Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Magic of Books

I can not say this enough ... I LOVE Harry Potter. Love the books love the movies love, love, love. Nothing but Love for Harry Potter.


I'm so glad you asked!

Because when sad, when gloomy, when not feeling like doing much of anything, Harry Potter brings me back. Harry always, 100% of the time makes me happy. He distracts me with his vividness and his amazing world. I love him. He's the best 16 year old fictional buddy a girl could ask for.

The books are engaging. They are entertaining. They have created characters of depth with meaning. I say they ... JK Rowling has created characters with depth that touch us all.

And why do I write this now? Because news of Book 7 is quick on the horizon. I say quick ... it could be weeks or months before we hear anything new ... but that's a far cry from the year I've been waiting. Nearly two years I'd guess now. I'm not sure.

Either way - the final chapter in Harry's world is fast upon us. And I have a few thoughts on what I hope it contains.

1. I know that JK is threatening to kill Harry. This for a number of reasons - first among them, it limits the possibility of other writers cashing in and writing additional novels after JK's done. But I really, truly, truly with all my heart hope that she does not do that. HP is a childrens novel, first and foremost. And while I know we adults love and adore him and understand adult concepts like dying for ones beliefs, I'm not entirely sure the gaggle of 11-13 year olds who also follow Harry should have to endure losing their buddy too. I don't think I could part with him either. I cried when Dumblydore passed.

2. I want Dumbledore back. :) I know, I know. But it could happen. A horcrux, an animagus, some sort of pheonix from the ashes type bit ... it could happen. Make it happen JK!

3. I want to figure out Professor Snape. He saved him in the first one for a reason. Was it really the first one? Good Land we've come along way! But I know him to be good. I know him to be a spy for the good guys. I know Dumbledore trusted him for a reason and Dumbledore is not wrong. Ever. Dumbledore is awesome. I miss Dumbledore. Please see #2 again, JK, as I know my wishes have weight with you. And you're an avid reader of Bells For Stacy. :) Hahaha, I make myself laugh.

And that's all my requests. I don't think it's too much to ask for the Boy Who Lived to continue living, for Dumbledore to come back through a horcrux or as a pheonix or he's an animagus or what have you, and for Professor Snape to be the good guy I know him to be. That's not too much. Not at all.

Oh, and You Know Who must die.

But we all knew that.

I wish I was like Meryl and had a great site with all sorts of cool stuff. But I don't. I'm tempted to start one but I know it would fail miserably as I'm not nearly educated enough in the HP underground. Anyway - you should check out Meryl's great site. Its fantastic. And it gave me hope that HP 7 might be with us by summer time. What a joyful, and sorrowful day that will be. Because as excited as I am to hear the end of the story, I will be so sad to see Harry finished with school, and his adventures over.

The miracle of books ... I can re-read them all over, and over and over again and my imagination can carry Harry with me. I will read these books to my children, and we will all love them together. Do we think Mavvy would sit still long enough for me to read them to her? Do we think Mavvy understands enough English? Haha. I make myself laugh again!

I think I'll re-read 5 and 6 again. If I can do it without crying.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Gateway Books

This woman needs to go away.

And somebody in that school system needs to stand up and tell her to. Especially after she said on Tuesday that school shootings happen because kids read Harry Potter books.

Okay I paraphrased. But that is what she said.

I submit, that if more students read Harry Potter and turned off their video games, thus inviting them into their imagination instead of becoming hypnotized by all the pretty graphics, there would be less school violence.

Also because reading requires a gateway drug; once you open the door to how much fun reading can be, there is no end to what books a child might reach for. And Harry Potter for so many children, is the stepping stone to what brough them to literature. Lots and lots of good literature too (in the same genre for example Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings).

There are very few books that I can think of that should be banned. In fact, off the top of my head, I can think of none. Certain books may be age appropriate, like I'm not sure I'd let a seven year old read Goblet of Fire. But definitely a 13 year old or greater.

Anyway - just showing my support for Harry and Ms. Rowling. I feel confidant that district will make the right decision.

I think I'll read Harry Potter after I'm done with my second Marie Antoniette book!

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Marie Antoinette

I have decided that the next object of my obsession shall be Marie Antoinette. It was once Henry the VIII and all his ladies, but I’ve read the best books about those women, though there is a new one coming out that I think I will have to purchase.

Marie Antoinette is now a movie written by Sofia Coppola, which explains my recent interest. But I find her fascinating. She was disliked by the French when she was Princess and utterly loathed when she was Queen. The French court was nearly bankrupt when she became Queen and it was totally bankrupt by the time she was killed for her “crimes.” The Parisians and the Revolutionaries blamed her entirely for all of their hardship. While they were struggling to buy bread, she had a new wardrobe every year for the first few years of her reign, and she redecorated the palace at least as often. While she lived this lifestyle, they suffered, and they hated her for it.

Of course, that was their perception. From what I’ve read, she did start her career lavishly, but later on the King informed her that she had to discontinue, as they were approaching bankruptcy. They even sold some of her jewels to pay off debts. And while the book I’m reading notes she had affairs, I’m not entirely surprised by that. But what may (or may not have been) one affair, the people saw as several and called her bad names.

Now, I am not an authority on this woman. I’m going to finish reading the book I’m reading now, and then purchase the Marie Antoinette that inspired the movie Sofia Coppola. And then I’ll know much more.

But from what I’ve read so far, this poor young girl, taken from her home at 13 and married to a man who was not warm or quick or elegant, was blamed for everything that went wrong in France during her reign.

I find that fascinating.

Also - I read something really profound today, yet so simple. And it reminded me of how I should behave:

The things we dislike in others are the things we should make sure we better in our selves.

Sort of that whole Do Unto Others thing. If we remembered that every day the world would be a better place.

Friday, January 13, 2006

James Frey

I finished A Million Little Pieces on the airplane on the way to Miami from Boston. It took me a little over three days. I had a very hard time with the material, and the fact that everything that I was reading really and truly happened. I skipped the part about the trip to the dentist and the two root canals without pain meds. My poor teeth couldn't take it.

On Larry King on Wednesday night James Frey was a guest. He was answering questions regarding the truth and validity of his books (the sequel, My Friend Leonard, available now). The Smoking Gun recently published their investigative report on the novel (which I will call it from now on) and claims that pretty much everything that James talks about in the book is a lie.

I encourage you, if you have read the book, to read what TSG has said about it. While I did enjoy the book for its literary appeal and its courage, I now have a completely different view. I'll explain why.

While reading the novel, I had an image of the main character in my mind. He wasn't handsome, he wasn't normal, he was a loner who didn't have any friends and that up until this point had lived on the outskirts of society. I pitied him. I felt for him. I was sad about the beginning of his life. I will admit to being confused on one point while reading the novel: the main character went to college. Not really the activity of choice for self labeled Alcoholics, Drug Addicts, and Criminals. And by the books account, he had been drinking very, very heavily since he was ten years old and had been doing hard drugs since he was a young teen. So it really didn't jive with me that someone who could do so many illegal activities could actually manage to take the SATs, get a good score, and apply and get in to college. Also, in my experience, like minded people hang out with like minded people. In the book he has a girlfriend and many friends that call and miss him. If he was truly such an outcast, either one, all of those people would be societal degenerates too, and would need to be in that treatment center as much as he did, or two, he wasn't really such an outcast at all and it was all in his head. Which, I could live with, so I read on.

No, before I read TSG's accounting of the book, my review was thus: while the story of success is very good, I am greatly disheartened that Oprah chose this novel for her bookclub. Its good, the writing style is excellent, but the overall story is not good at all. Its irresponsible. And here is why.

I've never been to an AA meeting. I've only peripherally known alcoholics, and I don't know any who go to meetings. But I know, in my heart of hearts, that AA works for many people, and that AA does a lot of good things for its members. James Frey's account of it in his book is distrustful and irresponsible, because how many people will read his book and think, "I can quit this on my own, just like him!" Its wrong. And the lonewolf approach should not be glorified because for most I don't think it works.

Second, the God issue. I'm not one to push my belief on anyone. But repeatedly James Frey say's he doesn't believe in God and that any belief in a higher power is ludicrous. I pushed through the novel, hoping that, as with most people, by the end he would see that through his own testimony, clearly a higher power was at work and he was being saved for some great purpose. But no. Not once. Not once does he acknowledge that God was at work in his life and that his interactions with friends and peers were being used by God to the betterment of everyone involved. In fact, he belittles those that use "a higher power" as a reason to get better because it's a "cop out" because there is no such higher power. I was saddened. Mainly because I have always thought of Oprah as a spiritual person, and the very lack of spirituality in James Frey seemed a contradiction. At one point, he admits to having beat up a Priest in Paris for touching him inappropriately, and even as I read it I thought, "what? This is way too contrived." The book was first published in 2003. I imagine that coincides very nicely with the Catholic church scandal that rocked Boston and most of Catholicism. It just seemed to fictional.

So my final thought? I would recommend the book be read for its literary value. His writing style is captivating if not at times kind of sea sickening. It has a rolling pattern that is often hard to follow, but its very Ernest Hemingway, and you have to admire that. As a writer I know it was probably difficult at best for him to continue in that pattern of speech. But the effect is lovely.

But TSG's report. I suggest you read it as I haven't time to go through it all here. But it appears that every criminal act he says he commits in the books is a lie. He was never in jail for more than a night or a day and he never hit a cop and I doubt severely he ever hit a Priest. My biggest doubt? That he ever did crack cocaine. According to TSG, he has a record of cocaine, pot, and alcohol and some other pills. I bet that's where it stops. I told you when I envisioned this character to be sad, ugly, and shy, with wandering eyes that wouldn't hold a stare. I envisioned a loner, a person that might hide behind their hair, and wouldn't be very clean. Take a look at his picture in real life. He really is a frat boy. He looks like a rich suburban snob who's parents didn't pay enough attention to him. And apparently, according to TSG, he graduated from said University. No word as to GPA but having known many, many, many pot heads in my school that went for a semester, dropped out and went home, came back, got in trouble, went back home, I know that no one doing as many drugs as he said he did could have held down a 2.5 GPA, which is standard to graduate from any school. The issue of his graduation is not brought up in the novel, if it were, I assure you I would have questioned its validity or the validity of his claims.

I am so sad that this has happened. I know he was probably a starving author (it is said he's written many books and screen plays, including the one for this book which is being made into a movie by the likes of Brad Pitt. Groan.) and had to get a hook for the publishers to publish his book. I know it was declined 11 or 12 times. TSG has the exact number. I know he probably misled people trying to make a living. And while, yes, he may have been in rehab, it was probably because his rich parents thought he had one too many cocktails on the golf course with his frat brothers.

I enjoyed your novel, Mr. Frey. But shame on you. And shame on Oprah for standing by you now, and not demanding of the publishing house that the work be relabled and placed in the fiction category. (Consequently, the publishing house is printing disclaimers on new editions citing the names have been changed and that events have been dramatized.)

It is a great work. A great work of fiction.