Thursday, May 24, 2012

Step 2: Flail Around A Bit

When I first started reading The Hunger Games (before the Mister had started reading them), I commented about a friend who had problems with the second book (of non-memorable name).  The Mister and I discussed how that wasn't much of a surprise; we already knew that in book 1 she wins the Games, in book three the system must be overthrown and in book two, well, in book two, things don't go so well.  Han is left frozen in carbonite and Frodo is trapped in Shelob's lair.  This is the way of trilogies.

So I have a question: what second book of a trilogy is really good?**  If there is a single story arch of the whole trilogy, is there any way to make book 2 positive?

My second Hunger Games question (as I am aware that I thought out a whole series of Hunger Games posts back in March and posted exactly once-- I'm not really going to get around to it again.) is about picking the right man. One of my former students (now a pharmacy school grad-- I'm getting old if I have students with doctorates!) celebrated the conclusion of her classes by reading Hunger Games and posted on facebook about being "Team Gail". Is there any coming-of-age book written by a man in which selecting the right woman is the big growing up conflict?  There are plenty of stories in which getting the girl (or selecting the right girl) is a sign of having grown up or otherwise succeeded.  I'm wondering if male authors are ever writing about the angst of choosing the right woman as a major decision.  Harry Potter, of course, suffers plenty of girl trouble, but Harry Potter, you recall, was written by a woman.  Are teenage females just kidding ourselves that teenage males are actually concerned about the right relationship?

As far the "ick factor" I mentioned earlier.  For many people HG is disturbing.  For Debbie, who works regularly in Haiti, the disparity and obliviousness of the wealthy is unnerving: talk to her about that.  For many readers, that these books are written for adolescents is bothersome, but not to me  (I came up with a long list of extremely disturbing short stories we read in 7th and 8th grade English class.).  At least one reader I talked to  was disturbed that something this poorly written was getting this much attention (again, not a big bother to me because I really liked them and have read plenty worse and get pretty excited every time I see young people reading and discussing books).  My mother was disturbed by the fact that this was  young people killing young people as directed by adults.  Yeah, that is supposed to be disturbing. Collins points out that war is young people killing young people at the direction of adults.  The Mister was disturbed by how quickly everyone accepts this, and how quickly the tributes fall into the roles of killers.  I'm not sure it is all that exaggerated, which is disturbing.
I heard  on the radio about a  school happily launching their own "Hunger Games".  This, and similar stories (along with the Team Peeta Team Gail debate) suggesting young readers are entirely unfazed by the games in which kids kill kids, disturbs me.  I was also disturbed by the return to the ring in the second book.  It was icky enough to be reading a book about how violence should not be entertainment for the rich for entertainment without the author acting as if I, the reader, needed a return to the violent entertainment to keep reading.
Anyway, those are some of my thoughts.  Add yours.

*A nod to the South Park underpants gnomes episode and their brilliant plan.  "Step 1: Steal underpants.  Step 2: ?  Step 3: Profit."
**The Mister thinks that Empire Strikes Back may be his favorite movie.  Whatever.  It's great but Han is left frozen in carbonite-- how can that be a best movie?  As for The Two Towers, LoTR is just one book, (or 5) not really a trilogy as far as I am concerned. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cuckoo STIR Soon

Some day, say, tomorrow, I will turn in my grades and then someday, after more meetings and graduation and stuff and stuff and stuff, say Friday or next week, I will post the rest of the Hunger Games discussion, videos of my sons sledding (yes, that happened in December) and giggling, new garden images, and questions about acid and Easter egg dye.
As of now, that time still feels like the far-distant-future.  So I write briefly to alert you that the next STIR selection is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, suggest by Debbie.
Join us as we join NPR (??) and the 50th Anniversary Read-Along.