69. Twilight – William Gay
I picked this up at a thrift store on Magazine Street that no longer exists as far as I can tell and used to have a silver rocking horse hanging above it. I’ve never really been sure what it was called. Mr. Cheese and I had a lot of fun there, they had a new stuffed Gizmo in a bird cage and this lovely calendar from a Chinese restaurant with especially lovely rabbits on it…it’s also the place I bought Mr. Cheese his second sugar urn, i.e. a sugar bowl that, for the un-tea-cultured poors like me, looks more like an urn than it does a sugar bowl. He found his first one in Iowa.
Anyway, I bought this book because the description made it sound like it was going to be a southern gothic version of Phantasm. There’s a funeral director doing questionable things with the bodies and a young man who must stop him. Well, it’s not like Phantasm. For one thing, there’s no Reggie character. And it not being like Phantasm has sort of clouded my judgment. You see the sentences, they are pretty. I am rarely in the mood for pretty sentences, if ever, so I can appreciate this for what it is – a well written story about a young man who has gone into the local wilderness trying to get to a sheriff before he gets killed by the local psychopath (who was hired by the funeral director). There’s some poetically written nature, some Odyssey-like characters, and some mysteriousness that reminded me a bit of The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale but not as nasty- but it just wasn’t working for me as a reader. Especially when the actions that started the story were resolved in two sentences, at the very end, and the sentences came from a character who was supposedly important throughout the book but didn’t end up doing anything but resolving the starting action. It’s a journey story and usually I really like those, but I just wasn’t able to get into this one once I realized it wasn’t quite what I thought it was going to be.
“No Tall Man? No ice cream truck? Why even bother writing a creepy funeral director character if he’s not pursued by a team of misfits and the resolution to his story basically occurs off-page?” Pickles has my back, because I put words in her mouth, but still, she would have my back.
2. Nightlight – the Harvard Lampoon
I have not read the Twilight saga, nor will I. I tried to read the first page and I watched the first movie because it was tinted blue and I like movies with lots of shots of trees in certain tints, see also Pet Sematary II (to me it’s the superior Pet Sematary film because of the tree shots), Silence of the Lambs, and Brotherhood of the Wolf. Beyond the trees, and the fact that I introduced Pammy and Pickles while watching Twilight and they were friends for thirty whole minutes, I have no positive experiences with the Twilight oeuvre. I honestly think Bella Swan is just a personality-less shell that’s easy to project yourself into and Edward’s total creepy pedo nature gets overlooked because a. for some reason people have a blindspot when it comes to the creepy predatory aspects of 100+ year old dudes hitting on high school chicks and b. stalker behavior is seen as “cute” or “desired” in romance movies and books. Or maybe it’s the sparkles. It could be the sparkles.
Moving on, Nightlight was pretty funny. My favorite aspect of Nightlight was that “Edwart” wasn’t even a vampire. That was excellent. The prose reminded me of the prose I avoided reading by never getting past the first page of Twilight and it also reminded me of this exercise that Anthony Doerr made a room full of people including me do one time: 1. Read a page of the DaVinci Code. 2. Analyze said page and find interestingly foolish things like silhouettes with red eyes and other bullshit language that you read past so quickly because your brain isn’t even processing while you’re reading because it’s so damn easy to mentally digest.
This is definitely a case where I preferred to read the parody rather than the original without any apprehension of not getting the jokes. I can appreciate the function (barely, but as a librarian I see that they have their place) of books like the DaVinci Code and Twilight and the works of James Patterson because lots of people don’t want to have to think while they read and can get attached to the shells and cheese of characters; but that does not mean I will read them, even just to see what the hype is about. I like reading brain candy too, I’m not trying to be pretentious, it’s just that I like my brain candy to have well defined characters. I enjoy reading about people more so than I enjoy reading action and plot and I totally despise certain tropes, so I’m pickier about my brain candy. For example, I really liked Bitten by Kelley Armstrong and I bought it as a mass market paperback. The characters were strong enough and the action was amusing to follow. However, I didn’t care much for Armstrong’s YA series with the pendants on the covers because the characters and details were not strong enough and I know she could have done better but she was talking down to the YA audience. I’m still kind of pissed about that. Damn it, missed opportunities!
This seems like the best possible opportunity to display this photo of Murderface peeing and Pickles chattering her teeth in discontent. It brings to mind a certain bouquet of emotions and actions that would make an excellent young adult novel. Maybe that towel is magic and can only be activated by guinea pig pee. Always bring a towel.
Filed under Books, Review