outright lying. Women should be able to say what they thought.

There was a lot of exhilaration in that--leading to a lot of angry, and earnest, and well-meant discussion. We called it "consciousness raising" back then, a term that probably signifies gassifying to the younger generation. But at the time--just like in the endless Coffee House discussions in Paris during the late eighties and early nineties, before matters turned deadly--there was this pervasive awareness of a need for all new rules. The old ones hadn't worked, but a short dose in "doing your own thing" resulted in some fairly nasty situations, especially for those not big, powerful, white, and wealthy.

Oh. Gee. We're right back to barbarianism, a friend once commented in the course of a party, when D, a radical friend of ours who loved chili used to cut wind loudly and emphatically, no matter how many people were in the room. Girls used to be yelled at for an inadvertent burp, and if you hiccoughed, you were expected to leave the room, because Ladies Did Not Do That. D's right to fart at parties took on a political overlay--so many felt that this was the only way to guarantee that women got equality. "After all," one person put it, "how many of your boyfriends leave the room when they have to fart? None? I thought so." Consequently I wondered if D ate that Green Death Chili on purpose, so that she could commit acts of guerrilla social warfare.

Anyway, that caused me to reflect that there is no pinnacle as high as a conviction of moral superiority. But what happens when others around don't think you as right as you think yourself?

I have seen some general calls for others to heed "common courtesy"--is that the same as PC, or has it a meaning that eludes me? What is uncommon courtesy, the elaborate etiquette of a diplomatic function, fraught with hidden rules of protocol?

The community I'm part of seems to be struggling to find a way to exchange ideas freely, but without discourse intensifying to verbal warfare. I ask, do you think the word some are reaching for is civility? When I looked it just just now, I found this on Wikipedia: Civility is one of Wikipedia's core principles. While other core principles give firm standards as to the content of articles, the civility policy is a code of conduct, setting out how Wikipedia editors should interact: editors should always treat each other with consideration and respect. Even during heated debates, editors should behave reasonably, calmly, and courteously, in order to keep the focus on improving the encyclopedia and to help maintain a pleasant work environment.

I wonder if civility connotes more of an equality than courtesy, which seems to me used to imply a generally accepted social rank. What do you think (assuming you've read this far in this ramble)?

PC and C

Jan. 22nd, 2009 01:11 pm
sartorias: (Default)
A post made by [livejournal.com profile] raanve the other day has got me to thinking about the evolution of human behavior, specifically the changing nature of the net, and how for so many of us, it's become our primary site of social interaction.

Politically correct. What do we understand when we heard that? It was first defined to me decades ago, during the period when I didn't have a TV because when I asked someone what it meant, the response was something to the effect of, "Haven't you been paying attention to [show] and [talk show] and the subsequent rug chewing and fulmination in the opinions sections of [national newspapers]?" and when I said, No, I'd managed to miss it, the definition went something like this: "An effort to be so cognizant of various interests that converse is reduced to meaningless euphemism." Whoa. Wow. That charged definition has chased me down through the years since: do others feel that an attempt to find acceptable terms is meaningless, and do these 'various interests' become ridiculous simply by their number?

I think it's difficult to get past that word poilitical, which to so many of us implies Orwellian Doublespeak or Doublethink. On the other hand, there's that word correct with its implied brandishing of the verbal ruler to whack those deemed incorrect.

When I was growing up there was a resistance to the perceived rules of "courtesy"--which, I believe, was a medieval word for the bow of deference, as in making a courtesy, which became 'curtsy' as well as 'courtesy', meaning polished manners, ceremonial usage, or respect and consideration of others. So much of courtesy drummed into us during the early sixties was tied up with "women should hide their intelligence/let men lead any conversation," and "wherever you are, you must be the least and the lowest in the room, or people will think you arrogant." Smiles and soft words, compliments and cheer, whatever you thought, which translated out to teens bursting with resentment as hypocrisy and outright lying. Women should be able to say what they thought.

There was a lot of exhilaration in that--leading to a lot of angry, and earnest, and well-meant discussion. We called it "consciousness raising" back then, a term that probably signifies gassifying to the younger generation. But at the time--just like in the endless Coffee House discussions in Paris during the late eighties and early nineties, before matters turned deadly--there was this pervasive awareness of a need for all new rules. The old ones hadn't worked, but a short dose in "doing your own thing" resulted in some fairly nasty situations, especially for those not big, powerful, white, and wealthy.

Oh. Gee. We're right back to barbarianism, a friend once commented in the course of a party, when D, a radical friend of ours who loved chili used to cut wind loudly and emphatically, no matter how many people were in the room. Girls used to be yelled at for an inadvertent burp, and if you hiccoughed, you were expected to leave the room, because Ladies Did Not Do That. D's right to fart at parties took on a political overlay--so many felt that this was the only way to guarantee that women got equality. "After all," one person put it, "how many of your boyfriends leave the room when they have to fart? None? I thought so." Consequently I wondered if D ate that Green Death Chili on purpose, so that she could commit acts of guerrilla social warfare.

Anyway, that caused me to reflect that there is no pinnacle as high as a conviction of moral superiority. But what happens when others around don't think you as right as you think yourself?

I have seen some general calls for others to heed "common courtesy"--is that the same as PC, or has it a meaning that eludes me? What is uncommon courtesy, the elaborate etiquette of a diplomatic function, fraught with hidden rules of protocol?

The community I'm part of seems to be struggling to find a way to exchange ideas freely, but without discourse intensifying to verbal warfare. I ask, do you think the word some are reaching for is civility? When I looked it just just now, I found this on Wikipedia: Civility is one of Wikipedia's core principles. While other core principles give firm standards as to the content of articles, the civility policy is a code of conduct, setting out how Wikipedia editors should interact: editors should always treat each other with consideration and respect. Even during heated debates, editors should behave reasonably, calmly, and courteously, in order to keep the focus on improving the encyclopedia and to help maintain a pleasant work environment.

I wonder if civility connotes more of an equality than courtesy, which seems to me used to imply a generally accepted social rank. What do you think (assuming you've read this far in this ramble)?
sartorias: (Default)
I watched Lost in Austen while scribbling away at my project, a few days ago. I thoroughly enjoyed most of it--very clever twists on P&P--but thought the ending was an utter mess. If anyone wants to discuss it, I could do a spoiler post.

People are trickling back from Arisia, and one panel topic I've seen referred to a couple times got me to thinking last night. The topic was, "The Book Didn't Change, but I Did." Several people have told me over the years that they were forced to read Pride and Prejudice in high school, and found it tedious, hard going, pointless, then read it again in college or after--and somehow it became funny. This happened to me with George Meredith's The Egoist. Books I've grown out of include some of Georgette Heyer, and Robert Heinlein. It's not that I think them bad books. But I don't like Heinlein's voice any more than I like his view of the world, his delight in science notwithstanding, and Heyer has too many layers that trip me up where once they were seamless, brilliantly plotted books with a great deal of wit. I read sections of some of the stories, instead of whole stories . . . I think that first began with The Grand Sophy, when I'd skip that horrible middle chapter, and it made no difference to the story for me.

What books have you grown out of, or into?
sartorias: (Default)
I watched Lost in Austen while scribbling away at my project, a few days ago. I thoroughly enjoyed most of it--very clever twists on P&P--but thought the ending was an utter mess. If anyone wants to discuss it, I could do a spoiler post.

People are trickling back from Arisia, and one panel topic I've seen referred to a couple times got me to thinking last night. The topic was, "The Book Didn't Change, but I Did." Several people have told me over the years that they were forced to read Pride and Prejudice in high school, and found it tedious, hard going, pointless, then read it again in college or after--and somehow it became funny. This happened to me with George Meredith's The Egoist. Books I've grown out of include some of Georgette Heyer, and Robert Heinlein. It's not that I think them bad books. But I don't like Heinlein's voice any more than I like his view of the world, his delight in science notwithstanding, and Heyer has too many layers that trip me up where once they were seamless, brilliantly plotted books with a great deal of wit. I read sections of some of the stories, instead of whole stories . . . I think that first began with The Grand Sophy, when I'd skip that horrible middle chapter, and it made no difference to the story for me.

What books have you grown out of, or into?

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