scholars are still humans, and that’s unacceptable

So I am reading a bunch of scholarly books and articles for my final paper for my realism class. Of course. Since the requirement is one essay, I found two book-length works that seemed relevant (the paper is on The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures; more about it in a later post) and am also looking for essays and chapters of other books that I already have. It’s not that I go above and beyond, it’s that I have no conception of proper scope for school papers and I want to know everything about everything.

Anyway. The book I read first is The Distant Mirror: Reflections on Young Adult Historical Fiction (Scarecrow Studies in Young Adult Literature) by Joanne Brown and Nancy St. Clair. It’s really useful, because before I can write what my paper is actually supposed to be about, I have to write in some way that proves that historical fiction is realism, so I thought this would give me some good background theory. Continue reading

the conundrum of avoiding the rue problem

I read Gretchen McNeil’s Ten for the Hub Reading Challenge, but also because it said it was a slasher film in a book, and that sounded completely excellent. And in that sense, it totally delivered as a delicious slasher film that completely takes all the tropes and characters present in those and does nothing to update them, and that’s great, because nobody wants you to update them. They’re great because they’re utterly predictable.

But there is a point where things get meta, and where they get meta, they get weirdly racial and problematic, and even though I have no business assuming that McNeil did this in response to a current event that happened barely a year ago (except also, to be fair, it happened longer ago than that), but I’m going to, because I think it allows me to think about an interesting concept in writing.

So everyone knows that the book The Hunger Games has Katniss as maybe something that’s not totally white, or at least not totally WASP, but that everyone read her as white and it’s not really a problem, because that’s what the author is. But what some people didn’t notice in the book is that there were some people of color in it. Because, if you are the kind of person who thinks about literature and problematic things in literature, you probably know how everyone reads everyone as white, no matter the reader’s color, unless it is explicitly stated repeatedly that the character is not. And sometimes not even then. This isn’t really up for discussion as far as its validity, because everyone knows that it is more or less fact, because it’s the way we in the U.S. were socialized to read. Continue reading

peace is the milk of birds

Unfortunately, I don’t have a ton to say about this book. It’s not even that it’s bad; it’s just unremarkable, I suppose. It’s about two girls, one in Virginia and one in an IDP camp in Africa. Girl #1 sponsors Girl #2, and they write letters to each other. It becomes a little more plausible by introducing a friend of Girl #2 who has been educated and can take dictation, plus translators who convert the Arabic letters to English.

So Girl #1 has issues with school and learning, not to mention daddy issues after an ugly divorce. The letters, of course, teach her to put things in perspective, because there are people with far worse problems than she. Girl #2 is very young and pregnant post a rape experience, and her letters are just so full of brightness and compassion for Girl #1 anyway. How sweet. Continue reading