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The Week in Books IV

June 1, 2007

It was one of those weeks where I read novels, some of them big, and even an omnibus, so I’m not quite as clear on the earlier stuff as I could be.

For example, Alice Hoffman’s Here on Earth.  When I looked at my list, I thought “Oh crap, I loved it, but what was it about?”  It’s only THIS SECOND that I just remembered.  Because it was a while ago.  Seven whole days.

Here on Earth is the story of obsessive love, and…well, incest, and you know what?  In a world where the underlying message seems to be, “If you love him, you can change him,” it’s nice to read a book where obsessive love is…well, real.  Like it is in real life, brutal and destructive to everyone.

I felt like it was a reread, and yet I didn’t feel like it was a reread, so I was a little confused.

Great book, though, did I mention that?  Wow.  It was awesome.  It makes you emo, though.

So I followed it with Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel of Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.  I cannot remember the last time I laughed so much.  I’m not really a laughing-book kind of person.  I like to chuckle once in a while, but I find that books that are funny all the time usually aren’t saying much besides getting the reader to laugh.  Just not my thing.  But this book, besides being hilarious, is really wonderful.  It’s about Jesus’s childhood, the part the Bible skips over.  It’s irreverent and yet at the same time made me actually like Christianity again.  (It’s not the religion, it’s the people who shove their faces into the media.  Okay, and some of the people who don’t too.  Okay, and parts of the religion.  I like GOD, who doesn’t like God?  And I don’t think that higher-learning institutions have an agenda to make me an atheist, as someone once told me.  I just think that, as a lit major, you read enough creation myths and you say “Wait a second, why is Christianity supposedly so much better and much more right than any other one?”)

Uh…right.  So if you can handle religious humor, you should totally read this.  If you can’t, you’ll be highly offended by it and if so, why are you picking it up now?  Just to bash it? Come on.

So of course I bookend the funny one with the two depressing Alice Hoffman books, the second being The River King.  For Hoffman, it wasn’t anything great, but compared to other books, of course it was fantastic.  Still, I wouldn’t read it right after Here on Earth.

Then I watched Rosemary’s Baby for the first time and felt I had to read Son of Rosemary.  I know, I’m all over the place this week; wait till you see what I read next.  I’m not going to tell you that Son of Rosemary is an amazing sequel because it isn’t.  It is a fun read, however, and I was quite impressed with the character of Rosemary–Ira Levin writes a very realistic female character indeed.  Sometimes with horror, you get walking talking cardboard cut-outs in all characters–but most especially the females–but Levin doesn’t let this happen.  It isn’t creepy like the movie or the first book.  But it’s a quick, entertaining read.  I liked it.

Okay, so what I read next was Jane Austen’s Persuasion.  I am a big, big fan of Austen’s, but mostly in my head: that is, I really like watching the adaptations.  Not that I haven’t read Emma and Pride & Prejudice and enjoyed them but they translate so very well to the screen.  Persuasion was difficult reading at first because I’ve never seen so many commas in my life outside of one of Pat‘s first drafts.  (PS I’m on the Amazon page for Persuasion, and the guy who wrote the review called “A Delicately Wrought Autumnal Minuet” needs to get his head checked.  I mean, come on.  It’s a book about a girl who likes a guy and her family talks him out of marrying her, and they meet up later.  “Minuet,” GAWD.  He’s as bad as that crazy guy from Livejournal who speaks like Shakespeare taking a…uh, where was I?)  I guess I’ve already said what the book is about.

So yeah, can’t wait to watch the adaptation.  I’m so literaturely lame. 😀

Rats, now I get to go from saying I prefer to watch the tee-vee instead of reading a great book to trying to convince you that a comic book was the greatest thing I read this week.  But it WAS, and you know what?  I liked reading Austen, but I loved reading the Alias Omnibus, even if it means I feel like I’m abusing the ILLiad system by ordering something I don’t need from school.  A girl from 2006 can only get so worked up over a heroine who finds her family distasteful because they are afraid to consort with “low” people, and then complains about how Mrs. Clay is “low” herself!  Hypocrisy!  Not that I didn’t like Anne Elliot, but she certainly had conflicting ideas of what was low and what wasn’t, didn’t she?  DIDN’T SHE?  Maybe I missed something.  We’ll see when I watch it.  *snerk*

Back to Alias.  This is not the comic version of the TV show, because why would I do that?  This is the book that happens when you say “So I want to do a book about Jessica Drew–Spider-Woman.”  “We’re listening, Brian Michael Bendis.”  (They probably don’t call him by his full name, but I’m trying to get you the information here.  *I’d* call him by his full name, but that’s only because, I mean, that’s just annoying.  Who is this famous Brian Bendis who’s sooo famous that some guy writing comic books can’t even use his own name?  It’s not like he’s Jesus Jeffrey Christ and you have to distinguish.)  “So the first thing I want her to do is have a booty call.”  “Brian, Brian, Brian…” (Or “Brian Michael, Brian Michael, Brian Michael…”  See?  Annoying.)  “What?”  “Jessica Drew is a member of the Marvel Universe.  The MARVEL U, Brian Michael.  She doesn’t do that.  Women in the Marvel U don’t get pimples or periods or look bloated or natural in any way or have sex…they fight crime and they have babies, and sometimes they get raped, killed, or become alcoholics.”  “So when I tell you the first word I want out of her mouth is ‘fuck’…?”  “Brian Michael, come on.  COME ON, Brian Michael.”  “Okay, so what if I make up my own character?  Can I do it then?”  “You’re a cash cow, Brian Michael.  You can do whatever you want…within reason.  Having women act like women…sorry.  Not in the Marvel Universe.  You might want to try DC, but even they aren’t quite sure what a woman’s really like.  I hear Gail Simone knows…” “You mean, I think Devin Grayson knows, ha ha ha.”  “Yes, thank you, Lackey, we all get the joke; Devin Grayson is bisexual–and she can’t write.”  “Uh…guys?”  “Sorry, just having an anti-Grayson moment there.”  “Right, so…my book?”  “Well, we’re going to have to make an all-new line, if you want people to drop the f bomb.  We’ll call it…MAX.”  “That name is kind of–” “WE’LL CALL IT MAX.”  “Right.”*

Enter Jessica Jones.  Jessica was once a superhero–albeit one you never heard of–but now she’s a chain-smokin’, hard-drinkin’ private eye who, when she’s had too much to drink, does stupid stupid things like have sex with whomever is available.

Alias is awesome, and I don’t really know how to convey that to you, exactly.  It’s the anti-Marvels; it’s the steamy underside of the Marvel Universe.  It’s the Marvel U if it had balls, or realism.  Bendis can do a lot of things well when it comes to writing, and one of them is character.  Jessica Jones pulls you in.  At her lowest point, you feel for her, you want her to succeed and love and be happy, without feeling like you’re rooting for some sappy-crappy book-heroine.  You know she’s a good person; you want her to enjoy the life we think comes with being a good person.  You want to know her backstory.  You enjoy the way that Bendis takes a character and lets her play out like she’s always been there–unlike awkward characters who just get written in to be there.

I suggest that you find the Omnibus, if you can.  Order it through ILL, if you can.  I’m sure it reads best as one shot–all the issues collected.  The trades can’t do it justice the same way.  If it had 100+ issues, I would say read the trades, but I’m very happy I read the Omnibus instead.  And I read it in a few hours.  I didn’t want to move until I was done.  Did I mention it was sooooooooooooo good?

Finally, I read Christopher Moore’s Fluke, which was very very very weird and not funny in the same way you have to be when you’re worried about offending people, I guess.  Not that it isn’t funny, but I think I was expecting a laugh riot and got…weirdness.  It was highly entertaining, and a lot like watching the Matrix for the first time–it has that moment of “WTF?!?!?!”ness that impressed me in the Matrix.  (“People liked this crappy cyberpunk bull—WHOA.”)

So that was my week.  It was a long week.  Next week, I’ll tell you about the Lily Pascale myseries (or at least one of them), more Picoult, Wicked (maybe), aaaand I may just get to that Piercy.

*Actually, Alias probably wasn’t the first book in the MAX line, if Wikipedia is correct in saying that the MAX line was created in 2001 and Alias began in 2002.  Probably.  Not positive.

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