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Sunny and cool again today.

About half an hour after I made the blog entry yesterday, there was a fairly bad seizure. I spent most of the remainder of the day in bed. Spooky brought me Ranier cherries and slices of chipotle cheddar. I sketched and read. Just before sunset, I began to feel better, and had a bath, and dinner, after which I felt much, much better. Another hour, I was good as new. But, all of yesterday was lost, workwise, and now I have to scramble to try to make up for the lost time. I'd like to be back at work on Blood Oranges by Tuesday. I mean to have another three chapters written by the end of the month, at least.

But today, I have Vince's illustration of "Figurehead," and it's the fifth of May, so today pretty much has to be assembly day for Sirenia Digest #67. Tomorrow, I'll make a furiously determined effort to finish up with the galleys of Two Worlds and In Between. Oh, and I need to proof the galleys of "Fish Bride," which is being reprinted in the second issue of S. T. Joshi's Weird Fiction Review. And there are contracts, and...

I need to be writing. There's too much writing needs doing not to be writing.

---

Hopefully, a fair number of you read last month's "book of the month" selection, Kathe Koja's Under the Poppy (if you didn't, or haven't finished, don't apologize; nothing here is compulsory). I mean to write more about Under the Poppy, but I'm going to do so when I'm just a little more awake than I am now. I had a double-dose of the Good Worker Bee Pill last night, and I feel like it.

This month's selection for Aunt Beast's Book of the Month Club is Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants:



You may have seen the movie, which I liked a lot and is a fairly faithful adaptation. But it's no substitute for the novel, which you ought to read. Also, Spooky says the Audible.com adaptation is pretty good. It's unabridged, so you might go that route. Either way, book or audiobook. But, with the actual book-type-book, you get cool vintage circus photos.

---

An utterly moronic article in the Wall Street Journal, "Darkness too Visible," by someone named MEGHAN COX GURDON. Hey, it was in all caps on the website. Truth in journalism, right? The article carries the provocative subtitle, "Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?" Anyway, obviously Gurdon isn't at all happy about "dark" themes in YA literature. In fact, she's pretty sure that books like Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Game are mangling the minds of impressionable teens everywhere and will, I don't know, lead to mass suicides or something of the sort. The article is...well, read it if you must. But it's most entirely angrifying, fair warning. In response, a Twitter hashtag, #YAsaves, has sprung up, and editors such as ellen_datlow and authors such as blackholly have weighed in (lending their support to YA).

Look at this stinking shithole of a world, people. You really want to sugar-coat literature for the young'uns? You really want to try to insulate them from the difficulties of being a teen, or the hardships they're going to be facing very, very soon (if they aren't already)? Here again, we have the threat of warning labels rearing it's censorious, myopic head.

Whether I'm writing for an adult or a YA audience (and now I do both; also as my agent recently pointed out, Silk, Threshold, and Alabaster would likely now be considered YA), I mean for my fiction to be triggering. That's not a word that ought in speaking of art carry negative connotations. This is the very objective of art, and most especially including fiction: to trigger. To elicit in the mind of the reader a powerful emotional response that will move them, change them, upset or inspire them. We do not "protect" readers from this, else there's no point in writing or reading. We create art that will get their attention and make them think, and will help them survive some nightmare/s past, present, or future. Hey, other kids beside me cut. Other kids have survived rape. Other kids are gay and trans. And, fuck, look at this Catniss chick, what a kick-ass role model. And even if the reader has not experienced or is experiencing some personal trauma, just maybe these books will cause them to behave towards those who have with a little more understanding and sympathy.

Oh. I almost forgot. Gurdon hates dirty words, too. And she segregates the sexes, recommending "books for young men" and "books" for young women." It's still 1945, right?

So, fuck off, MEGHAN COX GURDON. You have the nerve (and are dumb enough) to recommend Fahrenheit 451 - a novel about book burning - in an article calling for censorship. Have you read Bradbury's book, MEGHAN COX GURDON? Do you understand the meaning of the word "irony"?

I'm sure there are many others who responses will be more "civil" and "politic," but I don't feel this nonsense deserves the effort required for either. However, if you'd like to see a really good and thoughtful response, read this post by kylecassidy, or this post by Laurie Hall Anderson.

---

Last night we watched what must be one of the worst films ever committed to celluloid, Chris Sivertson's I Know Who Killed Me (2007). Two words, Lindsay Lohan. Why did I inflict this upon myself? I don't know. Plain and simple. This film is so bad...never mind, there are no adjectives in the English language capable of expressing of the badness of this film. Lohan can't act. The script...wait, what script? Silverton can't direct. The cinematographer spent the whole film in the crapper. It's like after-school-special torture porn. No, that would be better than this movie. Never mind.

---

Last night, Spooky and I measured Telara as best we could. Choosing as our standard the distance between Lantern Hook to the south and the Chancel of Labors in the north, we arrived at a base measurement of 5,500 meters, which I then used to get a north/south measurement on Telara, at the widest visible point of the (sub)"continent". And that measurement was 7,333 meters (+ or -), or about 4.5 miles. I was stunned. Truly. I'd expected to arrive at a measurement of at least 15 miles. As a point of comparison, the island of Manhattan is 13.4 miles long (or 2.97 Telaras).

Okay. Enough. Work awaits.

Angrified,
Aunt Beast

Comments

( 33 comments — Have your say! )
kirby_crow
Jun. 5th, 2011 06:37 pm (UTC)
This is the very objective of art, and most especially including fiction: to trigger. To elicit in the mind of the reader a powerful emotional response that will move them, change them, upset or inspire them. We do not "protect" readers from this, else there's no point in writing or reading.

I would write AMEN to this in twelve-foot-high letters if I could.
greygirlbeast
Jun. 5th, 2011 06:43 pm (UTC)

Hallelujah!
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Jun. 5th, 2011 07:03 pm (UTC)

Oh, folks have been attacking YA literature long before it was even called that.

Yep.

People like Meghan Cox Gurdon do not deserve "civil" and "politic" responses. Personally I have no patience with anyone one who would stand between someone of any age and books they want to read.

And yep again.
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Jun. 5th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)

I do love this post. Thank you.
pepsiswinger
Jun. 5th, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC)
Honestly, YA is already hypocritical enough without this COXsucker giving her input. We're talking about a genre that's more willing to stress the existence (and acceptance) of vampires than gay people.

Still, teens will read what they want to read, no matter how hard you try to censor the materials aimed at them. When the 'Twilight' *coughTOILETcough* series came out, I was reading Nabokov and 'Battle Royale', and intentionally working my way through the banned book list. If anything, people like her expressing their opinions will only have a reverse effect on the age group they believe they're 'protecting'. So ha.
greygirlbeast
Jun. 5th, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)

I was reading Nabokov and 'Battle Royale', and intentionally working my way through the banned book list.

Booya!
sovay
Jun. 5th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
An utterly moronic article in the Wall Street Journal, "Darkness too Visible," by someone named MEGHAN COX GURDON.

The Wall Street Journal stopped being a newspaper when Rupert Murdoch made it part of Fox's empire.

You have the nerve (and are dumb enough) to recommend Fahrenheit 451 - a novel about book burning - in an article calling for censorship.

Some days I just want to go around with a T-shirt that reads "IRONY FAIL."
greygirlbeast
Jun. 5th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)

The Wall Street Journal stopped being a newspaper when Rupert Murdoch made it part of Fox's empire.

This is true of all papers owned by that man.


Some days I just want to go around with a T-shirt that reads "IRONY FAIL."


Works for me.
rozk
Jun. 5th, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC)
You could have been warned by me back in 2009

But at least, unlike Lindsey Lohan and Julia Ormond, I was not in I Know Who Killed Me a serious contender for worst film I have ever seen. I did not write it or produce it. I merely made the mistake - I am doing a lot of that today - of ordering it from Lovefilm on the assumption that it cannot be as bad as its reputation. It is indeed so much worse than its reputation as to take the breath away.

I just explained it to a friend in AIM

rkaveney2 (01:09:31): Yes, it is one of the total ultimate stinkers
rkaveney2 (01:09:54): The silliest plot ever
rkaveney2 (01:10:00): There is a missing girl
rkaveney2 (01:10:12): An earlier missing girl has turned up dismembered.
rkaveney2 (01:10:24): And dead
P (01:10:33): Generally that comes with dismembering, yes
rkaveney2 (01:10:36): She turns up dismembered but alive
rkaveney2 (01:10:49): Missing hand and leg
P (01:10:51): AUGH
rkaveney2 (01:11:03): She swears she is not who they think she is, but a passing stripper
rkaveney2 (01:11:11): She looks just like the missing girl
rkaveney2 (01:11:33): She keeps swearing that they need to keep looking
rkaveney2 (01:12:04): The feds read a story the missing girl wrote about a passing stripper and do DNA tests - she is identical and they reckon it is PTSD fake identity
P (01:12:26): Twiiiiiins
rkaveney2 (01:12:42): Actually, she is the identical twin of a baby father bought from the crack whore who was having twins in the same ward.
rkaveney2 (01:13:02): And she was not kidnapped by the serial killer - her amputations are TWIN STIGMATA
P (01:15:17): ... wut
rkaveney2 (01:15:28): I know, right
rkaveney2 (01:15:53): So we have Lindsey Lohan with an artificial hand, a missing leg and on crutches FIGHTING CRIME
P (01:16:13): Mostly when you add "fighting crime" to something, it gets BETTER
P (01:16:20): In this case, no
rkaveney2 (01:16:24): With Julia Ormond wittering in thebackground
rkaveney2 (01:17:09): Turns out the serial killer is Mean Piano Teacher punishing smart girls who decide Chopin is Too Hard by taking away their capacity to make music which they have misused
P. (01:17:37): Oh ffs
rkaveney2 (01:17:43): He also has a vast collection of stained glass and artificial legs in his basement for reasons that escaped me because I kept being distracted.
rkaveney2 (01:18:15): There is a whole set of people on the interweb who think the movie is much maligned and that in fact it is a brilliant portrayal of someone's dying dream
rkaveney2 (01:18:31): Were the film not so crappy, this might almost be plausible.
rkaveney2 (01:19:01): Lilo plays the only stripper who never takes off her underwear
rkaveney2 (01:19:21): And looks amazingly healthy for someone reared by a crack whore

It has even taken away the memory of Hugh Grant as Chopin in Impromptu which bored me in the earlier part of the evening and the new ep of Heroes which is amazingly cracktastic.
greygirlbeast
Jun. 5th, 2011 08:58 pm (UTC)

I think it was the whole twin think that best typifies it's idiocy.
(no subject) - stsisyphus - Jun. 5th, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rozk - Jun. 5th, 2011 09:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Jun. 5th, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
stsisyphus
Jun. 5th, 2011 09:05 pm (UTC)
I wanted to say something here about the industry of YA literature, and the market influences which may influence an author to bring a particular story to the YA audience rather than whatever the alternative is (adult fiction? general fiction? Literature? Genre fiction?). However, after about half an hour of looking at this box, I couldn't come up with something that wasn't patently insulting to authors or their editors, or treated the whole thing like a crank's editorial.

After some cursory, VERY cursory websearching, it seems Ms. Cox-Gurdon is actually a fairly young woman, or at least not far into middle age. Which is to say, she's probably not any older than you, Ms. K; likely, younger. According to some other blog posts (whose opinions seem to be no less skewed, although in opposition to hers), she may be considered a "former feminist" in favor of sacrificing eduction and career for the serenity and accomplishment found in homemaking and domestic management. So, yeah.

Actually, I know exactly what I was reminded of with this kind of hysteria that Cox-Gurdon brings up. Quoted/edited here to obscure the original maligned media:

"Supposing you get used to eating sandwiches made with very strong seasonings, with onions and peppers and highly spiced mustard. You will lose your taste for simple bread and butter and for finer food. The same is true of reading strong ... books. If later on you want to read a good novel it may describe how a young boy and girl sit together and watch the rain falling. They talk about themselves and the pages of the book describe what their innermost little thoughts are. This is what is called literature. But you will never be able to appreciate that if ...you expect that at any minute someone will appear and pitch both of them out of the window."

Ignoring the ambiguous and dated racial undertone of the opening of the quote, this kind of argument has been made countless times before. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you view the history of the media in question) with the above, it had a very real and lasting effect on popular consciousness and culture of 20th century America and the formation of youth literature.

The quote is from Dr. Fredric Wertham, by the way. He was trying to protect youth and society from Juvenile Delinquency (good luck there). Cox-Gurdon, on the other hand, seems to only really want to protect youth from ... what, exactly? Lurid literature? Literature that might cause someone to actually think outside of their privileged situation? I'm at a loss.
greygirlbeast
Jun. 5th, 2011 09:13 pm (UTC)

Which is to say, she's probably not any older than you, Ms. K; likely, younger.

I was completely unconcerned with her age, and had no knowledge of it. Though, I think Kyle suspected she was quite a bit older. So, she's a living fossil.

Cox-Gurdon, on the other hand, seems to only really want to protect youth from ... what, exactly? Lurid literature? Literature that might cause someone to actually think outside of their privileged situation?

Both, I'd wager. And to protect parents from parenting.
(no subject) - stsisyphus - Jun. 5th, 2011 09:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Jun. 5th, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stsisyphus - Jun. 5th, 2011 09:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
whiskeychick
Jun. 5th, 2011 09:48 pm (UTC)
Angrified indeed.

Here's hoping the seizures leave you be.
greygirlbeast
Jun. 5th, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC)

Here's hoping the seizures leave you be.

Thank you. This one came as a surprise.
lachendwolf.blogspot.com
Jun. 5th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
For crap's sake, did GURDON never read Victorian literature in high school?? Nothing YA I've read recently was as horrific to me as the implications in "Jane Eyre" or "A Little Princess."
greygirlbeast
Jun. 5th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC)

For crap's sake, did GURDON never read Victorian literature in high school?? Nothing YA I've read recently was as horrific to me as the implications in "Jane Eyre" or "A Little Princess."

All evidence seems to indicate she has not.
(no subject) - opalblack - Jun. 6th, 2011 09:20 am (UTC) - Expand
edwarddain
Jun. 5th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
Last night we watched what must be one of the worst films ever committed to celluloid...

I am so sorry - that really was incredibly, incredibly bad. I can't exactly say I blame it on LiLo. Not because I think she should be defended, but that whole film was just dreck - salvaging it was far beyond her lack of skill and I would offer up that the blame firmly rests upon the shoulders of the director and producers.

Ugh. I had managed to forget that movie had even existed.

D.
greygirlbeast
Jun. 5th, 2011 10:18 pm (UTC)

Ugh. I had managed to forget that movie had even existed.

Apologies for the reminder.
robyn_ma
Jun. 5th, 2011 10:29 pm (UTC)
That YA article is one of the top five dumbest articles I have read to the end.

I Know Who Killed Me is the sort of movie that, with a little nudge one way or another, might've been brilliant. When you're making a nonsensical thriller, you need to go big or stay home, and this one needed to go huge. There was a line in the ScreenIt! synopsis that gave me hope:

Dakota uses her robotic prosthetic arm to break the glass on the top of a coffin.

I adore that sentence and wish the movie were worthy of it.

Incidentally, Chris Sivertson was an early collaborator of Lucky McKee's. Imagine McKee making the film, with Angela Bettis in the Lohan role, and you've got what this could've been.
greygirlbeast
Jun. 5th, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC)

I Know Who Killed Me is the sort of movie that, with a little nudge one way or another, might've been brilliant.

Well, I'd argue it needs a big shove, not a nudge. But I kept thinking about what David Lynch or Neil Jordan could have done with it. The director was clearly trying to ape both.

I adore that sentence and wish the movie were worthy of it.

Agreed.


Incidentally, Chris Sivertson was an early collaborator of Lucky McKee's. Imagine McKee making the film, with Angela Bettis in the Lohan role, and you've got what this could've been.


Hah! I said the same thing to Spooky, while we were suffering it!

(no subject) - robyn_ma - Jun. 5th, 2011 10:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Jun. 5th, 2011 11:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Jun. 6th, 2011 04:36 am (UTC)

It's the 5th of June, not May -- maybe this was mentioned already? (Erm, I didn't read every word of every comment.)

Whichever. In the end, what's a month, give or take.


And, of course, I agree with "triggering" people through all kinds of art, and other avenues, too. Trigger away.


It's a living. Sort of.

Also, I HATE that you have seizures. I really, really do.

Both of us.
opalblack
Jun. 6th, 2011 09:12 am (UTC)
The other night Spicy Concubine said, of some or other challenging artwork, "I'm not sure what that's saying?"
I think we were watching the Disinfo series DVD, anyway she was definitely soliciting an explanation of whatever it was and an interpretation of the underlying message. So I pointed out to her that art doesn't necessarily say anything, much of the best art asks. It asks the viewer to think about something, it challenges the viewer to invest it with meaning.

Beauty for beauty's sake is one thing, but we didn't need a thousand recuts of Bladerunner clarifying the meaning. It, like so much in this world, was a far better question than it could ever be an answer.

The world we live in demands ambiguity and questions, but too many people living in it demand dogma and answers. Modern society is made up predominately of people too immature to handle it.

Censoring art because a viewer doesn't like the meaning they invest in it is a bit like saying that because wool sweaters make me itchy no one should have wool sweaters. It's stupid. Wool sweaters don't hurt anyone, some people love them, and my discomfort at wool sweaters is hardly reasonable grounds to force wool lovers to wear fleece or polyester.

Yes, art is a woolly sweater. Actually that sounds like a song.

Oh art is a woolly sweater,
It makes some people itch,
But some people like the texture,
So shut up you stupid bitch.

No you can't take away my sweater,
MEGHAN COX GURDON
No you won't take away my sweater,
Not from my cold, dead hands.

Some people groove on corduroy,
Well now I just think that's mad
Some people wear ugg boots outside
Some wear spots with plaid,

But you can't take away my sweater,
MEGHAN COX GURDON
No you won't take away my sweater,
Not from my cold, dead hands.
kennydoogs
Jun. 6th, 2011 03:38 pm (UTC)
Terrible, hilarious line from, "I Know Who Killed Me":..."People get cut, it happens"
ulffriend
Jun. 7th, 2011 05:59 pm (UTC)
Fiction for young adults is too dark? Has this person ever read children's classics? Animal abuse in "Black Beauty", child neglect in "Heidi", a youth who commits murder and is sentenced to life in prison in "Jo's Boys", substance use in the "Alice" stories - we could go on all day. And let's not even talk about any of the Andrew Lang fairy books!

Part of the reason that children and young adults respond to "dark themes" is because, as you point out, the world around them is full of darkness. Stories are a way to help them grapple with that in a safer way, they always have been. They're also good entertainment.

It seems as though the author if this article has built up a nice fantasy world of "how it used to be" in her head and then wrote based on that. Heaven forbid she let the truth stand in the way of a good opinion.
( 33 comments — Have your say! )