The annual State of the Weblog Address from creator Bex
This blog was originally started as a year-long project. It was intended to be a space where I could write essays, reflections and opinions about the books (and related entertainment) I read in the year 2011. I made a promise to myself that I would write/review/reflect upon every book I read this past year. And, unless life got the better of me, I was true to my goal. (Books read and not written about in 2011: C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton, Death Without Tenure by Joanne Dobson, and Ali Baba and the Forty Theives.)
As the year was drawing to a close and I was running around trying to put Christmas together, trying to work on my art project, trying to read books, trying to sort my suddenly complicated life out I also pondered what I was going to do about Literary Bex. Should I close it down? Should I continue it? Is it important that I stick to my goal of a year long project and stop at that? Has this blog somehow contributed to my sanity this past year? Has it helped me grow and mature as a person? Do the therapeutic benefits outweigh some arbitrary preliminary goal?
After much consideration I’ve decided that the therapeutic benefits do, in fact, outweigh an arbitrary goal set twelve months ago by a whinging 25 year old who really just needs to get motivated and become a beach bum. I also realized that I’ve become very attached to the book blog community on Tumblr and enjoy my minuscule contribution to said community. I’ve had personal friends tell me how much they enjoy Literary Bex, how it helps them choose what book to read next, how they enjoy reading my rambling (often judgmental) opinions. And I enjoy that too.
So for those of you who follow this experiment, I thank you for putting up with me this past year and I hope you continue to put up with me in the coming year. Literary Bex will be continuing for the foreseeable future and hopefully it will continue to be helpful for both myself and you lovely people out there who read it and enjoy its contents.
Happy new year and happy reading, friends.
I was going to make a gorgeous (read: ridiculous) piece of art for you fine book lovers out there and I was going to photograph it and it was going to be my Monday Morning post this week, but then as I was drafting the idea and it’s loveliness in my mind I remembered: I left my camera at my grandmother’s house yesterday. (The woman is adorable, she called us up after we left to tell us someone left their phone at her house; we all checked; no one was missing a phone: I was down one camera. Oh Babcha!)
Since I cannot photograph any ridiculous art I’ll just say this:
You people are wonderful! Happy Reading!
SO, clearly I connected with Nick Miller’s novel Isn’t It Pretty To Think So? and, like I normally do on this site, I’d like to share some of the more insightful, interesting, funny quotations from the novel.
I haven’t been doing this because this summer I’ve been mostly without Internets, doing my own writing, in a very sweet, non-winterized cottage and haven’t had the same sort of energy for to posting at Literary Bex. Also, I had quite the backlog of reviews/essays to share with you fine people (still haven’t written a couple of them) and getting that act together has been interesting.
But Isn’t It Pretty To Think So? was filled with a number of gems and you fine people, who may be on the fence about picking up a copy of this book, ought to hear some of the great lines you’re missing out on.
Because I wrote it at one in the morning when I really ought to have been sleeping; because it’s something that really bugs me (a couple things actually); because it follows a linear train of thought, but ended up being about something entirely different from what I set out to write.
Enjoy my rambling indignation.
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
A few months ago I voiced concerns about reading John Green and being afraid that after reading his novels I would no longer think he’s “the shit”. This is a tough thing to wrap your mind around, but it’s true and it has happened to me. I met an author, heard her speak, sought out a reading of her new book in some Podunk little town in south western Massachusetts (trust me, there ain’t much out in them there parts), I have emailed with her, I have conversed with her, and I think she’s pretty much The Shit. I have yet to get through one of her books (even one I was meant to read for class in college). So, it happens. You can think a person is awesome, but that doesn’t mean they write what you enjoy. [And sometimes there’s a one off, like in the case of Joss Whedon – I love ‘Firefly’, I even like ‘Angel’ – despite (in spite of?) Cordelia, can’t stand ‘Buffy’… that might also be because my severe dislike of Sarah Michelle Geller, which is a different issue altogether.] But I read An Abundance of Katherines and I still think John Green is one cool dude.
First of all, because of his inclusion of mathematics. Even though he fully admits his own mathematical inadequacy, he wrote a book that revolves around a teenage boy trying to predict the demise of romance through geometry. I think this is awesome (I’ve never been very interested, or really all that good at mathematics, but I’ve always been fascinated by works of literature that discuss mathematics: Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott; ‘Arcadia’ by Tom Stoppard; and, now, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green). Which is to say that my life-long adamant cry of “Math Sucks” is really a huge cover up for the fact that there are aspects of it that I enjoy (Logic, for instance, I have always loved); which is, interestingly, the opposite of an acquaintance of mine who always excelled in mathematics and never liked English class, but as an adult has realized an enjoyment of grammar.
Back to math. The predominance of mathematics in Colin’s quest to understand why his most recent Katherine dumped him is really quite romantic. Not flowers and poetry and nibbling on earlobes, but Romantic: the poets looking for sublime beauty in the vision of the sun’s rays behind the peak of Mont Blanc Romantic; Shelley and Byron and all those other self-satisfied Englishmen, their brand of Romantic. Colin is looking to make sense of his recent heartbreak and trying to apply reason to it, just as Milo is trying to expel ennui from his life in his quest to free the Princesses Rhyme and Reason from the Castle in the Air. If Colin can apply reason, if he can predict the life of a relationship mathematically, then he can matter in the world and at least he’ll have that even if he doesn’t have Katherine.
Because doing something important is all that matters when you can’t have the person you want (and, interestingly, when you have the person you want and you want to be worthy of them, or something like that); in the quest to regain your (wo)manhood after being dumped you want to do something worthwhile, something that will get you remembered in the annals of history; something to give you some vestige of purpose. Colin spends most of his road trip with best friend, Hassan, working on his theorem, thinking about it, attempting to apply the mathematics to a problem that most people wouldn’t think could be calculated.
During this road trip, the boys meet Lindsey Lee Wells, the daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter of the family that kept the rest of their own Podunk little Tennessee town on the map and not built up by real estate developers and the WalMart Corporation. Since my aforementioned displeasure with mathematics, you can probably assume that I connected with this character, not just because she’s a girl, but she was a girl who was not cool as a junior high kid and spent the rest of her teen years trying to not stand out, but not fade into the background. She tells Colin at one point that the only true sentence beginning with the word ‘I’ she could utter was “I am full of shit.” Which, honestly, is something I can identify with.
Lindsey is the town darling amongst the adults in her life, but amongst her peers she struggles; which is often the case when as a child you feel more comfortable with older people and never really get the hang of your own age group. Lindsey understands that kids her age and their concerns are mostly bullshit and she loves the older people who watched her grow up and are interested in her and her life, but she wants to find a group of friends where she can just be herself, a place where she fits. And that place isn’t with the oldsters, nor is it with her peers in Gutshot, TN. It turns out to be with Colin and Hassan, two boys who also grew up mostly friendless until they found one another.
There is something to be said about Green’s portrayal of the misfit kid life. While they feel friendless and awkward, he here proves that no one is ever all alone. Colin, while a friendless nerd manages to, in a space of ten years, find eighteen separate Katherines to date; and Hassan, not interested in dating, or learning, or doing much of anything, makes friends easily and can blend in with pretty much any group. Most misfit kids manage to find another person or people with whom they bond through their weirdness, their loneliness, or their interests. There are probably thousands of “misfit kids” bonding over their love for John Green novels (I’ve seen the blogs; I know you wonderful people are out there).
John Green is one insightful and funny dude. This I knew from his video blogs and Tumblr posts, but the humor in An Abundance of Katherines is pretty damn awesome. Also, his use of the footnote. I sometimes found myself enjoying them more than the actual body of the story (but not entirely).
The saga of the “misfit kid” is big in literature and media recently (ie: “Daria”, “Glee”, hipsters), and as much as it is being glorified, it is important to remember that there are kids who really do feel like outsiders and they don’t always find their outlet through show choir. Usually it’s through their friendships. What adults need to remember and do is create a place for these “misfit kids” to find each other and express themselves: for Daria it was through her sarcasm and a self-esteem class; for local gay teens and young adults in Tina Fey’s community it was a Catholic summer theater program; for Colin it is an accelerated program. These “misfit kids” express themselves through theater, through writing and through mathematics. They find their own way to make life logical and understand themselves and what’s going on around them. Colin’s theorem doesn’t much matter in the end, but it helps him work through his breakup and helps him realize what is truly important.
Anxiety-driven article I wrote today about applying for jobs and taking the plunge into freelance writing (which, naturally, I haven’t done yet) posted one the site on which I post Stuff I’ve Written.