Sunday, 5 April 2009

Books update

So I have now also read, from the Tower O Books:

Lesley Arfin, Dear Diary
which I didn't enjoy as much as I thought I would. The premise was that it was edited highlights from her diary, aged like 12-25, with annotations and 'updates' from her currently-28-year-old self (including conversations with people from the diary, etc), so I was kind of thinking of it like Michelle Tea's Rose of No Man's Land and Phoebe Gloeckner's The Diary of a Teenage Girl, but it wasn't, really. It was like a weird mix of self-condemnation and self-normalization, like half the time it was going God, I was so stupid, teenage girls are so stupid and rubbish and half the time it was going This happens to everyone it is the HUMAN CONDITION. Both of which strike me as the two most boring ways to deal with experience, especially in combination. Like, there's nothing unique or likeable about me! Buy my book!

It also did that thing of going on about how once the cool girls had rejected her she couldn't possibly have been friends with Chloe So-and-so because that would have been failure, social death, etc, which just baffles me, because I spent my school years being friends with people that I liked and really, if there were cool kids at my school I wouldn't have noticed or understood why their judgements on me were supposed to carry more weight than mine on them. (J says she thinks this might be an American thing, because coolness/social capital seems to be institutionalized in American high schools through things like football teams, cheerleaders, prom king and queen etc. We have done extensive research ie watched Buffy and Carrie and read the Class of '89 series.)

Perry Moore, Hero
which was excellent: a YA novel about the teenage son of a disgraced costume hero, trying to figure out how to tell his dad (a) that he's gay and (b) that he has superpowers, like the bad heroes who disgraced and abandoned his dad. The end was very fast-and-furious and I wasn't sure that the action-adventure plot quite dovetailed with the emotional journey of the characters in the way it was promising to do, but along the way it was tons of fun: like Watchmen meets What They Did To Princess Paragon. Lots of great political/world-building detail.

P E Ryan, Saints of Augustine
which was also good, but not hugely world-shattering for me: the two main characters are likeable, and they do stuff, and the plot is satisfying and the writing is good, but it hasn't left me with a great deal of new ideas and I don't think Sam and Charlie are going to take up residence in my head. It's the one about the two ex-best friends, one gay, one straight, who learn and grow in the course of a summer. I guess the thing that makes it a post-90s gay teen novel is that the gay/straight thing isn't really the core of the book (though it does tell the gay protagonist's coming-out story): both of them have other/bigger things going on in their lives (bereavement, drug debt, divorcing parents).

I'm sick at the moment (this cold I brought back from London is doing me in), which means I'm reading a lot, but nothing very taxing. Probably I will go back to the chicklit next - I have a Jane Green novel I got in the three-books-for-two-pounds box at Cancer Research on Whiteladies Road the other week...


Katherine said...

I'm glad to hear that Hero is good -- it's on my own Tower O'Books, and now I know it's something to look forward to. Also, squee! Someone else has read What They Did To Princess Paragon! Now that I know more about the US comics industry, I want to read it again, because I'm pretty sure it's part roman a clef -- I'd like to confirm or disprove the vague impression I had at the time that certain figures were based on real people...

Ika said...

Oh, I really liked Hero! I'll be interested to know what you thought - I was reading so fast at the end because of OMG THE EXCITEMENT that I think a few things might have got past me which I might have problems with in a slower reading mood.

I had that feeling about Princess Paragon, too, actually. But I know roughly 0 about the comics industry/scene, so have no way of mapping the people-who-felt-like-portraits onto actual people. (We should have a critical term for that. Like Mary-Sue for an authorial self-insert, [this term] would be a label for an other-insert of uncertain provenance.)