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Monday, April 25, 2011

The Containing of Multitudes

There is a line from Walt Whitman's poem Song of Myself that I have taken as my own.  It is fairly simple, straightforward and to the point, but it sums me up quite neatly:

I contain multitudes.

My brothers are quick to tell me that it makes me sound like I'm schizophrenic, but hear me out in this entry, and then you can concur with them--or not.

As some of you may have guessed by now, my tastes in books, music and movies are highly eclectic and considerably vast. I am reading constantly, whenever and wherever I can. I was raised on reading Lewis, Tolkien and Alexander, and when I got older, I read Tamora Pierce, Patricia C. Wrede, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Diana Wynne Jones and Brian Jacques. I enjoyed Little Women, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Secret Life of Bees (the book, though the movie was quite good too) and The Secret Life of Prince Charming, by Deb Caletti. I loved Maureen Johnson's Suite Scarlett, Scarlett Fever and Girl at Sea.  I am a fan of Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries and 1-800-Where-R-You series, as well as her standalone novels, Teen Idol, Avalon High and Pants on Fire. I'm still trying to figure out how James Patterson's Maximum Ride series is going to end, because I'm wondering how more outlandish and over-the-top it can possibly get already. I have read The Twilight Saga, and I understand why it's so popular...though I am not blind to its faults. (That disclaimer to is keep anyone from hollering at me about it.) 

I made an attempt to read Pillars of the Earth a very long time ago, but there was too much soap-opera and not enough history or architecture for my tastes. Stephen R. Lawhead's the Pendragon Cycle is one of the best retelling of the Arthurian myths I have ever read. The Perelandra Series by C.S. Lewis is also a favorite. Sherlock Holmes is good for a rainy day, though I find I prefer other authors interpretation of the Great Detective; especially those who put useful female characters in them that are not solely limited to Irene Adler. Nancy Springer's Enola Holmes series is a fabulous version for young children and teens, and for a more adult frame of mind, Laurie R. King's The Beekeeper's Apprentice is one I highly recommend.

This is just my reading preferences. I have been known to watch The Lord of the Rings, How to Train Your Dragon, and Tangled all in one week. I've watched The King's Speech and Doctor Who only days apart, along with Fringe and Bones. Crime, drama and sci-fi are two things that stick with me. I haven't much use for reality shows (American Idol, Survivor, and The Biggest Loser come to mind) mostly because there don't seem to be many actual stories for the contestants--it's all drama and soap-opera. I did enjoy Extreme Makeover: Home Edition because it did tell actual stories about people and it was a nice dose of heartwarming to begin the week. I don't watch as much as I used to though; I need to fix that.

All of this to say, I've noticed a bit of a trend in female authors when I read their blogs and interviews and what-have-you: their characters talk to them. They become real people, at least to those who write about them. I've asked Aaron about this, and he says he doesn't have that problem. His characters seem to be able to bend to his will pretty easily. They aren't voices in his head, like I have. Lest anyone start wondering whether or not to ship me off to a mental institution, I mean to say that my characters become very real to me, as real as anything is that matters. I hold conversations with them and they do get out of hand sometimes--as some previous blog posts can attest to. I haven't perused that many male author's websites or blogs or what-have-you, but I'm not sure guys have this strange tendency to give life and free will to the characters they create. This is, of course, mostly pure conjecture on my part. You have only to read Shakespeare and Twain and Dickens to find characters that could very well be flesh and blood people. But then again, no doubt Shakespeare and Twain and Dickens and the like had friends of both genders, men and women. And no doubt they talked to women and had relationships with them. Virginia Woolf's essay What if Shakespeare had a Sister? comes to mind. Hemingway, for instance, never had this, I don't think. He was a well-known misogynist, and the female characters in his books are two-dimensional to the point of insult. Which is why I have no patience for him.

I may contain multitudes, but it's ever so much more fun.

Over & Out,

1 comment:

  1. It's the Space Trilogy, not The Perelandra Series. And, I'm not sure if it's only female writers who give voice to their characters. I'm sure there must be male writers who do it, too. I'll ask some of the guys I know who write if they do that. As far as my characters go, I control them because I used to be controlled by them. It wasn't pretty. I'm trying out the role of a benevolent, deistic god in my stories right now. I find that works better for epics.

    Huh, I didn't know that about Hemingway. Explains a lot, actually.