March 19, 2006

harass and arrest us

Posted in books tagged , at 2:47 pm by placeinthestars

I read The Weight by Jeanette Winterson this morning. I’m… ambivalent about it. I really liked the parts about Atlas and Heracles. I am less sanguine about the interpolations–it felt a little too on the nose to me. It’s not that I don’t like meta in my stories, but I like it to be done less… portentiously, I guess. I don’t know. I don’t want it to be smirking or winking, either, but knowing is good. It’s a fine line to walk, between knowing and smirking.



March 13, 2006

i’m scared of what we’re creating

Posted in books, movies tagged , , , at 11:21 am by placeinthestars

I finally got my hands on Summer Campaign and Mrs. McVinnie’s London Season, neither of which I had read before.

I enjoyed both immensely, though the similarities between Will Summers and the hero of Miss Whittier Makes a List go beyond their both being captains in the Royal Navy.

However, you *know* Will won me over when Jeannie asked him, “Why are you doing this for me?” and he said, “Because you’re crew.”

Oh, Mal.

Of all the things that could have bothered me about Serenity as a movie, the one with Mal acting as if Simon and River weren’t crew was the one that bothered me most. Because that’s so important in the arc of the show, for both plot and character reasons.

But with the help of some good fanwanking by someone in my comments a while back (I can’t remember who, so speak up if it was you), and also by Jacob in his recap of the movie over at TWOP, I’ve decided that it’s not that Mal has suddenly stopped seeing Simon and River as crew, or that he never did at all (which is probably the true intention but pfft to that), but that Simon is placing River’s needs above Serenity’s, and Mal can’t do that (well, he sort of does it when he carries her back onto the ship, but he does that mostly because of Zoe’s point that he shouldn’t have left the guy behind on Lilac). Simon and River’s individual safety cannot be put above the crew’s. They have to be downgraded in Mal’s mind so he can justify leaving them.

It’s not perfect, but it’s better than me just ignoring his behavior in the beginning of the movie, which I was kinda sorta doing, because otherwise, a lot of his character development from early in the series has disappeared, and it makes what may be my favorite scene of the whole show – when he chastises Jayne for betraying him at the end of Ariel (which I watched last night.) – meaningless. And for me, the show trumps the movie in terms of characterization. I have to square the movie with the show, not vice versa.


March 9, 2006

a sense of green, where there is none

Posted in books tagged , at 3:02 pm by placeinthestars

Recently, C. mentioned the book Achilles by Elizabeth Cook, and you know I had to read it. It’s very slim, and very beautifully written, like poetry, but not quite (also? a dizzying lack of commas, which sets my world askew).

I like the way it draws Achilles’ relationships with the women in his life – Thetis, Deidamia, Iphigeneia, Briseis, Polyxena, Penthesilea, even Helen, whom I normally despise – in brief but sharp strokes. And I especially liked the bits about Helen and Hector – how Hector is the only one with no interest in her sexually (hey, Hector/Andromache = classical het OTP, baby), and thus, her only friend, and how that parallels with Achilles’ indifference to her, that (to paraphrase) lies lightly as love upon her.

A quote:

Agamemnon had no sense then – or ever – of how well-matched Achilles and Iphigeneia really were. In spite of Agamemnon Achilles had greeted her clean heart. She decided, not her father – not even the gods – that she belonged to Artemis. She showed him that the way to make your fate your choice is to choose it, fearlessly, your lungs drinking in the air. It makes the gods ashamed.

Here in the underworld she has not gone stale. A glimpse of her and you feel you have brushed your sight against new leaves. A sense of green, where there is none.

p. 7-8

And of course, I love the Patroclus bits, slight as they are:

You would not think him helpless to look at him. He stands apart with Patroclus, his beloved through all eternity, and Patroclus – who loves Achilles but not as much as he is loved – waits for Achilles to move. His deference to Achilles is different from that of the others. They honour and respect him, keep a wise distance, because Achilles was better than all the rest. Better at being human. Fighting, singing, speaking, raging (oh, he is good at that still). Killing. But Patroclus alone is humbled by Achilles’ love. Only a fool thinks that to be more loved than loving gives power. Only a fool vaunts it and displays his own littleness by bragging to his friends and making capricious demands of his lover. Patroclus isn’t a fool. He knows that he is less than Achilles even in this. Humbled by the immensity of Achilles’ love he loves him back with all his large, though lesser, heart.


I wish there was more of Patroclus, more of their interaction while they were still alive. But I’ve wished that about everything, so… Sigh.

Also, the part where Thetis sifts his bones from the ashes? Gorgeous.

The last section is a flaw, imo, but that can be ignored, I think. I mean, okay, yes, I kind of get what she’s trying to do, but it feels… gratuitous to me. Unnecessary and, possibly, self-indulgent.

But overall, I recommend it. It’s short, beautifully written, and emotionally engaging.


March 6, 2006

gravity is dead you see

Posted in books tagged , at 11:39 pm by placeinthestars

from various people: The Museum, Libraries and Arts Council’s list of 30 Books Every Adult Should Have Read.

I’m really disappointed that well, there are a couple of books I’d switch out, and replace with other things, like, oh, Catch-22, or The Things They Carried, or The Long Goodbye or The Great Gatsby, but I’m really disappointed there’s no Absalom, Absalom on there, because seriously, yo? It’s the greatest novel ever written. It’s about how stories get shaped and told, and how they shape the people who live them and tell them and listen to them. It’s about family and love and war and incest and race, and the past and the present, and oh, man, I love it and more people should read it because it’s AWESOME.

Have you ever noticed how so often when we try to reconstruct the causes which lead up to the actions of men and women, how with a sort of astonishment we find ourselves now and then reduced to the belief, the only possible belief, that they stemmed from some of the old virtues? the thief who steals not for grief but for love, the murderer who kills not out of lust but pity? Judith, giving implicit trust where she had given love, giving implicit love where she had derived breath and pride: that true pride, not that false kind which transforms what it does not at the moment understand into scorn and outrage and so vents itself in pique and lacerations, but the true pride which can say to itself without abasement I love, I will accept no substitute; something has happened between him and my father; if my father was right, I will never see him again, if wrong, he will come or send for me; if happy I can be I will, if suffer I must I can.
Absalom, Absalom, p. 96

Speaking of books, on the recommendation of C., I now have a copy of Achilles by Elizabeth Cook. *glee* It’s tiny, so I’ll probably be talking about it soonish.