Saturday, 23 June 2012

Feeling Sorry for Celia - Jaclyn Moriarty

YOU GUYS. This is the summeriest of summery balcony reading. You need to have this book in your faces. It was pouring in Victoria yesterday and I blame that entirely on more people not having this book in their face.

Feeling Sorry for Celia is YA, and the title is embarrassing (though not as paper bag worthy as Vampire Academy, which Alice at Reading Rambo recently wrote about and which I now have to read), but it is gooood YA. The whole thing is composed of letters between our main character Elizabeth (sometimes Liz) and her pen pal friend Christina (NOT TINA. NEVER TINA), and notes between Liz and her Mom, with a few other senders and recipients sprinkled in there. The pen pals are entirely charming and I love the Mom, who writes ALL HER NOTES IN CAPS AND THEREFORE I READ THEM ALL AS LIGHTHEARTED YELLING. This story telling format plus its YA style and hilarity make for a fast read, which is why I like it for summer.

It's pretty light, but it's got some TWISTS and TEENAGE EMOTIONS and SARCASM (that last one doesn't really need the caps, but I've committed and I'm not turning back now) that are highly entertaining. It's no life changing YA like How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (which was rightly thrust upon me by Raych at Done Read. Her review of Celia is why I picked the book up, by the by. She quotes some excellent quotes because she is CLEVER AND REMEMBERS TO TAKE NOTE OF THESE THINGS), but it's completely worth the trip to the library. I believe in Elizabeth and Christina's friendship — it feels genuine. And I don't want to punch them or the writer in their stupid faces, like I do some teenage girl characters and their writers.

It's popcorn reading, but it's popcorn with real butter

Colbert gets it.

Though, if you've been avoiding YA because That Stuff is for Kids, I'd start with How I Live Now. It was my gateway book.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Using Commas for Effect: A Case Study

There are two ways to use commas, as I understand. One involves keeping it strictly business and only using them when it's grammatically correct. The other involves using them whenever you would naturally pause when speaking. You can go overboard with that, of course. If you used a comma whenever someone like, say, Alan Rickman — the King of the Dramatic Pause — paused, well that would just look ridiculous. Let's look at some examples from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone from 2001, shall we? (Of course we shall.)

"However, for those, select, few, , , who possess, the predisposition ..."

"Mr. Potter, our, new, celebrity."

"Clearly, fame, isn't, everything, is it, Mr. Potter."

And now you want to watch that first potions class scene again. It's natural. Here you go:

Best, monologue, ever.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

This is a classic that just missed me. I liked it a great deal; but if I'd read it even five years ago, I would have LOVED it. It would have become a part of my genetic makeup — one of those books. Instead I must admit that it took me a while to get over resenting how hard it was trying to teach me. Bitter and jaded as I am (sarcastic face), I prefer to be tricked into learning. But luckily, about 50 pages in, I got over my late-blooming anti-authority kick and started listening to the STORY instead of focusing so hard on the ever-present moral.

Because if there's one thing this book ain't, it's subtle. But even though its moral is written out like a neon sign, it's written out so beautifully. And, as a reader as well as a TV addict, it made me feel at once righteous and pathetic. That's some good moral.

That story I mentioned earlier, it combines many of my favourite science fiction ingredients. A notsodistant future, dystopia (my favourite topia), random science fictiony details (early in the book our hero, Guy Montag, unlocks his front door by inserting his hand in the door's "glove-hole" to "let it know his touch." After that one I had to stop reading and talk to His Beardedness about a more futuristic lock [the Brad was working in the '50s, see. 2012 imaginations have access to much sciencier things. Much sciencier]. We settled on a lock that reads your DNA without taking any kind of sample. Discuss.)

There's adventure, tragedy, humour, horror. There are countless quotable lines (which I can't quote here because the book's back at the library and it's not like I'll write them down as I'm reading because I'M READING). In short, it's a classic for a reason, and a must-read. Just be sure to get over yourself first.

This review is timelier than I'd hope (not in terms of when I read it. I finished the book two weeks ago, but the review waited until now because, you know, that TV thing I mentioned earlier). Ray Bradbury passed away recently, as elderly people, even genre-making rock-star authors, tend to do. So many people and news organizations published tributes and obits, but the one that gave me the warmest of fuzzies was the tweet sent out by everyone's favourite Canadian electronica musician with a giant mouse helmet, Deadmau5: "RIP Ray Bradbury :( you've touched many lives with your work, and even a few more recently you might not have expected! Sleep well dude!"

Isn't that nice? Behold, the generation-leaping difference-bridging power of books.