Thursday, July 29, 2010

If you want to be a really awful human being...

You should be like Heathcliff.

I have been warned about Wuthering Heights. "Don't read it!" they have said. "You'll hate it." (ambiguous and undefined they! O.o) But I love the Bronte sisters. Their history is tragic and intriguing. Plus I loved Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte was pretty brilliant so I figured I'd give Emily the benefit of the doubt.

OK. The book itself is good. It's well written and the plot is fairly interesting if you're into nineteenth century relationships and the inner workings of courting and property management, which I am. Hey, everyone needs a hobby. But throughout I was absolutely overcome by how appalling the antagonist is. I'm assuming he's the antagonist because he freaking antagonized me.

Heathcliff is awful. Genuinely awful. He has absolutely no redeeming qualities as a literary villain. Usually there is some sort of flaw or tragedy that causes the reader to bemoan the bad guy's state; to at least understand why he is so twisted. This is not true with Heathcliff. He's just purposely vindictive and cruel through the fault of no one else.

It can be argued that he was made this way by Hindley and by society but he had plenty of opportunities to better himself which he shunned. Heathcliff is a selfish and malicious character. Even his love for Catherine is not redeemable. All it does is cause more pain for those around him, including Catherine herself driving her to the brink of health and sanity.

Heathcliff is cruel to those he loves including his own son and the daughter of his precious Catherine. But why? Why does he act that way? All I can imagine is he is so caught up in his own selfish ways that he doesn't care who he hurts. It's just so evil that I literally can't comprehend it. God, I really dislike him.

In conclusion, Wuthering Heights - a thrilling adventure in nineteenth century self-centered ways and cruelty.

Until next time,


Sunday, July 25, 2010


This is not a book. I recognize that. But I was so impressed I felt the need to say something about it.

I'm always impressed when a new idea emerges in a film. In these days there are so many books made into film and remakes of old movies. Inception is stunningly original. It is also chilling. The idea presented by the movie is haunting and interestingly thought provoking.


The whole concept is that a trained individual can infiltrate another's subconscious and manipulate their dreams. The characters of the movie create a dream within a dream within a dream to get to such a deep level of subconsciousness that a foreign thought can be planted and believed by the dreamer. That is inception.

The concept is scary, but brilliant. The film executed the idea in an innovative, visually appealing manner. (Here's to good visual effects!) The idea that your reality is nothing but a dream is rather alarming. What is the world as you know it is nothing but something you created? To live in your own head with only projections of the people you know? That's horrible.

Or is it? Could you live a full life in your own mind?

This taps into varying levels of psychology. People push ideas into their subconscious. Not all the thoughts in our subconscious are bad, but the things are not thoughts we are consciously thinking about. It just inhabits the back of the mind.

It makes me question a lot of the things I dream. But perhaps, that's for another day.

Until next time,


Sunday, July 18, 2010

I want to talk about...


OKAY. Before you start yelling and screaming, hear me out.

It has been a tough couple of years for the vampire literature community. The upsurge of a certain young adult romanticized vampire novel made a legitimate genre slightly unrespectable. Or at the very least, less respectable.

First and foremost, real vamp literature is, for lack of a better word, edgy. Vampires are not cute and sparkly. They are not too humanized. Vampires are mythological creatures and should be respected as so. There is a certain irresistible danger to them; a charm both cunning and desirable. The majesty in vampires is that they are the world's greatest predators. They draw in their prey with eyes and voice, with beauty and grace. Yet they are powerfully violent and virtually indestructible. Their portrayal throughout history has been a combination of hypnotic fascination and fear. Most often, vampires are seen as sexual creatures. It's how they capture their victims. They are sensual, often desensitized to the taboos of the time.

The more accurate depiction of vampire fiction can be seen in many different platforms. In television, the show True Blood shows vampires in an interesting light. They can be caring and human-esque, yet their darker sides always linger, just out of sight. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the original bad ass representation of vamps and humanity's interaction with them. (FYI, I am a HUGE Buffy fan).

But in literature, vamp books run the gambit. But I want to discuss one series in particular - The Anita Blake, vampire hunter novels. I feel like the world Laurell K. Hamilton created captures the essence of what the mythological vamp should be. It reveals a reality much like ours, except the things that go bump in the night exist and are recognized. Vampires are citizens in the United States, and animators bring back the dead to settle insurance claims and finalize wills. The vamps in this world are seductive but also intriguing. They display levels of humanity but the author never lets you forget what they are, be it through the mentioning of their stillness or the power radiating off them. Plus, the books are filled with highly gratifying action sequences littered with plenty of carnage. It shows vampires as bad guys. As Anita says, even if you're undead you can still be a serial killer - just more deadly. But it also depicts vampires in a softer light, as someone cared about, a lover.

Finally, Anita Blake is just an incredibly satisfying heroine. Unlike other vampire novels, Blake isn't a wishy-washy girl, hung up on a vamp, in desperate need of saving. Blake is pretty bad ass. She's a federal marshal who's quick with a gun and even faster with her tongue. Sharp witted, funny, and independent, she makes a great champion. Perhaps that makes all the difference in vampire literature. The vamps are only as good as the humans that surround them.

I like vampire books, despite the hype. I'll read anything Laurell K. Hamilton writes. I liked Anne Rice. I might pick up a couple other books on the way. I've read Dracula knock offs and stories with vamps in varying degrees of horror. Regardless, I'm always drawn back in. It's a subtle fascination I can't avoid and honestly, I really don't want to.

Until next time,


Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Crying of Wizards

So. I wasn't quite sure what to do with this blog when I finished my HP quest. I'm not awesome at actually completing tasks so I was shocked I successfully reported all my Harry Potter related feelings. But I did! So I supposed I will continue this in the same fashion I began.

I just finished this book called The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon. This is not the type of novel I often read. It was recommended to me by a friend so I sort of ran with it. First of all it's satire. Through that alone I knew I was in for some sort of ride. Satire is often hard to read because you have to get all the subtle hints to understand the work in its entirety and find it amusing. But regardless I actually really liked this book. It goes through culture and chaos touching on the destructive properties of drugs and conspiracy.

The characters are bizarre, bordering on the absurd. There's a scene in the very beginning when Oedipa, the main character, puts every piece of clothing she has in her suitcase on when playing a stripping game only to end up having it all tugged off and engages in the act she was avoiding anyway. Oedipa has an obsession with a possible secret society involving couriers. There are grown men with pedophilic interest in young women. There's a demon involved in explaining how molecules work. It's all pretty intense stuff discovered through either a haze of alcohol induced stupor or glaring clarity of prose. Throughout, it's engaging and interesting.

The book is so appealing to me because it subtly mimics life. There are decisions we make that we wish we could take back in moments of weakness or through poor judgment. We discover things about ourselves and others we wish we never knew. People give their hearts too freely and drink too fast. Some don't listen to the facts, while others listen too closely. Either way, in some form or another there are events occurring we don't always understand. We all have obsessions. There are some secrets. And we've all made mistakes.

The hardest part is understanding that sometimes, there just isn't any going back. Once you reach the brink of insanity you've got to either totter there forever or take the plunge. Frankly, life is insanity most of the time, so you might as well just go with it.

Until next time,


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Well I've done it. It was more of a month as opposed to a week but I am glad for it. I think I did it properly. WARNING. An extreme amount of SPOILERS follow.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This is the final book. The culmination. The point where we get all the answers, live through all the tragedies, go on the final adventure and relish in triumph. I don't think I have ever cared about the outcome of a piece of literature as much as I cared about this one. When I say that I love something, I can honestly say I love Harry Potter, not just as a work of fiction but as a piece of my life. I grew up with Harry Potter. I had to wait patiently as J. K. Rowling developed the next installment, sometimes over years. I have never anticipated any book as anxiously as I did this one. And honestly, my excitement with this book has not faded in the least.

There are many things I can talk about in regard to the Hallows. I mean, everything goes down in that last book. Everything. I'll try to be brief.

1. Death. J. K. did not hold back. She let us have it. She started with Hedwig and kept right on going to poor, poor Fred. Let's discuss that for a moment. I feel like Fred's death was the most unfair of all of them. Remus, Tonks, Mad-Eye I sort of saw coming. They almost seemed right. Remus was doomed because he was on of the Marauders. The other two were aurors. Occupational hazard. But Fred? He had just made up with Percy. It was cruel. Very cruel Jo. But, I suppose it had to happen. Representative of sacrifice or some noble metaphor. It doesn't mean I have to like it.

Hedwig was the most shocking because it was the first one. I didn't really expect her to start killing everyone off so rapidly. Dobby was pretty awful. But, I think he died valiantly. A free elf.

2. Magic is Might. The whole regime of Voldemort and his remodeling of the Ministry provides a lot of food for thought. He persecutes Muggle borns and those who ally themselves with Harry and the Order of the Phoenix. Voldemort is blind in the way every power hungry dictator is. He can't see that people who are different can be powerful. Voldemort never saw Muggle borns as equals though many could rival him. Hermione is a Muggle born and yet she can do extraordinary magic. It is the same sort of blind persecution that has cropped up throughout history. People fear those who are different. Voldemort doesn't understand that love and friendship are useful and necessary. He is narrow minded, closed.

3. Ron and Hermione. This is one of my favorite parts in the book. It is a long journey to this point. Ron does a lot of growing up and Hermione learns a lot of tolerance. Ron feared Hermione didn't care, that she loved Harry. That bit with the horcrux locket is incredibly eerie. Ron's worst fear was that she didn't want him. But of course, they are made for each other. Their kiss should go down as one of the best kisses in literary history. Romance under the cover of fire, surrounded by basilisk fangs. Bloody brilliant. Let's hear it for house elves!

4. Dumbledore. His past, murky. He, brilliant. I loved learning more about the man whom I so admired as a character. Dumbledore was everything you wanted in a wizard and a teacher - wise, incredibly gifted, compassionate and seemingly omnipresent. I mean, he freaking knew EVERYTHING. But he made mistakes, rash decisions, befriended a seriously dark wizard. These flaws just worked to make him more human and more admirable. He made bad choices just like any other person. Even Dumbledore is not infallible. I just love him even more at the end. He cares so much about Harry. He had such faith in him. He left a lot to chance, but he knew in the end Harry would do the right thing and make the decisions he himself never could.

5. Harry's Death. I sobbed. I sobbed the first time and I did again now. Which is ridiculous since I knew he wasn't really dying. It was more the mood, the dramatic quality of the prose. He believed he was walking to his death. He was so noble and brave. I couldn't help being upset. The thought of losing Harry for a moment is just too much for me. I am clearly way to attached but I like it that way. Rowling is a fantastic writer. She just made me believe it. All of it.

6. The Deathly Hallows. The whole bit with the Elder Wand was awesome. Of COURSE Harry would be the true wielder. C'mon he is Harry Potter. But it does work out brilliantly. Draco disarmed Dumbledore. Harry overtook Draco. Voila Elder Wand! Voldemort's shock is lovely. Even in the end, Voldemort underestimates Harry and the love he has for the people he cares about. He dies for them for God's sake. Their duel, while short, is amazing. I particularly liked the bits where Harry talked and explained things. Voldemort can be really thick for an evil dark wizard. Really, really thick.

7. Severus Snape. Brilliant. This is possibly the most magnificent part of these seven books and I never even saw it coming. He loved her. He loved Lily Evans. But of course he did. Why else would he do all the things he did, sacrifice and risk so much? Love, yet again triumphs in ways Voldemort could not see. Snape's life is so incredibly sad. The only woman he ever loved and she rebuked him. And essentially, he delivered the information that resulted in her death. Plus he had to watch her son run about Hogwarts bearing the striking resemblance to his worst enemy, the individual that stole the woman he cared about most. That's pretty rough. No wonder he was so cranky all the time. He earned it. I daresay I feel a lot of sympathy for Snape at this point. I mean, he could have cut Harry some slack but he did do his best to keep the boy who lived alive so, I guess in the circumstances that's all we can really ask for. The saddest part, I think, is the scene when he dies, where he asks Harry to look at him so he can see Lily's eyes one last time.

And so it ends. Harry having "had enough trouble for a lifetime." So true. Trouble always seemed to find him but that was just his m.o. I'd also like to mention I seriously enjoyed the part where Molly Weasley screamed "NOT MY DAUGHTER YOUR BITCH" at that evil son of a b Bellatrix Lestrange. Also, I had no problems with the Epilogue and don't begrudge any name choices. I thought it was really sweet.

I'm glad I did this. By seriously immersing myself in HP I've had a lot to think about. Harry Potter was never just a book series for me. I remember thinking when I was twelve and thirteen would I still like Harry Potter when I was nineteen or twenty? Well, twenty is fast approaching and I don't see my love of Harry Potter diminishing any time soon. I don't think it ever will. Harry Potter is a way of life, no matter how cliched that sounds. There's a whole world surrounding it and I am fiercely dedicated to keeping that world alive. The books may be over and the movies may be coming to a close but Harry Potter will never die. The magic will never end.