Kit Whitfield: The Brontes, Misremembered

(It's because of the movies, you know. It's always cuz of the fillums. It's not their fault! You can't do minutiae in under two hours.)

Pretty book excerpt: The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia
Ta-Nehsisi Coates is awesome again. [w. strong language. HEE!]

I actually don't agree with everything he says here, but the attitude is very healthy. (Good debate in comments, too.)

AND: Who's your favorite fictional character?

Good piece on women in fiction by very funny, soon-to-be-professionally-published writer Sarah Rees Brennan. She touches on the Mary Sue, the unfortunate virgin-whore dichotomy, and the new, improved, and vastly annoying Snappy Sue (defined quite comprehensively by Kit Whitfield).

I have no effin' clue who my favorite fictional character is. Those who know me already know my animosity toward picking favorites about most things anyway. I do know that I tend to adore tricksters -- the silvertounged, the long-gambit-players, the pickpocket urchins, and so on. Not a heck of a lot of these are traditionally women. I also know that it took me an entire MFA program to be able to write a female character whose guts I did not hate, or for that matter a male character who was not a weepy piece of crap. This, er, may say more about me than it does about society at large. Dave Duncan wrote a trickster that I absolutely loved -- and an unreliable first-person narrator to boot! -- but as I cannot remember the character's name, does this count? (And he was only around for two books! What a WASTE.)

(This is for Ladye -- of my own characters, my current favorite might be Orr, damn her. This is disturbing in all kinds of ways. ^_____^)

When I was 3, I wanted to be someone called Laura Linda Tucker. (I used to tell strangers in department stores that this was my name, and then they would look at my mother suspiciously when she called me by my actual name and tried to lead me away.) But I don't know what book that is, and it seems to be lost and gone to the ages.

I dunno -- off the top of my head, my favorite character is a tossup between River Tam and Mal Reynolds, but this could be unduly influenced by the fact that I'm right now staring at a CD of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer soundtrack. And also this is TV and might be cheating.

As a child, I liked Cassie Logan from Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. (Wanted to be her, in a way. And another girl from a similar-but-in-a-city series the name of which I CANNOT REMEMBER and it's so upsetting. Her name was the name of the book.) [EDIT, 2010Jan5 -- FOUND IT. It was LUDELL. Ludell, by Brenda Scott Wilkinson. Whew!! Aaaaaaaaand it's out of print :-( ] But I liked Ratty from Wind in the Willows more. (Did not wish to be a clothed English rat, though. Come to think of it, I loved all the characters from Winnie the Pooh as well. So maybe I just like animals better than people. HA HA HA HA HA HA no. *eats beef*)

I'm sure I'll have an entirely different opinion in five minutes, and another one tomorrow.

I loved the Earthsea books, but I wouldn't say that Ged was a favorite character. (I did like Arha/Tenar intensely.)

I liked O-Lan from "The Good Earth," but...favorite? She was such a martyr.

I love Aladdin in all his forms, both traditional and Disney. Sue me.

And Bagheera. Back to the animal thing, argh. I did, in fact, want to be Bagheera, the snarky bastard. I LOVED Bagheera. Again, in all his forms.

SO much easier to pick a favorite book. A perfectly constructed book doesn't have to have flawlessly likable characters in it. And perfectly constructed characters...aren't necessarily my favorites. They are learning tools but don't especially live in my heart.

I still freaking love me some Prince Zuko. Excellently constructed, and I empathize completely. Even though I do not wish to be friends with anyone like him. Brrrr.

Although, oddly enough, I would not at all mind being his mother.

(This is television though. Does it count?)

Bah, I love the whole cast.

I HATE favorite picking. Why am I so terrible at it? :-) *conveniently blames Libra-ness*

Oh, who am I kidding. I don't actually want to be good at picking favorites.

ADDENDUM:; OMG, GRANNY WEATHERWAX! How could I forget Granny Weatherwax!??!

Oh, Pterry.

(Currently listening to "A Hat Full of Sky" on audiobook. But I keep falling asleep on the train in the middle of chapters and having to rewind... I think I preferred the reader's Northern (Yorkshire??) accent on Tiffany when he did "Wee Free Men.")
Kit Whitfield on children's literature that deals with depression (often better than adult lit does). And why "fairy tales WORK."

With a hefty section on Avatar: the Last Airbender. ~__^ Of course.
All right, I said I wasn't going to link to OSC's disappointing, sickening, fairly hateful and badly-thought-out nonsense ("the proper response to gay marriage is for straight marrieds to overthrow the government"!??!?!?!?!?!?!!), but at least I can link to a rebuttal?

It's very, very long. Perhaps overly long--it can get a little repetative. But thorough is generally a GOOD thing -- better to cover all bases then half-ass it.

And I like what she suggests as a means of combatting this -- confront the man (in an arena of conversation so that he might actually listen, if there are enough people doing it) and make him listen and understand, rather than feeding an unhealthily self-righteous martyr complex by boycotting things. (Although I don't know that I'll be quite able to buy anything new. Not least because I think his writing quality has gone sharply down recently, even before all this; but now, extra incentive to avoid.) Someone who has the power with words that he has should be re-oriented (heh) -- or I should say, pointed at the proper target!

This, I think, is the heart of my heartbreak, and the best-put (or at least, closest to what I feel) I've read on the subject so far. As the blogger writes:

'I can no longer enjoy Songmaster, which once I loved, knowing now that Card didn’t see Ansset’s chemical castration* and Josef’s mutilation and death as a horrific tragedy but as a perfectly reasonable narrative solution to the “problem” of a teenage boy who had just entered a consensual sexual relationship with another man.'

It has been mindblowing and upsetting to me to realize this about a work of literature that**, when I was a teen person, quite profoundly influenced me to ABANDON the casual homophobia-by-osmosis one tends to pick up from society when one is not really forced to care. (And I did love that stupid novel. I still love it. Stupid damn novel.)

God, Card, if you were going to be horrific, couldn't you at least suck as a writer?????

(It really does make me wonder if there's something deeply subconscious in him that is creeping out, hence the over-the-top reaction. Someone who hates that hard should NOT be able to write that beautifully about it. And it was freaking lovely. "You might have just asked me. I would have said yes." And HOT. Pre-tragic cosmic retribution, that is. =/)

*for purposes of information, I mention that ALL the "songbird" children, male and female, had their puberty delayed via chemicals to preserve their voices. Therefore, no sex, ever, for life. And it would have been nice if somebody WARNED them. At any rate, it STILL sucked and was tragic. But plotwise, it wasn't like they came a drugged him as punishment after the fact. So if you're ("you" being "me") 17 years old and reading this, the subtext might be easy to miss.

**(along with some works involving a "last Herald-Mage." And also, SHADDUP ~__^ I LOVE YOU VANYEL I DO NOT CARE WHO KNOWS, YA WHINY SILVER-EYED HORSE-WHISPERIN' BASTARD)
Ah, the love for Kit Whitfield is strong.

The woman reads my mind. I actually have an associate who I no longer even really, er, bother to associate with, not only for the detail harping but because I can never tell which random-ass detail is going to set the person off. About fiction/art or about real life, the contempt doth ever spew. The anticipatory exhaustion gets to be way too stressful after a while. Pins and fucking needles and careful-what-you-say all the damn time.

Whoa, tangent. Anyway, point -- a work of literature is to be taken as a whole -- one random annoying detail is not to substitute for the entirety. 'Tis silly to be thus or no? Synecdoche versus... what, metonymy? Not metonymy. Dangit. Anyway, discuss. (Or, you know... not. ~___^)



December 2013

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