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04 February 2007 @ 01:35 pm
January 2007  
We're not nameless anymore! Some of my awesome friends from NaNoWriMo came up with a name. All is well.



JANUARY 2007


Books Bought (Acquired):
Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk
Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Lucky by Alice Sebold
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Books Read:
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (incomplete)
Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

This column, up until now, had been nameless, but a few of us leftovers from National Novel Writing Month put our heads together and came up with The Acid Pen. Not that anything I write here is acidic, nor is it in any way bad; it just seemed like a good name. So, this is The Acid Pen, and welcome to month two.

I don’t know how many of you are readers of the Harry Potter series, but the new title for the last book came out just recently. It’s called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I think this is cheesy. So does my mother. So do a lot of people I’ve spoken to about it since the title was revealed. However, I am avoiding my LiveJournal, any Harry Potter fansites, or chats involving the spoilers of the final book from now until the book hits the shelves. I made the mistake of choosing to be spoiled for the sixth book and I regret it immensely.

But c’mon, J.K.! Couldn’t you think of something else for your title?! I love you dearly, you’re my literary idol, but you could have done better than that.

This month, I didn’t do any buying (Christmas depleted my bank account. I think that I have too large a family for my own good). It was more like acquiring. My cousin has just moved from apartment to apartment and needed to get rid of some things, and those things being books, I took them under my wing. More like I made my bookshelf more crowded, but that’s a good thing, right? Maybe not if the shelves are starting to sag in the middle. The Sebold, and Palahniuks came from her, but the Tolstoy came from my grandmother’s extensive library.

My list of books that I read this month is quite varied, and to me it seems an odd mix of books, and none of them seems linked to another, sort of like how you read a book that leads you to another, to another, to another and so on and so forth. Stream of consciousness for books, I guess you can call it. Ten bucks to the person who can tell me who first used stream of consciousness for a successful novella about a hundred years ago…

Anyway, it just seems like a very odd mix and to go from one book to the other was a rough transition because they were all so extremely different: fantasy, psychological, sci-fi, and Christian literary satire. I didn’t read one and then move to the next, I had them all going at the same time, and some more progressed than others so that made it all the more difficult.

I’m not going to go in order today. I read Fight Club because I had seen the movie with Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, and if the movie was as cracked out as that, then the book must be ten if not fifteen times better, and I was not disappointed. I had the movie figured out about half way through it, and then the book, with about four chapters left reveals the secret, although I’d say that about half way through the book it’s evident what is happening.

I started to read another of Palahniuk’s books, and I think he satires without actually meaning to. Which is, good, it’s great even, but he makes it seem so flawless, even through fiction! Even with the satirical commentary, there is a psychological twist that has you scratching your head going, “huh?” and to me it’s very refreshing. Most of the books on my shelves are Classic British Literature, political satire/humor, and fantasy and to read something like this was a welcome change, which is why I started to read the back flap of Invisible Monsters from Palahniuk. Alas, the synopsis on the back flap of Invisible Monsters completely spoils the book, which made me kind of annoyed, but I’ll still read the rest of it anyway.

So, Fight Club did not disappoint in the least. Remember last month when I was talking about books that had been made into movies and how they were almost always crap? (And, p.s., why does it seem that every stinking book that is published is made into a movie? A crap movie, at that?) Yea, well, not crap. It’s good crap and I loved it. Palahniuk definitely has a very distinctive voice that is all his own. You can probably pick up one of his books unknowingly and start reading, and immediately know that it’s Palahniuk.

Most of the time he doesn’t even follow proper grammatical (like when someone is speaking) etiquette which at first bothered me because I was an editor for my college newspaper, but after a few pages I found that if he had written it any other way, things would have seemed off somehow, like too formal for that kind of book. Fight Club is one of those books you have to go back and re-read, slowly, because if you go too fast or are distracted the first time, you’ll be sitting at the end going “What the fuck?” Or you can just watch the movie. It’s entirely up to you.

I was rearranging my bookshelves and came across a book that I had started (the bookmark was still where I had left it; on page 36) and had never gotten around to finishing, so I decided to finish it. My tenth grade teacher showed us the movie for it to coincide with our reading of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and I’m talking about Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

That book scares me.

I think it’s because that’s how I see this world in about fifty years, and it saddens me because I’m such a literary person, and yes I will still be alive. I’ll be seventy. But seriously. If you go on the Internet, I guarantee that some of the newer books are in e-book form, along with print, the government is trying to control what we read/hear/say/do/etc., people seem to care less and less about their intellectuality and what they can spit back out at you, regurgitating facts and whatnot. It will all be a big mess and city by city they’ll all be blown up, and I’ll be sitting on the abandoned railroad tracks with other scholars and intellects quoting Shakespeare and the Bible, lamenting the old days.

What I’m trying to say, is that even though this book was written fifty years ago, it still has profound meaning and near truthfulness. I enjoyed the book immensely, I really did. It just got me thinking about this world that we live in and how it’s always now, now, now. Look how fast our Internet speeds are now. Five years ago people were still on dial-up, drumming their fingers waiting for their porn to download. Now they don’t even have to wait five seconds before their fly is open and their hands are down their pants. Our fast food is faster, our cars are faster... It’s ridiculous. I’m going to give you all a homework assignment and see if you can do it. Take an hour out of one of your days and sit and do nothing. Read a book (I particularly encourage this one). Make a scrapbook. Paint. Spend time with your friends and families in a house, not out. Cook or bake. Just do nothing. See how long your ADHD-addled brains will fare. Not long, I predict. But most of all, read a book, damnit, and save literature and intellectual well-being.

So yes, Fahrenheit 451 is a good book, it’s just put me on a very lonely crusade to save the intellectual world before it crumbles around our ears and books are burned in front of our houses, and electronic hounds hunt us down and poison us, and we have to escape and live on the railroad tracks with former professors, lectors, writers and intellects.

I was going to go on to the Screwtape Letters from my good friend Lewis, but I wanted to talk about Eragon and how last month I mentioned the weird trans-species love (sexual tension, even!) that Eragon and Saphira have, and I decided several things: 1) I’ve seen a picture of Paolini. He’s a geek and was home schooled and I think he is Eragon in his mind, and this is the only way to get some lovin’. 2) The whole Saphira-Eragon thing creeps me out too much to get too in depth about it, so we’re not going there. 3) The book is a whole mess of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and something else I can’t put my finger on, which I guess is okay, but after a while it starts to drag and you want something original to happen.

I’m not saying that the book wasn’t original; it was; I loved it. I was hoping for something more original. God knows I can’t write fantasy, so however Paolini does it, more power to him, I just think it would have helped both the book and the movie more if it hadn’t been so modeled after a classic series of books.

There are also some parts that most certainly could have been edited out, if you did it the right way, but Paolini somehow makes it super important that those seemingly unimportant scenes be there, because elements from those scenes end up coming back around later in the story. But while I read those scenes I often asked myself why they were in there and about a hundred pages later, I finally got my answer.

He also deserves all the credit in the world for taking the time to create a language. The most I’ve created is a world, but no language. But the sexual tension between Saphira and Eragon really has me wondering.

I have to go out and buy the next book in that series, Eldest and find out what that is all about.

I’m not a very religious person; I believe in God, I believe in angels, I just don’t think that you have to have a religion to believe those things. I picked up Lewis’s book by happenstance at a bookstore’s final liquidation sale and started to read it and finally ended up buying it later (at a different, more expensive bookstore) because it amused me.

As it turns out, I was wrong. I couldn’t even get past chapter four which made me feel bad because it’s C.S. Lewis, and I really wanted to read it! I couldn’t get past the fact that I was reading something that had to do with pushing Christianity and faith and prayer and…so I picked up another book instead. I love Lewis, I love his Narnia series, he was an awesome scholar…I just could not finish his book. Maybe when I’m not biased I’ll pick it up and try it again, just for old time’s sake.

And the books I picked up were Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters and Choke. I did Eeny-Meeny-Miney-Mo and decided that I would start in on Invisible Monsters. I’m sorry about the over abundance of Palahniuk this month, but I can’t help it, his books are just so good! Remember last month when I had a list of authors that I would like to meet? Palahniuk was just added that list.

Does anyone know anything about Palahniuk? Was he a chemistry major at a college somewhere? How about a psychology major? I’m asking because he seems to know a lot about: 1) Napalm and how there are three ways to make it (Fight Club) 2) Psychological/brain things like schizophrenia, guilt complexes, hero complexes (all three books) 3) The chemical makeup of painkillers, names of painkillers (Invisible Monsters) 4) How to make soap from lye, from human fat (Fight Club). Or is it that he does a lot of research? Or is it that he’s super smart with crazy friends who tell him all these things?

So anyway, I finished that book, and there are several HUGE surprise twisties and turnies you do not see coming, at all. I was shocked at the end to find out who was who, what was what and what really wasn’t what I had thought it was the whole time I read the book. And you feel so bad for the main character, whom we’ll call Daisy because this is one of her names in the book. She suffers from this tragic accident, and runs into her ex-boyfriend, and befriends a transgender man one surgery away from becoming a woman (she needs the vaginoplasty) and they all go on this huge trip and at the end there is a huge blowout and you have to read it. I can’t even begin to explain the shock I felt upon completing the book.

(Looking back on my list I find that I read a lot this month and a lot of it was Palahniuk. Next month there won’t be a lot of Palahniuk, if any at all.)

The next book from Palahniuk I absorbed rather quickly was Choke, which I was okay with. I only just realized that one of the bands I listen to, Panic! At The Disco, took some of their lyrics and song titles from a Palahniuk book, which is cool. Choke was…interesting. Much more psychological in the end than in the beginning, what with the main character thinking he’s a direct descendent of Jesus.

I really liked his journey of being an unfeeling, selfish, sex-crazed maniac to a somewhat feeling and compassionate man. There wasn’t as big of a plot twist as there were in Fight Club and especially in Invisible Monsters, but it was big enough to make you go, “What the hell just happened?”

I’ve also come to realize that all of the books from Palahniuk make me go, “What the fuck just happened?!” several times, mostly at the end though, but it’s a good change in pace from what I usually read.

So, I already started my new reading list, but that won’t be revealed until next month.

I also think I need to start reading my Harry Potter books again because the new book comes out in July and I need to catch up and refresh my memory...and also dredge my way through Book 5.

I hate that one.
 
 
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maniacalmusings on February 5th, 2007 12:03 am (UTC)
You're an amazingly insightful reviewer, but...
I'll definately have to go to the library and get a copy of Fehrenheit 451. You're very insightful and now I'm intrigued. Have you ever thought of, or do you plan to become a book editor by career?

Though I must say I was extremely offended by the following line you wrote: "See how long your ADHD-addled brains will fare. Not long, I predict."

Not all of us are brain-addled twits who can't sit still long enough to read a book. I read constantly, and usually for great lengths of time. And I doubt anyone would join a book review/recommendation community if they had the problem you so flippantly accuse us of. Have some respect for your readers, please. Don't ruin what is, in my opinion, fantastic reviews and insightful writing with such petty generalizations and stereotypes.

I look forward to next month's column (baring anymore satirical jabs at your less than amused readers).
jessicaduendeoflorien on February 5th, 2007 01:55 am (UTC)
Re: You're an amazingly insightful reviewer, but...
I have thought about the world editing books. It's highly appealing.

I wrote that sentence because most of the world, save the part that is reading this, really doesn't take the time to sit down and read a book. In today's s day and age, everything is "now" and we have to jump from one thing to the next. This includes both of my sisters, my parents and basically my whole entire family. There was a study put out over the summer in Great Britain that reading is on the decline; most adults don't even pass a high school reading level. Another thing is, why read the book if it's just going to come out as a movie??

I didn't mean any offense and I hope you know that, it's just my view of things in the world around me and how I see people act. I know most of the people reading this aren't brain-addled twits. It most certainly wasn't aimed at any of you that might read it. It's just the society that I am surrounded by is like this, and frankly it makes me angry to see the intellectual world the way it is now, where people can't even sit still to enjoy even a 100 page book. Admit it, society, as a whole, not just the people who read this, are not as apt to read a book, you know?

So, I hope you understand where I'm coming from. If not, then I don't know what you want me to do. I was just telling it like I see it.
maniacalmusings on February 5th, 2007 02:21 am (UTC)
Re: You're an amazingly insightful reviewer, but...
I understand your viewpoint entirely. I guess at the time, since it was posted in a community, that it appeared to be aimed at your readers here. Especially about the whole giving an assignment, it's as if your approaching us - therefor, whatever follows is going to be taken in that same respect.

Now, say, if it was printed in a newspaper with wide circulation and therefor might be seen by said brain-addled twits, it would be an entirely different story. I probably would have snorted in amusement and agreed whole-heartedly.

In the future I will read similar comments as if they are directed at the general populice, and not your readers (unless specified).

My apologies if you feel your work was demeaned in anyway. I mean it when I say your insight is brilliant.
jessicaduendeoflorien on February 5th, 2007 02:39 am (UTC)
Re: You're an amazingly insightful reviewer, but...
Eh, yea. I should put up a disclaimer saying that when I say "you" I mean society. Not necessarily people who read this.

And, still, I wouldn't have changed a word of it had it been published in a newspaper. I sometimes write like that to get a rise out of people, and it usually works. But I'm sure any editor would say, "Take that out of there." Well, a tightly wound, easily offended editor. Ha.

Thanks for the comment dear<3
maniacalmusings on February 5th, 2007 05:13 am (UTC)
Re: You're an amazingly insightful reviewer, but...
P.S. You earned the Acid Pen name. ;-)
jessica: ben folds 1duendeoflorien on February 5th, 2007 06:51 am (UTC)
Re: You're an amazingly insightful reviewer, but...
hahahahahahaha.

Why thank you kindly.

I wonder what they'd say if I submitted this to newspapers/magazines?