The other day I happened to catch an episode of the TV show Monday Mornings in rerun, and one of the characters mentioned deus ex machina. What caught my attention was how he pronounced it – DAY-oos eks MAH-kee-nah. I realized, then, that I didn’t recall ever having heard that phrase spoken out loud before and that all of this time, I’ve been mentally pronouncing it incorrectly. My high school and college French had me thinking it as dus oh mah-SHEEN-a. I felt really stupid at my mistake but also very educated because now I can jauntily throw that phrase about with the correct Latin pronunciation. Bonus: spelling it is now a piece of cake. Continue reading
If you are not a fan of the 1960’s western television show, The Virginian , then this title means nothing to you. As a caregiver for an aging relative, I can almost repeat all the dialogue. One episode opens as a young woman and her mother are traveling out west to visit relatives. On the train, the young woman is reading a dime novel featuring the western hero, Deadeye Dick. When an older man saves her from falling off her horse after tumbleweeds spook him, just like Deadeye Dick saved Bessie Burton, she has her hero. Throughout the episode the mother understands that her daughter’s impressionable age is to blame rather than the dime novels and never forbids her the joy of reading them. While watching the show, I wondered how today’s mothers guide their daughters’ reading choices through the immense choices available.
During an internet search, I saw that Wikipedia touts Samuel Richardson’s popular 1740 novel Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded as one of the first romance novels. From Jane Austen to serial romances in women’s magazines, from Georgette Heyer to Mills and Boon and finally the explosion of the genre with Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Flame and The Flower, young girls today have a myriad of choices available to them. And even if your daughter or niece is not interested in romance now, the chance of her wanting to read one in her adolescence is very high, especially with books like Twilight being made into movies. I eased into reading romance books while in my early teens. Like many readers here, my introduction to this genre started with Harlequin romance and Georgette Heyer. While I had an aunt who disapproved, my mother never censored my reading, and we had a long history of loving the same types of books.
Do you remember Forever by Judy Blume? If you’re a woman of a certain age, you probably had a dog-eared copy passed from friend to friend,and the spine was probably bent so it opened up to a few key scenes. It’s safe to say that, for some of us, this popular young adult novel was our first window into adult relationships and sexuality. And,unsurprisingly, there were(and still are) plenty of people trying to keep it out of our hands. Even today—thirty-five years after Forever was first published—it is still being challenged. It was the 16th most challenged book in the United States between 2000-2009.
With the premiere of New Moon looming, suddenly everyone’s talking about vampires. The diehard Twilight fans I know never entirely stop talking about it, but the chatter grows ever louder. I’ve read all the books and I suspect I’ll end up seeing all the movies, but there is so much more to read once you’ve run through Bella and Edward (and Jacob)’s story. If you’re hooked on vampires, there are a ton of good books out there.
Yesterday I checked out a library copy of the movie Twilight with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson and found myself unexpectedly enthralled by the chemistry between Bella and Edward onscreen. Honestly, I cannot remember the last time I watched anything that had me pausing and rewinding so much so as to catch every expression and nuance.
Confession: I’m kind of out of the pop culture loop now and have been since I quit my job as a youth services librarian to stay home with my son and downscaled my life accordingly. But I did read Twilight when it came out and found it entertaining but hardly inspirational. I didn’t go mad for Edward Cullen, and I did not go on to read any of Twilight‘s sequels. It has not escaped my notice that Stephanie Meyer’s books have become a YA marketing sensation, but I never felt the need to immerse myself in her world again.
There was an opinion piece in yesterday’s Washington Post about the reading of college students. They are, the writer argued, more likely to read ‘inferior texts’ like Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight series, or our new presidents’ memoirs, than ‘serious literature’ like Anais Nin or Alan Ginsberg, and thus have lost the liberal-political activism of the 1960s to lesser forms of radicalism, like Twitter and website design. The editorial actually made me fairly angry. As a member of the generation this article criticizes, I can’t help but roll my eyes, thinking that every generation – including the author’s own – was greeted with cries of “These kids, now a-days.” And, like all members of every criticized generation, I think the writer of this piece is just stuck in the past.
A couple days ago, an article appeared at Jezebel about a recent increase in dating abuse amongst teens, which referred to an article in the New York Times about the same subject. Both articles list recent cases in which young women were killed by their former romantic partners, and both describe attempts to counter the controlling and abusive behavior of some young men, which is now aided by modern technology like cell-phones, through school programs. The NYT article quotes a doctor and the manager of a health program, saying that “Adolescents often mistake the excessive attention of boys as an expression of love”, and that “Many teenagers […] see the jealousy and protectiveness as ‘Oh, he loves me so much.’ Girls make excuses for it and don’t realize it’s not about love, but it’s about controlling you as a possession.” Neither article so much as mentions romance fiction.