22 4 / 2013
In his response to Lev Grossman’s response to his article, Easy Writers, Arthur Krystal reawakens the age old battle between the canon and popular culture: the same battle that accepts If on a winter’s night a traveller as high art but American Gods as low art, the same battle that makes the distinction between Alice’s adventures in Wonderland and The Graveyard Book. As many of you know I am a great defender of popular culture/genre fiction, but what I didn’t expect to happen while reading Grossman’s article, Literary Revolution in the Supermarket Aisle: Genre Fiction Is Disruptive Technology, is to come face to face with my own prejudices against genre fiction.
I am a great lover of crime fiction, comic books and children’s books. So much so that I have a bookshelf comprised entirely of these three genres. I am however, tainted by the curse of the postmodernist. I question the very nature of reading, the act of writing, the existence of meaning and although, I fight for the struggles of popular culture, I am a willing participant in criticizing the purpose of conventions in writing: conventions that apply to genre fiction. How many books have I passed over in the bookshop because they were true crime, or because they weren’t Ernest Hemingway or Thomas Eliot? How many times have I said that I wouldn’t ‘sell out’ and write a commercial novel while defending Batman as a metaphor for Caravaggio’s ‘dark night of the soul’? How many times have I, in different words, espoused Krystal’s assertion that ‘Commercial novels, in general, whether they’re thrillers or romance or science fiction, employ language that is at best undistinguished and at worst characterized by a jejune mentality and a tendency to state the obvious’?
Grossman’s article was depressing, not because he was clutching at straws, but because here was my inner conflict set out in words. I agreed with Grossman that plot ‘is capable of fine nuance and even intellectual power, even in the absence of serious, Fordian prose’ but I also agreed with Krystal’s assertion that: ‘A good mystery or thriller isn’t set off from an accomplished literary novel by plotting, but by the writer’s sensibility, his purpose in writing, and the choices he makes to communicate that purpose’.
But, and this is where my inner conflict escalated, what I didn’t realise was that I found Neil Gaiman, Arthur Conan Doyle and Jeph Loeb to be sensible writers. Clearly, Krystal and ‘I are not splashing in the same shoals of language’ but we are also not that different. While Grossman found conventions to be ‘more like the rules of chess: a small set of constraints that produces near-infinite complexity’, I also found myself agreeing with Krystal that ‘genre… has its limitations, and there’s no reason to pretend otherwise… When we open a mystery, we expect certain themes to be addressed and we enjoy intelligent variations on these themes.’
And I think this is where most readers sit, something that Krystal doesn’t acknowledge. He talks about what readers expect like ‘Reader’ is an all encompassing title that is static and shapeless and without duality. He believes himself to be the arbiter of the literary canon, when all he really is, is a reader, just like everyone else. And that is all a literary critic is. And it is all that I am. All those people who keep the canon are just readers. It is Grossman who ultimately comes out with the last words, not because he is right, but because he is accepting, ‘I don’t argue — as some critics do — that literary fiction and genre fiction are merging. They have their own generic [sic} identies, their own distinct sets of conventions, and to smoosh them together would be to sacrifice some of our precious literary biodiversity’. All fiction, literary and genre, begin the same but they shouldn’t be judge by the same criteria. You wouldn’t love a child any less because they weren’t serious and articulate. This is how you raise great works of fiction by acknowledging differences and accepting them anyway.
25 1 / 2013
I think in all debates about fidelity, the most overlooked aspect of the equation,regardless of whether it is acceptable in society or whether it is a biological compulsion, is that ultimately you are breaking someone’s heart.
How little or how much you choose to ignore it does not change how soul destroying one moment of stolen intimacy is for the other party. When did we start forgetting that?
11 1 / 2013
What a wonderful year this has been. Thank you my darling Mister Marvel for being such a wonderful partner. Every time I doubt whether or not this will last, you always have a way of re-affirming my love for you. I hope that this new year will finally give us a break financially. I would rather be poor with you than have all the batman paraphernalia without you.
28 12 / 2012
I come from a large family who value Christmas and the holiday season above all else so my absence weighed on me heavily. I spent Christmas Eve preparing my dessert for Mister Marvel’s family lunch and trying to get some sleep for my graveyard shift that night.
Here are the highlights of my holiday season. I hope that yours was more exciting and that you got to spend it with your loved ones.
Mister Marvel’s present to me. How I love him dearly.
My wonderful parents got me the Blackmilk ‘The Force’ swim for Christmas to go along with my Adidas x Star Wars Darth Vaders.
My present for Mister Marvel.
20 11 / 2012
In winter we walked under streetlamps on tessellated walkways.I skipped lightly ahead of him. ‘Why did they use octagons,’ I asked, ‘and not circles?’ He came up behind me. ‘Because octagons fit into each other. Circles would leave spaces in between.’ I supposed he was right. I raised my self onto the balls of my feet to tread lightly on the octagon hearts. ‘Did you know,’ he said, wrapping an arm around my shoulders, ‘that octagons were invented in the eighties?’ My head whipped towards his blank face, ‘rea…wait a minute!’ I pushed him away, skipping backwards as he tried to catch me in his arms. ‘You troll!’ His laugh echoed through the empty walkway. The river to the right flowed as still and dark as the night sky. What lay beneath that brown water, with its rolling waves, preceded two insignificant lives that were shorter than matchsticks. We sat underneath the falling leaves. A single scarf between two.
18 10 / 2012
There is a serenity in you that is constant even in the most turbulent of times. My hands want nothing more than to reach out and still your heart but when my eyes find yours my hands hesitate.
In you my happiness lives.
15 10 / 2012
Because he is the best boyfriend in the world, Mr. Marvel bought me the Converse Superman mid for my birthday. I originally asked him for the Batman one but Mr. Marvel believes in buying me what looks great at the expense of what I like, although it is, in my opinion, the best design they have. It’s such a great drawing. And it is fitting because of all the DC characters Mr. Marvel is most like Superman. He is kind but strong-willed, he is firm in his belief but tolerant of others and he is not afraid to let someone know when they are wrong. He is also the funniest person I know.
He took me out to dinner at a Korean restaurant in the city where he treated me to an all pork dinner. Mr. Marvel doesn’t like pork. He doesn’t like the taste or the smell but because I took him to an Indian (which I dislike) restaurant for his birthday, he returned the favour with a pork extravaganza. It was so delicious. I loved everything, especially my spicy pork rashers. I always judge how good a Korean restaurant is by the quality of their spicy pork. But the highlight of the night was a trip to San Churros and their choc and banana sundae. I am having withdrawals just thinking about it. I love San Churros.
Every year, I find a different way to celebrate my birthday. So this year I decided to hold a dinner party for my close friends. I served all the drinks in teapots and gave the guests jars with twine and labels for their names in the spirit of Alice in wonderland. In keeping with the theme I served all the food in teacups and the desserts in wine glasses and highballs. As an entrée, I had a steak salad with mesclun and feta, and as my main, I had roast pork with apple and potato mash. I had chicken kaarage, pineapple and cupcakes as finger food. I decided that I would cook all the food and that is the reason why I have no photos of my dinner party. I spent the whole time cooking. I even ran out of food. Hopefully some people will post photos soon so I can post it here but until that time comes here is a photo of the desserts.
White chocolate Panna Cotta (with mixed berry compote (not pictured))
Kujira came up for my birthday and as always he was the star of the show. He always commands attention, even when all he is doing is failing really badly at getting more drinks. The Flying Dutchman commanded my attention with her Wonder Woman tights. I really couldn’t think of anything else the whole night. And to all my friends, thank you. Each and every one of you made my birthday such an amazing day. Thank you for your presence and your presents. Thank you to Vanilla Bitch and the lovely Miss A for my stormtrooper shirt, you know me so well. Thank you to the Turk for my Wonder Woman mug and my Batman game. Thank you to Kujira for my Bob Dylan CD. Thank you to the Commissioner for my cooking set. Thank you to Miss K and Miss E for the Jurlique set. Thank you to Senor Colombia and Miss C for the Batman cowl. Thank you to Asmodeus the Redbeard for the awesome Owl-Bat-Cheshire cat thing and for my Jean Grey card. I love you all. I almost passed out from laughing so hard. You all made my night.
A special thank you to my wonderful parents who got me this beautiful Thomas Sabo watch. I knew that asking my mum for a watch would result in something exquisite and I was right. I wish I could have spent my birthday with them. This is the first time since I moved to Australia that I haven’t spent my birthday with them. If you haven’t guessed, birthdays are important to my family. It’s the day we celebrate our unique purpose in life. My mum always told me that my birth was the happiest day of her life. I have always known that I was born to make my mum happy.
And because I refuse to be outdone, I bought myself the best birthday present for myself. Behold, my stormtrooper superskate mid.
10 10 / 2012
So I went to edit a post I had previously - as in a year ago - and I deleted more than half of it so I had to delete the entire post.
I officially hate myself.
09 10 / 2012
It has been a long but amazing weekend for Mr. Marvel and me. Friday night we made our way down to the Gold Coast to watch the Jabbawockeez perform at Jupiter’s Casino. His mum got us tickets to the show and a room at the casino for the night. She is the most precious woman. I have never seen Mr. Marvel so happy as when he is on the phone to his mum. She really is lovely.
I was a little worried that Mr. Marvel wouldn’t enjoy himself but not even five minutes into the show I could tell that he was enjoying himself as much as I was. I have been to a lot of musicals and plays and I would rate the Jabbawockeez show above Cats The Musical. The dancing was phenomenal. The music was absolutely delightful, they even played ‘Kiss the girl’, my favourite Disney song. It was such a wonderful night. We sat a row behind front row and were subjected to an assault on our audible senses. Even through the masks, you could see each dancer’s personality, as they stretched and rolled their way across the stage.
A quote from the Lewis Carroll poem, the Jabberwocky, signalled the second act of the show before it tread onto familiar songs from anime and Japanese films. The third act delved into old songs, old musicals, old hip-hop songs as it succumbed to the electronic sounds that permeate today’s music. I was worried that I would get bored with all the dancing, as happened during Mephistopheles in Cats, but I have to say that they kept my attention the entire time.
Saturday, we made our way to Wet n Wild to meet up with my friends who flew up to the Gold Coast for Squirtle’s birthday. It was so good to see them all. I missed them so much. I met them during my clubbing days and Mr. Marvel assumed that they would be a bunch of irresponsible man-children but they are the kindest, most level-headed people I know.
I also met Squirtle’s wife who is one of the funniest people I have ever met. Mr. Marvel hasn’t met a lot of my friends so it was a great chance for him to see who I was before I met him through my friends’ stories.
We stayed at Circle on Cavill, for the third time. The place was absolutely amazing. It had a view of both the Gold Coast Hinterland and the beachfront. Mr. Marvel and I have decided that we would definitely love to live in a penthouse. Hey don’t you laugh at me. It’s a viable dream ok. I just need to work my butt off to get there.
We had dinner with Mr. Marvel’s parents as a thank you for the show and the room. His mum and I exchanged stories about him. I know she misses him. All I can do is reassure her that he’s being taken care of. I want to invite them up for dinner sometime. Just so they can spend time with him.
And finally, Mr. Marvel and I had an argument on the Saturday night but as with all our arguments, things always end up better. I need to learn how to communicate. This isn’t the first time he’s said this and it probably won’t be the last but I have to say that he has definitely proven himself. I can never deny how much he loves me. He has also told me that I need to let him in. I didn’t realise that I was shutting him out but I have had strong feelings of distance lately. I just didn’t realise I was the one who was distancing him. It also brought home the fact that we are still strangers. He hasn’t met all of my friends yet and I’m still unable be vulnerable around him but I am learning. And every argument we have we learn a little bit more about each other. It was the best weekend I have had in a long time. I got to see my friends and I love Mr. Marvel more than when we went down.
27 9 / 2012
I just spent the last half an hour writing a post. Tumblr only published a quarter of it.
I am all sorts of angry right now.