le plus loin le plus serré

le plus loin le plus serré
mourning art

in memoriam

"yet I tell you, from the sad knowledge of my older experience, that to every one of you a day will most likely come when sunshine, hope, presents and pleasure will be worth nothing to you in comparison with the unattainable gift of your mother's kiss." (Christina Rossetti, "Speaking Likenesses," 1873)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

post-it blog

This is the electronic version of post-it notes (well, probably an ACTUAL e-post-it note system exists, but this is MY version), since I have midterms and walter benjamin waiting for me in my bedroom.

Two things:
1) Tonight (today) I read THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO by Patrick Ness, and WHOOP! what a book! There's a sequel, recently out, and I MUST get my hands on it, since KNIFE ends on a cliffhanger. A customer at Ye Olde Bookestore recommended them - an adult reader, too, so I knew something awesome had to be inside the book. And it is. was. some very odd gender stuff going on, too, but also some serious good storytelling with a terrific narrator. Sort of like Jeanne DuPrau's City of Ember/People of Sparks books meets The Hunger Games with its own amazing twists and turns. I am smitten with the narrator (Todd). There is Bad, Bad Violence to an animal, though, which makes my blood run cold. I can read about humans being murdered and dying, but animals - no. The relationship between Todd and Viola is amazing, truly amazing, without ever making me feel creepy and cliched, as I often do about unlikely duos' romantic entanglements.

2). A system of Dorks is needed.
No: a system of understanding DORK NARRATORS is needed. I've been mulling this one over lately, a lot, since rereading KING DORK. And I wonder about who we laugh at, when we laugh at a humorous dork narrator. And why we laugh. And what we identify with. It's very hard for me to tell, because I am, myself, a former nerd-dork (former? CURRENT). I was a weirdo in high school with no group of friends, only a few friends snared from other groups, none of whom seemed to like each other very much (my friends, that is). And I didn't feel actually close to anyone, really, not until late in my junior year of high school. I was more invisible than actively harrassed, though I came in for my share of snide comments.
But what about the people who read these books and WEREN'T dorks in high school? Yeah, everyone has felt isolated or picked on, but some people - some people were at the top of the heap. A lot more people were at the top or middle of the heap than were in the ranks of dorkdom at the bottom.
All the I Heart Nerds stuff I see, the I Love Nerdy Boys tshirts - it's all a total scam. When and if a real nerd came along (and believe me: I KNOW some real nerds), most people would be ready to laugh or ignore or snicker at the nerd. It wouldn't be all Vote for Pedro t-shirts. It would be sidelong looks and shrinking away.

So what the heck is going ON, anyway, with dork books? It's like, representationally, you're either this awesome, hip dork {and if awesome & hip, not a dork} or you're glamorous Mean Girls like Gossip Girls or something.

I can't get my brain around the problem of the first-person dork narrator.

Which leads me to a corollary issue: the narrator of Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK, Melinda. First person, and amazing - SPEAK is a sensational book. But how to reconcile the way everyone feels that book is speaking directly to their own experiences in high school, when Melinda is depressed and a rape victim? How to understand the gender issue - that boy readers and girl readers seem to identify with Melinda equally, that my undergrads agreed that this book was "gender-neutral"? NOTHING in this world is gender neutral, and rape is very, very far from gender neutral.

so again: what the hell is going on here?

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