Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reading list

I recently listened to two audiobooks set in the Pacific Northwest and am I reading with my eyes a third book set in my very own home turf. The actual book I am reading is called Border Songs, and it is written by the author of a book I read a few years ago that was set in Olympia, where I lived at that time. Coincidence, no?

I am reading Border Songs for a book group I am joining with a girlfriend. A book group I hope will lead to many evenings of intelligent conversations with glasses of wine on the side.

The book depicts a real Washington town along the Canadian border with a great deal of accuracy, in my opinion. Dairy farms, Indian casinos, pot smuggling (or so I've heard), quirky characters. The places, street names and ways of life are true.

Contrasted with True Colors, which I listened to on CD during a recent solo drive to Portland, because the library didn't have Twilight in stock (more on this below). I had read another novel by this author, Kristin Hannah, on our trip to India, because I had heard the author speak at our local bookstore. True Colors takes place in a fictional waterfront town along the Hood Canal, and it rang pretty false to me, even though some of the story takes place in real towns and the geography is mostly accurate. The family at the center of the story runs a ranch/rodeo, and I guess that's just a little removed from my experience in the region. There is an American Indian at the center of the story as well, but he is from another state, so I couldn't even really relate to that either.

Then... there's Twilight. I put my name on the waiting list for the audiobook at the library because I didn't want to spend time reading the book when I could be reading more worthwhile books (such as Border Songs), and I didn't want to experience it for the first time through the movie. Yet, I wanted to get caught up on the story because I want to see the sequel to the movie, New Moon. For two reasons. 1) It looks good. 2) My organization was asked to lend some copies of our annual report to the set dressers of the movie, because the werewolf in the movie (spoiler, sorry) belongs to one of our member tribes. So there's a very slight possibility that a photograph that I took that is on the cover our our annual report can be seen in the werewolf's bedroom.

Though I love me a good vampire romance, I sneered just a bit at the Twilight phenomenon. For one thing, to my knowledge, the author never had been to Forks, Wash., before writing the series. And those actors cast in the movie? Blah blah blah. Nothing special. What is the obsession, I wondered?

Listening to the audiobook was tricky at first, because I couldn't help picturing those stupid actors I found so unappealing. And let's face it, the writing's not so great. In first-person narration, Bella tells me a hundred ways that Edward looks perfect and smells amazing...which you'll notice are adjectives that don't tell me much. Fair enough, he looks like a marble statue, but what does he smell like? Cologne? Flowers? Vanilla? Wet concrete?

And since we all know that Edward is a vampire, it's a little tiresome waiting for Bella to figure it out herself. And really? We have a bad guy who monologues at length to his victim about his dastardly plan? How creepy is it too, that Edward watches her while she sleeps?

But dammit, I have to keep it real...I started to fall for it. Started to find Edward so very attractive. And Bella so very likable. I saw the trailer again for New Moon, and felt such girlish excitement to see this movie where the star-crossed heroine says to her man, "I belong with you."

What is it? What's the formula? The schoolgirl fantasy that an impossibly perfect guy would fall so completely in love with her without her even trying. And he would do anything to protect her, and in fact would have no life whatsoever except to spend time with her and talk about his feelings. Dream-y.

Also, the author researched it well. The depiction of Forks and the Olympic Peninsula felt pretty accurate to me.

So now I've got Twilight the movie in the Netflix queue and am on the waiting list for the New Moon audiobook.

But because I know I should know better, I give you Buffy versus Edward.

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