Posts Tagged ‘great literature’

The Glitter! The Glory! The Gag Reflex!

In Books, Intro on August 3, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Last summer, Brooke and I began a collaborative paper entitled “The Angel: New Textures and Consistencies in Literary Excrement; Or, A Study in the Gross Overuse of the Words ‘Velvet’ and ‘Bronze’ in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight.”  Sadly, the rent came due before this masterpiece of exegetical literature was complete.   Our mercenary landlady was less than impressed with our offer of 20% of the proceeds from all future sales of the nascent bestseller and insisted on receiving some sort of monetary compensation, rather than a stake in our magnum opus[1].  Thus, our cherished work of art had to be sacrificed to the daily grind of our nine to five jobs for a short period of time.  C’est la vie.  However, in the timeless words of AC/DC, we’re back in black[2], baby!  The rent has been paid, we are through with our nine to fives at five, and we now have the free time necessary with which to share our brilliance with the masses!  Learn and be edified.

All joking aside (all right, most joking aside,) we’re gonna kick things off with Twilight.  Not only is it a wildly popular book series, spawning secondary literature, manga, and tchotchke[3] galore, it is also a blockbuster film franchise that has Kristen Stewart and Taylor ‘Abs’ Lautner laughing all the way to the Caymans.  Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock or in cloistered seclusion, you have at least heard of Twilight, if you haven’t actually read the books or watched the films.  I know, I know – in our last post we said that we were going to explore the classics of literature, and the Twilight saga hardly belongs in that canon.  In fact, (Twihard Alert) we do not think that Twilight qualifies as a great work of literature, period – contemporary, classic, or otherwise.  It kinda shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same paragraph as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Emily Brönte’s Wuthering Heights, or Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (all of which, by the by, Meyer references as parallels to highlight the love story of her protagonists).  However, that being said, we will admit that Twilight is an entertaining story.  We’ll even cop to liking the series – although Brooke will deny it to her dying day, the fact remains that when she needs a mental Mai Tai, she’ll reach for Eclipse in the hope that maybe, just maybe this time, Victoria wins.  And once she starts, she has a hard time putting it back down[4].

Here’s the deal: the books aren’t selling bajillions of copies for no reason at all; there’s not been a massive partial-lobotomy performed on two-thirds of the American female population, neither is there a conspiracy at Little, Brown & Co. to induce feminine relationship-dissatisfaction in order to sell the bare-chested bodice rippers of moist-eyed teenage fantasies.  It has, as we’ve said, an entertaining plot – forbidden love, self-sacrifice, cool battle scenes, a nice, light bit of grossly distorted history, and a few pointers on how to dabble in the black market – all the ingredients necessary for a Lifetime Movie of the Week!  But here’s the point – great literature does not just consist of ‘a good story’.  The formula isn’t simply: hot chick + hot dude + issues = WUV 4EVA.  It’s (wait for it…) a good story told beautifully – a story with multi-dimensional characters artfully developed through an interesting, well-crafted plot by the use of appropriate literary devices.  Here’s our point:  while Meyer tells a good story, she doesn’t tell it beautifully. She doesn’t tell it artfully, expressively, or well.  Brooke says she doesn’t really ‘tell’ it, so much as undergo some sort of Muse-induced emotional trance with pen in hand, precipitated by a lack of athletic participation and intellectual stimulation.  And this makes sense, since Brooke’s got a pretty big mouth and is fond of shooting it off whenever the spirit moves her.  We’ll see if she can back it up this time.

Stay tuned!

[1] We strongly suspect she was Team Edward.


[2] No, really.  Brooke refuses to wear any other color…it gets depressing.

[3] tchotchke [chahch-kuh]; n., slang: an inexpensive souvenir, trinket, or ornament, the purchase of which hardly justifies the expenditure in calories required to take it to the register, much less the $5.75 and 8% CA sales tax they’ll hold you up for.

[4] Unless of course, I make a snarky comment in hearing range, in which case that sucker will leave her hand faster than you can say, “Edward’s perfect face.”  These books make excellent missiles, and her aim is much better than you might think.  Thank God for paperbacks.