No one wants to be the person who is made fun of for caring too much about something, who treats in earnest a situation that everyone else considers absurd. Even in personal relationships, feeling too heavily invested while simultaneously understanding that the other person couldn’t be more detached is one of the most profound feelings of embarrassment we can experience. Because it isn’t simply the embarrassment of making a mistake or a poor choice, it’s a shame over the kind of human being you are and how you see the world around you. To be shamed for your sincerity is to be reminded that you are dependent on something which is not dependent on you — that you are, once again, vulnerable.
Thanks for sharing this, Amy. And no, you’re not weird nor obnoxious nor the only one who struggles with this. Being vulnerable can be a terrifying thing, especially if you’re experiencing it on your own, but I figure I’ll sleep better at night if I don’t hide behind a mask of detachment. At the end of the day I’d much rather make a fool of myself than to miss out on something cool and worthwhile (a conversation, a friendship, a relationship with a piece of media, you name it) because I was too busy making it seem like I didn’t care too much. Of course, sometimes I fail and I do hide, but… I keep trying. So far the effort has paid.
Isn’t it odd how everyone that supports abortion has already been born?
Strangely, everyone who opposes abortion has also been born. It’s almost like you have to be born to have opinions… like it’s part of the basic definition of being a person or something. I’m so glad you pointed that out. It’s a really great point.
Kitson is now as well known for these ruminative, narrative-based theatre shows as for his looser, more combative standup – although the distinction is often thin. (“Daniel likes to say that the only difference is that, in the theatre shows, he wears a hat,” says Thomas.) Kitson can be hilarious in both, but in neither is that entirely the point. “Yes, he’s funny,” says Burns, “but he’s also a poet and a philosopher. He completely expresses humanity. The fact that we are all alone, the experiences and emotions we all share – being happy or sad, falling in love, falling out of love – he manages to catch it.” Burns compares Kitson to Alan Bennett, but there is a dash of Eric Morecambe about him, too – and not just in the restless shoving-up of those thick black specs.
As an unfortunate consequence of the fact that my Edinburgh plans were a bit last minute this year, I didn’t manage to get tickets for either of the Daniel Kitson shows that will be on while I’m there. I’m going to try at the door for last-minute uncollected reservations (which worked for a couple of sold-out shows last year), but judging by that article, I probably won’t have much luck. Still, I’m lucky enough to have seen him twice before, and both times were absolutely amazing - his comedy is smart, thoughtful, never lazy or cheap, and every bit as moving as it is funny. If he ever does a show near any of you, do yourselves a favour and go.
As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is why so many people meet their lifelong friends in college, she added.
I’m still in my twenties, but according to this piece I’m basically doomed.
Policymakers worry prolonged unemployment will hurt an entire generation’s ability to compete in the workplace. When the economy finally recovers, many of the under-25s will have become over-25s, and younger rivals will be nipping at their heels for entry-level jobs. The big fear: Europe’s Gen Yers will suffer the fate of Japan’s Lost Generation — young people who came of age in the recession-wracked 1990s but lacked the skills to find good jobs even after the economy started to pick up steam.
If that happens, the Continent would struggle to cope with large numbers of jobless young people. Violent protests over lousy job prospects earlier this year in Eastern Europe made politicians acutely aware of mounting social problems. “Most countries are moving in the right direction, but there’s still a risk that unemployment will last for years,” says Stefano Scarpetta, head of employment analysis at the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development in Paris.
This article is from 2009, the year when I was starting to make the poor decisions that would lead to the hole I’m currently in. Very strange to think of myself as a possible historical casualty (though it shouldn’t be, really, because how many of my favourite novels are about people who were exactly that?).
In a real way, I think this is what my books for teenagers have all ended up being about. Being heard. Being taken seriously. Being treated as a complex being who doesn’t always get things right but who also doesn’t always get things wrong. And being told that there’s hope, there’s life, there’s laughter and love, that hurt is real, that pain is real, yes – but so is possibility, so is a liveable, wondrous future, despite what anyone may tell you. And the response to that has been amazing, and sometimes heartbreaking.
Apparently, we’re still judged by the books we read,” Krystal writes, “and perhaps we should be.” But I’m not sure I agree. Somewhere in its history, reading novels has gotten all tangled up with questions of social status, and accepting the kinds of pleasure that genre novels offer us has become — how perverse are we? — a source of shame. What is it, exactly, that those pleasures are guilty of? Novels aren’t status symbols, or they shouldn’t be. Maybe it’s the last vestiges of our Puritan heritage: if it’s not hard work, it’s sinful. Maybe it’s just that we’re self-loathing capitalists, and anything associated with commerce, as genre fiction is, is automatically tainted and disqualified from having any aesthetic value. Either way our attitude toward genre fiction smacks of mass cultural neurosis. I don’t argue — as some critics do — that literary fiction and genre fiction are merging. They have their own generic identies, their own distinct sets of conventions, and to smoosh them together would be to sacrifice some of our precious literary biodiversity. But I’ve become very suspicious of their arrangement in a hierarchy, one above the other.
I hate this increasing insistence that boys and girls are alien species, coming together only to do icky romance dances of ickiness, and make more boys and girls to never understand each other at all. Girls can like snakes. Boys can like looking nice for dates. And that doesn’t mean a damn thing but “we are all individuals, we will all like and want and do different stuff.”
At least we’re all allowed to know how to fight zombies.
I’m going to continue to read books based on my interest, not on publisher categories. I’m going to continue to read widely across all genres. I’m going to read for a variety of reasons: for windows and mirrors; for escape and for safety; to be reassured and to be challenged; for entertainment and for information.
I will not be ashamed of my reading choices (or, for that matter, my TV or movie choices) because someone else has drawn a line an arbitrary line in the sand about what people “should” and “shouldn’t” do in their personal reading and viewing lives. While I’m at it, other things that won’t be the subject of judging: music, games, sports — well, you get the idea. I’m no better or worse than the person who loves fashion or football, and to say I am because I read books is, well, shallow.
Heck, if all you want to read is adult literary fiction? That’s fine, too! Just as there’s no reason for me to not read young adult books, there is no reason for you to read them. Read what you want.
I do not see myself as part of the marketing chain — a partner with authors and publishers marketing their books. I see myself as part of the reading chain — a partner with readers (and their gatekeepers), trying to find and match books with readers. Do the interests of readers, blogs, authors, and publishers sometimes overlap? Yes. Does that change my intent, my editorial control? No. I’ve always felt there should be a healthy tension, an independence, between blogs and publishers and authors, just like there is between mainstream media and publishers and authors. So, while publishers may indeed use things like media coverage and awards as part of their marketing, that doesn’t turn that coverage and awards into part of their marketing plan over which they have control.
But there’s one way, however, in which Madeleine defies believability: She has no true female friends. Yes, she has roommates and a sister with whom she once had “heavy” emotional conversations, but these relationships are characterized more by spite than affection. And, sadly, The Marriage Plot is just the latest story to forget to give its heroine friends. There are countless other Madeleines in modern-day literature and film: smart, self-assured women who have all the trappings of contemporary womanhood except a group of friends to confide in.
Gah. I find this kind of reasoning really frustrating - not because I believe my favourite authors are above criticism, but because assuming that all women have the same experiences and that characters that fall outside what you deem to be the rule must be “unbelievable” is extremely problematic and smacks of essentialism. The title alone implies this universality of experience, as if women were a monolith.
Barkhorn certainly has a point that there could be more representations of female friendships in mainstream “literary” fiction - it would be especially nice not to see this result in the books in question being labelled “women’s fiction”. But her wording really bothers me, and her reading of the novel is completely at odds with my own. I didn’t think Madeleine’s relationships with her college friends and with her sister were characterised by spite, for starters. And I think it’s worth bearing in mind that her isolation and lack of friends is one of the things that make her miserable - the novel not only acknowledges this, but deals with it at length.
There are certainly novels out there that imply that women are incapable of being friends with one another because they’re “backstabbing” or “bitchy” or whatever other misogynistic slur you can think of, but this is not one of them, I don’t think. And it troubles me that Barkhorn’s main criticism is not that this adds to a trend of lack of representation (which would be fair enough, though more as a general comment than one on this particular novel’s merit or lack thereof), but that women like Madeleine must not exist. If we automatically assume that any novel that portrays an isolated woman is doin it rong, we’re creating further limits for what women can do or be, further rules concerning what’s “natural” or “normal” female behaviour, which is not exactly helpful.
I’m a woman not far from Madeleine’s age, and for most of my life I haven’t had very close female (or male) friendships. This isn’t because I hate other women, but because I’m not exactly a pleasant person to be around for long, because close relationships are very difficult for me, and because circumstances in my life have isolated me. I guess I’m not all that believable. Whoever made me up must not have understood women.
…that so many people think that gender is absolutely and immutably defined by God and/or evolution, and at the same time think that it’s so terribly fragile that merely letting little girls play with trucks, or little boys wear pink, will utterly destroy gender (and therefore society) FOREVER.
But there’s a reason Sanderson can be so reasonable. He’s not the one being spat on and beaten and burned (In front of a church, no less) and killed because of who he loves. He’s not being told he can’t bring his boyfriend to his own prom. Agents/editors aren’t rejecting his work because he wrote about LGBT characters. He’s not being denied basic rights, like the ability to visit his partner at the hospital. He’s not being told he can’t adopt a child he loves, a child who instead gets returned to an abusive home because the court feels that’s better than letting the child grow up with gay or lesbian parents.
I can more easily write a “reasonable” post about LGBT rights, because I’m comfortably and safely married. I know my insurance will cover my wife, that every state will recognize my family as valid, that my children won’t be hassled because I love my partner. I’m not directly, personally threatened by kind of beliefs and attitudes Sanderson describes.
It’s easy to tell advocates for LGBT rights to slow it down and stop being so loud or angry. It’s easy to demand reasonableness, and to call for negotiation when you’re not the one being hurt every day of your life.
In “The Owl and the Tanager”, we encounter discrepant emotions that are hard to conciliate: not only affection and violence, but also the reckless nature of the relationship versus the muffled, hidden expression of it.
Throughout the song you have lines like “I’m bleeding in spite of my love for you / It bruised and bruised my will” and “For I am the ugliest prey / The owl, the reckless, reckless preys”—and then, in the last two stanzas, which are my favorite of all, he sings,
You said you’d wait for me
Down by the tannery creek
Far out by the clothesline where
We used to kiss behind the sheets
Wrapped in a blanket of red
The owl and the tanager said
The owl and the tanager said
One waits until the hour is death
… which sound like they are spoken by someone whose will has been bruised, who sits there amid those unresolved emotions, too worn out to rage any longer. I’m truly glad to have seen this song live. I loved the version released in All Delighted People, but now it pales in comparison.
I think intention—an artist’s intention—is kind of irrelevant. It doesn’t have much bearing. ‘Cause I think the song—its greatest realization—becomes its own, has its own consciousness, speaks its own truths, and belongs to the listener more than it belongs to a writer.