Monday, August 17, 2015

SM: Stephenie Meyer - Favorite Books

One of the (many) things that pisses me off about Stephenie Meyer is that even she seems to know that her books can't stand on their own merits. So she tries to attach them to great works of literature by Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, and Jane Austen with the flimsiest of connections, apparently thinking that this makes them deeper and more "literary." She's like a literary remora.

Well, I have shocking news for you, Smeyer. It doesn't work that way.

"I just got a call from someone named Stephenie Meyer. She asked if she can rape our plot for her next sparkly vampire novel."

I mean, I adore Clueless as much as anyone else with ovaries, but nobody would consider it "deep." Buuuuuuttt.... it's based off a Jane Austen book (although admittedly it's the fluffiest book she ever wrote). Oh wait, not enough wangst and too many pretty girls. And the main character is a pretty likable person instead of being... Bella.

But I digress. The point is that Smeyer keeps name-dropping these various books and authors, which usually have little or nothing to do with the books she actually produces. She also claims to be a voracious reader, but her list of must-reads is.... ehhhh.... unimpressive.

And here are the books.

Oh yay, she couldn't possibly have chosen a more generic list if she had tried. It's like she randomly selected the most popular book by a well-known writer in each genre. She has two fantasy books (both safe classics), one romantic suspense, two sci-fi (one by a fellow Mormon who has praised her work), a coming-of-age YA series, two classics, a Shakespeare play (NO! DON'T READ SHAKESPEARE! HE DIDN'T WRITE PLAYS TO BE READ! WATCH! WATCH!), two mysteries (one classic, one popular), one sentimental fiction, one "serious" fiction, and a historical romance.

Is there a "favorite books" generator out there for people who don't read much, but like to name-drop books as though they do? Because if so, I think Smeyer just used it.

Pride and Prejudice (Bantam Classics) by Jane Austen: "I've been reading this book once a year since I was ten, and I never get tired of it."

Well, duh. When you have the unspeakable gall to compare your sparkly vampire emofest to the best and most famous novel by Jane Austen, and your abusive asshole "true love" to Mr. Darcy, you have to at least pay lip service to it.

Also, it amazes me if you can read a book annually for OVER TWENTY-FIVE-YEARS, and manage to completely miss the whole point of its story and characters. That takes truly transcendent stupidity.

Speaker for the Dead (Ender, Book 2) by Orson Scott Card: "Shakespeare could make human reactions to impossibilities like fairy love dust and ghostly kings seem utterly realistic. OSC does the same thing with space ships and invading aliens."

Haven't read it. But funny how she's promoting a book by a guy who praised her, especially since Smeyer apparently doesn't like hard sci-fi. Otherwise, why would she promote her own sci-fi book as being for people who don't like sci-fi?

And I wouldn't bring up Shakespeare when talking about Card. He became notorious for a novella where Hamlet's father was evil because he was gay, and spread his gay evil to everyone by raping them, and it ends with Hamlet being raped by his dad for eternity. No joke.

Also, Shakespeare never wrote about "fairy love dust." Ever. You fucking idiot.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier: "I don't know if I've ever read a book with a more irresistible ambience."

I love how the main character is married to a totally insensitive man who ignores her mental anguish and doesn't show her any outward affection! That just makes it sexier!

(Note: I adore this book, but knowing Smeyer she probably got it all wrong)

The Complete Anne of Green Gables Boxed Set (Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne's House of Dreams, ... Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside) by L.M. Montgomery: "This is another frequent reader for me. Once I begin, I can't stop until I've read the entire series through."

Somehow that doesn't surprise me. Look, I read the AoGG series, and it's pretty entertaining. I have a lot of nostalgic liking for it. But it's also syrupy as hell, super-sentimental and full of slap-you-in-the-face romanticism that doesn't mirror real life, right down to thousands of long-separated lovers reuniting, dead babies, cutesy kids and a case of picturesque consumption. It's more fantastical than Lord of the Rings.

Plus, the character of Anne is such a disappointment. Sure, she starts off spunky, a promising young writer and she later goes to college (which not a lot of women did). But then she married Gilbert and gets really boring - she just sits around the house popping out kids, poking her nose into her neighbor's business, and having parties where a bunch of old bitches get together and talk shit about people they barely know. Even worse, she pretty much stops her writing because.... I dunno, really. It's not like she has no time for it, because she has Susan to do housework and childcare for her. So basically Anne loses everything that made her interesting.

Actually the best book of the series was Rilla of Ingleside, because it shows a sappy, sentimental young girl growing up and facing the real world, while still retaining her spirit. And the tragedies in that one were more realistic, not the goopy Victorian stuff in Anne's House of Dreams and so on.

So yeah, it doesn't surprise me that Smeyer adores the sentimental, airy-fairy syrup in that series. Fun note: did you know that Montgomery committed suicide? Yes, the Anne of Green Gables lady committed suicide. Honestly, someone who puts out a series of books that consistently sunny MUST be depressed. Or insane.

But I digress. And no, please don't kill me because of my rant about Anne of Green Gables. I do enjoy the series, but I'm not blind to its flaws.

The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy: "By the time you finish this book, you feel like you've known the characters since childhood; they have become your life-long friends."

I read one of Maeve Binchy's books about a million years ago, and I thought it was also very sentimental and goopy. I mean, she's a decent writer, but... yeah, not interested.

Romeo and Juliet (Folger Shakespeare Library) by William Shakespeare: "This is the foundation for so many of our ideas about young love. My internal love stories wouldn't exist in the same way without it."

  1. NO! DO NOT READ SHAKESPEARE'S PLAYS! It drives me crazy when people talk about how you need to read Shakespeare's plays. Plays are not novels. They are not meant to be read. Think about it: has anyone ever said to you, "Oh, you've totally got to read the new Nolan screenplay! It's amazing!?" NO! They don't, because screenplays are not meant to be read! Neither are plays!
  2. I mean, you can totally appreciate Shakespeare's poetry by reading it... but you should WATCH it first. It was meant to be watched. It was meant to be seen acted out with a director and actors!
  3. Yes, it is the foundation for the idiotic belief that "young love" is somehow special and deep and timeless, when in fact it's usually shallow, hormonal and confused.
  4. Why?
  5. Because stupid people like Smeyer think it's "OMG such a beautiful romance such troo lurv!", and fail to notice that it actually satirizes the "troo young lurv!" they think it's representing, and is actually about how FEUDS ARE BAD and they lead to your children committing suicide.
  6. In other words, Smeyer got it totally wrong... again.
  7. If Smeyer's romances wouldn't exist without this play, I wish Will had called in sick that week.
  8. I also find it very telling that Smeyer doesn't put, say, Shakespeare's complete works on her list. Just this one play. Because it's about hormonal teenagers assuming that they're in love.
  9. God forbid someone read something like Macbeth.

Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) by Agatha Christie: "Nobody plots a mystery better than Christie. She's the only mystery author I know of who meticulously gives the reader every clue without ever giving away who done it."

I think something just exploded inside my head. Yes, THIS is actually happening - I am having Stephenie Meyer, who has written the most horribly plotless drivel I have ever read in my life, is recommending Agatha Christie. You know, that mystery writer whose books are basically 95% plot with virtually no holes?

A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson: "Ibbotson is my favorite place to go for true love at first sight."

Wow, way to implicitly insult the author by making her books sound as dumb and simplistic as yours. Eva Ibbotson is an excellent novelist, and Smeyer leaves out everything in the WHOLE BOOK except for "troo lurv at first sight! SO SMEXY!"

Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey: "I love to spend time in McCaffrey's world. When I was nine, I would have traded everything I had for just one fire-lizard egg."

... and yet you ended up writing tween-porn about sparkly vampires instead of... I dunno, writing about dragons? Then again, this is Smeyer - she'd find some way to pussify dragons. They'd probably have unicorn horns, breathe fireworks instead of fire, and have disco-ball scales. And yes, they would be able to turn into hot scaled bishies.

I also notice that Smeyer doesn't note what a lot of the series' fans have noted: the last several books have sucked ass. This is because Anne's son Todd took over the franchise, and has creatively run Pern into the fucking ground. But that's a rant for another day.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: "Everything about this is perfect. The voice is true, the setting is so real it's familiar, like you've been to Scout's street and met the neighbors, and the story is not only gripping, but important."

But don't tell us what that important story is.

I honestly wish I could be impressed by Smeyer reading this book, but I'm not. The fact is that Harper Lee's opus is assigned reading in high school, which is probably where and when Smeyer read it.

The Chronicles of Narnia Boxed Set by C. S. Lewis: "These stories are timeless. There is no age too early or too late to find Narnia"

This is pretty much the only semi-mainstream Christian fantasy series that doesn't annoy the shit out of me. But again, a really generic "favorite."

Also, it doesn't surprise me that Tolkien's works are conspicuously absent, even though Tolkien and Lewis are generally grouped together like peanut butter and jelly. Tolkien's books are really really long, they have no lovingly-detailed descriptions of the hot bishies, they're emotionally wrenching, they deal with deep issues and problems amidst the fantasy elements, and they were written by a Volturi Catholic and are full of his religious worldview.

Jane Eyre (Signet Classics) by Charlotte Bronte: "Jane was one of those characters that became a little too real to me. My memories of high school sometimes get confused with scenes from this book."

Uhhhh..... what? Uh, was that a joke?


Seriously, is she actually saying that she mixes up Jane Eyre's life with her own? Does she claim to have saved Mr. Rochester from a burning bed? Did she ever claim to be chased by a crazy woman living in the attic? Does she regularly have panic attacks about being locked in the red room?

I mean, that's the sort of crap that would have Bronte (if she were still alive) filing for a restraining order. That's really nuts.

The Princess Bride: S Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman:"There should be a law requiring that every person who speaks the English language must read this book."

".... and then another law that they must then trash the main characters while completely missing that it's meant to be a parody, just to make their own creepy-ass characters look better!"

One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, No. 1) by Janet Evanovich: "Sometimes you just have to read for no other reason than to have fun."

I agree. But those sorts of books usually don't land on your "best books ever" list. I mean, I enjoy the Queen Betsy vampire books, but I wouldn't list them on the list of "must-reads" along with genuinely great authors who can change your entire worldview and literary tastes.

And that apparently is Stephenie Meyer's must-read list, which is curiously devoid of Wuthering Heights and other books/plays she claims inspired her books. Of course, it's totally devoid of vampire books and anything else that isn't cuddly, sunny and totally non-controversial and/or squeaky clean, even though it's pretty obvious she got her whole "marble white vampire" idea from Anne Rice's books.

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