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Not As Exquisite As Advertised

Posted by Sunday on Jan 22, 2009 at 7:23 pm in Literature

It’s been shame that has kept me away from the Dear Diary of web-logging.  But, like that maggot cheese that everyone is so delighted in reporting on lately, I find myself wanting to share it with you all anyway.  Raise your glass of larvae-infested, putrefied cheese and toast with me to… Stephanie Meyer.

Yes, that Stephanie Meyer.

The only statement in my own defense is that I was sitting in the airport when I finished my only book on hand (Man Plus by Frederik Pohl – fun, but awkwardly retro writing) and went to go purchase a magazine.  Paper magazines, which you may or may not be aware, are now the same price as a fucking novel.  Which are expensive.  With this knowledge, I, with great embarrassment and guilt, purchased Twilight.

The backstory here is that I have been superficially following this Twilight obsession almost exclusively because many of the blogs I read.  Yes, once again, I blame blogs.  Anyway, as an adult who reads YA fiction (for the record: I think the Harry Potter books are just okay, Scott Westerfield’s Uglies series is pretty good and Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy is canon) I paid some attention.  Matthew Baldwin’s review in particular caused me to chuckle with delighted dismissal.  In  summary: romance novel – minus sex + nearly pointless vampirism = Twilight.

And then I read another blog, one I won’t link to.   In it the writer seethed about the negative impact the books will have on fragile-minded teen girls.  It teaches girls that stalking is acceptable behavior from a man!  And that it is thrilling to have your boyfriend want to kill you!  In a good way! Blah blah blah, I didn’t really pay attention because I’m a misogynist.

welcome-vampires.jpg

Anyway, there I am, standing in an airport where I am surely to escape the eyes of anyone I know, purchasing the book.  Because I had to know!  Which was it: was it a comically embarrassing attempt at ‘literature’ or a manual for abusing women?

The answer if of course both!  Delightful!

I can’t add much to the masses of criticism for the books, other than to make a few personal points.

  •  Based on Baldwin’s report, I expected no less than 642 uses of the word “exquisite”.  Sadly, I noted only in the realm of two uses.  However, the point he may have been trying to make is: but damn, this woman is repetative.  Once she latches on to an adjective or an adverb she gets lockjaw. So instead of 642 instances of “exquisite” we get probably literally 50 instances of remarking that Edward – the vampire heartthrob – having marble skin, or skin like marble, or marble-cold skin, or a cold, marble chest, or cold marble coldness marbleness.  Likewise how many times he is simply described as “perfect.”  Sigh!  Perfect!  I ran out of adjectives for cold and marble.  I need a rest.
  • As many have noted, I can see how the teens are wack-a-doodle over these books.  They’re broody, moody, vaguely sensual and chock full of forbidden things like lying to your parents and dating the undead.  For the rest of us that have actually experienced sex, they’re pretty boring.
  • The vampires are, for all intents and purposes, not vampires at all.  They’re Supermen.  Do they have to drink human blood?  No, they just prefer it.  Does sunlight/crosses/garlic/stakes repulse them?  Nope.  In fact: sunlight makes them “LITERALLY SPARKLE”. Meyer made sure to include the word “literally” in the actual novel in case we mistook her thin narrative as metaphorical.  So, they avoid sunlight to avoid dazzling humans with their glittery beauty.  Like unicorns.  They are impossibly fast, impossibly strong and to make it the most delightfully hyperbole-saturated book ever, many of them have special superpowers like mind-reading or precognition.  Oh, and also: they’re rich.  Alright, alright, I’ll fuck them already, jeesus.
  • The main character, Bella, is intolerable.  In what I think was Meyer’s clumsy attempt to make Bella someone the average teen girl could relate to, she instead made Bella improbably klutzy (really: every time Bella leaves the house she either falls on a heap of razorblades or rams her head into a crowbar – you think I’m joking, I know) and argumentative.  Everything she does is counterproductive.  In fact, the entire final showdown that results in Bella’s near-death is the direct result of Bella just not telling someone what was going on.  Listen, teen girls of the world, if a mean vampire threatens to kill your family unless you submit yourself to him, a tip is to TELL THE WHOLE POSSE OF SUPERHEROES YOU’RE HANGING OUT WITH.  Dude, delegate the problems, and in particular, delegate them to friends of yours that are immortal supermen.

In penance for giving the Stephanie Meyer machine $8 of my money, I will make sure my next few book purchases are for authors I actually care about.  In fact, I’ll buy extra for friends.  Because I don’t know how else to make things right.  When the second book gets made into a movie the madness will start all over again, and then repeat with the last two books.  My only hope is that the actors will look haggard and dumpy by the last two, like Ralph Macchio suddenly got in the Karate Kid movies even though supposedly no time had passed between them.

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January 22nd, 2009 | Literature

4 Responses to “Not As Exquisite As Advertised”

  1. bobeena Says:

    Oh man…Heather is so going to disagree with you, but then again she is a teenage girl whom after reading the twilight book wanted to find a vampire boyfriend.

  2. Sunday Says:

    I know! I know, I feel bad about ranking on it, because I get why teen girls are into it. I don’t blame the Heathers of the world for swooning.

    To be honest, all I’d heard of the books before I read them was the intense polarity – the raging, screaming teen girls begging Robert Pattison to suck their blood compared to the reviewers wondering where the hell Meyer “learned” to “write”. And predictably, I feel solidly between them. It’s not the worst book I’ve read, certainly not the worst YA book, but neither does it seem to justify the madness. It seems popular because its popular, if such a thing is possible.

  3. Nastybear Says:

    I don’t think I can’t let Heather ever read this, she might get violent.

  4. Sunday Says:

    Dude, these things are always up for discussion. I mean, not what you allow your daughter to do, but what parts of a book are good and what parts aren’t. I mean, I don’t know that I’d express my dislike of Twilight to Heather exactly like I wrote it here (I’d probably use less cussing, for starters) but I’d still tell her why I didn’t like them. Right? She needs to read the Uglies series, BTW. I know I’ve nattered on about them before.

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