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I read Zadie Smith's "Dead Man Laughing" in this week's New Yorker. I was reading, and I thought, "I should post that quote to LJ." And then I kept thinking that again and again and then it made me cry unexpectedly, and so now I'm recommending the whole article. Also, I would never have read the article if I hadn't seen a blurb about it somewhere else (possibly Jezebel), so maybe this will encourage one of you to read it.

In case you're interested, the bit I was originally going to quote: "Up there I saw my brother, who is not eight, as I forever expect him to be, but thirty, and who appeared completely relaxed, as if born with mike in hand."

While you're visiting The New Yorker, you might also check out Nancy Franklin's entertaining review of Elvis Costello and William Shatner's respective talk shows.
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I mentioned some inappropriate het sex in that last entry about Riddick. I was only saying it would be hot, not "rec me some of that," and yet [ profile] vic_ramsey did rec me some of that. The fic is sixty parts of out of character melodrama, although there is some improvement in her character after they have sex. Overall, though, he's too soft and she's too weak, plus she inexplicably has blond hair. The plot's actually not bad if you think of it as original fic and just let go of any irritation regarding people in the far future still watching Little Shop of Horrors. It did, despite its flaws, keep me reading through all sixty parts.

I probably should have learned my lesson about Vin Diesel movie het fic back when I read a whole lot of parts of a Dom/Letty fic waiting for them to have sex. It was actually pretty sexy, and it kept building and building and building and then I knew that they were going to have sex in the next part, and I got to the next part--and they'd already had sex.

Generally speaking, Vin Diesel movie het writers need to learn how to write a strong woman character. I get it, okay? Vin Diesel's a giant guy and if you're involved with him or some character he plays, chances are that he's going to do some kind of taking care of you. But he has to be used to that, right? How much more impressed would he be with a woman who can take care of herself?

More Riddick

It was in the middle of this story that I went to Barnes and Noble. As I was browsing the sci fi section, I came across the novelization of The Chronicles of Riddick. I didn't have anything else to do this morning (I'd already been to the infamous book sale), so I sat down and skimmed through reading minor spoilers ). It was actually surprisingly good for a movie novelization, and I might try reading some of Alan Dean Foster's other work now.

On Writing: Voice

This week's New Yorker has a review of Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. I haven't read the book, but I've been annoyed by all of the hullabaloo surrounding it, and so it was with some amount of glee that I read Louis Menard's critique of Lynne Truss's incorrect and inconsistent use of punctuation.

Once he gets through panning the book, however, he moves on to the question of voice. "Writers often claim that they never write something that they would not say," he says. I have to wonder what kind of writers he's talking about. Because I rarely, if ever, write about characters who are anything like me, I make a conscious effort to make sure that the things I would say don't come out of my character's mouths. This is one of those things I could never get through to one bad writer I know. Just because you would say it doesn't mean your character would. And conversely, just because your character would say it doesn't mean you would.

On Not Writing

A previous New Yorker issue had an article about writer's block. I didn't read it, but you might be interested.

Gay Marriage (Again)

In case you can't tell by the previous two entries, I read The New Yorker every week. I once linked to a previous New Yorker commentary on age as a determining factor for support for gay marriage. A more recent New Yorker article takes a deeper look at the whole idea of gay marriage. It takes Adam Haslett a while to get there, but he eventually makes the point that I've yet to see anyone else get to:
Despite comparisons to the repeal of miscegenation laws, no other expansion of the marriage franchise--to the sterile, to slaves, or to interracial couples--has required an alteration in the basic definition of the term: the union of a man and woman as husband and wife. To discount this as mere semantics misses what the definition points up: that marriage, through all its incarnations, has been a procedure that assigns people a new identity based on their gender. For centuries, it has been the ceremony that makes males into husbands and females into wives. Until very recently, this meant a lifetime commitment to both the security and the constriction of a well-defined social role. The symbolic danger that gay marriage poses to such an arrangement is obvious. It alters the public meaning of the word by further draining it of its power to reinforce traditional expectations of behavior. What does it mean to be a husband in a world where a man could have one of his own?


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Ruth Sadelle Alderson


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