Beneath the Surface: Continued Conversation on Bree Tanner

Well, our so-called surface level thread on the new Bree Tanner novella quickly went far beneath the surface, not a surprising development for our readers here! To make sure some of the great conversation, which went quickly into deep waters of the novella as an allegory or defense of Meyer’s faith, didn’t get lost in the pile of comments, we’re pulling them up here to continue the excellent discussion . Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on the deeper aspects of the text, with other posts along those lines to come soon!

   James on June 15, 2010 at 3:40 am

There are many insights into the vampire world, to be sure, as Stephenie promised. I realized that the Nomad vampires are actually homeless. Don’t know why I didn’t realize that before. Other than the Volturi and Cullens, all appear to be wanderers. Bummer.

I hope to talk on this with John and Steve Walker in another upcoming podcast, but I also noticed the great deal of hellish imagery associated with Riley’s coven/congregation. This led me to see that Riley is a misleading priest figure, lying to his congregants to keep them under his control, spreading superstition and lies so that they won’t realize they have the potential to live as beings of light (with love again as a potential path to glory/divinization).

So the questions arise, “Does the Creator know the truth? Is the Creator… wrong? Does the Creator assent to her priest/spokesman’s controlling lies and abuse?” And, of course, in any case, “what can/should be done about it?” How can you exercise your “free agency”/autonomy when you realize how ignorant and misled your religion truly is? I think with “Bree Tanner,” Meyer posits a remarkable allegory about what (not) to do when you realize your faith — or other beliefs — are untrue, in contrast with Bella’s finding a true path following the prophetic and godlike Carlisle. Remarkable.

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Misery Loves Company: The New Yorker on the popularity of YA dystopias (Hunger Games!)

This week’s  New Yorker has a wonderful article analyzing the popularity of dystopian novels for younger readers (though acknowledging that many of the most fervent readers of the Hunger Games are adults). Among the reasons the author, Laura Miller, gives for this trend is the possibility  that high school is a dystopian world much like Panem (no wonder those of us who weren’t  “Careers” felt like we were fighting for survival every day of four years of misery!). [Read more…]

Some “Muse”ings about Inspiration: the Voices in Meyer’s and Collins’s Heads

Inspiration often comes from unusual places. According to tradition, Charles Dickens was asked whether he wanted a lemon twist or an olive in his drink—“olive or twist”—and thus lighted upon the name of one of his most beloved characters.  Rowling got her inspiration on a train, Meyer’s came in a dream, and Collins’s idea for the Hunger Games sprang to life while she was flipping channels on television.  But, after that initial surge of inspiration, an author has to sit down and write, often even when he or she does not want to, and that’s where a different brand of inspiration comes in: auditory inspiration.

Many authors report that listening to certain kinds of music helps them write. Sharyn McCrumb, New York Times bestselling Appalachian author, usually has different soundtracks for the different characters in her Ballad novels, and has even produced a CD of traditional songs linked to the books. Suzanne Collins has noted that she prefers listening to classical music as she writes, since she finds lyrics distracting (and with Katniss’s voice in your head, there really isn’t room for more voices, perhaps). And of course, Stephenie Meyer has Muse, the band she has thanked publically as her inspiration and included on many of the “playlists” she posts for her novels on her website.  Muse is an interesting group. Like Queen, with whom they share some stylistic elements and whom they cite as an inspiration, Muse is a band named after a female figure, through the band members are all men. In addition to being a noun describing the nine lovely ladies of mythology, however, the word “muse” is, of course, also a verb for thoughtful pondering, and Muse’s lyrics certainly give much to think about. [Read more…]

More ‘Hunger Games’ Bird Thoughts: Katniss and Prim as Dead Duck and Brilliant Mockingjay

No piece of critical writing is every truly comprehensive, covering every possible base. In a March post on bird images in The Hunger Games, I hit some of the highlights of bird connections with the two segments of the trilogy we have thus far, knowing that I wouldn’t get every single reference, of course, but happy to see that we had some great conversations on our feathered friends in Panem.

This week, however, a bird connection occurred to me that I had not pondered before, and it seems like one we might want to address. I wasn’t even thinking about HG, strangely. We were doing a memorial service for Civil War soldiers on a particularly chilly evening, so I wrapped my daughter up in an old fur cape, cast off from a college theatre department, which looks charming with her 1860s garb (in our neck of the woods, we tell folks it’s bearskin, though I guess it’s mink). The poor thing is pretty bare in spots, and, as Isabella was patting the soft fur, she noticed an old, rusty straight pin stuck in the hem. Thankfully, we got it out and discarded before anyone needed a tetanus shot, but it started me thinking about Mrs. Everdeen pinning Katniss’s old Reaping outfit on Prim.

That’s a very poignant scene, in my mind, as Katniss is so concerned about Prim’s shirt coming untucked, what she calls a “duck tail.”  At first, I thought this just a throwaway, a moment of tenderness and levity as the girls quack at each other before the Reaping, but, as I pondered it further,  I noticed that it is the sight of Prim’s “duck tail” that specifically incites Katniss to volunteer. It’s the trigger that sends her “flying” to the platform to take Prim’s place. The bird connections here may be far more complex and meaningful than an untucked blouse, as the duck is replaced by the Mockingjay.

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Newsletter for C.S. Lewis College

A few days ago, I received a kind email from Peyton Beard, who is Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs with the C.S. Lewis Foundation. He had seen last month’s post on the C.S. Lewis college and was nice enough to send along a link to the foundation’s newsletter, which includes loads of information and pictures of the new college. With Mr. Beard’s permission and encouragement, I am posting the link to the newsletter and to the Foundation’s website.  Both of these excellent resources are truly valuable tools for any Lewis reader. Some of you may also want to get on the mailing list for updates. I know many of us will watch eagerly the development of this exciting academic endeavor. It’s wonderful to see that corporate sponsor Hobby Lobby is putting to good use all the money my mother has spent in their stores!