Posts Tagged ‘books & literature’

Censorship & the city

November 23, 2009

An interesting thing happened today.

I was told to remove a book from my book list because of “explicit content.” The book was Stardust, by Neil Gaiman, and the questionable content was the scene in the beginning where Dunstan is seduced by the witch. Luckily, due to the fact that the book isn’t really that risque for a teenager, I was able to get away with a gracious “Thanks for letting me know!” (I knew, I’ve read it) and leave it on the list.

It brings up a compelling & multi-faceted argument, though. I bookmarked Claire’s take on it back when she wrote it, because I love hearing other young teachers’ opinions on classroom politics. I thought of her (and in conjunction, this one from the Guardian book blog) today. Do we have a right to censor what kids read?

The answer is, ostensibly, yes. But is it good for them? No. Life isn’t pretty. People die. Pets run away. Genocides happen. People have babies in one night stands with faerie-slaves. It’s life. So I tweeted earlier that I wasn’t going to take it off the list.

My parents (all 4 of them) never censored what I consumed in any form, especially not books. Sure, Beavis and Butthead were verboten, but I read The Diary of Anne Frank when I was 8. They knew I was smart enough to ask questions if I had them, research what I didn’t understand, and most importantly, they knew that I was intelligent enough to understand the difference between reality and fantasy. In fact, I still mostly can! Bonus.

Do some books blur the line? Absolutely. But riddle me this: what’s worse? A skanky faerie-witch, or a main character whose whole relationship is predicated on saying ‘No’ and being forced to do things anyway? The whole Twilight franchise glorifies ignorance and sexism, and yet… No… Stardust?  We’ll encourage unrealistic teenage relationships, unrealistic teenage marriage fantasies, and unrealistic teenage pregnancy, thanks.

Great.

I clearly win.

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LiteraryLadies #10: Emma Bovary

November 15, 2009

Emma Bovary is one of the most influential female characters in literature, behind Moll Flanders, Edna Pontellier & Anna Karenina . While I don’t love Emma, her pathetic attempts at a magical life make her tangibly pitiable; I end up rooting for her every time I read it. For a role like Emma Bovary, an actress with some flexibility is necessary, because the novel begins when she is a teenager and ends when she is about middle-aged. I thought Elizabeth Banks would be good for the role:
banks-1

I chose Banks for a few reasons– one, she’s beautiful, and I always imagined Emma’s beauty as too big for the tiny market town she resides in. Two, she has that classic, ageless loveliness that has the ability to look young and naive or mature and vampy with a change of neckline and some extra rouge. Third, her versatility as an actress is important for a role like Emma Bovary: she must simultaneously portray a woman who is utterly unhappy, swamped in guilt for that unhappiness, “ripe for seduction” (as her later lover called her), and flagrantly apathetic about the consequences her behavior has on anyone but herself.

Emma is a dreamer & a romantic, having read a great many novels during her time in the convent school. With more education than many women of her time, her proclivity to dissatisfaction is organic: she can see past the provincial delights of the stultifying market town in which she resides, past her bumbling husband’s mediocre attempts at love, and past the practically-written-in-stone mores of mid-19th century France. When even motherhood’s veiled secrets escape her, she is left listless and depressed, falling to affairs and insurmountable debts.

Emma Bovary

If Madame Bovary were set in today’s society, there would have to be some superficial changes to the plot. For example, I feel like Emma must be more of a “kept woman” than she is in the original story. In the novel Emma’s husband Charles Bovary has a second-rate medical license; since things are more regulated now, he could simply be a nurse, or a physician’s assistant– something that doesn’t require the same amount of school as an MD.

Their life together should be comfortable, but not luxurious. Modern-day Emma would constantly be looking at catalogues and browsing the internet for things lovelier and more decadent than they can afford. She is prim and childlike in the beginning of their marriage– and her daughter does nothing to alleviate the boredom and sadness that has seeped into her life– in fact, motherhood seems to make Emma’s dissatisfaction even greater. The novelty of having a child wears off quickly for her, and she begins to torture herself with the first of two ill-fated affairs.

The second affair, however, proves to be her undoing. Emma is enamored of and ensnared by the rakish Rodolphe Boulanger– in my version, he is a more successful version of Charles Bovary– perhaps a plastic surgeon or something equally superficial– and a womanizer, of course– a la Christian Troy in Nip/Tuck. When he abandons her on the eve of their elopement by leaving a cursory apology at the bottom of a basket of apricots, Emma falls apart. She is ill and unmanageable, even briefly turning to religion before discovering her true love: Shopping.

The collage above is meant to show Emma’s decadent tastes– while she is beautiful and loves luxurious things, I never pictured her to have a very sophisticated palate. Her clothes would be expensive but over-the-top, her closet overflowing with things your mother might have worn clubbing in 1987. The debts pile up quickly, and before she knows what has happened to her, she is begging money off of the men she’s used and who have used her, including Rodolphe. Without a penny and with no man to save her, Emma attempts to take her own life with arsenic, but ends up dying slowly, painfully, and without the dignity of anyone thinking it was an accident. A fitting– if messy– end for a woman whose disregard for those around her brings down her entire family.

Things I Love Thursday

August 13, 2009

...emily... via flickr

...emily... via flickr

  • Stretching and trying to love moving around. Not being particularly flexible or athletic means that when I put my mind to moving with meaning I feel quite different than normal.  Stretching makes me feel taller, more graceful… Two things I am not. In the past, I’ve used this, maybe today I’ll boot up the XBox and give it a go.
  • Getting things done! As of this week, with four days left until I start my new job, wedding planning is 85% done. What’s left, you ask? Stringing the name banner onto some pretty ribbon, building my cake stands, making the favors, and printing off the program/menu.
  • Being so busy I can’t really use the internet. No, really, sometimes being unplugged for awhile is a good thing.
  • Neko Case! The concert was incredible, getting a speeding ticket aside. Burlington is gorgeous, definitely worth the 3 hour ride. And Neko sounded even better than on her albums– she rocked it, and looked hot while she did it.

meggie n me

  • Hanging out with my Meggie! She’s awesome & thoughtful, and when I have 800 appointments around the home-area for the wedding, she always makes herself available to come along & be supportive. I had a wedding dress fitting yesterday, the last thing I have to run around for in a while, and she met me there with hugs & jokes, which was great for taking my mind off the fact that I was sweating. Attractive! Then we got dinner at El Mariachi on the Taunton Green, and it was delicious. We decided next time, we’re going to watch Interview With the Vampire, because she hasn’t seen it. (What?!)
  • Getting called out on my non-bloggingness. Alicia told me recently that my blog was “sorely outdated”, and she is right. Sorry, Leesh. I am rectifying the situation as we speak.
  • The Furminator. Seriously, if you have animals, buy one. But if you can, definitely use it outside! The video in the link is NOT an exaggeration. I could have filled a pillow with all the fur that came off Radar! I’m hoping this save’s Adam’s allergies some.
  • Poetry workshop with Amanda. She’s taking the workshop in Boston with Lucie Brock-Broido, and has become incredibly intuitive with her edits. I’ve got a few things in the works at the moment, perhaps I will share some of them when I hear more from the other end of things. Amanda, thank you for all that help, it was innnnnvaluable.
  • Seeing the girls I used to nanny for. It was soul food, I love them.

See also: The Most Serene Republic; tomato-lime soup from the Moosewood Cookbook; cheddar cheese and brie; dirty chai; the koi pond around the corner; Radar following me on a walk; home organization; repotting plants; hoping for homegrown tomatoes; learning new recipes; FINDING MY CAMERA; wedding shoes; a blooming rose plant; productivity; making some jewelry, finally; reading; The Kennedy family mystique; the feeling that somewhere, someone can see things coming together; New Moon in Leo, for confidence & being articulate; 11:11.

Hahahahaha

July 31, 2009

miss pinga via flickr

miss pinga via flickr

This is why I love this girl:

me: we grew up in such a weird era. i wish my parents had gotten the internet sooner
K: I’m glad mine didn’t.let me have an actual life
K: and read actual books
me:i still read books, but i did weird i-think-i-am-cool things like buy poetry by kathleen hanna
K: hey, we were awesome for our age. totally rockin
me: yeah, pretty much
K: kids these days, they have hot topic
K: we had to be weird from scratch

Calendar updates, now with more Andy Warhol

July 23, 2009
ana via flickr

ana via flickr

The calendar has been updated to reflect some neat stuff going on around here. I personally am looking forward to Poetry on the Green, which is next week in Westfield. I’ve been looking for an excuse to go see Lori Desrochiers read, and this time it’s outdoors! Perfect.