quietprofanity: (Kagami - Books)
( Jan. 21st, 2009 10:35 pm)
I always seem to second-guess my opinions on literary fiction, especially short stories, ESPECIALLY short stories centered around suburban ennui -- stuff that usually involves characters doing something normal and then they're reminded of something else that made them feel totally crappy about themselves. If I ever don't like something, I worry if I just don't get it. And if I ever DO like something, I worry if it's because I have a need to be a pretentious snot and should really just pick up a comic book or something.

Of course, nobody will convince me that story where a woman fell in love with a cow (not THAT way) in the wake of her disappointing marriage wasn't awesome. Or that other story I read that was basically Titanic but gay and on the Hindenburg wasn't shit. (I'm serious about that last one. Shit. Trust me.) But other writers, like Annie Proulx, make me go back and forth along that second-guessing thing ("But weird writing style!" "But intriguing yet despicable characters!" "But they all have names like Sarah Palin's kids!" "But ... but ... Wyoming!").

I think that's why I withheld judgment on Alice Munro for as long as I did, especially since I seemed to get the sense that this woman is a Canadian national treasure and I may very well be an American idiot. But having read around ten or so of her stories, I finally feel confident in saying that I really, really, really hate this writer.
Read more... )
Why don't we as a society read more short stories? They're good for our short-attention span brains! And who doesn't like a story delivered quickly? When I was in college, I read comic books more than anything else because I COULD get a story in a quicker, easier fashion. My guess is that short stories are hard to talk about without giving away the ending, and also can be depressing. I'll try not to do the former and own up to the latter.

The Laws of Evening ... You should read this one, Aja. I think you'll like it. )

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri )

Oh and ... by the way, I did see The Dark Knight. Without going into any spoilers, Heath Ledger was amazing, Aaron Eckhart was amazing, Christian Bale is still the best Batman. But I do hope the people who ground their teeth over Iron Man's alleged sexism (which I disagree with, but I've already explained why) don't give The Dark Knight a free pass, because I think it was worse (not The Wicker Man remake worse, mind you, but it did annoy me) and I'm surprised I haven't seen anyone complain about it yet. Maybe they're all upset over Dr. Horrible but ... [sigh]. What a shame.

Okay, okay, spoiler. I can't help it.

Read more... )

Watchmen trailer is growing on me, by the way.
Some people say (or once said) I let Japan off too easy when it comes to sexism. So let me say I really, really, really wish Japan would get with the times i.e. girls defending themselves from rape/sexual harassment and not make it seem comedic/reckless when they do. Midori Days did this too and I REALLY freaking hate it.

I like watching this stuff for goofiness and the occasional superheroine fantasy. This bullshit totally ruins it and throws me out of having fun. This stuff is far more offensive than robot maids (who I've always thought have a worse reputation than they deserve) and unrealistic sexualized costumes, IMO.

Other than that, the show has been just dandy so far. I love the twins.


Here's another piece of happiness, lest you think I'm turning into Bitchy McBallbuster. I finished reading Cathedral by Raymond Carver, which is a group of short stories. They're overall very good. Depressing, but not as much as his reputation would say. Some of his characters (usually alcoholic, white working class dudes) are unsympathetic, but others are sympathetic. Anyway one of his stories was, believe it or not, a FANFIC! A fanfic of "The Five Forty-Eight" by John Cheever, a story which I had ALSO read. This got me hyped up and excited when I realized it even if the story was ... kind of a letdown. But when I re-thought about it the basic theme was the notion of someone nearly doing a horrible thing and then slowly integrating back into real life. I was sort of interested in that when I wrote a short story of my own. So it turned out to be good when I thought about it.
Why not 2007 ... or are we on 2008? I forget. Anyway, Sue Miller's old choices are currently cheaper than Stephen King's choices for this year, but I will get around to his choices eventually.

Short stories split up into Sucks, Decent, and I'm Putting the Author on my "To Read" List

The Sugar-Tit by Carolyn Cooke: Some chick is depressed and her husband is having an affair with their friend. And he makes fun of her. And everyone gets drunk and moves a couch. I don't get it and don't really want to waste the effort to do so.
The Red Ant House by Ann Cummins: Little brat girl makes fun of the poor kid, doesn't like taking care of her mom. In the end they expose themselves to a child molester. See above.
Watermelon Days by Tom McNeal: The supposed deep-osity of unhappy marriages. In the back, the author said he didn't know what the story was about. Pass.
Bulldog by Arthur Miller: Isn't it amazing and inspirational when a 40-year-old woman deflowers a 14-year-old boy? [GAG!]
Family Furnishings by Alice Munro: I feel a little bad insulting someone whose probably a Canadian national treasure, but I've really never gotten into this lady's work. I've read about a dozen of her stories and her characters are usually unsympathetic, emotionally-constipated cranks and even their flaws don't make them interesting. Also, they're usually having affairs and not much happens. This story didn't have an affair (thank God) but the rest is all true.
Love and Hydrogen by Jim Shepard: It's like The Titanic. But on the Hindenburg. And it's with two gay guys. And instead of a blue necklace it's a pocketwatch put down the underpants. And instead of impressive visuals it's buttloads of technical shit. And instead of a romance it's two guys snipping at each other most of the time for added "drama." And I hate it.

Puppy by Richard Ford: Oddly enough, I didn't quite get the end either, but the characters kept me interested enough throughout that I didn't get pissed off at the end. The relationship between the husband and wife was also pretty interesting despite having the affair and ... well, I don't know why I'm not pissing all over this one. I guess I was in a good mood that day.
Zilkowski's Theorem by Karl Iagnemma: Same miserable-people-having-affairs chestnut, but spiced up with math and religion and a stab at forgiveness. Not incredibly powerful, but I liked it when I thought about it.
In Case We're Separated by Alice Mattison: OOOH! LOOKIE! ANOTHER AFFAIR! It's like the Thnikkaman costumes of short stories! Okay, I liked the characters in this one. And the ending was kooky.
Billy Goats by Jill McCorkle: I have a weakness for super-short stories told in an unusual format because I have the attention span of a gnat. The voice was nice, too.
Nachman from Los Angeles by Leonard Michaels: Story about a guy getting roped into writing an assignment for a Persian prince studying in America. Interesting psychology between the characters. Didn't hit home in a huge way, but I dug it overall.
The Rug by Meg Mullins: Guy achieves his dream to find it useless. Has a Thnikkaman, but it's not as noticable.
Digging by Beth Lordan: Actually has a happy ending after meandering through the genealogies of two Irish/Irish-American families. HAPPY ENDING. I could shit my pants! It's impossible!

For the "To Read" List
Along the Frontage Road by Michael Chabon: A father helping his son pick out a pumpkin after a tragedy. Not the greatest work, but one part touched me. Plus, I like this author already, so I'm kinda cheating.
Seven by Edwidge Danticat: THNIKKAMAN! But also a romantic story of a couple separated after seven years. I'm not projecting. [whistles]
A House on the Plains by E.L. Doctrow: SURPRISE ENDING! I dug it.
Nobody's Business by Jhumpa Lahiri: A guy loves a girl, she loves another guy, the other guy is a douche, first guy doesn't get girl anyway. Also, innocent person caught in the crossfire of ROMANTIC DRAMA, which is basically the story of my life. Mostly realistic except for the phone sequence. Nevertheless, it does cement for me how much I like Lahiri.
Aftermath by Mary Yukari Waters: A Japanese woman starts to adjust to the new breed of "normal life" in her country after the devastation World War II. Common themes, but told really well.
The Heifer by Melissa Hardy: A sad yet disturbing story about a woman who does the impossible and the horrible for a cow. This is less funny and more awesome than I make it sound.
Surrounded by Sleep by Akhil Sharma: The best for last. A young Indian-American boy's ultimately disappointing relationship with God (who looks like Superman) after his brother is crippled and brain damaged in a diving accident. Much less cheesy and more thoughtful than I'm making it sound. It made me tear up.
... Nah, I'll give you a break. I'll talk about a book, instead: Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx. Yeah, I can hear the "What?" ... It's the book that Proulx first published the famous "Brokeback Mountain".

You've heard the hit song ... so how was the rest of the album? )


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