crazy like a human

A couple of links that struck me (one was supposed to be in the last post, but it slipped my mind).

1. "English teacher: I was wrong about Hunger Games"

The headline is deceptive (intentionally, I'm sure), since Hunger Games is not re-evaluated, but another (much more "literary") novel called The Art of Fielding is. The piece is not, unfortunately, any re-evaluation of the whole paradigm of "literary" and "non-literary" genres, but at least it acknowledges that quality doesn't reside just on one side of the imaginary border. Plus there's a really hilarious "literary" description of a blow job.

2. I can't comment on the new Batman movie, because I haven't seen it and probably won't until it's on DVD, but this article was interesting: "Anne Hathaway Is the Best Catwoman Yet." I particularly noticed this part:

The movie is an illustration of both the virtue of making a tough female character something other than the casualty of the sorts of violence and misery particular to women, and of abandoning origin stories altogether in superhero movies.

This is such a cliche, and it's always annoyed me. Lisbeth Salander is a great character, but she's not great because we learn how she was abused and so on. She's a great character in the first book, before we learn any of that, and learning it later on doesn't make her any better.

This is why I've never specified any reason for the fact that starling is crazy and violent, and I've always made it as clear as I could that she was not abused in any way, and she has no particular grudge against men. She's crazy in some sort of human way, not in any way that's related to the fact that she's a woman.

And Stevie One may not have had a perfect upbringing, but it was pretty good, and she does what she does because of a genuine desire to be useful, to live up to her idea of herself as a person (to paraphrase Nero Wolfe), not because of anything bad that happened to her in the past.

3) There's a pretty good article about Prometheus in the current New York Review of Books. I can't link to it because it's not online, at least not yet. If they post it later, I'll come back and link to it. I did like the comment, "...the female archeologist (Noomi Rapace) wears a cross around her neck in order to bring the 'question' of religion into the picture without actually having to discuss it..." which is pretty much how the picture deals wiith all of the "big questions" it raises and then runs away from.

4) When I was checking if the Prometheus review was posted I did find this: "Does Money Make Us Write Better?" by Tim Parks, whose blog posts I've linked to before. I will comment on his post if I can manage to figure out how the commeting system works over there, particularly this:

Today, of course, aspiring writers go to creative writing schools and so already have feedback from professionals. Many of them will self-publish short stories on line and receive comments from unknown readers through the web. Yet I notice on the few occasions when I have taught creative writing courses that this encouragement, professional or otherwise, is never enough.

My experience, over these last 40+ years, has been very different.

Later: I finally figured out their commenting system, and here is the comment I left:

I don't think it makes much sense to generalize about 21st century writers based on one unnamed Renaissance artist.

Nor is it valid to generalize (as in the fifth paragraph) about all writers based on the people who take creative writing courses. Many writers write quite happily without a publishing contract (and sometimes without creative writing courses). I've been doing it for a few decades now.

This is a very interesting and complex question, and answering it would take a lot of research, not just anecdotal evidence. For example, a connection is drawn in the Christina Stead example, but it's not proved. There is correlation, but was there causation? That would be interesting to know, but we don't seem to know it now, other than what Randall Jarrell feels.

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4 Responses to crazy like a human

  1. Pingback: reporting on the world, writing on the screen » Anthony Lee Collins

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