Archive for the ‘literature’ Category

Oh Dear God

I started reading the Harry Potter books when I was in college.  It was only slightly mortifying at the time to be caught with what were seen — at the time — as children’s books.  But I noticed that other people were also reading them on the sly, and that this whole “Harry Potter thing” really seemed to be catching fire, so my embarassment was mostly tempered by these occurrences.

By the time the last Harry Potter book came out, I was on a downhill slide — not the big fan I once was — from when the books really hit their stride with The Goblet of Fire and The Order of the PhoenixHalf-Blood Prince had been a mild disappointment for me and I was really only anticipating the last book because I felt that I needed closure for characters in which I’d been invested for almost seven years.

So, it was with a deep sense of irony and self-effacing humor that my friends and I went down to the West Alabama Bookstop (& Theatre!) for the midnight release party of The Deathly Hallows.  Even the release party itself was deflated and tired and smaller than the riotous release party had been for Half-Blood Prince.  Clearly, I was not the only one hanging on by a thread, ready to end this marathon.

After reading The Deathly Hallows, I managed to come away even more disappointed.  And not just with the book, but with the way that the entire series ended.  And also a little disappointed in myself for getting so interested in what eventually turned out to be mostly sound and fury.

But what struck me this morning as I perused the gossip websites was the news that the final book will be released as two movies — and will be released when I am 31 years old.

I am not comfortable contemplating the idea that I will eventually turn 30 years old, much less 31.  That’s one step closer to 40 and then 50 and then 60 and then diapers, bedpans and death.  Say what you will.  Mock me.  But I’m not ready to get any older than I already am, especially since I’ve accomplished about three out of one hundred things that I had hoped to accomplish at this point in my life.

Also…there’s the nagging feeling that perhaps 31 is too old to see a Harry Potter movie without the benefit of Netflix.  Someone please tell me that I’m wrong and being foolish.  And that it’s normal for a 27 year old to be having an overly-early-midlife, Harry Potter-induced crisis.

I always knew that Harry Potter would turn out to be evil in some way…


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I guess I can say that at least one small thing I’ve written over the years has been officially published…

The Houston: It’s Worth It book hit the shelves back in October 2007 and — like the bad procrastinator I’ve been lately — I haven’t even bothered to check it out yet, even though I hear it’s phenomenal.

As chance would have it, I was perusing a favorite website today — Houston Strategies — and saw that Tory Gattis had done a brief write-up on the HIWI book and included a few of his favorite quotes.

For those that aren’t familiar with the HIWI project, the creators of this ambitious, quasi-tourism initiative asked Houstonians (and non-Houstonians alike) to submit a few lines to their website, telling the world why they loved Houston.  I thought long and hard about how best to describe my deep and abiding love for the city I was born and raised in, and which I lovingly call home.

And, in the end, I scrapped my original diatribe and just wrote this instead:

Because it’s my home. It’s in my blood and my lungs. Because I get lonely for the mercurial chaos and sprawl when I travel to sad, soulless, cookie-cutter towns. Everyone has a chance here; anyone can fit in and find a place of their own. No city in this country offers more diversity and opportunity alongside such friendliness and hospitality as Houston does.”

I was flattered to learn today that not only had my statement made it into the HIWI book, but it was also Tory’s “favorite” quote of the entire book.

Aw, shucks.

What can I say?  I love this place.

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If you’d been at Barnes and Noble last Saturday around 6pm, you could have witnessed me skulking shamefully around a section of the store that I normally avoid like the plague: the dreaded Romance section.

I’d taken my sweet little grandmother to the bookstore that evening just to get her out of the house for a while. I don’t know her to be a big reader, aside from People and Southern Living, but I figured we’d give it a shot. I asked her if she’d like to get a book or two while we were there. She paused in thought before saying, “You know, I used to love to read. But your granddaddy hated for me to read because I’d get so involved in a book…”

“Well,” I said, “Then we need to get you a book and get you back in the game!” She smiled and nodded her head. “What do you like?” I asked.

“Oh, I like detective novels. Gothic detective novels.”

Okay, that’s a bit specific. Hmm. I don’t read detective novels except for the occasional Elmore Leonard, and I don’t really think she’d like those. I steered her over to the Mystery section of the store, where she stood stupified.

“There’s so many of them! How do I choose?” The bright covers and multiple displays seemed to be sensory overload for her and she stepped away, turning back to the magazine section of the store.

“Okay, wait. We don’t have to get a detective novel; what else do you like?”

“Um…I like romance stories.”

Good grief. What?

“You like…romance novels? Like Danielle Steel?” I queried tentatively.

“No, not like that. Gothic romance novels.”

Again with the Gothic obsession! What is this? Where did this even come from? Jesus, I really hope that she’s not talking about some scary-ass A. N. Roquelaure-type novels. But it got even more specific…

12626430.jpg“I like romance novels with knights and castles.”

Whew. That seems a little tamer.

“Okay, let’s see what we can find for you, then.” I hesitantly placed myself fully in front of the romance shelves, my eyes shifting back and forth to make sure that no one I knew was around. I started picking books off the shelves according to whether or not they had flowery imagery on their spines. I figured, the flowerier the better and the less tawdry (hopefully).

“I don’t have my reading glasses. Can you read the backs of the books to me?” she asked expectantly.

Oh, dear God. Her hearing is terrible; I’m going to have to read these really loudly.

“Okay, here goes…’Headstrong Lady Portia Derring has an impeccable pedigree . . . and not a penny to her name. Which is why she is alone on the rain-swept Yorkshire moor, waiting for a wealthy earl she has never met but whom her family insists she wed. When she’s nearly trampled by the blackguard’s stallion, Portia is more determined than ever to refuse Heath Moreton’s suit. Handsome devil he may be, but she could never marry a rogue who’s so clearly out of control!'” I flinched with nearly every word.

“Ooh, that one sounds good! What about the next one?”

“‘Though she has yet to be courted by any man, spirited Gillyanne Murray decides the time has come to visit the dower lands gifted to her by her father’s kinsmen. She arrives to find the small keep surrounded by three lairds, each one vying for her hand.and property. Though resolved to refuse them all, the threat of battle on her threshold forces her to boldly choose a suitor: Sir Connor MacEnroy, a handsome, daring knight of few words. As his wife, Gillyanne is stunned by his terse, cold distance-and her own yearning to feel passion in his arms. Now, bringing her healing touch to a land and a keep ravaged by treachery and secret enemies, she dares to reach out for the one thing she fears she may forever be denied.her husband’s closely guarded heart.'” This was truly painful to read, and people were beginning to stare.

“I like the sound of that one, too!”

“Great — let’s get these two, then, and get you home so you can start reading them!”

“Well, what about those others? What are those about?”

And so it went, for another fifteen minutes. I gave a public reading of the descriptions of a large sampling of Zebra Historical Romance novels as the emo kids sitting in the Graphic Novels section openly snickered at me and the hipsters in the Poetry section eyed me with disdain.

My grandmother finally chose the first two novels I’d read from, nullifying any need for me to have read the others. I hurried her up to the cash register and we left, the shame of simply reading descriptions of such trash burning my literary soul.

The next morning, I called to check on the progress of her books. “How are they so far?”

“They’re awful. I can barely read this junk!”

Such is life.

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It doesn’t matter if this is remotely feasible.  It doesn’t matter if it’s overwhelmingly sad and disgusting.  It doesn’t matter if the author is nuttier than a Pay Day.  If you call a book Love + Sex With Robots, it’s going to be more popular than vodka in a Soviet bread line.  Talk about a guaranteed bestseller.

The Real Doll loons and Asimov fanfic authors are going to be lined up around the block for this one… real-doll-face.jpg

Yowza.  If that spare face and receptacle ain’t sexy, then I don’t want to know what sexy is.


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Stolen Memes

Literary memes are pretty irresistable to me, folks.  If you’re even vaguely interested, read on.  If not, the next post is just right down the page there…  There you go…  Keep scrolling… (more…)

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I blame Pancho for this one:

You’re Ulysses! by James Joyce

Most people are convinced that you don’t make any sense, but compared to what else you could say, what you’re saying now makes tons of sense. What people do understand about you is your vulgarity, which has convinced people that you are at once brilliant and repugnant. Meanwhile you are content to wander around aimlessly, taking in the sights and sounds of the city. What you see is vast, almost limitless, and brings you additional fame. When no one is looking, you dream of being a Greek folk hero.
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

I never much cared for James Joyce or Ulysses, even though I catch myself unintentionally mimicking his stream-of-consciousness style at times. But you know what? I also catch myself writing about the inanities of everyday life and that doesn’t mean I like Erma Bombeck. Stupid quiz.

At least it captured my brilliant yet repugnant vulgarity.

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Sound Off

It looks like I’ll be hitting the road tonight, driving up to Dallas for some family matters. I truly loathe Dallas and find it very unfortunate that so many of my family members have chosen to reside there instead of, well, any other place in the world. Dallas is a pit, a void; I don’t even consider it part of Texas. That’s how much I hate Dallas.

Anyway, to pass the interminable hours that I’ll be spending in the hospital surrounded by emotional cripples, I’d like some book suggestions. I know you’re out there, people. I get at least 100 hits a day — although I don’t know why or where most of you are coming from or even how you found me in the first place, you weirdos — so one of you has got to have a suggestion for a book or two that I can pick up at B&N on my way out of town.

I’m going to try not to be too picky here, but please don’t suggest any of the following:

  • Freakonomics
  • The Secret
  • Anything associated with Oprah or her “Book Club”
  • James Patterson or anthing of that ilk
  • Tuesdays With Morrie
  • Anything that you think might o-ffend mah delicate sensibilities (i.e., book-snobbishness)

…or you will get a hatchet to the face.

That is all.

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