Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Proper Chagrins

I think this is going to be a recurring series of blogs (I think that makes 3 for me) because that seems to be what my life turning out to be about. Eating crow. And in all reality, I'm not minding at all.

This time around is in regards to a series of books that I have purposefully avoided for awhile. A long while. Like 4 years-awhile.My old roommate, shortly after we both fled from the Pit of Despair and found our own little niches was all squeals and giggles about it. I was excited at first because she is a total book soul mate. Harry Potter - same page. LOTR - same page. The Georgia Nicholson Confessions - same page. I don't know why I doubted her. I knew she had a particular love for vampires that I didn't really share but no biggie right?

What turned me off the most was *gulp* that it was and LDS author.

I know - I know!
I'm such a snob.

But every single run in I've had with LDS fiction up to this point in time has been campy and a total let down. The only LDS fiction that I own and love has principally been written by people that I know directly and because one of the books was dedicated to me. I mostly find it to be the equivalent of that Halloween candy that sticks around forever and ever. You know, those strawberry candies and multi colored versions of those pinwheel mints. Its candy, but not really candy. Blah - no good.

She found it in the Deseret Book Catalog and typically anything in there that isn't written by a General Authority just doesn't blip on my radar. She had the good sense to pick up on it, but I wasn't feeling it. Her whole experience is here.

Her passionate recommendation was the first in a long line of people from almost every different aspect of my life. It seemed everywhere I went I was getting "What??! You haven't read these yet?!" People from work, people from school, people I happened to be chatting up at Jiffy Lube... It was getting ridiculous. This disinclined me even more because if too many people like something I'm automatically more skeptical. Like all those people that told me to go see Titanic. You know who you are!...... 4 hours I'll NEVER get back. Ever.

So, I started to consider picking it up when my mother turned into a big pair of eyes and half finished incredulous sentences at the thought of me not having read them-

What do you mea....?
How can you....?!
They're som......
You simply hav.......

My mom brought it up at book club as a possible book and one of the ladies who had read it and loved it was like "I wouldn't give it to anyone younger than 16 to read... I wouldn't want my girls thinking its OK to lie in bed with their boyfriends" and I thought -

Whattha....? That's weird... That's not a part of the Mormon Fiction formula. Maybe this is just a normal book that happens to just be written by an LDS author and the Mormon Culture PR machine simply picked it up.

The final needle in they straw stack was one of my Beehives (I'm the 1st counselor in my ward's YW). She came up to on Sunday after church all far off looks and fluttery eyelashes just sighing about how much she loved Twilight and how they're her FAVORITE books ever and how she doesn't really like reading but she's read them three times and how August 2nd can't come fast enough etc and I thought -

OK - so this book is getting my girls to read AND it might not be appropriate for a 12 year old... I'm the book geek/adult type here. If my girls are reading these I should know what's in them in case something needs to be discussed that's not appropriate and so I know whats going into their little heads. These are my girls. It's my job to know.

That was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend I had just finished The Other Boleyn Girl and I needed a new book.

Total aside of an unsolicited review: The Other Boleyn Girl was lovely. It was.... Elizabethan. Not PG rated by any means but fabulously engaging for us costume freak types and I'm obsessed with the Tutors anyway. It doesn't take much. Elizabeth I is a hero of mine and anything surrounding her = awesome. Pure awesome as a matter of fact. She makes me proud to have the name I do. Love love love her. Lovelovelovelove.

I ploughed through The Other Boleyn Girl the beginning of that weekend. I was slightly reeling from the strange weekend I had had the week before and needed to escape for a bit.

So with all this preamble, and ice cracking, and prejudice overcoming, and not being too ready come up for air in reality -

I picked up Twilight.

Now, you need to understand - I love books. As a function of my genetics and upbringing they are the next best thing to marzipan, and foot rubs, shoe shopping. I'm a dyslexic kid but my love for them overcame that, saw me through adolescence, AP English and they have been my sanity and refuge since. I'm an English major, the daughter of and English major, the grand daughter of and English major, and a great granddaughter of an English major. Some families have jewelry, mine has books.

So - that being said, it's a given that I loved this book by the simple fact that it was bound, had words on paper and told a story of some kind. Also, it had added stock because it was an Adolescent Lit book. They're the best kind. There really isn't much getting around that.

But from go I didn't just love this book. It was a book that I fell in love with. I started when I woke up the next morning and stayed up till 2. I didn't eat or do much of anything. Just shifted from one posture to another in my reading chair. I got strangely annoyed every time my mom knocked on my door or when my text message alert chimed (*gasp* - I know! It was an annoyance to text! Me!! It's Armageddon.) I was mad that my eyes were too tired to work anymore after 16 hours, not to mention that I had to work in 6.

I woke up and seriously considered calling in sick to work to finish. I didn't. I didn't! But I did think about it and that made me sit up and take notice. I haven't been that into a book since Harry Potter. These characters were real to me, they were people I was invested in and their story was fantastically real. I loved falling in love with Edward alongside Bella and being just as confused and fascinated with what on earth was going on in that lovely lovely head of his. I saw many if not all of my own awkward and beloved moments of falling in love with hers and Edwards relationship.

Yup, yup. I've been in that sitting at the same lab table and being so distracted by how attracted I was to the person sitting next to me that whatever we're doing was all but noise in the background situation before etc etc...

I loved her goofy old truck that tapped out at 45 mph. My first car was a '69 Ford Falcon that wasn't in much better shape but I loved just a much, if not more.

I could smell the humid air and feel the angst and sympathize with the gravity of feeling yourself for the first time and seeing yourself for the first time through someone else's eyes.

I loved how it was this marvelous look at what it meant to be human and the humanizing effects falling in love has. How it brings out the best and worst in us and that suddenly both are OK. I loved how Bella has a hard time accepting the excellence that is just laying in wait to be hers in the form of the Cullen family and Edward. With every page turn I found something else to love in this simple, totally heartfelt story.

I took the book to work but kept it in my car because I knew I'd just ignore my work if I took it in. I snuck downstairs and to my car for both my breaks (which I never take), took a long lunch and read and finally finished that night and had the second book New Moon within arms reach as soon as I was done.

New Moon was another 600 some odd pages of awesome with better writing and a whole new side of the story.

Same with Eclipse. I was done with all 3 by Thursday cursing work, eating and sleep the whole way. St Francis of Azizi always called his body and the appetites binding it "Brother Pig" and for once I understood that concept. Sister Sow (that's the girl version according to my mom)! I'd say, Behave yourself and just let me get through this one part.

I didn't find it inappropriate for my Beehives to read at all. In fact, I had an emphatic discussion with all my girls about it last night at mutual and it opened up a nice and constructive dialog about boyfriend dynamics and what's appropriate and what wasn't. It was fantastic. I told them since there is a good chance whomever they decided to date probably won't be a vampire a different set of norms applies but Edward should teach them the difference between a boy and a man and never to settle for the former. It was great. I felt all grown up and sagy, but in-the-know at the same time.

I started talking to whomever I could remember that had read it so that I could gush. I had to. This was too much good to not be spoken of. This isn't a casual read. These aren't wall paper characters that adorn a house or a mind. These are limelight people that harrow as much devotion out of you as Frodo and Harry. I know that's big talk, but for me it's true and from what I've seen of others, it's true for them too.

I even told a fellow Harry Potterer guy type that he needed to read it. He gave me crap about it being a chick book and a smutty romance, neither of which is true. But he went out to Borders and got it anyway and is reading even though he's in medical school and on rotations. Ha! Good man.

It's an amazing set of books and I'm really excited for Aug 2nd now too. I have no idea where it's going to end and who is going to end up with who or how any of the brewing impossible situation is going to work. I'm not sure a happily ever after is possible, but I'm hoping and Stephanie has shown a marvelous talent for figuring out how to do that.

It's a book that is lovely, of good report and all that. Also, it's moral and entertaining and really positive. It's SO RARE to find that anymore and I can't help but want to send a hefty, card stocky, embossed thank you to Stephanie for it. We owe her a lot.


Tristi Pinkston said...

You might also enjoy "Wildwood Dancing" -- it's the twelve dancing princesses meets Twilight. I loved it.

Jennette said...

Tonight (Saturday) as I studied for four hours in Barnes and Noble, I noticed one of the aisle tables near the front was completely dedicated toward Stephanie Meyer books. There was also Eclipse (available in paperback, yay!!) and a pre-order signup clipboard for her next book. I had no idea that she was such a hit with mainstream readers. I look forward to reading some of her work. Thanks for sharing!