The Good, the Bad, and the Updated

Today’s updates are more in the “I stumbled around the internet and thought several things were worth sharing” category than anything else.

And just a note for those reading this post. If you are a fan of either Twilight or Eragon you will definitely want to scroll straight down to the Good section. Trust me on this.

So, we’ll start with

The Ugly

Twilight.

A series of books which might as well have had the advertising slogan “because when you’re looking for excrement smeared on paper, nothing but Stephenie Meyer’s work will do” emblazoned on their covers.

I tried to think of something softer, really I did, but I just can’t bring myself to do it …

If you’re still here (and not currently digging through the gun rack for “Old Betsy” on behalf of your tween daughter), you’re at least open to hearing about the funny regarding Twilight. Because, let’s be honest, there is so much funny to be had. Mostly at Meyers’ expense.

Though, not everything about Meyer’s work was horrific. The hardcover editions had nice cover art …

Ah, but what is the reason I wanted to talk about Twilight, you ask? A website called Reasoning With Vampires. Seldom has it been my experience to find a website devoted to pointing out the grammatical, content, and other writing related missteps in a series of work, let alone in this narrow a scope, that actually does it well. And with such a delightfully ascerbic (and, yes, occasionally vicious) wit too. Admittedly, some of the humour is quite juvenile, but one expects that when dealing with a work like Twilight.

I am always delighted to laugh out loud at amusing opinions writ well, and with this website there is much overt and gut roilling mirth to be had. I would point you in the direction of the site’s Touché section as well which takes apart, point by point, reader mail. You should also have a look specifically at a post in the Touché section called Alice.

You’re welcome. 

But there is not simply fun to be had in the Touché section. Oh no. One can find delightful gems scattered all throughout the website. And one must bear in mind that the woman who created Reasoning With Vampires actually had to read the books to do this.

One feels for her.

When people tell me I simply must read Twilight (and a number of people have told me this over the years …) I want to do nothing so much as throw up. I read the opening few pages of the first one. I tried skimming portions of them all. I gave up. The novels should be lining dustbins, not selling ridiculous numbers of copies.

And yet these books are lauded by a surprising number of people. People who I am otherwise willing to agree with on a number of things. Take Mario Acevedo for example. On his blog he sides with the (ludicrous) argument that because the Twilight books have sold inordinate numbers of copies Stephenie Meyer must be doing something right.

Porn sells in record numbers too. Do I have to call it art now?

Personally, I like Stephen King’s oft-quoted remark on Twilight (speaking to the appeal of both Twilight and Harry Potter):

Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.

Acevedo actually quoted that on his blog, but then went on to say that

… King, for all his smarts, missed the point of the Twilight fables.

There was a point?

Apparently Acevedo doesn’t know what it is either, because he never finishes that thought, nor explains anywhere else on that blog post what he considers to be the point of Meyers’ work. Not really sure why. Save perhaps the notion that Acevedo is trying not to alienate a portion of his audience who loves Twilight.

Me? I don’t care. If you love Twilight you’re welcome here. If you hate Twilight you’re welcome here. You know, whatever floats your boat.

And speaking of boats we now move on to

 

The Bad

Eragon.

I’m sorry, did I say boat? I meant dragon.

It’s okay though. Paolini wouldn’t know one if it bit him in the ass either. Well, okay, I would recognize the bite of both a boat and a dragon, but I can’t speak for Paolini.

Actually, I find the Eragon books (I’m fairly certain the series name for these books is the Inheritance [Insert Number of Books Here]logy, but I won’t swear to it) to be in much the same category as Twilight.

And to be perfectly honest about Eragon, I have not read the book. Nor have I read the sequel(s?). Nor have I seen the movie adaptation, though I did see the trailer (oh Jeremy Irons, commander of masterful performances, why must you lend yourself to mediocrity’s cruel trappings?).

I did try though. I quite literally opened the book, read the first sentence, and then closed the book again. Following that I moved away very slowly, and as quietly as possible, so as not to rouse the diseased beast of “blecch” slumbering at the tome’s heart.

So, technically, I did try. I can be a fairly harsh critic, and while I don’t believe that the first line of a book should be the deciding factor in whether or not I read your work, if your first line tells me you have no grasp of English (and yet are clearly trying to write in a stylized, high fantasy English) I’m going to run screaming for the hills. Or at least move on to the next book in line.

But, there are many people who have read Eragon. Some love it. Some hate it. Some are on the fence. But I am always amused by the grammatically (and potentially intellectually) challenged approach to reviewing fiction, which is one reason I rather like the “review” postings on Goodreads.

Like the one I’ve quoted from below. This was originally posted by a young chappy named “Brent” who given his photo/avatar appears to be the kind of young man who would be first through the doors (for all the wrong reasons) of the facility described in Leah Bobet‘s “Kimberley Ann Duray is Not Afraid“. This gentleman also may or may not have a passing acquaintance with the English language … and grammar … and syntax … and the “period”:

i learned that this book kicks butt i mean common ppl you see this explosion in a forest gather up the guts to go see what it was and its a hue piece of saphire (or is it?) well then eragon goes around trying to sell it because his family is poor but know one wants it because it came out of the spine! (for those that dont know what te spine is its a collection of mountians only the brave go in but only the lucky come out) i seen the movie and i literally wanted to send a P.O. email to him i swe

Goodreads assures me that there is clickable access to “more” of this post. And yet, I find myself entirely comfortable with the notion of forever leaving what lies beyond that mercifully interposing veil of obscurity unknown. Although I do admit to wondering what a “P.O. email” is …

Goodreads also has this lovely option of suggesting who to recommend a reviewed work for. I am vastly amused to note that among some genuine “for young readers”, “for dragon fans”, and other equally apt seeming suggestions, two negative “reviewers” chose “for my enemies” and “no one”. It’s the quick and easy punchline, true, but there are times when I’m all right with being easily amused. Though I do find that the negative reviews tend to be the product of people living in just as complex and delusional a fantasy as the ridiculously positive I-will-have-this-author’s-baby review(er)s.

To wit:

A portion of a review post by “Randocommando”:

He ripped off ideas from Anne McCaffery, Jane Yolen, Tolkien, etc. He just had the happy coincidence of writing his book McCaffery and Yolen have faded into obscurity.

The first line is a rehash of what many of us have already said, included here to give context to the second portion. And the reason the second line is here? Because I have to ask when exactly did McCaffrey (please note the proper spelling of Anne’s name) and Yolen “fade into obscurity”? And what, specifically, do we mean by “obscurity”?

And while we’re at it, what is our definition of “is”?

No, seriously, McCaffrey and Yolen are both still writing at a furious pace. McCaffrey collaborates more often than not these days, as well as doing other thoroughly trivial things with her time like judging contests (Albedo One‘s “Aeon” Contest comes to mind), and Yolen writes a ridiculous number of children’s books in addition to her adult work.

But don’t take my word for it. There are publication numbers to prove these kind of things. Let’s take the last two years shall we?

Anne McCaffrey’s publication count for the last two years? At least 3 books that I know of, quite possibly others I don’t remember.

Jane Yolen’s publication count for the last two years? As far as I can tell Jane Yolen has produced somewhere between 15 and 20 books between 2009 and 2011, across the fields of children’s books (where I’m fairly certain she’s most active these days), YA, and adult fiction.

And while we’re talking about excellent authors we can move on to:

 

The Good (?)

Um …

Autumn’s here?

Yes, well …

Oh, I know.

There’s a book launch at Bakka Phoenix Books for Tesseracts 15 today. Well, later today. Once the sun rises in Toronto …

In any case, there will be many, many delightful authors appearing, because as is noted on the Bakka website 14 of the authors will be in attendance, as well as Julie Czerneda (who co-edited the anthology with Susan MacGregor). The anthology has a rather more YA approach than past Tesseracts volumes (there have been several theme-based editions starting, I think, with volume 12), which I would imagine would also draw a mixed crowd of attendees. Should be interesting to see who shows up to this event.

So at least here there is a ray of shining light breaking through the dun clouds of toxic vampiric sludge hanging low and ominous in the sky. People who can actually write. And do so very bloody well, thank you.

And, for the most part aren’t writing about vampires. Shocking, I know …

 

And now, with the sweet siren song of sleep luring me to bed, I wander off to wander the pathways of dream. Before, you know, going to a party later in the day.

Night all.

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