Sunday, July 5, 2015

Through An Introvert's Lens: Inside Out

Beware of spoilers!

Inside Out, Pixar's latest release, tells a surprisingly complex story of what goes on inside one girl's mind as she confronts major changes in her life.  Yet it could also serve as a study of how extroverts routinely undervalue introverts, to everyone's peril.

The movie revolves around an 11-year old girl named Riley who has just moved from Minnesota with her parents to a run-down house in San Francisco (that probably cost $2 million *cough*).  Riley goes from perpetually happy-go-lucky to confused and withdrawn, in part due to the fact that her mental "control room" is in disarray.  That's because Joy, one of her five anthropomorphic emotions and the one who steers her reactions on a day-to-day basis, accidentally got sucked into Riley's long-term memory along with Sadness, leaving Fear, Anger, and Disgust to run the show.  Inside Out chronicles Joy and Sadness's attempts to return to the control room to save Riley from further struggle, and the ultimate acceptance that such struggles are a part of life.

When we first meet Joy, she is perpetually upbeat, almost manic.  She is always trying to make lemonade out of lemons, always wanting everything to stay in the same perfect, golden state, or to dwell on happy memories in the past.  Though well-meaning and fun, she is also domineering, rarely permitting other emotions to interfere, least of all Sadness.

Sadness is introduced as a sad-sack with impulse problems (she can't resist touching formerly happy memories and marking them permanently with sadness), a problem that Joy must solve.  Joy tries to do it by forbidding Sadness from providing input on Riley's first day at her new school (in an "upbeat" way, of course), only for Sadness to slip her bonds and interfere during a crucial moment.  This leads them both to getting sucked into Riley's longterm memory and... you'll have to see the movie to find out.

On one level, this is a movie about our (specifically Americans, though it could apply to varying degrees elsewhere) tendency to prize "happy, upbeat" behavior over inconvenient and messy "negative" feelings like sadness and confusion.  On another level, it could be argued that this is a movie that illustrates society's attitudes toward introverts, and demonstrates how much richer the world would be if introverted behavior were as welcome as extroverted.

That Joy is a stereotypical extrovert is without question.  Talkative, gaining energy through interaction with others, and little focused on her own interior state until she reaches a crucial nadir point in the story.  Sadness comes across as a stereotypical introvert -- or, more crucially, in the beginning, as an extrovert's view of an introvert.  As a refresher, introverts are typically:

  • reserved
  • interested in big ideas rather than small talk
  • need to be alone to replenish after socializing
  • think before they speak
  • prefer to observe rather than be the center of attention

Sadness appears to have many of these traits.  She doesn't say much, thinks it's important to "slow down and obsess over the weight of life's problems," and typically views things in a more circumspect manner (such as when Joy wants to take the shortcut to the Train of Thought).  

To the extroverted Joy, Sadness is such a downer.  Always turning up when you least want her to, whining about life's problems and so mopey that at times, she lies sprawled out on the floor, unwilling to move.  Sadness can't be removed altogether, but she can at least be minimized and ignored.

Yet as the movie progresses, Sadness's persona subtly softens, and we see more of her wisdom and empathy.  During one crucial scene, she comforts a character who has experienced a powerful loss.  By helping him come to terms, rather than ignore the loss and move onward, as Joy would have them do, Sadness helps him find peace.  

I have some quibbles with Inside Out.  Despite portraying Sadness as a necessary part of a healthy emotional life, the story belongs to the extroverted Joy, and largely portrays her journey toward acceptance.  Sadness, to the end, remains an "other" in Joy's story, rather than a complex character in her own right, passively submissive rather than active in her own story.  Moreover, the personification of Sadness being portrayed by an introverted character grates a little.  People are not always quiet and reflective when they are sad, or loud and proud when they are happy.  Introverted does not equal sad.  Then again, an extrovert might take issue with the portrayal of Joy as someone who denies all other emotions, but that's for another blog.

Overall, despite Inside Out falling prey to the same tendencies of much mainstream media -- giving the extroverted character the story, rather than making the introvert and extrovert co-equals -- it at least acknowledges that introverts have a powerful role to play, that their input is just as important as an extrovert's.      

Conclusion

Number of Introverts: One

Is the Introvert Prominent?: Yes

Is the Introvert Active?: Somewhat, though the action is largely dictated by the extrovert

How Do Other Characters Treat the Introvert?: Like an embarrassment that must be hidden, until they (or rather, Joy) learned to appreciate her unique qualities.


The above images were used under the Fair Use Doctrine.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Things That I Love: Video Game PlayThroughs

Have you ever wanted to play a video game, but didn't have the money or the time?  Thanks to the power of YouTube, you can see how that game is played, and then some.

I first stumbled upon video game playthroughs, or walkthroughs, when I was looking for video on the famous Super Mario Brothers "minus world."  If you've ever played the classic Super Mario Brothers, you may be aware that there are certain glitches in the game, and those savvy enough to exploit them can find themselves in, as they say, a whole new world:



In case that wasn't weird enough for you, here is minus world in the Japanese version:



But playthroughs aren't just for watching cool glitches in beloved classic video games.  They are also for watching entire video games and interactive stories.  For instance, when I was young, I beat Nintendo's classic game, Mike Tyson's Punch Out.  Years later, they came up with an updated version on Wii, which I don't own and don't know when I'll purchase.  But thanks to more dedicated players on YouTube, I can at least watch the game and imagine I'm still dexterous enough to beat it!


As for interactive stories, since the beginning of this year, I have been following the chapters of Telltale's Game of Thrones.  For a little background, Telltale Games is a gaming company that produces graphic adventure series, many in multiple chapters.  Game of Thrones Season One follows House Forrester, bannermen to House Glover and Stark family loyalists.  In the books, House Forrester is mentioned in passing, little more than a hill clan.  In the episodic series, which follows the show, House Forrester is a minor noble house with the motto: "Iron from Ice."  Through six chapters (four presently released), you follow the Stark-like Forresters as they try to bring their family back from near ruin.

So far, the series has been utterly absorbing.  Yet I would have been denied the experience if not for the generosity of YouTubers, thanks to the fact that my computer schematics were not advanced enough for the game (*never mind that when I purchased it, Telltale claimed it could run on Snow Leopard, grumble, grumble*).  Now that I've upgraded, I intend to play the game at long last, but it has been great fun watching various players' choices for each chapter.  Watching each episode is really like watching segments of a miniseries.  When all six episodes have aired, I will write a review of the whole.


So there you have it: a special mix of nostalgia and desire to explore new worlds (as well as, let's face it, a splash of laziness) is what makes video game playthroughs so enjoyable.  Off to look for yet another new one... after I do some grown up, responsible adult thingys first.  Grumble.

Special thanks to Chozoth, Legendary Super Mario, MrBLT, and IGN for their wonderful video contributions, without which I could not have wasted so much of my valuable time and enjoyed every minute.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Movie Musicals That Got It Wrong: Pitch Perfect 2

As I mentioned in my review, Pitch Perfect was not exactly trailblazing cinema.  Nearly everything it did have been done before, sometimes better, by other movies.  What Pitch Perfect had, however, was good chemistry between the characters, a relatively straight-forward plot, and energetic musical numbers.  None of which can be said for Pitch Perfect 2.


Pitch Perfect 2 is not horrible, mind you.  It's no Jersey Boys or Rock of Ages.  It's not even Annie 2014.  However, it turned what was sort of fresh and fun into strained and tedious, which is why it is on the Wrong List.


Plot Synopsis


The Barden Bellas are the reigning champions of a cappella singing in the United States.  After Fat Amy has a "wardrobe malfunction" during a televised performance for President Obama, the Bellas are ordered to disband.  However, leaders Beca and Chloe convince the national a capella organization to reinstate the group if they become the world champions of a cappella, something an American group has never done.  The Bellas quickly find their work cut out for them when they encounter the precise and ruthless German squad, Das Sound Machine.  Meanwhile, Beca finds her loyalty tested and her priorities stretched after she lands an internship at a recording studio.    



The Good


Still Some Chemistry.  
While the chemistry between the characters is usually not as effortless as in the first movie, it is still evident during key parts, such as the Bellas' bonding camping trip.  The campfire bonding scene was the first time I started to really enjoy the movie.


Lots of Singing!  The musical numbers may be overproduced, but it's hard not to get caught up in their energy, or to appreciate the harmonizing.  Good singing makes everything better.


Nothing Lasts Forever.  The movie deserves credit for actually acknowledging that high school (or, in this case, college) doesn't last forever, and people eventually move on to other things.  Or, if they don't, they really should (looking at you, Chloe).*  The cameo with Aubrey was welcome, though Aubrey's characterization seemed off.


Shared Sense of History.  The final song number with Bellas was was as touching and effective as hoped, though it would have been nice if the Bellas' long, proud history had been emphasized more in the movie.


Less Jesse.  The Treblemakers are in the movie, but much more marginalized, which means Jesse and his annoying cheesiness are kept to a blessed minimum.


Green Bay Packers Can Sing.  Their appearance in the film would have been a fun surprise had I not been spoiled.  Who knew that Clay Matthews could not only sing, but was a passable actor?  Which is more than I can say for Brett Favre back in the day.



The Bad


One Dimensional Baddies.  
Das Sound Machine had appealing characters like Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, who won rave reviews for a recent appearance on Game of Thrones), but the movie could never figure out what to do with them except have them twirl their invisible moustaches and laugh, "Hahahaha, stupid Americans!"  How much better would it have been if the German group had congratulated the Bellas at the end, or at least expressed sympathy that the Bellas faced extinction?  What if Das Sound Machine had its own personal stakes in the competition?  Instead, the group was a rampaging German stereotype (Emotions except for smug condescension bad!  Technology and dominance good!) which served no one in the end.


Questionable Stakes.  Why on earth were the two silly commentators from the first movie allowed to serve as representatives for the national a cappella organization?  Was it ever explained?  Because it makes no sense.  Nor does the set-up that the Bellas can only redeem themselves by winning the world championship.  If there is truly a stain on their reputation that won't wipe away, not even winning the world championship would change that.  Though it seems silly such an acclaimed a cappella group would face such punishment anyway for something that was clearly a mistake.  At worst, they might have to drop Fat Amy from the group, go on an apology tour, and face a penalty that would likely be temporary.   


Let's Do It Again.  Only Worse.  Remember in my review of Pitch Perfect, how I praised Fat Amy for not being "the endless teller and recipient of fat jokes"?  Yeah, well, that's gone.  In Pitch Perfect 2, Fat Amy's weight is constantly played for laughs, from the initial incident that gets the Bellas suspended to her sliding down the stairs at the end.  Her relationship with Bumper might have broken that mold, if it didn't seem so random and forced.  


The quirky, marginal characters are also still around, like Lilly, and have been joined by new quirky characters like Flo Fuentes, who constantly "jokes" about being deported to her home country.  The show numbers are still around, only less inspired.  And would they really be that allergic to original material in the a cappella world, or was that solely to make What's Her Name seem that much bolder for having an original song, whereas in real life, everyone would think she was a hack?


Good Girl, Bad Music.  Note that I hadn't mentioned the new girl until now.  Freshman Emily Junk managed to get into the Bellas through a loophole, even though they weren't allowed to admit new members.  She's cool because she writes her Own Material.  Material that happens to sound incredibly derivative, but still.  Emily failed to leave much of an impression on me during the movie, and I can't imagine her song would spur such an enthusiastic reception in real life.    



Conclusion


I only did this review because I reviewed the first Pitch Perfect, but this isn't nearly as good.  Nonetheless, it's not bad.  Don't waste your money seeing it in the theatre.  Wait until it comes out on TV.







* Other reviews claim that Chloe flunked two years in a row to remain in the Bellas, but I don't recall seeing that in the movie.  Isn't it possible she just decided to go to graduate school at Barden?




Movie Musicals That Got It Right: DreamgirlsLes MiserablesChicagoMamma Mia!Sweeney ToddMoulin RougeThe Sound of MusicPitch PerfectCabaret

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Update: Hello From Updateland!

I really don't intend to be so sparse with my blogging every month.  Really.  I've been mainly trying to catch up on writing my second novel (now over 200 pages!) and caught up in work.  Oh, and going gaga over the latest Game of Thrones episode, but I digress.

I wanted to give a taste of future posts.  As always, they will be a mixture of pop culture and personal likes and dislikes.  One big change: I am officially extending the Movie Musicals That Got It Right/Wrong to the classic movies.  Originally I was planning to wait until I had reviewed movies in the more recent past before moving on to the classics, but why would I sit through The Producers, Nine, and God knows how many iterations of High School Musical before I could review My Fair Lady, West Side Story, or The King and I (I said classics, not that they were all good classics).  So I'm going to switch back and forth, and I'm sure no one else cared one way or the other, but I'm just saying.

I also plan to do a write-up on Mad Men because, duh.

And then there are unpopular opinions and introverted opinions galore... as there ever were.  And at some point I intend to jump back on that Dickens train, yessir.

So here is to a more fruitful June, and hope you've read and enjoyed past blog posts!  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Game of Thrones: Why Daenerys As Queen Is the End Game

Spoilers for anyone who has not read A Feast for Crows or A Dance With Dragons, or the released chapters of The Winds of Winter.

By now, viewers of Game of Thrones can see that the show's creators are beginning to shift the story toward its end game, toward the final Ice Zombie Apocalypse and One Who Wins the Iron Throne.  The outcome of most characters is highly uncertain.  Will Daenerys Targaryen fly her way back to the Throne on dragon wings?  Or will Jon Snow forge his way to the Iron Throne through a phalanx of ice zombies?  Or will it be stoic, meticulous Stannis Baratheon?  Or (f)Aegon?  Or Sansa Stark?  Maybe some combination of the above, like Jon and Daenerys, or even Jon and Sansa.*

Who do I think it will be?  Daenerys.

She seems like the obvious choice, which in the A Song of Ice and Fire universe usually means she is marked for death.  And I would not at all put it past Martin or the show's producers to kill her off before she sits on the Iron Throne.  Or, for that matter, after she sits on the Iron Throne, when we're lulled into thinking she's safe.  That said, there are a few reasons I think that she will make it all the way to the end.

The Second Dance With Dragons.  Even though Daenerys has been built up as the "savior" ruler, her path has not been easy.  And nothing underscores this more than the fact that (f)Aegon is being positioned to "save" Westeros in her place.  (f)Aegon, brought up to rule and to be a mighty warrior since birth, who takes Storm's End seemingly with ease, will be viewed as the "champion" and the true holder of the Throne.  By contrast, Daenerys will be chided as the one who is too late, too preoccupied with saving slaves in Essos.  Yet if the prophecies are true, Aegon is really fAegon, and Dany will need to wage a battle simply to get through him to the Throne.  Why go to such narrative trouble, making her really work and struggle to sit in that chair, and not have her be Queen in the end?

Targaryen House symbol next to the Blackfyre symbol.
Targaryen Lore Is Everywhere.  I didn't realize this until I reread the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but the references to Targaryen history are constant.  Aegon the Conqueror and the Targaryens' construction of the Red Keep.  The Targaryens' dragons, including the crypt of dragon heads.  The Blackfyre Rebellion.  The War of the Ninepenny Kings.  Tales about the fire at Summerhall.  While the series is filled with other histories, Targaryen lore is quite predominant for a dynasty that was supposedly disgraced beyond redemption.  And that's not even considering ancillary texts, such as the Tales of Dunk and Egg, or The Princess and the Queen, or The Rogue Prince, or The World of Ice and Fire.  It really gives the impression that Targaryens are the true rulers, and that Robert, Joffrey, and Tommen are just temporary seat warmers until their dynasty returns.  

Do Any of the Others Really Work?  We all have our sentimental favorites and our "surprise" victors, but let's think seriously on this.

Let's start with Jon.  Jon is the one probably most-frequently touted as the Dany alternative, due to his parallel coming of age storyline and possible Targaryen roots, but sit on the Iron Throne in King's Landing?  It would be highly ironic, given that as a man of the Watch, he is bound to the Wall.  His pledge to have no wife or family would work against starting a new dynasty.  Martin seems to like that sort of irony, but beyond that, could you really see Jon in King's Landing? Even a "winter is here," barren wasteland zombie-apocalypsed King's Landing?  After a while, the politics and intrigue would start up again, and Jon doesn't seem like the sort who can deal with it.  At least Daenerys has some experience with shadowy political intrigue in Meereen.  Jon seems like someone who would make an effective interim ruler before eventually retreating to his remote holdfast.

Then there's Stannis.  We may like him in spite of ourselves, but would he make a good, long-lasting ruler?  No doubt he would be grimly just, and effective in his own way, but there would be little love or trust for him, especially once he breaks out the fires to cleanse the "unworthy."  Moreover, based on Dany's visions in the House of the Undying and Gendry being prominently set up as Robert's oldest male bastard, Stannis's story appears destined to end short of the Throne, as well as (sniff) his daughter Shireen's.

(f)Aegon?  Book readers would cause riots, unless he impresses much more than he did in A Dance With Dragons.  Given that he has yet to appear on the television series, it's likely that he is little more than an obstacle in Dany's path, maybe even a descendent of Daemon Blackfyre.

Sansa's brutal education at King's Landing and with Littlefinger could make her a Queen skilled at intrigue, yet also capable of commanding love and respect.  At the same time, she does so much of her work behind the scenes, I have trouble seeing her as a ruler in her own right.  More likely, she would be paired with someone else.  Serving as Jon's consort would be rather ironic, given how much Sansa disdained him in the first novel.  Yet I think she has another destiny, one that causes her to embrace her Northern roots, but at the same time be far wiser than her father.  The television show referring to her as "Lady Stark" seems to hint at that.

So that leaves Dany.  Sure, there are dozens of other characters who could take the Throne, from Arianne to Littlefinger to Rickon Stark.  However, that doesn't mean they are legitimate contenders, or that there wouldn't be serious problems with their claims.  Daenerys is the one who has the whole package: a large army, charisma, intelligence, and compassion.  Moreover, she really seems like she's working at being a ruler, a good ruler.  She has already made difficult decisions in Meereen that go against her personal happiness for the sake of the realm.  Dany seems like she would be up to the grueling task of ruling Westeros for years and years.  The people would embrace her (at least initially) because she would herald the return of a celebrated dynasty, yet be untouched by the nastiness that had plagued Westeros over the past decade.  By contrast, even if Jon is Rhaegar Targaryen's secret son, it would take a lot for many great families to accept "the bastard's" legitimacy.

Maybe Martin is just trolling us by spending so much time setting up Dany as the final ruler, only to smash her before the end.  Yet if so, he is asking a lot of his readers by making us plod through so many chapters about Meereen.  Martin has focused so much on Dany because she will be the eventual Queen of Westeros.  She has all of the necessary attributes.    

Oh, and she has dragons.  Duh.



* At least if the rumors are true and she is really his cousin.  It's no more icky than him marrying his "Aunt Dany."

The above images are used under the Fair Use Doctrine.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Novel Update: The Unlikeable Female Protagonist


I gave my novel draft over to be critiqued by a professional editor, as I said I would do in my last update.  While she had a lot of positive things to say about the story and characters, she had one major criticism: she did not like my female protagonist.

I've gone into my novel and its characters in previous posts.  Suffice it to say, my character, Isabella, has a lot of issues.  She is young, angry, scared, and overwhelmed.  She responds by lashing out at those who don't deserve it, with some pretty terrible consequences.  As a result, she bears a life-long scar.  Though she reforms, by the end of the novel, her reformation is not complete.  And, to be perfectly honest, it will probably never be.

Isabella is not my first "challenging" female protagonist.  For a pilot script I wrote some years ago, my female protagonist was also angry.  She had just lost her job and ended a relationship.  She finally bonded with her teenage niece, only to learn that that niece had been lying to her about a very important part of her life.  Feeling betrayed, my protagonist ordered her niece out of her apartment.  In San Francisco.  At night.  Even though she was the only one in the city whom her niece knew.

While my script went on to win in competition, it divided those who critiqued it beforehand.  One critic felt that my female protagonist was too angry and hard, and impossible to empathize with.  This was despite the fact that my female protagonist felt remorse for her actions soon afterward, looked for her niece for the rest of the night, and made up with her niece later, with no lasting harm done.

I don't know why I'm drawn to unlikeable female characters.  Maybe I'm just projecting anger that I'm feeling inside.  Or maybe I'm acknowledging them as human beings, that people who have been through their experiences would be that angry, and that it's more dramatically interesting to let that anger show.

Regardless, as with the protagonist in my pilot, Isabella is a divisive character.  Some readers, while acknowledging that she is not the nicest person, like her and find her situation poignant.  Others want someone they can root for, and believe that her unlikeable behavior brings the story down.

These negative perceptions raise several questions.  Are they due to my failure to write characters, or to my being too successful?  Are my characters uniquely problematic, or is it due to a larger societal prejudice against unlikeable female protagonists?

If the concern is that books starring unlikeable female protagonists won't sell, it should be put to rest.  Books with unlikeable female protagonists have sold a lot of copies.  A lot of copies.  For every Elizabeth Bennett, there is an Emma Woodhouse.  For every Jane Eyre, there is a Catherine Earnshaw.*  And then there is the grande dame of unlikeable female protagonists: Scarlett O'Hara.

Given Scarlett O'Hara's nature, why would anyone want to read about her for 1,000 pages?  It's not because she has a tragic backstory: although slightly distant from her mother, she is spoiled by both of her parents and wants for nothing at the beginning of Gone With the Wind.  She has strength and resiliency, but it's for her own survival, which by default helps other members of her family.  She loves just one person throughout, while hating or resenting everyone else, including her sisters and her children.  She causes the death or ruin of more than one good-hearted character.**  And finally, she yearns for a world that few people today would revere: one where slavery was reinstated and those "darkies" knew their place.

Yet people do read about her quite willingly, myself included.  For me, there's something about Scarlett that, even long after her antics have grown tiresome, feels satisfying and alive.  And maybe to some people, many people, that's enough.

Nonetheless, there does seem to be a larger societal prejudice against "unlikeable" women, not just in fiction, but in general.  With this prejudice comes, it seems, a basic dislike of complexity.  Many people would say that they like "strong" women.  Yet when "strong" is defined, the woman ends up sounding more like an archetype than a flesh-and-blood human being.  She should be confident.  She should be aware.  She should know what she wants.  She should take actions that express what she wants.  What she wants should be admirable and, most importantly, not the slightest bit inconvenient to others, unless those others come from a group that is obviously in the wrong and must be defeated.

Both real and fictional women who fail to meet all of the "strong" requirements get criticized for what they supposedly lack.  Hillary Clinton, Yoko Ono, Empress Alexandra of Russia... the list goes on and on.  Women who don't meet any of the requirements are not even worth considering.  If, by chance, a fictional female character does take unpopular actions while also being "strong," she saves herself only if she is fully aware of her wickedness, embraces it, and is willing to face the consequences.  "I don't care if she's a bitch, as long as she owns it," is a lament that I've read more than once about nasty female characters.  Yet how many real people, let alone fictional women, act in such a black-and-white manner?

While men and male characters face these expectations, it is not to the same extent as women and female characters.  Readers and viewers have also been exposed to a wider range of male characters over the centuries.  By contrast, in much of the mainstream media, complex female protagonists who display qualities other than "strong" and virtuous are still a rarity, but are gradually becoming more acceptable.

As for why many people shy away from characters who are not easy reads, who zig when you expect them to zag, who knows.  Essays have and will be written about readers' character preferences.  Maybe readers who dislike complicated characters believe that if they are making such an investment of time, they should know what they are getting.  I expressed in my Fingersmith review that I disliked Maud's change in Part Two.  Though that wasn't so much about her becoming more complicated as it was her becoming flatter and less interesting, at least in my view.  But I digress.

Where does that leave Isabella, my female protagonist?  In many ways, she displays "strong" qualities, such as having to make decisions on behalf of a large household, or making decisions that frighten her as she tries to learn who betrayed her mother.  At the same time, her most fateful decision is made without her knowing why she's made it until afterward.  We then learn that it was based in fear and insecurity.  While to some readers, it might be nothing more than a wrinkle in her character, to others, it could wreak of a serious betrayal.

As for whether I'll soften her at all, I haven't decided.  If there is one thing I've learned, everyone has opinions, and some are greatly divergent.  Even if I soften her character, someone will be dissatisfied, whether it's because she's still too "hard" or because she's too soft.  Right now, I like her the way she is -- unlikeable and all.        


* Granted, Cathy isn't exactly a protagonist so much as one main character in Wuthering Heights, but still, her complete awfulness hasn't discouraged new readers.   
** Her second husband, Frank Kennedy, died after attacking freedmen as part of a Ku Klux Klan raid, but the novel portrays it as a noble effort to avenge Scarlett, who had been threatened earlier.    

The above image was used under the Fair Use Doctrine.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dickens Watch 2015

This is just a brief update.  Work has been grueling of late, I've been trying to write my one page per night, and damn those seasonal allergies.  Anyway, I thought it worth mentioning that I've put aside Bleak House for now.  I was into it for a short while, but somewhere around the time the heroine met Mr. Jarndyce, or whatever his name, I stopped caring.  I'm not sure how many pages I am into the book... my Kindle tells me 8%.  I'll try again, really.

Some observations: Dickens uses a mixture of styles that I had considered to be "modern" and hadn't really seen in other Victorian novels (though my catalogue is far from complete).  The first chapter begins almost like free-verse poetry, written by someone on crack: "As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill."

Both the first and second chapter are written in third-person present tense, while the third chapter abruptly changes to first-person past tense.  It's interesting to observe, and I'm assuming I'll learn why, in time.  When I pick Bleak House back up again.

Which I will do.  Eventually.