She’s a Lady, and Ladies Shouldn’t Be Messed With

If you don’t know that song, you should: “She’s a Lady” by Forever the Sickest Kids.

One of the many reasons people self-harm: to feel like they have control in this one aspect of their life.  Chuck Palahnuik took this idea and wrote a novel.  It’s called Invisible Monsters.  If you want to read this book on your own, you should do that.. I will now continue with spoilers.

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The novel’s main character is Shannon McFarland.  We learn about her life as it is currently and as it was previously from her point of view.  The story is told in a nonlinear manner, where various events are included when Shannon believes it’s necessary… sort of a flow of conscious kind of knit… but sometimes, things aren’t obviously tied together.

We know very little at first.  We know Shannon’s jaw has been shot off her face thus making it impossible for her to talk except in gurgling sounds.  We quickly learn Shannon was a model, and, obviously, can no longer be a model.  We learn Shannon does not really care much for her family.. there’s some strain since her brother Shane died.

Shannon has a few important people in her life she is constantly talking about.  There’s Evie, her best friend prior to her jaw-accident, Manus, her boyfriend prior to the jaw-accident, and Brandy, her best friend post accident.  Every one of these people are the most superficial people you could ever meet.  I mean, Manus sleeps with men just so he can feel like he’s still got it… Brandy is all about keeping up appearances… and we don’t know much about Evie except she’s a model and encourages Shannon to go for hand modeling and to reconstruct her jaw so that she can continue modeling… because all that matters is your appearance.

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Anyway… the opening scene is Shannon standing next to a dying Brandy and Evie standing with a smoking gun.  The entire book is all the pieces put together so the reader and learn about what lead to this moment.  In as few words as possible: Brandy is Shane, after 90% of  MTF surgery.  Shane pretended to have died and changed his body because he doesn’t want to be a girl and this is the worst thing he can do to himself… self-mutilation.  Manus is a detective who sexually assaulted Shane and caused Shane to feel like he deserved less than good.  Evie slept with Manus while Shannon laid in the hospital bed.  And… Shannon shot herself in the jaw.

Yes.

This crazy woman shot herself in the jaw because she didn’t like her life as a pretty model anymore.  She wanted to experience life as an ugly person.  The grass is always greener.

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At the end, when she’s standing there watching her brother die because of her… her brother who actually suffered.

Nooooow Shannon’s sorry.  She’s sorry she mutilated herself for no reason except she was bored.

In my opinion, Shannon is the most self-centered of them all.  WHO THE EFF WOULD DO THAT BECAUSE THEY ARE THAT BORED?  For realz.  You can’t move to another country and teach english?  You can’t just eat a lot and become fat?  You can’t travel around the world?  Learn to weld?  Have a baby?  It makes complete sense to not only destroy your life, but destroy the lives of those around you.  COMPLETE SENSE.

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Then, you have the nerve to give Shane your identity and decide that makes up for everything you’ve done.. WHO THE EFF ARE YOU to play God?  It’s not okay that you play Evie when all she did was sleep with your boyfriend.  What IS that compared to burning down two houses?  It’s not okay that you drag Manus around and drug him when all he did was sleep with Evie, assault your brother, and try to kill you…. oh wait… he deserved worse, you’re right.  But, what about poor innocent Brandy?  The woman who took you in and tried to build you up after your accident.  She didn’t deserve for you to hate her.  To plan her demise.  Shane walked away from the family because you didn’t open the window for him.  Brandy took that bullet because you didn’t stop it.  You hate Shane because he took your attention. REALLY?!

I’m not sure if we are supposed to feel bad for Shannon.  I can’t tell if she’s supposed to be the hero.  All I know is that I would never forgive her.  I wouldn’t want her in my life.  There aren’t any heroes in this book.   Everyone is a villain.

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I picked up Invisible Monsters because I’ve read Survivor and I’ve watched Fight Club. Both of these are pretty good in my opinion.  I.M. is not horrible, but it seems to me that Palahnuik only knows how to write apathetic-sounding characters who end up in a whirl-wind situation of their own doing.  Not that C.P. is a bad writer.  Not at all.  But… maybe… he’s only good with one type of story.  That’s cool.  It’s like how Paul Rudd is always casted as the funny guy or how Scarlett Johansson is always casted as the boobier woman.

What did you think about Invisible Monsters?  Do you interpret it differently?  Maybe you can convince me to have a more positive opinion.

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SPOILERS:  I will be talking about the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.  If you haven’t read any of the books before Changes (Book 12), then you should not continue.

The summer is basically over, and I have not posted anything about books.  WHAT IS GOING ON?

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That does not mean I haven’t been reading.  I just finished book 11 of the Dresden Files.

And I have some beef with Butcher.  What I want to know is what world does Dresden even live in?!

Each book has a good pace so that you get sucked right in and you can’t put the book down until 1000 chapters later.  I love how the characters interact with teasing sarcasm.. mostly because I do that all the time.  I also think Dresden can be funny… although that is rare.  But one thing has become very clear…

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Dresden lives in a world where EVARY woman is attractive.  And I mean EVARY woman.  From the women of the Fae world to the women of the mortal world to his effing 17 year old apprentice.  Dresden describes the women, and parts of the women, as hott or super attractive or some other synonymous phrase.

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Unless, of course, you are about to die.  Then you are allowed to be ugly.

What I mean is… the only female character actually described as ugly, thus far, is killed off.  I DON’T EVEN REMEMBER HER NAME.  But she was one of the important minor characters in Summer’s Knight.  She was part ghoul or gremlin or something.  I want to call her Gertrude or Meryl.. but that’s probably wrong.

Every other woman is not ugly.  They are either homely or fuck-able.  Neither of which are ugly.  Now don’t me wrong.  I love to look at attractive women, and reading about them isn’t any different.  I talk ALL day about how my celebrity crushes are going to walk into me one day and fall in love 😉

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But as a woman myself, I know that the world that Dresden lives in isn’t realistic…. No shit.  There’s magic.

But ignoring the fantastical elements, the relationships between living beings is one of the few things that people can make a complete connection with when it comes to any type of fiction.  The lack of realism of Butcher’s women makes it hard for me NOT to roll my eyes every time we meet a new one.  I mean, damn.  The only OLD woman in Dresden’s life gets body-switched into a younger attractive one so that Dresden can be intimate with her.  WHAT THE HECK.  It reminds me a little of Freaky Friday…

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This is the only issue I have.  And I’m not the only one I know who has this issue.  Let me know if you’ve noticed this as well and whether it has bothered you a little bit as well.

a New Series. And lots of Second Chances.

I finished the original Foundation trilogy about a month ago.  After my glowing review of the first book, I decided not to post about the next two.  There were things I really liked about the remaining story.  There were things I didn’t like.  That’s what happens when it comes to series… right?  I don’t know.  There are very few series I’ve read where the author maintains the awesomeness for every single minute.  I do think it is worth the read though!

So what have I been doing for the last month?!  Who knows.  Time flies by so fast.  

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riiiiiiiiight.

I have a new series to share.  Apparently it has a cult following… a whole forum dedicated to fans… a failed tv series.  I got turned on to the Dresden Files by a friend.. who has been literally BUGGING me to read it.  So, I’m now reading it… two years after the pestering began.

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I’ve read the first two books already.  The first book left me with the taste of cheese in my mouth.  Because the humor was SO BAD.  And things that happened made me roll my eyes over and over again.  It left me wondering, WHY are so many people crazy about this story.  I mean… the story wasn’t too bad.  But… it wasn’t just any cheese in my mouth.  It was a super sharp cheese.  The kind of after taste that doesn’t go away until you brush your teeth.  

My friend insisted to give it another try.  My reaction

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But there are like a zillion of these books… so maybe they aren’t all this bad.  I read the second one.  The story becomes more complex, the humor becomes more subtle and better… and I decided that I would listen to Harry talk like a real detective from a noire movie.  It’s SO much better.  And now I can understand why half the people who read it might.  

So yes.  I am going to give it a third try and read the next book in the series.  If you are as forgiving as I am, you should also try the series.  It’s filled with vampires and werewolves and demons and wizards and fairies… and I’m told eventually there will be a zombie T-Rex… which I am also told is amazing… I feel like there might be a lot of cheese.  Maybe that’s okay?  *shrug*

 

Because Science! … Fiction

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Since the completion of the short story collection, the stack of unread books on my shelf has been empty for some time. I, of course, needed to go and find a new stack.  And find a new stack I did 😄  In fact, I have three series lined up now… two of which belong to friends and one I bought for myself.  They are all science fiction and/or fantasy novels.  Who doesn’t love a good book about things that’ll never happen in this life time or the next?

Science fiction had this stigma for me personally.  I get bored easily with details about environments and objects…  I don’t read books for that stuff… I read books for the more interesting interactions amongst peoples or the interaction of a person’s thoughts and feelings.. because humans are complicated and so much more interesting than there-are-pretty-flowers-in-the-garden-filled-with-dew-drops-from-the-cool-night-air kind of shizz.  Most of the time I skim through descriptions, get the gist, and make up my own setting in my head.  So I’ve always avoided Science Fiction novels because worlds we’ve never been to or technologies we’ve never seen require lots of description.

When my roommate suggested The Foundation by Isaac Asimov, I was reluctant to pick it up.  I was more willing to reread a book on my shelf than read this story.  But I am glad I broke out of my comfort zone…  I read the story in a week.  I admit, I skipped over any description that bored me… and I didn’t follow any of the military-ish strategies they were describing.. because none of that really mattered for the end game of this novel.  I’ll give a brief description of the story

WARNING:  semi-Spoilers begin here.

The world is ending!  It’s very original, I swear.  There is a “mathematician” called Hari Seldon.  He uses the psychology of mass movements and statistics to predict the future.  We meet Hari Seldon at the beginning of the book.  There he informs people the universe is going into dark ages and will remain there for 30,000 years… unless he sets up a community of scientists at the far reaches of the galaxy…  called The Encyclopedia Foundation.  How will this help?  They will collect all information as a cover… but really, they are the most brilliant minds, staying as safe as possible and breeding, for 1000 years to shorten the dark ages.  And by as safe as possible, I mean following Seldon’s advice on how to avoid conflicts with more powerful people.  The remainder of the story navigates us from Seldon crises (as they are called) to Seldon crises.  I expect the entire series will do the same until the Second Empire is set up 1000 years after the dark ages begins.

What I like the most about this story is that no one person matters.  The science is about the masses, so it is not the individuals that matter in the books, but the events that happen because of actions by large amounts of people.  What matters in the story is the survival of The Foundation from one crises to the next so the Second Empire might begin sooner.  What matters in the story is how a Seldon crises comes into being and how it is extinguished.  It is an interesting concept…

Now I am reading the second book in the series Foundation and the Empire.  I expect it to be as great as the first, and I will move on to as many as my roommate owns.

This series is known as one of the greatest Science Fiction series of our time…  so you should definitely go out and read it if you haven’t already.  I promise you won’t be bored at all, and the books are quick to read.