Archives for March 2010

Mailbag: New ‘Twilight’ Novella? Pullman Piece?

Here are some notes from my HogPro inbox about the new Stephenie Meyer and Philip Pullman books and about why each author writes books like these:

On the new Meyer novella, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, you can read the Press Release here and the Publisher’s Weekly piece here (H/T to Ann-Laurel and Pallas Athena). The short version is that Mrs. Meyer was writing a lot of notes for the Eclipse movie makers and had planned a short piece for her Twilight Guide expanding on Bree Tanner’s life as a New Born, sleepless in Seattle; the story became too big as an add-on for the guide and, no doubt, Little Brown was happy to get another Twilight title out there. Perhaps to short circuit the accusation that this is a money-grab, though, Mrs. Meyer is offering the book online for free as a “thank you” to her fans.

Two quick notes: [Read more…]

‘Alchemists Everywhere!’ A HogsHead PubCast

Part 1 of the conversation I had with Travis Prinzi about literary alchemy is up at The Hog’s Head. Mr. Prinzi, author of Harry Potter and Imagination, and I have been talking publicly and privately for years about alchemical symbolism in Ms. Rowling’s fiction but this PubCast exchange centers on the remarkable explosion of excellent work — and also the most popular series of novels in print today — all of which feature traditional alchemical story scaffolding: not only Harry Potter, but Twilight and The Hunger Games as well. We try to explain why this is happening and why the alchemical formulae work across widely divergent genres, auctorial focus, and themes as well as they do. Tune in!

NPR Bashes Twilight: Anyone Surprised?

National Public Radio’s ‘Monkey See’ weblog yielded to popular requests for a reading of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga and the result is predictable. It is “a necessary but painful exercise we are obliged to do,” yields to “the woman really cannot write,” which brings us where you probably knew we were headed eventually “Bella Swan is not a proper feminist or likable person.” The three literary pigs of aestheticism (wordsmithing is all), deconstruction (political correctness), and literary taxonomy (genre revulsion) are all on display — and the inability of anyone using these tools to explain the popularity of the books or even to contemplate seriously the possibility that the woman actually is delivering the goods readers wants is demonstrated. [Read more…]

The Streak: A Father, a Daughter, and Shared Texts

Harry Potter is mentioned once in this NYTimes article about a father and daughter whose relationship until she left for college was defined by reading together every day for at least ten minutes. But their story is only a little about Harry and a lot about the bonds people who read aloud to one another share in the activity of their imaginations, Coleridge’s “poetic faith,” which is very close to if not continuous with the inner heart.

I’m thinking of starting a ‘Streak’ tonight with my youngest boy or my wife. I hope you will consider starting one with someone you love, too.

Guest Post: Elizabeth Hardy Takes ‘A Bird’s Eye View: Birds in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games’

“O The Cuckoo, she’s a pretty bird,

And she warbles as she flies,

She never says cuckoo,

Til the fourth day of July”

“The Cuckoo” Traditional Appalachian song

A Bird’s Eye View: Birds in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games

The music of Appalachia is woven though with references to birds and their songs, echoing through the tunes as the notes warble out through the forests and meadows of the ancient mountain chain. As a product of what was once called Appalachia and still retains many of its physical and cultural characteristics, Katniss Everdeen lives in a world permeated by the sight and sound of avian creatures, so it is natural that her story should be one filled with birds serving a variety of functions both practical and symbolic. [Read more…]